was the black one mum  

must’ve bought him for us we  

wouldn’t have asked for him  

he was ugly of course he fancied  

princess barbie but princess barbie’s  

blue sparklies were strictly for ken  

we’d make them have s.e.x  

surfboard chest against pert rock  

breasts slap and click of  

plastic against plastic we’d make  

steve watch dunk him in  

the bath to cry   

ken would beat steve up  

for fun till past bedtime  

we’d wake to find steve sprawled  

on the daisy carpet  

butt-naked the beatings got worse  

slashes across rubber legs face  

coloured-in all red the beatings  

got more frequent quickly before  

school before mum sees under  

the table it got so bad  

even dad complained his  

lawnmower was jammed  

on closer inspection  

a tiny pair of shorts charred  



from My Darling from the Lions (Picador, 2020/ Tin House, 2021), © Rachel Long 2020, used by permission of the author and the publishers

Rachel Long is the founder of Octavia Poetry Collective for Womxn of Colour, a ‘fiercely community-minded’ collective formed in direct ...

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