How to Love Not Loving

Of course I didn’t mean it,
I just had flu
and it makes me a bit –

if she loved me so much
she’d had seven years
of school to say hello.

He was really a darling,
she was just
someone everyone liked.

Then there’s polite I love you.
I love you
(I’ve run out of things to say).

I’m drunk I love you,
or this is exciting
I love you.

Somewhere, my God,
there must be advice
on how to deal with this:

She’s worse than boring,
she’s vicious when crossed –
and not less boring then.

You know it. But now she’s
blessing me with oil.
And there’s a word for that.

The Letter Game

26 letters, no given order –
each can be used
more than once –
to keep any secret you like.
How hard can this be?

I have hidden
more than one
in a butterfly wavering
over a yellow pond, leaves
drowning the shade.

In steam as it wriggles
through a teapot,
petals scattering
over a carpet like
cracks in the heat.

Sunlight hangs clues
in the woods:
breezes joining
along the quiet trees
to shadow a fox.

Check – all the letters
are there. The last
mattered most. Hello
and goodbye. See how
they intersect in a kiss?

When Light Hits Water

What matters or stops mattering
feels sudden every time.

Gulls scuttling over the tilt
of a wave, as if they were
sewing themselves
in to it. God,
I remember saying, please
can we talk about this?

On my list of things
I’m talking or not
talking about this time:
one friend dying,
one diagnosed autistic
(describes me to the letter).

Extraordinary joy (domestic).
Hope you had a good summer.
Another email designed
to tell me that it’s over.
A hot air balloon and Look!
my father. Come and look!

I said this to Tom.
Days later I know
he smiled and said nothing
and couldn’t have done
a better thing. Which mattered
quite considerably of course.

Carolyn Oulton is Professor of Victorian Literature and Creative Writing tutor at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her poetry has been recently published or is forthcoming in: Artemis, Dream Catcher, The Frogmore Papers, from the edge, Ink Sweat & Tears, Nine Muses, The Poetry Village, The Moth and Seventh Quarry. Her most recent collection Accidental Fruit is published by Worple Press. She can also be reached at and at @writing_at_CCCU.

Robynne Limoges (Two Images, including Banner Image) is a Guest Artist for the July “Secrets and Lies” issue of Burning House Press curated by Icefloe Press IcefloeP . More of her work, exhibition and publication information can be found on her website: www.RobynneLimoges and on Twitter at: @LimogesRobynne.