Lee Mackenzie

The Tick

I spent a month
trapping beetles
on hills of heather.

In daily brown sweat,
I crushed that heather,
spat at midges near my lips,
pushed decades’ moss
down under foot, cut out
rude mouths made malleable
like water dammed. I laid out
my traps until the tick attached.

I’d find her in the shower later,
braving waves of soap growing
as wet minutes passed.

Dressing, I avoided breaking her
carcass. Gingered clothes
round her spot. Her head
in my bloodstream, drinking.

Cut short, she’d vomit
vein routes lead to my heart.
Now, she’s growing again,
spilling ink: life’s blot.

I will remove her
to avoid bloody troubles—
untie our knot.

I’ll watch under the microscope,
her crabby head
screaming beneath a fiddle of legs,
swiping soundless.

I leave it on the slide,
move to the door
until it’s a mere dot,
and walk away.


Lee Mackenzie’s poems have been published in journals including New European, Pulp Poets Press, and Bonnie’s Crew. He is writer-in-residence at the Josephine Butler College, Durham University and one half of the art collective ‘is broken’.

Read Lee’s poem and many excellent others in Issue 1 of Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, available to buy here.