He moulds a hand into my right shoulder
to soften the nervous muscle,                                                           

the friction between open mouth and stubbled cheek
revealing the truth in how much I’ve learnt                                                           

to find pleasure in the things that fight back.
I explore his tall, his swimmer lean,                                                           

enjoy touch as in gentle not penetrating,
let my body be a Friday afternoon.                                                           

In between exhales he calls me
stupid names like bro or buddy                                                           

as part of the experiment,
to be a sounding board of sorts,                                                           

to help make peace with old faces
who couldn’t possibly give back.

by Troy Cabida

Do you know a keen writer aged 16 or under? Could they write a terrific science poem? If so, please encourage them to enter this year’s IF Oxford poetry competition for young people! The competition is open to any young writer in the UK and is judged in three age categories (one of the judges is Dr Niall Munro, Poetry Centre Director). The winning poem and two runners-up from each age category will be performed at a special event at IF Oxford, the Science and Ideas Festival in October 2021. Winning poems will be published online and in a printed anthology. Other prizes will include science kits and books. The deadline is 11 June. For more details, visit the IF Oxford website.

‘Buddy’ is copyright © Troy Cabida, 2020 and is reprinted here from War Dove (Bad Betty Press, 2020) by permission of Bad Betty Press. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Bad Betty website.

Notes from Bad Betty Press:

Troy Cabida’s War Dove is a story of profound growth, of growing into oneself, of knowing tenderness, not as a skin to be sloughed on the way to maturity but a central muscle beating vital strength into the body. Cabida’s poetry refracts mental and emotional wellbeing through a kaleidoscope of cultural identities. This dove learns to soar and sway, heal and harden like ‘honey / crystallised and unflinching’. You can find out more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Bad Betty website.

Troy Cabida (b. 1995) is a London-based Filipino poet. He is a former member of the Barbican Young Poets and the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, and a producer for open mic night Poetry and Shaah. His poems have appeared in bath maggTAYOharanaBukambibigCha and MacmillanWar Dove (Bad Betty Press) is his debut pamphlet. Find out more about Troy’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Bad Betty Press is an independent publisher of new poetry, founded in 2017 by Amy Acre and Jake Wild Hall. We love writing that is bad (in the Foxy Brown sense) and beautiful (‘a Betty’ in 90s slang). We love the strange, raw and risk-taking. We believe strongly in art’s capacity to challenge its own definition, to curve away from the norm, making space for more and varied voices. Find out more about our books on our website and follow Bad Betty on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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.