Anna Kisby




Faceless extinctions

A moth arrives like a small hand passing over my face
and when I open my eyes a heartbeat thuds against my
bedside shade. Leave your window ajar and your lamp lit –
why, that’s an invitation, says he. White ermine, little prince.

It was all my fault. No sooner had he nested than I requested
him gone. My insides spun him a silk cocoon, simple to sweep.
He had no face. A moth is a butterfly as a weed is a flower
alighting in the wrong place. Garden tiger, he grew.

A moth arrives like tinnitus, but listen and he stills his wings.
He only begins again on his own terms. Tell me my name?
he asks and won’t stop, like I am a light-trap and he is stunning
himself. Blood-vein, a lost boy looking for his shadow.

It was a hospital bed in strip-light. How uselessly we witness
the faceless. Our windscreens are clean of winged-reminders
of what is lost. In each of my hands, a small hand of the living.
Notice these night-thoughts and let them go. V-moths, thinning.



Anna Kisby is a Devon-based poet, archivist and author of the pamphlet All the Naked Daughters (Against the Grain Press, 2017). She won the Binsted Arts prize 2019, BBC Proms Poetry competition 2016, and was commended in Faber’s New Poets Scheme. In 2019 she collaborated on the project Creative Histories of Witchcraft and is subsequently working on a collection exploring historical magical practitioners.

Note: White ermines, Garden tigers, Blood-veins and V-moths are British moths on the verge of extinction.

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Anna Kisby

Bathing Jesse James


I do it on the back porch.

He fills it up. Always on a Wednesday.

It’s a quiet day. No one passing


to admire the curling hair on each bare haunch,

the apple at his throat exposed, or yesterday’s

bullet holes like white petals blown onto his skin.


I swear his scent’s like milk from a stalk

cut from dandelion, or waving prairie daisy.

My husband is a clean man.


He sings, You are my swaying ear of corn

as I straighten and lean to sponge him again.

I let my yellow hair swing


to tickle his knees as I kiss him upside-down

where molars glint, crowned with gold. Some say

he stole the lives of seventeen strong men.


I soap each toe, the crooked ankle broken by a horse.

Windstorm’s coming. Feel it in my bones. Sideways

he looks at me, then blinks, like looking at the sun.




Anna Kisby lives in Brighton and works as an archivist. Her poetry has been placed in competitions and published in magazines including Mslexia, Orbis, Poetry News, Seam and South Bank Poetry. She was winner of the New Writer poetry competition 2011.




Bathing Jesse James was previously published in Mslexia, Issue 43, 2009.


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Vote for your April 2020 Pick of the Month

When the pandemic movie is your own reality.

It is not surprising that most of the poems on our shortlist for April 2020’s Pick of the Month hover on the edge of dystopia. Is it Sam Wilson-Fletcher‘s ‘Blue’ that colours your world or what is lost in Anna Kisby‘s ‘Faceless extinctions’ or Zannah Kearns‘ ‘The Farmer’s Prayer’? Does the seductive unease of ‘Skunk’ by Z.D. Dicks draw you in or can you relate to Beth Booth‘s ‘To the Occupier’ or ‘Tenant’ by Nisha Bhakoo where home is not a place of safety?

All six of the shortlist have been chosen by Helen or Kate or received the most attention on social media. They can be found below or by clicking on ‘Vote for your April 2020 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting is now closed. April’s Pick will be posted on Monday 18th May at 4pm (so as not to get lost in the Saboteur Awards’ outcomes or the Authors’ Club LitFestOnline and Best First Novel Prize over the weekend!)

For the lockdown period, our normal Pick ‘prize’ of £10 towards the UK charity of your choice or a National Book Token will rise to £30*. Charities and booksellers, both, have been hit hard by the shutdown and we wanted to make a (admittedly very small) gesture of support.


*Book tokens can only be used within the UK and will be divided between £20 for the winning writer and a £10 token for the person of their choice.

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