The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Tessa Foley



I've got a weasel living in my three-bed,

in the floorboards and in the master bed,


of learning, he takes cues

and notes, posts them on to God,

advice for Heaven, rules for the rest,


says that he knows best, better than the

clicking choir, that's what he says and he has

wed me with his weasel paw,

the law says we are hooped together,

grouped in one chalk box,

chained, a yoke around my finger and my ears.


It’s been years

we meet the pillars of the town who look me up

and look him down, kids too

I stay in the loo for days,

emerge –

he's still munching up his beetle words,

the scuttle in the hallway, your way,

my way - never.


Thread hanging from between his teeth,

beneath the tiles, I can hear the grouting moan,

a week with weasel and alone

means joy.

He is the future, so he said,

in bed, I feel the decades draining into mud,

my blood is glacial as he breathes,


His crease, his print, his shoelace tied,

I looked at them, saw him and died.

I smelled the weasel in the paint, a life I ain't,

a pore absorbing bookless wise,

not just a wish away comes day

it broke, my open eyes are sore and choking,

a crawl on stairs, I beg tomorrow's clock,


mock tudor Manson, Weasel

makes my breakfast weep,

one day I’ll sleep with Garbo or with Gable,

for now – pitch-wide breakfast table, teapot waterboarding

strangled by an egg, one leg’s steady trip –


I advance on widowship.



Tessa Foley

It's not me, It's you


Grinning an acorn chew,

he tells me not to see that friend,

She's not a lily like me, she rushes with the duvets,


Kissing me, he hides his gnash in my own mouth,

starts to graze his hangnail on the bedpost when it rains,

he can't open the window because

I might get the wrong idea.


He kneels above my chest with eyes burning beam

from the height and slips my breath out of me,

standing on my plait.


Boa-ed in the cochlea, I'm a rat with bulging eyes,

he warns me not to take a job,

they won't pay me like he does, take the plane,

be plain for me he says,

one brown rodent horned in his shoe,

it's not me - it's you.


He bangs my hand against the lamppost,

shows me cold gold light in snow,

don't go he yodels hands free,


Blonde, I go much fairer when he blows,

unreasonably slight,

he stops and shares his lemon twist,

you're history without me, Pearl.


And then, I'm not his girl.


I give my star-shaped friend a ring,

take a tender pool hall role,

breathe blondely at the streetlight.

I open my own window and throw out blue,

I will certainly be history -

It's not me, it's you



Tessa Foley

Did you make me racist as I slept?


I haven’t quite cried for you yet,

the man who I used as a filthy freak pillow,

you were me for better

or worse

in the Guardian Letters,

nursed me through soul gonorrhoea

and boils of the heart

in my handcart to bed

with the speakers beside me,


the needle stitched me right up in my sleep

and weep now I do at the hashtag me too

in subliminal whisper did you say

“Sell your sisters

AND brothers at that”

just make your embarrassing uncle the king

crown him!

with bog roll and glads.


At your sound, my heart fell open on Saturday nights,

did you try to persuade me

that I’m left as a loon?

To the tune sweet and tender,

I defended your fog,

and was Salford sage nun

my happy birthday was un

cause you said it was true



the pale ghosts in the window

said I could be still well

EVEN without you

the Boxing Day bigot,

that I’m forced to admit

Stella, my Love, send in Mr Spiggot

his one weedy leg all narcissi and bent.


Did you make me racist as I slept?

Your vinyl still turning when the dark shrieked its last,

now you’ve dumped cream in the grease tea

and Me? I now sleep without

scratchy arse songs,

all the wrongs

so much right,

only limited times,

I can advise an eff off

when told dontcha bother with Mozza.


You have been the long weight,

bucket of steam

Tartan paint.

Hit the road, Steven Pat

and dontcha come back,

no Marr,

no miss guidance,

slate grey kiss me goodbye,




TESSA FOLEY is originally from Flitwick, a tiny town in Bedfordshire, England. Published by magazines including Agenda, Antiphon and Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review and recognised in the Verve Poetry Competition, Bristol Poetry Prize, her debut collection Chalet Between Thick Ears was published in November 2018 and is available to buy here -- She also won the Live Canon International Single Poem Competition in 2013. She now works at the University of Portsmouth as a course administrator and volunteers for Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Counselling Service. She lives with partner David and two cats and is a rookie ukulele plucker.


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