creature comfort

goat-eyed and fragile
                                        I lay my head in your lap.
seven days
                                         I have struggled        braying         spitting

against the grain                         my stubborn head wearing
against the rope
             for the lesson:
in a war of attrition, both sides experience loss.

                                     I am tired,
                                                                & shed my horns at the door
                                                                and all at once I surrender to the hand.


on a sparse and salted mountainside

you can learn to love
                              that dense and thickly tangled foliage called scrub that snarls    at your ankles,
that devours                       gentler objects. you can learn there are ways to chew through it. chew
twice, you call it cud. now repeat. Reticulum; Rumen; Omasum; Abomasum              I will tell you
my ventricular secret;                        how my stomach has four chambers, like the pumping blood-
muscle, or a goathouse with four spacious rooms. in my body, I clutch stones          on the
inside where they cannot be found,     whisper                     bezoar,                     bezoar.
I am not your creature.                     you come to me to learn                              ways
across the slant mountainside.     
I will tell you, for one, your hooves? too soft. go to the
rocks                     and learn to calcify. I did, I did, I love the taste of salt deposit                        on
an evening when water has fallen away, and the air is crisp.                     I will tell you
what I suspect:                     someone has sown this grass with salt                   I recognise hunger
crystals         but to what end I cannot understand. you are smiling. ha. what for? I can tell     by the
emptiness of your paunch,      your bald and vacant smoothness:                  you wish you were me!



Leah Jun Oh is the fourth editing intern taking part in Ink Sweat & Tears‘ paid internship programme and will be with us from January 2022 until the end of April. She is an alumna of Queen Mary University’s BA (Hons) English Literature and MA Contemporary Writing Programmes, having received a full studentship to study the latter and achieved a First Class degree in both. Her work on poetry was cited as “highly sophisticated, conceptually and emotionally insightful, stylish, indeed rigorously aesthetic.”

Leah is a writer and a Ledbury Poetry Critic. She writes in London and lives in her head.

IS&T internships run for 4 months each consecutively, and in order to go some way towards redressing the balance in publishing, will for the foreseeable future come from the Black, Asian, Latinx and other ethnic minority communities; we will almost certainly expand our searches to include other disadvantaged groups as our programme develops. More details are below. The next window for applications will open at the end of January.


The IS&T Internship Programme

Details on how to submit to Leah can be found here.