Three Poems by Melissa Lee-Houghton

Are You Hot for Me Yet


If you’re not on my hitlist you can go and find another murderer or just fuck off. 

Jesus Christ, have you even read Sylvia Plath? We have literally nothing in common.

I pissed about over the ad all day and in the end settled for the tagline ‘terminally bored MILF

likes wrestling, hates love, needs a drug induced coma – apply within.’


Seriously, I wouldn’t fuck with me if I were the last poet on earth and God knows I’m not.

How vulnerable are you on a scale of one to ten? Ten being walks around city centres 

with barely anything on and a little-girl pout looking to score coke and one being lives in a self-imposed

regime of silence in a vaulted room? I die every day to save you from seeing me.


Do you like smashing things and breaking things? I don’t need or want permission.

I only get off on causing the maximum amount of damage before the eyes of God.

You need to separate the sex from the poetry – just because you didn’t like how I blew you 

doesn’t mean you can play about with my grammatical idiosyncrasies. So get this straight:


I don’t care about your complexities, right? If I take you out of context I want to know

you’ll blend in with the landscape. How regularly do you wear cocktail dresses? Do you know

how to create a convincing persona? We all want to live in a hotel dearie but can you infiltrate

the lives of others successfully? Oh God, you’re a writer? Oh well then, I guess that’s a no. 



Single White Female


Yes, I have secrets. But I spread them around so they don’t run into one another.

I want to live a lie. Hanif Kureishi at a house barbecue pretending to care about mandolins.

Craig Charles endlessly manoeuvring around a green room to stare at my arse. I love you,

but there’s no reward for it. I come back to you; several rejections later yours is still the most valid.

I have had your cock in my mouth and you can’t even put a kiss at the end of a message.

To live well you should try and fail at being human first. 

Tied to a ropeless descent, I feel

perpetually overwhelmed and you want in on that. If I cross my legs I fall over on the tube;

if I stand with my legs apart I think about being fucked and I imagine who wants to fuck me –

you see though, don’t you, that no one is looking and no one cares? And no one cares and I stride

with Nicki Minaj and I want to eat a face or his fingers. Yours. Mirrors. This fuckup wants to hold your

hand – girlhood, you know you want it. In it deep by Wednesday, you’ll be turning tricks again by March.


There is a foetus with stirrups riding my psycho-camouflaged aorta. God forbid

you want more. They tell you anyways ‘everyone wants more’ and I write the psych ward a new slogan –

‘if you come in sane, we’ll make sure you leave certifiable!’ It’s gone, and gone; over-lust for the 

over-prescripted. I’ll stop eating. Paycheck? False start. The hours tot themselves up 

to an overrating whilst my body agitates and sneezes. The best orgasm of your life is the least memorable.


I wrote you a love poem you sick son of a bitch.

Go get your gun. I’ll let you fuck me with it. What do you take me for?

Someone who doesn’t respond to innate fantasies and power dynamics?

You want to see how fast I can get it off in an emergency. Twenty. Fifty. One hundred,

and later we’ll be feeding on someone else’s nightmares. Fuck me, or don’t, but please don’t leave. 



Without Anaesthetic


I internalise touch. 

You take my hand so you can file my nails and skin feels like an echo

of something I barely recall. I stare at your hand, holding my hand like it’s the least terrified thing –

there’s so many nerves in my fingers, and I have to ask myself who would want to touch me.

You don’t look up from your work whilst I bore an eye-socket into my phobia of night

by seeing, and not quite feeling, and feeling, and feeling undeserving of sensation if it doesn’t hurt.


I’m alone. Night night babies. I can’t get the hang of the 

put your finger over the hole and inhale.


If I wrote Teletubbies, Laa-Laa would be saying to Tinky Winky, ‘what’s that needle in your arm?’

Yeah it is funny. I don’t really take myself that seriously; if I did, I wouldn’t be this ready to have to fight.

I let my guard down whenever someone unlocks the caged child and what do I have to show for it?

Emails from several people who solicit my affection then tell me there’s no room so I know it’s me

that wanted the impossible – basic human contact and response to it.


I have never laid down in a bed where I felt safe. Never. Not once.

I only ever laid beside one man who wanted me that close. It lasted three months and left bruises.

I have to lay down now, child – and loneliness lies close but makes sure no one else comes near.

I was there, angel. You didn’t even have to reciprocate my affection. 


Please do not let me fall asleep again. 



Melissa Lee-Houghton‘s third collection, Sunshine, is published by Penned in the Margins and was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award and the Ted Hughes Award, and a single poem from the collection was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. She is a Next Generation Poet, essayist, fiction writer and playwright represented by RCW and will be performing a one-woman play at the ILS festival in Norwich in June. 



Image credit: traxus4420

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