Touch-Me-Not 

Ian Humphreys  

 

this flower 

doesn’t belong 

on the canal 

hiding 

in an airless tunnel 

where no-one goes 

before dark 

rooted 

to a thin layer 

of dirt 

head bowed 

butter bloom 

an open mouth 

that faint smell 

of sherbet 

when someone 

passes 

it brushes 

a thigh 

springs back 

against the wall 

careful 

just one touch 

triggers 

a scattering 

of seed 

into the night 

 

Touch-Me-Not is from Ian’s first collection, Zebra, and also featured in the anthology 100 Queer Poems – a Guardian Best Poetry Book of the Year in 2022. 

About Ian Humphreys:

Ian Humphreys is Writer in Residence at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. His latest poetry collection, Tormentil (Nine Arches Press) won a Royal Society of Literature ‘Literature Matters’ Award, and is a Yorkshire Times ‘Book of the Year’. His debut collection, Zebra (Nine Arches) was nominated for the Portico Prize. Ian is the editor of Why I Write Poetry, and the producer and co-editor of After Sylvia: Poems and Essays in Celebration of Sylvia Plath (both from Nine Arches). His work has been highly commended in the Forward Prizes for Poetry, and he has written for the BBC.

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