Joanna Nissel

JN HeadshotJoanna Nissel’s Guerrilla Brightenings will be published in Spring 2022.

Joanna Nissel first discovered poetry through the gateway drug of prose poetry while at Bath Spa University. She has since been the runner up for the Poetry Business New Poets Prize, ‘Pick of the Month’ for Ink, Sweat and Tears, and won the Bangor Literary Journal 2020 Ekphrastic Competition. Joanna is completing a PhD in ‘Mentoring in the Contemporary UK Poetry Ecology’ at University of Southampton.

On rediscovering a favourite dress
May 2020

Every so often, clash comes back in fashion –tooclose–
scarlet against primrose, aqua against teal.

Now we pilgrim the chalk tracks, learn
the revolving cartography of village windows:

forlorn glances, disapproving gazes, an absence
or deluge of applause. Facebook posts implore nuance,

ask, who are these enemies in our manors?
We examine the pathway’s cultivated borders

and soften at peonies in cerise, mingling
with burnt umber of red helianthus

–that, too, was a choice. Behind hedgerows,
I hear a woman tell her child

to stop flicking beetles from the magnolia.
It takes a moment to understand a system of rebirth,

it takes an opening, that is to say, the warmth
of you sitting beside me.

First published in Tears in the Fence

The Long Man of Wilmington
For Dave

There he is    Skinny light-man    master of rigs
quick-wit stage-caller     His voice over the tannoy
directs bulbs      conjures an Arden that pulses with ravesweat

He taught my father about love
as if browsing cheese samples
proffered on a paper plate

eyeing all the mad    delicious options
never abandoning
the possibility of Wensleydale

In a series of guerrilla brightenings
he infiltrated forests    lined the branches
with fairy lights    tubes of colour    devils   saints

One night they snuck up chalk paths
scaled the Downs                strung the Long Man
where he reclined      lazy as a man can be

until his body    twin poles    glistened
golden light    Edam    topaz
Take this for a fertility symbol    sweetheart