Ransom Tape

Angus Muir
Joe Dunthorne

A boom or some fruit keeps bobbing into frame.
Our children are dressed in their last-seen clothes,
tracksuits the colour of aubergines. They kneel
in a clearing of sawgrass – that puts them anywhere
from the equator to the Tropic of Capricorn.
It feels wrong to mention but the slow zoom
reassures us; we can negotiate with professionals.
In the press, we pretend that marines will slide down
ratlines, laser dots will bindi the kidnappers’ heads.

We never let on that we pay, that everyone does,
handing a holdall to young men in Wendy’s, Caracas,
while our kids, tied at the wrists, wait politely
in the accessible restroom; it opens from both sides.


Joe Dunthorne was born and brought up in Swansea. His debut novel, Submarine, was adapted for film by Richard Ayoade and his second, Wild Abandon, won the Encore Award. His poetry pamphlet was published by Faber and Faber.

While government watches you, who watches the government?