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Bridget Penney

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

Bridget Penney was born in Edinburgh and is now based in Brighton. Her book publications are Honeymoon with Death and Other Stories (1991, Polygon), Index (2008, Book Works), and Licorice (2020, Book Works). Stories and non-fiction have appeared in print and online magazines: among them gorse, Snow lit rev, and 3:AM Magazine. She is founder and co-editor of Invisible Books, publishing innovative poetry and prose through the 1990s with occasional manifestations since. Currently she is guest-editor for Book Works' new series, Interstices.


Athena B.

Fishersgate, Sussex. December 2019.

I have been turned to stone

by my own shadow.

Rough enough justice?

Medusa laughs at me.

Pissed And Fallen Over,

both my arms broken.

I must be dreaming.

The weather doesn't help.

Habit of speech, if I

could craft words into

stanzas, rueing the

typewriter I threw out.

Her severed head rolling

its eyes, snakes knotted

beneath her chin. No

muscle cuirass has wings.

It produced a sound as

from a myriad

lorries. Imbricate

bosom plate, my girdle,

twin cranes crossing their arms.

In my angry moods:

Removal without

authority of an-

y oil OR removal

without colouring

or marking of oil:

‘Like fucking Alien

bursting out of her chest’.

After-effects of


crack into a scaly

film on my stomach. Dear

valued customer,

how did we do? A

hundred tassels of gold.


Spouting Homer in Greek

doesn't prove you un-

derstood it. With her

hands full, (ironic)

and, born fully armoured

Clearly a multi-

tasker, she is the

companion of heroes

Athena the Goddess

of wisdom, craft and

war adds classical

charm, not in some slutty

off-the-shoulder number.

There's little doubt she

would be a talking

point in any garden.


Flowingly, with feeling.


puts words in the mouths

of the dead and absent.

C.C.T.V. ghosts us.

The air is alive

with images in

high resolution. ‘We

would leave secret objects

we had been given

in the dead of night

and take from the tunnel

other hidden things: not

even your priestess

knew what these objects

were,’ Medusa says.

‘When i was just seven,

i was dew-carrier,

then at ten, i learned

to bake bread, then i wore

the saffron robe and danced

as a bear before

my menses started,

and finally, having

become a lovely lass

with a necklace of

dried figs, i was raped

by a drunken sailor,

god, whatever, and you

were merciless, A-

thena’. Same old, snake

tressed grrrl. Our Queen's elec-

tric seabeds out there we

must guard against whom?

Napoleon? Tun-

nels run from the redoubt.


From subtle to sassy

we got you covered.

I hate this lipstick,

it is very sheer with

great big chunks of glitter

that feel grainy on.

It looks great with a

smoky eye, or just

Glass of milk, broken

blonde, venerate, de-

ceiving or fraudu-

lent, falls down or gives way,

and we just wanted you

to know you are help-

ing other people.

Hello, happy birthday.

Dreams at the bottom of

the street; hidden book

room. Greetings, fish-tailed

nags, you, Sthenios

and Skylla, (secretive

creatures who do not

seek out human con-

tact) make a commanding

Say ‘I'm on a donkey’.

When we had witches

we used to burn them,

but, in Spain, they sent them

to Ibiza. Enter

this 16 digit

code to earn yourself.

Three corners, no right turn,

yes, my lack of sense of

altitude & scale

is remarkable.

The radar horizon

is approximately

seven per cent fur-

ther away. In air

and sea travel, a naut-

ical mile = one min-

ute of arc round an

Earth meridian.

I did not say Port Said.


Simple polygonal

structure; the word is

paving. Bramble or

dandelion by my feet.

Neoclassical urn,

antiqu’d patina.

Cable box under

our U.P.V.C. bay;

star lights up our neighbour's.

Recycling, rubbish.

Fully helmeted;

from my armpit sticks out.

Lift me onto a stack

of pallets, a child's

plastic play kitchen.

Horizon climbs higher,

no privacy veil. Bare

bones of the flower-

ing cherry, pruned

in vase shape for sunlight

A location that needs

no beauty filter.

Complexity is

the new reality.


The magic mineral

of the middle ages

combined with portland

cement; fireproof, ratproof

and practically in-

destructible. A

series of roofs that

look like a staircase pushed

Prefab, chainlink, cement.

All kinds of windows.

Dormer, eyebrow, port-

hole. Bricks stacked on pallets

LBC common brick;

high quality clay

facing brick suitable

for all applications.

Soft red imperial

handmade brick. Concrete

common brick; Thermal

Mass & Sound reduction

Class A Solid Blue Brick;

precise square-edged smooth

brick conforming to.

With great compressive strength.

Frostproof, a special mix

of aggregate which

is enhanced by time

and the weather. Handmade.


Do you pay attention

to monuments and

the stories they tell?

Do you think the history

you've been taught needs challeng-

ing? Have you found out

something you didn't

know today? Athene

noctua bobs its head

up and down when al-

armed. Their wonderful,

frowning expressions and

quirky behaviour

makes it a pleasure

to observe them,

whether it be watching

them sunbathe on a warm

summer's afternoon

or hunting at dusk.

Our flower garden! House

clearance, coffee roasters.

Chrysalis Beauty

release your inner

butterfly. A little

drop of heaven. Scan this

magic lantern slide.

Sharp booze on your breath

masked by cherry vape. Switch

signs, striking displays ltd.

Metal finishers.

