Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Learning the lines

It’s national poetry day this Friday. My own introduction to poetry you could say was rather comical. I had a beautifully elegant teacher called Miss Smith, with a grey-silver bob. She dressed her age in pixie browns and greens, it off-set the colour of her hair. I had a respectful girl crush on her and she expressed faith in me. She introduced me to poetry and debate to much aplomb and consequently, comic timing too. I remember having to study ‘The lady of Shalott’. It’s as long as the conservative budget cuts. Keen to example exactly how assonance was used in the rhyming couplets; speaking before thinking, I read out ‘go’, ‘blow’, ‘below’, from the stanza to prove my point. It was hardly surprising that it raised a laugh in the classroom.

Well, I’m no poet laureate like Carol-Ann Duffy. (I enjoy how uncomfortably close she brings the reader to the topic.) But, I’ve written a few poems; I used to write about rubbish I didn’t understand and later, my somewhat odd sexuality. It didn’t develop as quickly as some people would assume. At the end of my trip to Dublin, the words, after being trapped in my mind for a while: they decided to assault me. Words are a suit of armour made up of newspapers with a lance, poking me at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. Apparently there’s a book in everyone and writers should write what they know. Well there’s a book waiting to come out, but I’ll be seventy-five by the time I know enough to write it.

Well, here’s a book in miniature version just for national poetry day. Enjoy and please share your comments or maybe even send your own in for the site.

In part

I’m your stalker, your thief
Of the digits you possess,
Of the pages you’re gripping with
Finger and thumb.

Your hand disembodied, and I
The owner of your hands
And the book I can’t understand
That you read
On my watchful commute,
There I can follow you.

Your movement I record,
Your seconds become
Second-hand seconds for me to record, replay.

I wonder what else has been gripped
Under those thumbs.

Your thumbs have gripped
Recycled money,
Felt the grains in the pulp.

Inked soaked metro cards,
Breasts and sweat on collar bones.

But I am your stalker.
My eyes are the owners
Of your hands.
I comb my hair with my fingers,
I press strands of hair to my cheek
Do my tips experience the same as yours?

Expat

I can’t decide which country I’m in anymore.
I crunch over flints of black gravel.
The path is English.
The grass, the scent
These are journals of only days,
Playing knife, fork, spoon, up against the hill
Boys try to discover our differences when skirts fly up.

I watch the man mowing, not dropping the idea of England
He buzzes over the flowers, he doesn’t whistle.
Looking at him, I make out the longitude of this place
Stretched up, my head bumps the atmosphere.
England is floating in the sea.

I’m so removed, it is a jigsaw map.
Countries have pegs, each in Technicolor.
Too scared to shift and shake the pots of people
Under blankets of purple, blue and green
I’m not as callous as a god.

Landing on a pavement,
I eek open the gate and close the garden behind me.
I’m running an errand for my Mom, skipping over the bridge.
Is this when I left?
I wake up every day when the moon fades,
A struggle, kicking back blankets.
There’s no satisfaction in all beds feeling the same.
Sinking into fabric, acknowledging, England doesn’t lie next to me.

Thirty-eight degrees

My head bursts
Out of a void, the bells that rang in thrusts over the hill.
Hitting the mercury,
The heat seeps up into a fluster of scarlet in my follicles,
Not able to sit, crouching over blades,
Each with a vein, freezing against my forehead
Contented they don’t have ears.
When the swinging rope stops swaying they will be jealous.

I love silence, clean pauses. Drums can be muffled,
Engines can stall and I don’t have to talk to enjoy it.
Bricks on the hill scratch my face.
There is no blast better than feeling,
Catching the last tolls of the bells,
My muscles boom. Blades dance.

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