Why I don’t need wine.


I stood at the bar with my Diet Coke,
sidling in between Jem
and the man
who’d just finished reading.

It had gone well; he launched
the Emperor’s rocket-chair
almost to heaven, close as any can come.
He’d earned celebration.

They were making plans for after;
there were good vintages to be had
in the pub by the river.
He slicked back his hair,
always foxy, perfectly combed,
‘We deserve a bacchanal.’

I, skirted, awkward, said,
‘Are we maenads then?
They ate men, you know.
Right to the bones.’
I took a pull from my bottle,
they made their excuses to go.

I was not showing off.

It wasn’t the wine that turned them
to blood-grasping savages,
knocked out their teeth, and hung
suckling lion-cubs from their weeping breasts.

It was something else,
something I know well
after eleven at night
when my eyes grow large
in pale flesh
and the caffeine sets
my small heart racing.

Those hours which plunge
between hard lust and violence,
when- if your husband is not willing-
you gnaw a chunk from his haunch
and rub yourself off
using the filthy edge of your covers.

The dark, irrational grasping,
dreaming awake; scenting fire
through the window-panes, hear
your children, your brothers
pawing the door-frame
marring the lintels with blood
that came from no lamb.

The shudders last hours.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on September 6, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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