Poetry by Dean Atta

Art: Pixabay

Writer in Residence

She says the badge is a barrier. I have to wear the badge
to remind myself I have a job to do.

Outside, I sometimes pretend I’m wearing a friend badge,
uncle badge, son badge, brother badge, I often forget

where I put my nephew badge, grandson badge, and I keep losing
my boyfriend badge. Sometimes I’m wearing two or three at once,

Christmases and funerals my chest is heavy with the weight of them
all pinned to my shirt. When alone, in my attic room in Battersea,

I take them all off, breathe in and out deeply. Poetry is a badge I wear, as heavy as the rest, something else to get off my chest.


Lunch Room Leftovers

It sounds like you’re speaking
for the sake of speaking.

It sounds like chat
for the sake of chat.

It sounds like you’re trying
too hard to engage.

When what you fear
about all your conversations

is said to you so plainly
upon a first meeting,

you feel stripped to the bone
like the lamb chops before you.

You picked a table with two faces
you recognise, one you do not,

but the stranger knows you best
and you feel like you could fit in

the plastic bag she uses to collect
the bones from all four plates

to feed what’s left to her cat.
What’s left with you are her words;

a reminder of why the page is
the only place you trust yours.


There’s Something Wrong with the Conditions

The worms are trying to
escape the compost.
There is nothing I need to
say today. I would like to

write a poem about hair soon
but right now all I can think
about is doing my laundry
and cleaning my room because

on Wednesday he might stay.
I want to get a pedicure.
He says he’s going to kiss me
all over, every inch of me.

Did I miss a cruder implication
or should I take it literally?
I am besotted. He is smitten.
This is floaty and fantastic.

There is something wrong.
There is something wrong.
There is something wrong.
There is

Dean Atta is a poet from London, UK. His debut collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, published by the Westbourne Press, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. He was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday Pink List and featured in Out News Global Pride Power List. He has performed across the UK and internationally at the Biennale of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean (Italy), CrossKultur (Germany), Ordspark (Sweden) PuSh Festival (Canada) and Word N Sound (South Africa). He is Guest Artistic Director of New Writing South and Writer in Residence with Creative Future, as well as a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen and Point Blank Poets. He has been commissioned to write poems for BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service, Dazed & Confused, Keats House Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern. He is currently working on his second collection The Black Flamingo.

%d bloggers like this: