Real Life Plagiarism

January 17, 2007

I’m not really sure what to call this one. I’ve called it this based on a writing exercise the BrightSparks Poets did recently. The exercise was to take another poets poem-pick at random from a selection of books, pick one that speaks to you and change the words. Change each word for something something similar or its complete opposite. The result will be either a complete new poem-after the writer-or at least a collection of interesting lines.

What I have below is a bit like that, but not. It’s based on a client visit I made (I work in mental health) but the actual exchange has been completely altered as the above rules dictate.The reasons here are rather more practical. I wanted to write about the visit because it really moved me-but I could hardly broadcast another persons real experience. So, here’s my real life plagiarism…

There are icicles
growing inside my walls
can you see them? I can smell them
like chlorine, they smell like
blue snow, can you smell fruitcake?
Fruitcake in the icicles? They’ve been
growing there for days,
hammering flat leaves of veins
beneath the plaster. The plaster’s cold
because of the ice, turn the fire on?
no I can’t do that. They’d melt and
flood the cavities, soak through the ceiling
and the floorboards and drown,
I’d drown in the night. And the fruitcake
would rot. No one else can see them
how’s your nose?

Laundry Tokens

January 16, 2007

So I say to the guy in the
square glass box they
get you doing all sorts,
don’t they? you in your
white starched shirt and your
thinning hair, counting up the money
setting the small black numbers
on the plain blue squares:
balancing the books of
someone elses wants.
I’ll take two wash
and one dry-and he
hands the tokens over
like a women reading palms.
Keeps me out of mischief
he smiles back up. One, two,
one, two, one, two, one, two
I roll them back and forth
like thinking stones inside
two shells-I need
something that like.

Not the only Fruit.

January 12, 2007

Like eating bloody
hail stones; gloss gleaming
glass beads of hardness;
red cells magnified, sunk inside
a yellowed skein of snow.

They look like brain cells,
skin of the fruit as the skull
and when I cut into them
their soft bone bleeds,
they well-

juice, they shower pips
like boxers shower teeth.
I never liked
It was always you.

To be the girl from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
with the gold lame dress and the
one black glove,
jumping up and down with
thousands of people,
screaming my name and
wanting to be me,
if only they could.

The latest Sony ipod.
A folding bicycle.
My mother to get it.
High cheekbones.

Nothing to see.

January 11, 2007

Already, there are too many words
for this space. They
flap, flap, flap

falling from my lips in
nouns and verbs like

broken wings-
can you see them?
Unfolding slowly,

form without meaning.
They are
empty cartoon bubbles

blown between
my face
and your ears.

I have nothing to say
worth hearing.
Just want to talk.

Girl out of Religion.

January 7, 2007

Waking still dreaming and seeing the
white hand splayed against the
dark blue blanket I heard you
on the radio; a choir of soaring sounds
picking out the past with an organ.

In the air, somewhere between the
sky and my foot I can see the
tiny church and its lines of
singing people, but I can’t remember
how I came to be there.

I’m recalling the long walk down,
an endless road of Sunday mornings
and the man on the radio
still talking, using the voice
that only men like him still use.

Somewhere between now and
20 years ago, there is a family
holding tight along a second row:
A round woman wearing her best clothes
a tall boy gripping a sheet and

trying his best not to be heard
and a small space, counting the hymns,
screwing down eyes and trying to find
the meaning in boredom. She’s hating the
smell of the dust and the carpet wood

and the cold air that never heats;
She’s praying for it to be over
but returning faithfully
week after week with
no one to make her

but the man that’s still droning
in Truiro Cathedral
and the closed shops and the
old people and the singing families-
they never really go away.