Mouth ulcer

You swell up my cheek
like an active vulcano spewing molten pus
making eating and drinking a pain
and waking me at night
to remind me of my mortality

The Internet informs me
you’ll probably depart
within two-to-three weeks and that
I should kindly not bug my doctor
until after this period has passed

If you persist after that, though
you could be a sign
of mouth cancer, in which case
I’ll skip the queue at the doctor’s office
and call the undertaker instead

© Daniel Stephens, 2019

Sexy shop

Illustration by Anya Lauri

Yeah, I know
it sounds stupid
but that’s where
Italians go
to stock up on vibrators
and bondage gear
and so on

People here
have trouble
with the idea
that in English
a noun
like ‘English’
(the language
not the nationality)
or ‘sex’
can modify
another noun
for example:
or ‘shop’

Sexy knickers
sexy teacher
no problems there
Adjectives and nouns
go together like
whips and chains

Though sometimes
they’re back to front:
‘mutande sexy’
(knickers sexy)
‘professore di inglese
intelligente e simpatico’
(figure that one
for yourself)

Put two nouns together
rubber plus fetish
more conventionally
wedding and ring
and suddenly
everyone’s scratching
their heads

Beats me

© Daniel Stephens, 2019

Late April afternoon

Illustration by Anya Lauri

Within a few steps from home it’s clear
no adjective could do this weather justice
the sky a school parking lot on a Sunday afternoon
its colour the sea in holiday brochures
the light such that no detail’s missed
shade under the trees I pass forming pools
to splash through or plunge into
Shaking off water like a dog
I wonder whether to dress
or walk on like this
the sun warming skin
blanched by winter

© Daniel Stephens, 2019