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7 February 2024

The NS Poem: Can dragonflies hurt you?

A new poem by Matt Howard

By Matt Howard

the man with the long-handled dustpan asked me
while I was passing the riverside bar first thing 
this morning, as his eye caught mine, twitchy,
pointing at a little flap among the fag-butts and papers.
You’re fine I said, moving closer, smiling
and anyway, that’s a damselfly,
a banded demoiselle; blue, a male
downed in the wind or just near to being done.

Long-leg-wary, he lifted it clear, 
stooped with too much information.
The day glinted between harm and care

and now, if asked again, man to man, I’d answer here
the same to my dear ones or any stranger –
such hurt lands in the way love or its absence can.

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Matt Howard manages the Poetry Centre at the University of Leeds. His second collection, “Broadlands”, will be published in June by Bloodaxe Books

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This article appears in the 07 Feb 2024 issue of the New Statesman, Who runs Labour?

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
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