Promoting Poetry in Scotland

Two Poems | penny boxall
—From Ship of the Line, Eyewear Press, 2014


Taxidermy Outpost


We drive past the sign at first,

swerve, spin back.

                              It’s hung

with skin, the crown of some

wrecked animal topping it all.

            They sell scented candles

and the recent dead –

a baby bear sits on a stool

             as if for a lesson,

his giant paw missing nothing

but a crayon.

            There’s a pornographic hush

towards the back, the pelts

strung in moneyed lines,

shining like polished wood.

Leopards maul the walls.

            And a fawn / not fawn,

hauled from its mother,

is frozen in a pose it never struck,

its eyes filmy.

                       Outside is the Wild

which we only know about

because we know too of outposts

filled with fur. And look:

            here is a chipmunk

paddling a canoe, his little fist

just like yours.





August, and the air is thick with salt.

We walk the sticky avenues,

take comfort in the momentary shade.

Above the twisted-sinew roots cement

bulges. Crickets tune their strings.


The grid of streets means turning right again

will bring us back to the beginningit’s here

that four are grouped round something

on the grass. A skunk, perhaps, or else

exotic moththe teenagers


are absorbed. A squirrel? It lies

fat as a pear, legs spoked as though

through gorging. The girl glances;

embarrassment clears her throat.

“I feel bad for it,” she says,


“with a broken back.” Of course:

her friend dangles the despatching mallet.

Seconds tick. They’re waiting for our exit

at the corner, past the shielding trees.

All the way, I listen for a sound.


The Winner of the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for 2016 is penny boxall