Women are Living in Drums and other poems

by Jess Murrain

Women are living in drums

the skin of our lid 

hides how damn well

I wear my trousers

it shelters my wrist

the bracelet 

you loved outside. 

you aren’t here tonight

in our drum. you’ve left 

to ponder the spirit 

of gently poured wine.

it’s almost the moment

& when the hour 

strikes delicate

I shred at rawhide

step out of its animal

stitch it back together

& walk it cradled

like a baby lily I water

all the way 

to the restaurant

holding my child

all the way to the table

where we will eat

with your Father

& lie about the nature 

of our relationship.

he notices our bracelet

asks after its origin

I drop my hand

mute it under knives.

feel now for leaves.

think back to sleeping 

in instruments.


men ask my height

my body I splinter

who are you to be here

my queer hips

I make smaller

the space

inside my genitals

I turn

purposefully ghost

to be here

I also splinter

my mother


let’s pick up the phone

to our respective mums’

let’s announce ourselves

alight on the blower

let’s tell them

we are touching quietly

on top of kitchen units

hues of inherited retro

I will tell mine

she hasn’t told her family

about me yet


white men

are easier

to introduce

into a life

and in a language

I wish I spoke

yours might


The Nest

The night bus 

leaves the club at 4am

I never pray unless 

I’m overheard 

by men 

whose mouths are 

filled with staring 

your fingers on 

the dash 

shea butter 

at my cuff 

flexing it’s armor

a top deck mirror 

confirms our risk 

passed down by gods 

they themselves 

passed down to gods 

who judge us 

in our sleep as

your key turns us 

inside the warehouse

I’ve been waiting 

softly oiled

my get up tonight 

is we must not wake 

the family 

I’m begging 

my jacket off 

the jewelry 

at your pulse

feeding air


Of hidden frames

with mornings we enter water we rinse our bodies

shifting under a bathroom ceiling 

the threat of crew cuts a makeshift shower 

our night-clasp of confidence now jaded 

so take me for a public breakfast please take me 

for strong coffee forks are touching 

I’m asking my hand to pass the ketchup 

please is me asking you to frame me inside

I’m not demanding magenta 

just hold my gaze in public calm the mug 

the memory of alarm in unmade beds 

alarms are nothing but waking up knowing 

I have spilled myself all over a book 

you said was life changing 

in bed having swallowed our first second 

cut to me wondering 

is this the slowest I can chew

Jess Murrain (She/Her) is a queer, mixed-race British-Caribbean creative working mainly in live performance and theatre. Her wider practice explores artist-moving image and film-poetry. She is also co-founder of experimental theatre company, Theatre with Legs. Her poetry has appeared in Tentacular, Under the Radar, PERVERSE and Field Notes on Survival: A Bad Betty Anthology.  Jess is based in London and can be found on Twitter @JessMurrain