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Deborah Levy

An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell

‌Part One‌


There you are

All wonderful and winged and leaking

That smile

Let me in

Want to

Walk through snow storms

Burning for you

Peeling oranges for you

Shimmering and

Shivering my




Who are you



i have come

to save you

from the suburbs of hell

to rub my skin


the regularity of your habits

to bend your thoughts

like a spoon

to find your memories

lost in software

dived like a thought

out of paradise


your acrylic arms



You flew into

My semi

And ate all my daffodils

I woke up

To your

Starry tattoos



In your hair

I asked


To stay

Now you make


From my heart

And liver


Mean small


At my good intentions


good intentions

are there

to be ruined

look at the tear stains on your tie


wear a band of gold

full of good intentions

look how they jitter and panic

when the bus stops to change drivers

at the junction between lidl and chicken cottage


No wonder you


From Grace


My poor lap

Fearful pigeons

Scurry about the roof

Ever since you arrived


ever since i arrived

on your blue planet

most of it ocean

i hear the breath of an octopus

bigger than a car

eggs in her arms

calling for you

ever since i arrived

i hear the historic echo of yesterday’s lambs

under the tarmac of the ring road

baaing and frolicking for you

ever since i arrived

you walk from the table to the window ledge

cursing the pigeons on your roof

their ragged wings

opening and closing for you


How your ragged wings

Open and close

And tell me what to dream

I am my own dreamer

And I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

A little garden

Someone to love

Enough to get by

I can speak French

You can’t

I can make shelves

And a wardrobe

With mirrored doors

You can’t

If I were more ambitious

I could build a sturdy bridge

But I don’t need the acclaim


yes you can speak french

you read recipe books

as if they were sonnets

yes your wardrobe door

slides on its aluminium runner

yes your shoes have blind eyelets

fastened with coated laces

yet you got hauntings in your eyes

i saw your schoolboy bible

tucked in a corner

you have an uneasy relationship with god

could be interesting

be interesting

be interesting then

spread your hands towards the sky

ask Him in his mercy

to hear your uneasy love

there is no other kind of love

there is no easy kind of love

i don’t want provençal dinners from your freezer

i want delirium from under the lake

bang! bang!

watch out stanley

i’m not just unhappy

i’m trigger unhappy

watch the curve of my arm

the sun melt

into the tips

of my fingers

the trees

bending and bowing



I can’t afford rhapsody

I was born in Hurstpierpoint

My dad sucks lemon jellies


then you shouldn’t mess about

with an angel

especially one that has been

washed up

on the oil sluck beaches

of yr shores belly

heaving with the smaller

bellies of fish and birds

find someone sweeter

(unaccustomed to terror)

to laugh at your jokes


Let’s get a takeaway. Listen

To the rain

Fill holes.


suburb man you are cold and unbothered

unlock your front door

the yale and chubb and the chain

take off your shoes

let my wings lift you

to skyscrapers and cornfields

to outraged sons and daughters

to the ferry boat on the 黄浦江

to the currywurst wagon in Friedrichstraße

to the North East SuperFast Express (Delhi-Mughal Sarai-Guwahati)

take off your shoes

take off your shoes

dance on a nervous scorpion

dance on the eyelash of a bull

dance on the edge of an oar

unlock your front door

the yale and chubb and the chain


These shoes (size 10, 44 in Europe)

Are for walking in parks, tea

And toast


Forgive me.

Courage not there.

Sucked by wear and tear

Of 9 to 5 & blocked drains

Eyes are closing.


die die die of safety

your failing pension plan

a shroud of blind snails

searching for the last green leaf in eden


You are beginning to bore me

Bile and gloom tucked

Tight into your incandescent

Cleavage. I would

Rather watch



it’s true i have these moods.

i might just




and singe the carpet

with the heat of my wings

and then


will you



i wander around your suburbs in a haze

you fit so well into the seats

of england’s expensive trains

i find that when those passengers

who work in financial services

gaze at the back of my head

my garments cease to glisten with light

all my languages desert me

the vibrations of the universe

freeze in the knuckle of my sixth finger

today i will dive under the high-res screen of your smart phone

float in the galaxy of samsung

swim through blue tooth and back to ask you

what in essence is an angel?

she is a messenger, mediator, watcher and warner

only trouble is



the memory

who was my mother

who was my father

how long have i been falling

is god dead?

am i sick

or have i health?


My health was perfect

Until you fell

On my head and pressed

Your lips of mist and ice

To mine

You burnt my tongue

You make me nervous

I have a little worldliness

At university

I hennaed my hair

My mother said, only

Whores do that

I wore beads

And had an existential

Girlfriend in a kilt

But now I’ve grown up

My shirts do not



2011 - 2018