Jo Surzyn

how fish survive in winter


the lights of calais line up like egg yolks across the channel

and it looks like it’s raining in france We are pretending

we are waiting for a boat and I know you

find it impossible to remember the feeling of cold

when you’re not Do you know electricity

works differently in different countries and for a moment

I can’t say what’s wrong with this

It’s summer here

but not everywhere You shut your eyes

to let that red warmth drift

and I study for the twitch as patterns form

and swim in your non-vision It is in these moments

I think you know how it feels to exist

in the denseness of four degrees c




An Argument on White


My sister knows a thousand words for white,

new words learnt for new houses,

borrowed words to house new whites.


Not borrowed, but stolen

for stealing is to strip the object of its meaning

and ivory becomes no more than a wall colour.


Alabaster or tallow, echo or a welcome pale,

her things are no such colours,

merely the colours of


when the things exist at all.

She wouldn’t even touch the dirty white

of our Grandma’s ivory brooch.


But sister, you should be no stranger

to the re-housing of colour

every word you write is stained with it.


Did you not once tell me

you see every number as a colour,

and every day of the week?


Tell me, sister, what colour is our name?


It is the colour of the leaves on poinsettia

but remember, sister, it is no longer your name.



Jo Surzyn lives and works in Norwich where she is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of East Anglia. Her work has appeared in Lighthouse Literary Journal