The Girl in the Basement / The Boy in the Basement




And I wanted to be the girl / in True Detective / Catatonic / 

Cared for / in the perfect institution / the place where 

horror is mediated / The girl / 

rescued / and loved forever / The girl swept up in the arms 

of the detectives / who have never witnessed such horror / 

I wanted to be taken up by the protectors / 

passed from hand to hand / to be that girl forever / And I 

wanted someone to listen / I wanted 

to be turned around like a / precious / piece of glass ... of something / 

I wanted to be handled / with care / 

And I suppose I wanted people to look at me / the way they do 

on TV / with a rare quality / as if I was rare / and what I’d been 

through was so rare as to render me / priceless /

The wan girl / in the oversize cardigan / 

the rescued girl / The girl who is found years after / The girl

who escapes / and comes home and her family / have kept 

her bedroom untouched / and they treat her / 

as if each day is Christmas /

And I wanted to be the boy who lies / who returns home disguised 

as the boy who vanished / and even when they find out / they 

still keep calling him by the name / The name of the boy 

who vanished.



Selected as a finalist in The Geometry/Open Book National Poetry Competition 2018 by Anna Livesey and Sophie van Waardenberg, and first published in Turbine /Kapohau 2018 (The Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University, Wellington).















They don’t do it anymore, 

breathe into the mouth to save.


We had learnt it reluctantly, 

lined up beside a recumbent dummy,


waiting to take our turn to kneel at that mouth.

The simplest things disturb – 


at night when the fluoros shut off and the cover is pulled,

the tiles swabbed – there it lies open,


not even a ventriloquist’s dummy 

is so exposed.





2nd place winner in The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2015 – judged by Tristram Fane-Saunders and Holly Howitt-Dring.