The Taste

Alex Aldred


The taste of you sticks
to the back of the tongue.
It’s the thick yellow residue
of too many cigarettes,
the aftermath of takeaway,
an omen of retching.

The taste of you catches
in the gaps between teeth.
In the slip-spaces beneath,
concealed, where brown plaque
congeals, it creeps into crevices
floss can’t reach.

The taste of you lingers
at the edges of ulcers.
It’s the sweet tang of sick,
of soft pain and tender flesh,
of black back molars,
heaviness and jaw-rot.

The taste of you festers
in ragged cheek walls.
It’s the seeping of wounds,
the rust-stains on enamel,
saliva dyed red
when I brush too hard –

and I do, you know;
four, five times a day,
scrub my mouth
till the bristles cut
and my gums weep blood,
anything to leech out

the taste of you,
the taste of you.



Alex Aldred lives and works in Edinburgh, where he is currently undertaking a PhD in creative writing. His work has previously been published by Daily Science Fiction, the Cordite Review, the Molotov Cocktail, and more. You can find him on twitter @itsmealexaldred, or visit his website at At night, his stories climb out of his laptop and play tricks on him.