(after Philip Larkin)

All their Facebook friends are going

to the launch of the anthology, are you?

Perhaps, though now the thought 

of that elusive quiet night at home

seeps in, I realise I’ve lots to do,

as everyone will understand, so no…

Strange how hard it is to turn away

from the mêlée. I could spend the evening,

leaning in to compensate for deafness,

as confidences loosened by free wine

reveal the worries we keep out of sight –

overlooked for grant or bursary.

Under the glare of artificial light

I feel them slip away, those hours of solitude,

the poems that I now may never write

at home by the fire, watching the slow moon

dip behind the hedge’s silhouette

with a contentment that’s made possible by choice.

That solitude is chosen makes it sweeter,

also harder to achieve. To find the point 

where Fear of Missing Out is trumped by Fear of Joining In.

But then there’s reciprocity. If you don’t go 

to theirs who’ll come to yours? Can one rely

on interest over quid pro quo?

This is society. Whatever brings

a disparate group to congregate in spite 

of reservations; as many motives 

to attend as there are guests. Besides,

it’s rare that you won’t stumble into

company, congenial exchanges.

There’s no escape. If you stay home

the tweets and posts will make it sound

much better than reality. Tamp down

anxiety, inhale deep breaths outside,

avoid the wine, which causes paranoia –

it’s possible you’ll find that you enjoy it.


Start as a food source

keeping the bar low 

just staying alive

being a mountain

a block to strike chips from

being a rock

just being there

staying there 

holding the centre

being a canvas

being a sounding board

sometimes a target

always a heat source 

the compass’s baseplate

darkness of heartwood 

just being there

staying there

letting them



How it catches you off-guard, 

that once-familiar stretch –

face to the mat, with one knee angled out 

you ease it up towards your head,

then twist, and as you turn the other leg, 

you understand you’re mobile, little turtle, 

bum high, hot breath forming condensation

on the baa-lamb patterned Mothercare;

you’re off now, you’re unstoppable.

It’s said the trick in falling is to flow –

land on one shoulder, roll 

the ground diagonally across your spine, 

leap up to standing every time.

Why must the shoulders always take first blow?

They’ll remind us in the end. 

From crawl to fall to crawl. 

Begin again.

3 poems by Amanda Bell

Amanda Bell is a poet, writer, and editor with an MA in Poetry Studies. Her first poetry collection First the Feathers (Doire Press, 2017) was shortlisted for the Shine Strong Award. She has a new collection forthcoming from Doire Press in 2021.


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