Pam Thompson

Pam Thompson is a poet and educator based in Leicester, UK. Her publications include The Japan Quiz ( Redbeck Press, 2009) and Show Date and Time, (Smith | Doorstop, 2006). Pam’s second collection, Strange Fashion, was published by Pindrop Press in 2017. She is a 2019 Hawthornden Fellow.

The Memory Theatre


(after Self-Portrait by Carmen Calvo)



I am the doll in the stiff lace ballgown

holding props: a tiny axe, fishing flies.

The horseshoe, I nail upside down in the Green Room.


After you left, these are the things I gathered

from our old white bedspread

and took them to the memory theatre—


tossed the red paper roses onto the proscenium—

I heard the ones you gave her were white, and real—

kicked off each black high-heeled shoe,


set the Venetian mask spinning from the gantry.

It twists its sad glitter face, this way,

that, as if it is looking for someone in the audience.


The elephant tusk nestling in the wings.

reminds me of your penis.

How insignificant, out of the spotlight.


My lines are written on my hand

in case the lead is indisposed. You’ll wink

from the front row. That will be my cue.



Late August, Antrim Coast



I walk out of my hotel and across to the harbour

catching the smell of brambles, of autumn, and the North Sea

shifts and turns, showing its silver belly, like the salmon

shift and turn in cages offshore, and waves roll in from

the Western Isles, bringing the grey horizon closer.

An Irish flag on a small mound is unhindered by a slight breeze.

I’m just passing through but every summer as a boy

my father left the city to holiday in these seaside towns.


Near where my grandfather’s cobbler’s shop used to be

in Sandy Row, kerbstones painted red, white and blue.


These borders, their perpetual trip-wires and snares.