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Naomi Foyle

The Q



the Q

stuck in my craw

like the eel

I once saw

being eaten by a heron

‒ gulp after gulp ‒  


the heron

I was not hungry

for the Q,

the opposite

in fact, but

in those dark days

of mourning


had nothing

to do with it ‒

the Q was time itself,

it lived through us,

we lived through it,

force-fed by its

piping & tubing,

its cake icing nozzle,

lodged deep in our guts,

its thick, sickly paste

squeezing out

queasy memories

of that other

lower-case q,

that YouTube q

for the food bank,

stretching back

street after street ‒

in our days of great grief

the Q,

like a glittering snake,

strangled all thoughts

of hunger ‒

dazzled we were,

the Q was an occasion

for tears & awe . . .

Naomi Foyle is the author of five science fiction novels and three poetry collections: The Night Pavilion and The World Cup, both from Waterloo Press, and Adamantine (Pighog Press, 2019). For her poetry and essays about Ukraine she was awarded the 2014 Hryhorii Skovoroda Prize, named after the itinerant nineteenth century philosopher, poet and hedgerow educator.



the Q

was a sacrament,

a locus

for losses

we had all borne,


we had all made,


we all need:

who, in the golden years

of our childhoods,

did not learn

the Immutable Rules of Q:

One rule for Q,

One rule for all the other

Q always comes before U;

Q is unique & worth the  
  most points;

Q can travel on any square,

in any direction,

distending back centuries

and forward into the otherwise

uncertain future . . .

now, it is true

that for decades

I had tried to ignore the Q,

turn my back on its games,

but in those days

of deep sorrow

cutting across,


the Q

was impossible ‒

the Q

in its emblematic presence,

majestic absence,

was everywhere,

commanding our reverence,

quaffing our quiddity,

spreading q-essence,

policing our ps and qs,

as it crawled out

from inside us,

where, all these years,

it had been

quietly feeding . . .



The Q

was a tapeworm

growing in my intestines

pushing up

past my ribcage,

tearing my esophagus,

thrusting its head

through my jaws,

its slick purple armour

gleaming in the light,

its thieving diamond eyes

staring into mine,

reminding me

who was boss,

who owned my country

its seabeds & windfarms,

politicians & newspapers,

its imperial past,

laws and lies,

old songs and young hearts,

and try as I

or you might

to get to grips

with the Q,

pull it out of our mouths,

ask it a simple question

or two ‒

to even think

about doing so,

like using one’s reason,

like boycotting the alphabet

with a blank piece of paper,

was, overnight,

cue for treason –

the Q is us,

we are the Q ‒

I was wrong all along ‒

we are not choking

on the Q,

we are its tail  

& with coruscating grace,

the Q

is swallowing

as many of us

as it can ‒

sticking out

its curlicue tongue

at the rest

bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

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