Can you hear all the dolls in the attic
scampering on tiny feet in the dust?

In unison, porcelain faces
swivel to eye their handiwork.
They stitched a jacket of fat,
frigid little fingers...

About the poem

This poem was published in BFS Horizons #6, the journal of the British Fantasy Society.

In the poem, I look at the idea of dolls, or poppets, used for witchcraft to cast spells and gain control over a person. Whilst cloth dolls are more common in legends about such magic, I chose china dolls because they have always felt creepy to me. 

The poem is an examination of the long-term, psychological impact of bullying and is also, for me, a rare foray into the world of concrete poetry. In this instance, I felt it was useful to arrange the poem to reflect the internal drama. Bullying often works by breaking a person down to their most vulnerable and even when you do put yourself back together, you're not the same. I used the form to suggest that whittling down and the rebuilding.

The end of the poem also suggests that we can all at times be our own worst enemies. The dolls in the attic are a symbol of the negative voices in our own heads, taunting and belittling like playground bullies and so much more sinister for being inescapable.