Sappho Considers Her Brothers by Mandy Pannett

Meanwhile, I’ll tell you more about my brothers since you complain
my fragments are tantalising and you want the real stuff –
concrete lions not pot-pourri, the booze of stag nights not
confetti in the rain.

I am the one born in the middle. (Umpteen volumes
thrive on this theme which I’m sure you’re sick of, as I am.)
Still, they’ve got a point, those clever words, labels that peg
and wind me round a wigwam of canes like a runner bean.

Yes, I felt neglected, underrated, always
the Indian who got scalped, never the cowboy with a gun.

Yes, I was jealous and did mean things.

Baby was the worst. Whoever gave him that nickname?
Fat and forty plus, getting bald before his time –
Even his email is

It was easy to make him cry: snaffle the biscuit from his plate, add
vinegar to his angel delight, forget to put the brake on his buggy
at the top of the garden steps.

He had a girl friend once. (Mother didn’t welcome
intruders to the house, vetted them first as if filleting fish.)
This one stuck like superglue until a text, sent from his phone, called her
an ugly cow, suggested she fuck off.

Stags. You want a stag? That’s my elder brother – testosterone
on the rampage, a beer-gut he doesn’t even try to hide
(he thinks he looks so good in shorts). I could go on
but I’m sure you get the scene.

Incidentally, those fragments, do you ever wonder
why there aren’t more of them? Why the edges are charred?
Names on paper shrivel like worms tossed on a fire …

If a name can disappear, well,
the owner of it might, just possibly,
vanish too.

Mandy Pannett works freelance as a creative writing tutor. She has won prizes and been placed in international competitions and has judged others. She is the author of a novella and five poetry collections: She has edited a number of publications and is the poetry editor of Sentinel Literary Quarterly.


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