Sparklers – Mat Riches


Free booze and hanging mistletoe
had lit our touch papers, sent us
flying into a dark corner.

We exploded across dance floors
like two speeding Catherine wheels
—burning brighter than all the rest.

Stopped at red lights too far from home,
I see you pushing buttons, and pause.
The rain across the windscreen’s filled

with fireworks from neon shop signs.
The hot potato of my heart
tells me not to go back.

Mat Riches is ITV’s poet-in-residence (They don’t know this). Most recently he’s had work in Wild Court and Finished Creatures. He co-runs Rogue Strands poetry evenings and has a pamphlet out with Red Squirrel Press in 2023.
Twitter @matriches Blog: Where The Fox Hat.

Gift – Mat Riches


You’re hooked up at home, plumbed into machines
for hours, as your kidneys are pressure-washed.
Nothing to be done but stare out
of converted office windows
at resident blackbirds.

Your cat wanders through to offer the gift
of a frightened hatchling caught in its jaws.
I’ve not brought so much
as a seedless grape.

Outside, the older birds strafe the garden,
pointlessly singing We are here.
Where are you?


Mat Riches is ITV’s poet-in-residence (they don’t know it). His work’s been in Dream Catcher, Firth, London Grip, Under The Radar, Atrium, Orbis, South, Obsessed With Pipework, and Algebra of Owls. He’s tweets as @matriches and blogs at

The Lost Luggage Office – Mat Riches

The Lost Luggage Office
I love it here, to wander among the aisles,
by size and date of arrival.
I can cover miles in a day, and months in any pile.

These have never been opened under my auspices.
I like to imagine their content;
their reasons, and their purposes.

This one, in black, small and carry on.
I imagine it’s a contract killers’-
housing his gun, a silencer. Holding its tongue.

I picture him having a change of heart,
a mid-air career re-appraisal, switching tack
and turning back, heading for the start.

Or this one, it’s red, slightly larger from 1987;
the very embodiment of a ‘valise’.
It holds in my minds eye just bare essentials.

Lingerie and scents; just enough detail
to wonder if the affair is still going,
or had the longevity of a chem trail?

It’s mainly the smaller stuff that ends up here,
the larger belonging to families
with more to lose. With the threat of tears

they hunt better, further, longer.
Straight down the line,
the lure of lost toys is stronger.

We all place our locks on things, keep our keys safe.
People have said to me, in the past
you’d do well out of here, without the baggage.


By day Mat is a researcher for ITV. He has been published in And Other Poems, Obsessed With Pipework, Ink, Sweat & Tears, and was longlisted for Primers 2 via Poetry School and Nine Arches Press. He is yea high.
Blog: Twitter: @matriches