Flamenco, a shade

above. All cat’s removed

from 4 x 4s. Smoother,

softer, richer. You’re

amazing. You’re a-

mazing. Their own brand

has so much sugar, my

teeth hurt when I bite

into it. Arm her

with panoply & hel-

met. She’s an astronaut.

She’s just back from the

moon. Draw her along

in a chariot. I

am ’m crafting to you

this message. These girls

fight with stones and sticks

to honour Athena?


In the teeth of the gale.

High viz clothing must

be worn at all times.

This week’s steals: mango, pine-

Apple, persimmon. What’s

Galileo for?

Free civilian

use of U.S. Global

Positioning Systems

is a privilege

that may be withdrawn

at any time. Based on

absolute location,

relative movement

and time transfer. Safe-

ty helmets must be worn.


My gut stuffed with micro-

plastic. Hair braided

with cable ties. Tin

can hat, eyes painted a-

wake. If I were pumice,

right, then I would fuck-

ing float until tho-

roughly trempay, form new

islands after the e-

ruption, not so hard

on the Mohs scale you

can’t, god. Venus my

sister: from her breasts springs

milk. From her cut throat

blood gushes. Made just

down the way, her subjects

elevate, nourished by

her labour. Slavers,

artists, pop royals.

‘Jealous,’ she said. Shut up.


Shrug one arm of any

well-fitting garment,

(not a lifejacket).

Underarm darts, cut on

the bias, that dress will

it keep out the cold?

Collar and cuffs, wigs,

breeches, undies. Stockings

suspender belt string vest

T or polo shirt

sateen, neoprene,

buttons mother-of-pearl

If you enter water


relax and float on

your back to catch your breath.

Cold water shock only

lasts a minute. Try

to get hold of some-

thing that will help you float.

If you feel the current:

How do I turn my

trousers into a

flotation device? Half

a pint of rip-tide; no

mobile phone signal.

Please return my bo-

dy to the place of my


Not all ads are the same.

Ads seen here fund your

local services.

Log in now to tell us

what you think the song is.

Aegis fake snake pat-

tern the breath of fish?

Oxygen in the wa-

ter will not save you. In

summer, the harbour's

western arm a hot-

spot for Mackerel; Black

‘Skimmer’ Bream; Flounder; Sole;

Plaice. The tunnel has

not been immune from

political bashing.


Naked in the warm, brack-

ish, perishable.

Harry read Sean’s poem

on the sea back to it.

Never can ask him now

whether it’s Betty

Davis’ turquoise chain.

I feel down this morning;

we have made a terrible

mistake. As long as

we remain vigil-

ant. These are the wrong words.


People see the ships come

and go but there is

a lot of process.

I have supremacy

of the terminal and

all areas around.

Red valerian,

sea kale, starry clover.

N.C.I. watchkeepers

provide the eyes and

ears along the coast.

Spot, Plot, Report, Respond.

The true horizon can

only be observed

when it lies on the

sea’s surface. Harbour Cam,

meander of footprints,

a drone’s eye view of

sunrise, strobing the

corrugated metal

hut. Early morning folk,

out with their dogs, throw

shadows, steam & smoke.

Longshore drift, corrected.


Woke up one morning and

I couldn’t do the

splits. Got my ear pierced,

got a spray tan, five days

off work. Thin and angry,


CASE my chaotic

thought. Scribbling the air, I

Spread the love like butter,

I tell you. The door

is open wide. It’s

like a tardis inside,

like an Aladdin’s cave.

Vast array and they

are lovers of nat-

ure so i always take

An atomic fountain

is a cloud of atoms,

cooled to absolute

zero, agitated

by lasers. Weightless in

the toss (if you could

see) they resemble

energetic droplets.

Absolute time does not

exist. They count time

at different rates

and so they diverge, skew.


Halloumi breakfast; three

pounds seventy-five.

Mint tea in Arabic,

fully recyclable cups.

Mushrooms, always mushrooms,

I've gone round the world.

One Glastonbury,

everyone who bought one

of those black candles shaped

like a hand in a

rubber glove had some-

thing bad happen. Shove my

pound up my arse. It was,

like, my first day in

year seven. Between

Scylla and Charybdis.


Attempts to cross the Chan-

nel in small boat to

be an infrequent

phenomenon by Spring

2020. The sea

is a mass of dir-

ections. We Swim or

we Sink. The wealth over-

floweth its banks, and changes.

Can you resist our

indulgent offer?

The heavens open up.


She sells seashells is an

example of what?

T-shirts, postcards, cute

unicorn inflatable,

The seething sea ceaseth

thus. The seething sea

sufficeth us. This

thing just rose up in me

Forces! Forces! - which can't

be changed. The trouble

with our age is that

it wishes to pretend

a whole lot of things are

not there. Athena

cosplay, truly a

supermarket of sym-

bols. My shipwrecked namesake

continues history

on by serving the

finest fresh fish‘n’chips.


Thanks are due to Harry (from Canterbury), whom I sat next to at Horseplay’s memorial event for

Sean Bonney held at The Black Dove, Brighton on 28/11/2019. Also to Mandy. And Pete.

Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus, the Hyundai 2019 commission for the Tate’s Turbine Hall, was

constructed at the Millimetre workshop in Portslade, five minutes’ walk from Athena B. My text

incorporates words from material written by Kara Walker to accompany her exhibition.

The text also incorporates words spoken by Ian Hamilton Finlay in the course of an interview

conducted by Christopher McIntosh and Katherine Kurs. Gardens of the Gods: Myth Magic and

Meaning, I.B. Tauris, 2005.

Special thanks to all my anonymous contributors.



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