‘when we are alone / you underestimate us / but together we take up the pavement / cemented / and you feel threatened / my girls’

In her debut collection, Leyla Josephine dances between her private and public lives, with her poetry navigating secrets, faith, shame, lust, death and more. You can read an exclusive extract of a few poems from the collection below.


In Public/In Private
By Leyla Josephine
Published by Burning Eye Books


In Public / In Private

Definition of in public:
in a place where one can be seen (by many people or one other person): there is no specification of how they are seen, if they are aware they are being seen or if there is any value/ truth in what is observed.
Sentence examples: The former actress is now rarely seen in public. They were seen kissing in public. The drunk pissed in public, a breeze on her pebbledash bum.
Definition of in private:
Not in public: secret, confidential, without others seeing. Sentence examples: The hearings will be conducted in private. May I speak to you in private? The poet cried in private and she didn’t like that no one knew; it made her question whether the crying
happened at all.


Sub Club

The sky has caved in
and we can finally touch it.
We are abyss
dancing. Sucked into
the vacuum, side by side.
Geckos with wide eyes.
Even the light has a pulse tonight.
Stars spiral down the drains.
The bathroom has flooded
again. One-eyed gods
thud above us,
and we sacrifice
our limbs willingly.
Charging ourselves
to oblivion, swallowing
batteries. We are so high
if we died like this
it would feel right.
Taxis wait above
our submarine
on the soaked street
ready to take us
to worried parents,
but we’re not finished yet.
The floor thumps
into our legs,
travels up our spines
until it feels like the music
is coming out
from our insides.
We are bleached
by strobe light.


The girls

i’ve got the girls / forever / they’ve been with me / staggering down streets / laughing / dancing / on tables / girls / with our tales that we keep / for takeaway meals / girls / hold your hand / make you tea / come to bed with me girl / seas separate

us sometimes / but somehow we come home / to melt / into each other / always / the girls / mac counter warriors / belts of lipstick weapons / contouring is witchcraft / fuck him / fuck that / taking our bodies back / bring the girls out of the dark / into highlighter herstory / the girls / just try to call us / hysterical girls / fire in our cheeks girls / keys between our knuckles girls / the betrayed again girls / when we are alone / you underestimate us / but together we take up the pavement / cemented / and you feel threatened / my girls / our love stories are the greatest never told / we are the bold girls / the too much girls / we laugh as loud as our mothers / feel the moon in our waters / we don’t chew when we eat / forget to breathe when we speak / we are the don’t interrupt us girls / the angry girls / the silenced girls / the dangerous girls / the we’re coming for you / girls /


In Public/In Private by Leyla Josephine is published by Burning Eye Books, priced £9.99.

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