They left

to spend more time with their families
which was bad news
for their families,
who had to put up
with their daft daydreams
and scatter-brained schemes
at home

occasionally,
they’d suggest an outing
to some relic
coated in dust,
or a tea shop
at a National Trust,
only to lose interest
before they’d even left
the house

they had no idea
how to get there –
no map or Satnav
in case they got lost,
no idea of what it might cost,
no food or water,
no suncream or macs

someone else
could take care of all that

Beach Reading

Essential to any beach trip this summer
is Mouna Lellouche’s Obsidian Nights,
an exploration of the self and modernity,

and best consumed in its original Berber,
of course. She’s been gone a year now.
There’s no book that shouts ‘READ ME!’

louder than the waves which crash
upon the rocks than John Phillipston’s
fine new exploration of equine prostitution

in early modern theatre, ‘Tis Pity
She’s a Horse’
. I woke one morning
and she’d just cleared out. And, finally,

any time spent relaxing underneath that –
no note, nothing – Mediterranean sun
would be incomplete without the latest –

she’d only taken the little suitcase –
Oriana Malmoud, whose new book,
The Insubstantiality of Things, is a sustained critique

of consumer culture – pizza again tonight –
which, she argues, can only be combated
by a new set of moral imperatives.

At the Ghostbusters Training Academy for Women

Well, love, it looks like you’ve got a shape-shifter
there, tricky buggers them, please excuse my French.
You’ll need your photon gun and a monkey wrench,
if you’ve got one to hand. Watch as you lift the

neutrona wand, love, valuable that is. Good
stuff. Now, there’s a cyclotron in that backpack,
not that your pretty head should worry about that.
It’s to concentrate the protons, see. That should

create a positronic ionized stream
to polarize with the negative charges
of the ectoplasm. Still with me, darling?
Lovely. Wait ‘til you hear the shape-shifter scream …

There. He’s not going anywhere! Now, love, just
pop him right inside this Muon Trap. Double
check he’s secure. We don’t want any more trouble
from the likes of him! There, you did it! You must

be exhausted. I didn’t think you’d stick it,
not at first. It’s tiring work – even for men.
A lot of people wouldn’t have it in them.
Still, a cup of tea will sort you out. Biscuit?