“You hurt me / With your desire / For other.” Poetry by Deborah Levy

From An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell

February 3, 2023  By Deborah Levy


You hurt me
With your desire
For other. I am
Who I am and I
Am fond of myself.


now you
made me cry with pity
for my poor undone self. all ruffled
and done in

by aristotle’s concept of unity.

(384–322 bc)


What do you want
From a human lover?

Abstract and
Totally useless
Way of seeing to




I know you swim at sunrise
With the newts and water voles
In the mud and silt of our Thames
Buffeted by currents and the wash from boats
(I have to blow-dry your wings for hours after)

No one would have you
Wet and melancholy
(You’re sort of inconsolable)

Weeping tears of gas
Over the spires of north Ilford

Talk to me straight
Like a motorway
Stay in the left lane
Do not use the hard shoulder
Do not drive against the traffic flow
It’s a straight conversation.


sit here.
Yes here.
that’s nice.
straddle my angelic
with yr small town


Like this
My sweet feathery


Extract from An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell, by Deborah Levy. Used with permission of the publisher, And Other Stories. 

Deborah Levy
Deborah Levy
Deborah Levy writes fiction, plays, and poetry. Her work has been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company, broadcast on the BBC, and widely translated. The author of highly praised novels, including three Booker-nominated titles, The Man Who Saw Everything, Hot Milk and Swimming Home, the acclaimed story collection Black Vodka, and two parts of her working autobiography, Things I Don’t Want to Know and The Cost of Living, she lives in London. Levy is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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