Andy Hickmott is a Manchester-based poet and writer. He is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, studying poetry under the direction of the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. His poems have appeared in Poetry News, Popshot, Interpreter's House, The Journal, Orbis and South. They have also been anthologized. His poem "Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1a" won third place in the 2014 York Mix Competition. His first collection, 'A Limited Season', was published in 2013 by erbacce-press. He is a regular reviewer for The Journal. Andy founded the Original Poets (a south London Stanza group based in Clapham Library) before moving to Manchester. He regularly performs at open mic events.
'Deadly Nightshade' (from 'A Limited Season') A mushroom lodged in the damp stump of your throat. It smelt like the inside of an old shoe and now your breath smells of brie, or athlete’s foot. It grew fat and got greedy; the more you fed it, the less it left for you. You shrivelled as your pipeline silted up. The doctor shone a light down your throat and it didn’t come back. He said you’ve a black hole inside you eating everything it touches. Your skin is its event horizon. Think of yourself as a caterpillar whose metamorphosis into a mushroom has begun. You’re a Taurus now but not much longer. Soon you’ll be a crab, or at least the mushroom will be. You should have bellowed at the first sight of red, you should have charged down to A&E much sooner than you did, before you lost out to gravity. The doctors washed their hands. Hospital food is fed to you through a tube, the sacrificial bull being fattened up even as its life drains away. Or is blown away by a mushroom cloud. Nothing goes to waste, every morsel gets recycled. This is a green disease. They’ve treated what’s left of you to a soothing view of a bluebell copse. Heady woodland air blows in through an open window and freshens your breath in one way at least. You see more of your family now than you ever did. They come for the view. It is hard to describe becoming a mushroom. You have lost the gift of speech: your disease has become incommunicable. The doctors say it’s not contagious, but the dust blowing in from the bluebell woods is heavy with mushroom spores.
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