Sam Meekings is a British poet and novelist. He is the author of Under Fishbone Clouds (called ‘a poetic evocation of the country and its people’ by the New York Times), The Book of Crows, and The Afterlives of Dr Gachet. He has spent the last ten years teaching writing in Asia and the Middle East, and currently works as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Northwestern University in Qatar. His website is
A Green Light

Something inside you glows
as if a bulb had been nestled in your skull

all filament and spark:
the stuff of the soul

and the soul is something that swims
in green light, in the hollows of your body

something alight in your skeleton
like fireflies
your other hidden life

the one you glimpse sometimes in reflection
something inside you glows

and in our dreams this other self
slips free
and stakes through empty towns

and comes to linger in libraries
where the pages of every book are blank.

For a long time now I have been burning

For a long time now I have been burning.

Flecks and ashes spray from my suit

as I walk to work. I hardly notice it now.

Maybe it started with my shoes

smouldering, a small flicker, embers nestled

between my toes. I brushed it off. Petty

slights, parties I wasn’t invited to, a passed

over promotion. Later

snaking up my ankles, flames leaping

from the pleats of my trousers.

A loved one disappearing. It seethes

and pops, leaves my skin like crackling.

The news each day a different spark.

Sometimes someone notices and

reaches for a glass of water,

a hydrant, an extinguisher, but I tell them

No, don’t worry. Not even a river or sea.
I am burning, always burning.

And besides, I hardly notice it now.