Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
17 October 2013updated 02 Feb 2015 4:03pm

“Open Thou Our Lips”: a poem by Michael Symmons Roberts

By michael symmons-roberts

Because there is a word we must not say,
of course we hear it everywhere.

The dog left in a cold yard sings it.
Unanswered phones in locked houses

are desperate to utter it, newsreaders
with currency updates breathe it

between yen and dollar. Like many so
afflicted I pace the bare boards

of my room and listen to the voice
inside my skull intone it as a litany.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

A bit of me is tempted to come out with it,
since none would hear and it would be

a weight off my tongue, but when I open
my window the world rushes in:

moon-lust, elm-smoke, sirens, everything.

Michael Symmons Roberts recently won the Forward Prize for Poetry for his collection “Drysalter” (Jonathan Cape, £12), from which this poem is taken