ii         rye lane (foul ecstasy)

black girls don’t do drugs
said the bouncer
at Bussey,
without searching
me. Well, let
me tell it, some
of us sit smug
in our youth.
Full of white
silver powders
in cold smoking
areas, waiting
for the come up
to hit us;
chase the cold
that’s set in
our bones.  

We gurn
on hand rolled cigs;
pray for the peak.
Our mouths dressed,
tongues, the taste
of the foul
curdled in our
gums. We sink in
this. Buzzed smiles
under drooped eyes
sharpened towards
blue lights
which flood the wet
dance floor.  

Our skins
stay open, each
touch from the bass
sending us
in upward spirals
of bright starlight.            

We beg
the night not
to end, plead
with it to spend
its morning cloaked
in darkness.
We want to stay
alive in
this wide blackness
our pupils
become; in this ache
of clenched jaws. 

by Belinda Zhawi 

You can hear Belinda read this poem on our website.

This is the second of two poems this week from our two newest ignitionpress pamphlets (on Monday we shared a poem by Natalie Whittaker). We are excited now to share with you a poem by Belinda Zhawi, which comes from her pamphlet Small Inheritances. Writing of the work, Kayo Chingonyi says: ‘Small Inheritances is a masterclass in what a poem is and can be for in the present moment. There is protest in these pages, but also a glimpse of what healing might look like, whether in a moment of intimacy or in different kinds of intoxication. There are intergenerational kinships and echoes in these poems that illuminate a poetics that so many of us have been crying out for.’

The pamphlets were launched on Thursday at the Poetry Café in London, and we’ll also be at the Woodstock Poetry Festival on 10 November. Do join us there if you can! You can buy the pamphlets via our website

Finally, if you haven’t yet booked to come and see the award-winning poet Jay Bernard at Brookes this coming Wednesday, please visit this link to register (for free). Jay will perform from and talk about their extraordinary work Surge. This is an event not to be missed!

ii  rye lane (foul ecstasy)’ is copyright © Belinda Zhawi, 2018. It is reprinted from Small Inheritances (ignitionpress, 2018).

Belinda Zhawi is a Zimbabwean-born writer and educator. She is an alumnus of the University of Westminster and Goldsmiths, University of London, where she studied on the BA in Politics and the Writer/Teacher MA, respectively. Belinda was a 2015/16 London Laureate and the 2016/17 Institute of Contemporary Arts Associate Poet. She is co-founder of BORN::FREE – a community-based literary movement and zine press. She currently lives and works in South East London. You can follow her work on Twitter

ignitionpress, based at Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, is a poetry pamphlet press with an international outlook which publishes original, arresting poetry from emerging poets, and established poets working on interim or special projects. The Managing Editor of the press is Les Robinson, who is the founder and director of the renowned poetry publisher tall-lighthouse. The first group of pamphlets, by Lily Blacksell, Mary Jean Chan, and Patrick James Errington, were published in February 2018. Mary Jean’s pamphlet, A Hurry of English, was selected by the Poetry Book Society as its Summer Pamphlet Choice 2018. You can learn more about the press and buy the pamphlets on the Poetry Centre website.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.