Selected Poem, Ella Frears

Murder Hole 

The castle looked much more magnificent online.
A woman in a gable hood and lace collar says, prithee,
enter, my lord, and your chest inflates as you swan
into the ‘Throne Room.’

Other people’s children occupy all the interesting bits,
and there are only so many lengthy texts about archery
a girl can read. I try to whip up some enthusiasm
for a fragment of sword, a coin.

I am besieged, I think, squinting through the thick,
narrow windows at the distant sea. Really,
it’s the opposite – you’ve barely looked at me today.

In the dungeon, a man tries to sell me an abstract
painting of a horse, while a mannequin, slumped
in the corner, emits groans. Peering down

a ‘murder hole’ I spy the top of your head.
For throwing hot sand, tar, scalding water, quicklime, boiling oil…
the label says. That would really change our dynamic.

Spit on him, says a child also looking down. And shout bum.

Copyright ©Ella Frears



“Murder Hole” is from Ella Frears’ 2021 Rough Trade pamphlet I Am The Mother Cat, a series of poems written as part of a residency at John Hansard Gallery, Southampton.

The opening line of the poem immediately draws our attention to the disparity between the virtual world of the internet and “real life”, although as the poem progresses the experience of both may be similar – we encounter, in comic style, disappointment, frustration and neglect. The fourth stanza takes a sharp turn into the surreal, with an abstract painting of a horse and a groaning mannequin.

The poem resolves with gleeful humour, as the narrator considers taking revenge on the inattentive partner seen earlier in the poem.


Ella Frears is a poet and artist originally from Cornwall, based in London. She has been poet in residence for the National Trust (Knole House), Tate St Ives, K6 Gallery, Back from the Brink, The Observatory (Buckler’s Hard) and Royal Holloway University among others. Her collection Shine, Darling (Offord Road Books, 2020) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s