Safety Behaviour
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Safety Behaviour


Price: £5






Winner of the 2017/18 New Poets Prize

Judged by Kayo Chingonyi

 

Safety behaviours are coping strategies we use in situations or moments of fear, anxiety or panic. This thrilling collection finds a dark humour that sustains the reader through these unsettling but necessary poems.

 

*

 

Her work is beautiful, sure. But also when I read an Emma Jeremy poem, I’m left with a feeling I couldn’t have known any other way. Jeremy imagines what I was just about to think but without her, never would. Brilliantly strange and full of quiet humour, Safety Behaviour serves itself up like a piece of delicious cake, and, lucky for us, there’s enough for everyone. – Wayne Holloway-Smith

 

The imaginative range displayed here makes for a thrilling reading experience. These poems inhabit what it means to be embodied, never letting the reader off the hook. There is a offbeat sense of humour running through these poems, too, which adds to the unsettling effect. – Kayo Chingonyi

 

*

 

Emma Jeremy was born in Bristol and lives in London. She studied English at Brunel University, and her poems have featured in publications such as Rising, Poems in Which and Poetry London. She was shortlisted for the Poetry School/Nine Arches Press Primers scheme in 2016 and was a winner of The New Poets Prize in 2018.

 

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Milk
from Safety Behaviour

 

It was easy not to like him, because of the milk.

It bled from every pore of him, thousands of tiny

waterfalls of milk. Milk-falls.

 

You would think that he would be known around

our town as ‘the milk man’. People can be so cruel,

but instead they just ignore him.

 

They get on the bus with him, stepping into puddles

that they know will stain the cuffs of their trousers.

They sit in the milk, wade through it if it gets deep.

 

They let him rain milk all over their children. No one

has ever suggested to him that he wear waterproofs.

No one asks him about the milk at all.

 

So I did. I turned to him when we were both waiting

for a bus. I asked him, do you drink the milk?

He thought I was making fun of him, of the milk.

 

Later that week, I followed a trail of milk through

the supermarket to find him at the checkout, buying

milk, and I realised my question had been insensitive.

 

As I walked home, I thought about him some more.

I saw a woman leave her house with an umbrella.

I posted a letter through his front door.

 

I’m sorry I asked you if you drink the milk.

I just wanted to show you that I care.

 

As I pushed it through the letterbox, I hoped it

wouldn’t be forgotten underneath a puddle.

Three days later, a damp letter was left for me.

 

That’s okay. I just don’t like to talk about

the milk.

 

We continued exchanging letters. I tried not to notice

the milk stains on the paper, in between every letter

of every word. I tried to forget the image of him

 

as a plastic bag, tied at the top, full of milk, then

squeezed, popping in stages, small fountains of milk.

Milk erupting around him like a wet ghost costume.

 

We met in a café, and we both ordered black coffees.

I paid. We talked about the weather, about what we

had eaten for breakfast, whether we had siblings,

 

and while we talked, the milk pooled around our feet,

slipping itself over the rims of our shoes and inside

where it got through our socks, to our skin,

and made us cold.

 


More by Emma Jeremy

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