Your sobs disrupt
the sound of Robert Lowell reading
his ‘Old Flame’ from the app on my phone.
I sit on the balcony finishing a final cigarette
and try to enjoy it.

Leaves crackle in the darkness
just outside the panes. The orange ember
starts to burn my knuckle. Myopic, I spot Venus
ablur. Regardless, she begins to fade.
The sky is relieved of the strain.

A cuckoo call
cracks my blank concentration.
Its offspring laid warm in another’s nest.
I stub out the cigarette, sucked down now
to a smouldering stinking filter.

We’ll wake to a morning light
staining the walls grey. After all, only habit
remains. I beg a few final minutes from the night
as you lie, dreaming on our bed, alone.
I turn out the light at dawn.




James Bradley is 31 years old and was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities and now lives and works in Beijing.