Week 1 Poem of the Week: ‘Incubus’, ‘Dartboard’ and ‘Dichotomy’ by Alessandra Rey

Our first poet of the term, Alessandra, discusses female sexuality and the issues faced by women in today’s world


“Sex” as a Woman:


Sadistic snake slithers between thighs
and crawls on skin and glides like clay.
Plump pillows to the mouth muffle
the bawls bewailing in alcohol air.

Cord floats off the shoulder: a petal
deduced as lascivious desire
Hem rises slightly like a solidified stamp
“scripting” the marriage night.

The ring is made of wire twining around
fingers, cutting off scarlet flow
Unease imparts a no, made of concrete.
Cement bubbles gag at trespassers.

Pinned on foam with a nail screeching in guts
and metal restrains the veins that run
He has a gun
It sits in belts and buckles and he shoots it at the nun.

Beasts wear hats to hide their horns
Fork searing weapons ripe to thrust
Favoured habit to dress up as angels-
and believe it so- a forged halo hovers.

The nun, she runs
Escapes clawed clench by an inch
Sinister pants piss on her prayers
And malign memory intrudes on her sleep.


Green eyes, red lips
Hanging on the wall, inanimate.
Ethanol air and a dazed stare
but still a burnished target
dangling there
A vacant destination.

Finger the missiles, warm in the hands,
Hit the mark, win the game
And a toast at your command.
Equipment is no obstacle,
bend the rules to your right,
roll fake dice and score the prize.

Go for the win, ransack the game
and when the player doesn’t
want to play, cheat the score.
Hit the target like it’s never been hit before.
Circle the circle, it can run for miles
you’ll do what it takes and it can take a while.

Thumb the rings, hit the bull’s eye,
the game decrees a stringent law,
but if you’re losing, you can gamble,
and prevail by force.
The gathered crowd, they won’t see
or listen,
too busy cheering at your victory.

The Dichotomy

Here lies the dichotomy,
it breathes fire and ice
to engulf you in burns,
either direction one turns.

It’s a trap! Born in the trap!
It’s situated on the map
between two blocks:
the hard place and the rock.

The bed to lie in,
was made for thee
and one loathes the sheets
that smother thee.

Mary-Madonna, like a virgin-
free of licks, untasted,
Something divine, something clean
something to be worshipped.

Own, own, own,
something you can own.
Aromatic allure in savouring pure
buy the ticket and receive the tour.

Frozen! A block of ice,
audacity act of playing nice.
Give it up now cold slab,
let me jab jab jab! You lose.

You’re loose! Spilt the juice,
quenched the thirst,
something to use.
The giving whore pours and pours!

Easy. It was too easy
Depraved, rolling in dirt and mud,
already tossed, a recycled bud,
tore a petal off but craved first blood.

Pure. The cure to procure,
Persist, persist, adjure, adjure!
No?  Gates are closed, forbidding,
Oppose the saint, now the sinning.

Dirty. The water for thirsty,
easy, easy and gave em’ mercy!
Yes? Horse untamed, ridden,
Attack the villain now de-christened.

Conclusion. No winning!
They’re all corrupt and sinning!
Sex is a weapon
to reckon, threaten and deaden
and a foul-played game for women,
with rules unfairly written.

Image credit: Ruth Pavey

We interviewed Alessandra about her amazing poems after we had read them and tried to delve in to all the detail behind her work!

Alessandra was keen firstly to give me a general overview of this set of three poems which are linked by a focus on women’s sexuality, or facets of it. She tells me that ‘Incubus’ and ‘Dartboard’ explore the “predatory nature women often experience in terms of being pursued, despite resisting or saying no”, an issue still undeniably prevalent in the modern world for many women. Alessandra, however, seeks to articulate such problems in a slightly different tone throughout these poems: she explains that there’s almost a sense of the ridiculous in how disturbingly and upsettingly women can be treated, leading her to write “not in a funny way, but in a somewhat darkly satirical, extreme way.”

Moreover, through the term ‘Incubus’, Alessandra seeks to encapsulate the reality of social problems, even if the word itself has “mythological origins.

“I learnt about the word ‘Incubus’ from another book, and the word stuck with me because when you trace it back, it’s a mythological word, but it just felt real and applicable to real situations; and in terms of the imagery, I wanted to make it painful but also metaphorical and somewhat evasive, because that’s disturbing and horrible. Those things are very much a reality of what the poem is discussing. I wanted the feelings to come from the imagery and the words used.”

Image credit: Keira Quirk

Even from the first line of ‘Incubus’, it is evident that poetic techniques play a significant role in conveying meaning. The sibilance throughout is designed to “make [the poem] as “snaky” as possible”, and to create an “almost visceral experience, sort of saying it out loud, with the “s” sounds making it more sinister because snakes are often seen in that way.” However, with ‘Dichotomy’, the sentences are meant to be as short and clipped as possible, again to “relay the feeling of the words”; and ‘Dartboard’ changes everyday objects into metaphors to the same effect.

Similar to the aspiring poets I have previously interviewed, poetry for Alessandra is an articulation of emotion and therapeutic exercise. She tells me that it’s “very rare to be able to articulate your feelings sometimes in a hyperbolic way, sometimes a beautiful way, sometimes in a more visceral way, or metaphorical.

“[Poetry] does seem like a different outpouring of emotions that can almost mean more than everyday communication.”

Image credit: Keira Quirk

It is also clear that the subjects of these poems are favourites of Alessandra’s, as more generally she tends to “write about the female experience or my personal life” since those are things that she “feel[s] like [she has] more right to talk about.” Nevertheless, she is looking to broaden her horizons as for her, human issues more generally hold special importance, particularly when written in a more abstract form with more power to resonate with others.

As for her inspirations she names several female poets, whose poems and subjects fit with her own interests.

“It’s probably so cliché but I really love Sylvia Plath, Carol Ann Duffy and Maya Angelou. I love a lot of female poets; I need to expand and definitely connect with more male poets, and I think that those are probably classics but I love them!”

And that’s it for our very first poem of the term – if you would like to be featured in one of our seven remaining weeks, please email [email protected] with your wonderful submissions. We would love to hear from you!

Feature image credits: Keira Quirk

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