PART OF THE The Bold and the Brave ISSUE

“I want to talk I want to pretend that Acute tolerance to living With the undesired and irreversible Can be deciduous”

Limbic, the debut poetry collection by Peter Scalpello, is a glittering glittering ode to sex, intimacy, and queer discovery, exploring topics of chemsex, addiction, masculinity, joy, and more. You can read three poems from the collection below.


By Peter Scalpello
Published by Cipher Press


The Hotline
Since I have more time on my hands
Now that my lover must work
And I gave up I watch the hours fill
All transparency between us
Like joint aphonia
And give myself
To the job of remembering
In order
To erase

It goes like this
Each night I call the hotline
To the deceased and although
They say you know something’s wrong
When the dead pick up every time
You do
And briefly
It feels like being held
Under the weight
Of compulsion

I want to talk I want to pretend that
Acute tolerance to living
With the undesired and irreversible
Can be deciduous

When I reach you
You say something kind
Followed by something viscerally painful
Then something
Utterly mundane

I just wanted you to know
As knowing is a kind of cruelty
About the boundaries I lack
And the surplus of handshakes
That wring out of me
About the nights put into
Psych bed 28
And that I lied
I don’t have a lover
Irid nor decent

I just wondered if you’d heard
As herding is communion
That I am affected by the world
And the feeling isn’t mutual
That I live

With desire to do bad
For the repentance that chases action
And I realise now
That you did too
Maybe it’s a draw

I’m not dead
You answer and hang
Up from
Wherever you are

I wake to the moon behind slate cloud
Still the water bends


blood samples. three pulsing vials.
torrent, exhale, trickle.
have you heard of prep? i mean
emtricitabine…tenofovir, i mean
descovy, truvada?

trials. paris, cameroon, cambodia.
i wept for us, as blood performed
an act of betrayal. the fire inside
445mg moves me forward.
what have we learned?

to prick. a caring kind of violence.
dismantle my fingerprint, snatch out
my sins. consume & declare them on
cotton, pure, stain
a shameful crimson.

my sins, which you put there
with disinfected hands, absolved i
play a hand in absolution.
guarded façades remain

with trembling fists blindfold me, unhinge
my jaw & fill it with
truvada. each pill a sapphire relief.
give me one for every soul i ever held inside me,
every [ ███ ] i [ ████ ] this year.

so cram me full, breach capacity
until i choke on my own salvation.
you upped the price & we bled. i spread
my whole & was fed
another chance, for another

chest, his arms & thighs
that grip my need. still i bleed.
my status. why
deny me this armour,
molecular affinity?

how could i outrun
what has been prescribed to me



at the tideline the surfacing sun
overwhelms the horizon
like an ingrown hair and a fish
-erwoman i bothered proposes
that the mackerel here thrive because
when they see the scenery they’re compelled
to make love
it reminds me
of a couple i’ve recently been
spending time with
who met at the memorial of a friend
in ’86
a generation removed
my thumb taps on chests of dads
to replace my own and
assigned-at-birth flesh shapes
that make the gulls above scream
with laughter over the indelicacy
of human orogeny
how one-dimensional
the race for intervention of an all-out
stranger must seem from up there—
my handheld dreamland
the realistic sea beneath us


Limbic by Peter Scalpello is published by Cipher Press, priced £10.99.

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