The Heavy-Petting Zoo

The Heavy-Petting Zoo

It's your best friend's 16th birthday party.
That's eight hamster lives, and yet she still wasn't wise enough
to realise it would turn into a heavy-petting zoo.
Let's put it this way - you wouldn't bring the family,
and there's an awful lot of stroking going on.

The lounge crawls with muzzy, fuzzy pubic mice.
You want to hibernate, but every bedroom is locked.
(That soft-haired girl from the Shetlands is offering rides.)

You could have been a part of it -
for a small price at the door you could have had them
eating out of your hand by now,
felt that breathy, hot nuzzle-lick,
but instead you're floundering in your own sour
vinegar juices, like a sick terrapin.

The other girls are beautiful and brittle chicks,
eggs precarious and smashable in the cups of their bras,
and he's with her somewhere.

They're probably mewling cutely at each other,
or else she's stripped and pink as a piglet
and they're at it like rabbits.
It's sickeningly bestial.
You hope they get myxomatosis.

Yet in your small child's heart you know
that if he'd called you, you'd have followed him as she did.

As a lamb does, whitely and without question.


from The Heavy-Petting Zoo (Bloodaxe, 1998), © Clare Pollard 1998, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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1The Heavy-Petting Zoo

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2The Bridesmaid

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3Breakfast Poem

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4Still Life

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5Fears of a Hypochondriac Insomniac

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6Buying Manhattan

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7Posing for Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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8To Undefine

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9Fantasy Dinner Party

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10And Desire Shall Fail

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11Mission Beach

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12To Depression

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13To Christchurch

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14The Chain

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15The Bad News

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16Notes to Self

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17For my Fiancé

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18For the Other Ones

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19For my Future Daughter

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20Cordelia at the Service Stop

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21Tam Lin's Wife

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22The Panther

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23Pendle

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24Waiting for the Kettle to Boil, Lancashire

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25October Roses

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26The Skulls of Dalston

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27First Sunflowers

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28Introducing that Most Marvellous Human Freak, the Bearded Lady Miss Lupin

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29The Two Ravens

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30The Wood

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31The Caravan

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Books by Clare Pollard