Biographical Details

Pauline is a Liverpool-based writer and poet. She was Poet-in-Residence with Open Eye Gallery (2016 – 2019) and her recent pamphlet The Weight of Snow (Maytree Press, 2021) won the 2021 Saboteur Award for best poetry pamphlet. She has an MA in Creative Arts and a PhD from Liverpool University. She was recipient of a 2021 MaxLiteracy award for a project working with Open Eye Gallery and Wirral Hospitals’ School.



Poems for morphrog24


Drowned in Dust

Bad Dream 5

Bad Dream 9




(15 May, 1980)


I was so dressed up,

made-up, ready to meet

the other witches that night.


There was no rain

though I remember rain. No bus

though I was sure I got there


in time. Miles away, too afraid,

at 16 to phone home for a lift.

I had the taste of red wine in my mouth


like artists in the novels

I read, or the books I dreamed

I would write.


I pictured the broom

fixed to Carol’s wall, imagined

how she made it to Morocco


and back, to cut out

all traces of John,

root and branch.


I’m glad to be alive.

I don’t want to remember.

I don’t wish to say what happened.


I’m sorry I got into the car.




© Pauline Rowe




Drowned in Dust


Half a league from my childhood church.

they raise my unbreathing head,

carry my corpse to the Angel and Elephant.

“You’re too young,” shouts the landlord,

“we’ll lose our licence.  Come in.”

The women drinking there are dull with gin.

The medical assistant shakes his head:

“Too late for electricity – she’s dead.”

The women clean my nostrils with soft strips of cloth

leave black rags like tadpoles, blood-clots, tar –

these late ablutions don’t take them far.


The medical assistant raised his hand:

“Does anyone possess a magic wand?”

He shoved a bellows pipe up my nose,

blocked my mouth, tried to inflate my lungs.


Breath, the principal thing to be attended to

was stopped with dust. This dust – your sprinkling,

it turned my lungs to glue. The dust was you.


Life did not appear. The medic lit his briar:

“she is full dead of dust,” he murmured, “little liar.”


It was then they put my body on the fire.



© Pauline Rowe




Bad Dream 5

Sex with Strangers

is a regular inconvenience:


the ones who smell

like the butchers in the precinct


the ones who refuse to wash

or use talc for emergencies


the ones who hold remnants

of food in their teeth


who pee out of the window at dusk –


though I haven’t lived on the fifth floor

for fourteen years –


When I wake up

the shame is like ink

on soft paper


more or less contained

as it spreads slightly, slowly

like a rumour.



© Pauline Rowe




Bad Dream 9


Given my girth, it was awkward

the endeavour to carry my own spare bodies

in thin cases, the machete blunted,

once they were filleted –


cumbersome layers of flesh

in the leather portmanteau –

designed for authentic sketches

and original works of fine art.


There were gouts of blood

on the weapon’s blade

though I failed to find

compelling evidence of a crime.


I looked but couldn’t see

my bones on the road.


I heard the laughter of corvids

behind the box hedge


and the shrill scream of a cat

in our reclusive neighbour’s yard.


© Pauline Rowe