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This poem is taken from PN Review 109, Volume 22 Number 5, May - June 1996.

A Short Story Alison Brackenbury

Hell has its parties. She has learnt their rules,
Bitter as smoke wreathes, urgent and expensive.
Arrive there late, so everybody feels
You have been somewhere more exciting. leave
Before the end; toss on exhausted air
The glittering name of someone who's not there.
You look confused! Though parties are a war,
Aren't they to meet someone, to smile, seduce,
Shake out your hair, dismiss what came before,
With deft back to old lovers, introduce
Yourself as free of blemish, grudges, strings:
Clasp the clean glass, then see what midnight brings?

Though she would recognise all that you say,
Quickened breath, the daring, the raw sweat,
This party is for writers. Even they

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