4 Poems by Oak Ayling

Punk Noir Magazine


Survive this

A wolf carries off a lamb in its teeth and devours it
Somehow this makes the tulips feel less dangerous
Flowers which had been a favourite
Bending low with pursed lips
Their bruise coloured mouths heavy
As though at any moment they may release some horrifying secret into your ear
And you won’t be able to keep it from crawling in
So you lean – lean and stretch low

Rest your swollen mouth on the good ones
The gentle, in the middle of their own breaking
Like a wilting thing in need of rain
Knees weak and shaking
Kissing each other, building words like safe
And friendship and trust
Afterwards you can paint again
You can write in sentences and the earth holds you in place
You can stare at the stars without fearing the infinite space between you and God


Put your head between your knees.

How many caged birds

Have you caught drowning?

How many times’ve your fingers bled

Trying to prise apart wires

The sinking weight too heavy

The bird to panic-stricken to lead you to the door

How often do you think of those wet feathers

Sing their songs with your own voice?


The Want

It runs

From the throat to the thigh

Deeper like a root

Beneath the surface

All these restless waves

Looking down

You can’t see past its

Gyrating & foaming

Its furious wetness

Loud with the draw

The rush & recede

Against the soft edges

But if you take hands

& follow blind along

The dark shape of it

Further still into the cold

Shapeless water

You can trace the notches

Sense the direction of the thing

It’s hard truth.

You touch the withering as

It grows branches breaking

Off and pointing

At the tenderness of lips brushed

Skin ‘gainst skin & warm

Melting one into the other

Water embracing water

& one such arm reaches

For mornings & home

For murmurs before sunrise

& children, children dancing into

Years climbing down like birds

Stretching out, flying the nest-

It is there you can bear to touch  no further, 

along it’s fathomless length

You put your hands away from

The wanting which ate you and

Never told you its full name.


This next one will hurt

I am Chernobyl

Swallowed Whole, Warped acres radiating

I am 82 feet Tall and growing

And I will fucking end this poem

You think God even raises one eyebrow?

The shoes in the hallway are mine

And multiplying to make waves

Licking up door frames and 

Eating crooked floorboards

I am crooked  – in a way

Craning out of windows

And up at streetlights

From the crooked pavement

Overhead there is nothing, 

No sound, not even ticking

Not even the sound of time, 

It has left me for someone else

And forgotten the promises we made to each other as children

While the wind blew knowingly through the dry grass

And the daisies withered in their chains –

The storks have been dive-bombing our houses

All of my sisters have babies

I shake my fist at the mirrored sky and cry I hate you

Oak Ayling (she/her) is a Pushcart Prize nominated Cornish poet and borderline hermit. Her debut pamphlet ‘With Love from the Curator’ is out now with Indigo Dreams Publishing. Her other works can be found in various literary magazines and anthologies. When not writing or earning her meagre crust she is likely at the bottom of a coffee cup making direct eye contact with the void. Her wildly unimaginative Twitter and Instagram handles are both @oakayling.