Bells

June 29, 2008

She eased herself into the chair
like it was the palm of a giant
and she was the drawing
of a china doll. Days like this
they left her feeling old
but like a child and then
she’d think of school:
sharp bells – pulling into rooms,
down corridors, up stairs,
the bell for fire, that also meant
the massed crush of blue clothes,
her place in lines of classroom groans,
only leaving more exposed,
the beating bells
of inward breaths,
raised lungs,
straight chests. The bell
ringing in the morning,
too early for safe in the world.
She always thought the bells would stop
She should have known
She should have heard them
ringing then.

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Butterfly Man 4

June 29, 2008

Frustrating but I think I’m going to have to drop another verse – annoyingly it’s one of my fav ones – about the cattepillars beings as nimble as fingers and clever as cats…just can’t see a way to keep it without making it waffly. The structure I’m trying is to have the chorus every 2 verses, but with that it makes 3, so…hmm. If anyone has any thoughts, let me know, otherwise, no worries.

Butterfly Man

Legs like a stick insect
brain like a frog
The Butterfly Man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

His obsession began when he was a nipper
Got silk worms at school from his 7th grade teacher
He took them all home to keep safe over summer
kept 12 in a tank – fed green leaves for supper.

The butterfly boy would watch them at night time
Lie on his stomach, face down with a flashlight.
The silk worms would rear on their little back hind legs
Jut snouts at the glass like some kick-ass style hybrids.

Legs like a stick insect
brain like a frog
The Butterfly Man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

That summer from school was the longest one yet
and the silk worms grew slow as the oak leaves grew less;
but when waking one morning he looked at the tank
he found they’d all vanished replaced by white bands.

The butterfly boy, was ridden with grief
and drove to distraction, picked up the left leaves.
Like yokels with grass stems, he chowed down on shoots
thought of his wrigglers and prayed for his troops

Legs like a stick insect
Brain like a frog
The butterfly man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

One morning in August he woke with a pain
an ache in his shoulders – a lumberjack’s strain.
He looked to his fish tank – saw broken out shells,
threads looped and empty – and wings spread like bells.

When he patted his muscles to ease up the joint
he found by his shoulders the nubs of two points
the two little lumps – were feathered and soft
and twitched like antennae and flapped like a moth’s.

Legs like a stick insect
Brain like a frog
The butterfly man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

Yes Butterfly Boy had grown wings to be folded
Under his clothes like a laudry-day’s load in
a couple of papery, leathery darts,
he pressed them out flat like a cloth when he bathed.

Now he’s living in Leicester, a man with no name
Raising his insects and miles around famed
He’s got stick insects, beetles, roaches and lice,
Weevels and slimy, milipede pipes.

He’s got –

Legs like a stick insect
Brain like a frog
The butterfly man
is as strong as a bug.
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lives in a house
with his butterfly wives.

Butterfly Man 3

June 28, 2008

This has got a verse dropped and the chorus played around with…

Butterfly Man

Legs like a stick insect
brain like a frog
The Butterfly Man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

His obsession began when he was a nipper
Got silk worms at school from his 7th grade teacher
He took them all home to keep safe over summer
kept 12 in a tank – fed green leaves for supper.

The butterfly boy would watch them at night time
Lie on his stomach, face down with a flashlight.
The silk worms would rear on their little back hind legs
Jut snouts at the glass like some kick-ass style hybrids.

They were nimble as fingers and clever as cats,
graceful as limas and stronger than bats,
butterfly man as a boy was entranced by
florescent green fellas that lived by his nightstand

Legs like a stick insect
brain like a frog
The Butterfly Man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

That summer from school was the longest one yet
and the silk worms grew slow as the oak leaves grew less;
but when waking one morning he looked at the tank
he found they’d all vanished replaced by white bands

The butterfly boy, was ridden with grief
and drove to distraction, picked up the left leaves.
Like yokels with grass stems, he chowed down on shoots
thought of his wrigglers and prayed for his troops

Legs like a stick insect
Brain like a frog
The butterfly man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

One morning in August he woke with a pain
an ache in his shoulders – a lumberjack’s strain.
He looked to his fish tank – saw broken out shells,
threads looped and empty – and wings spread like bells.

When he patted his muscles to ease up the joint
he found by his shoulders the nubs of two points
the two little lumps – were feathered and soft
and twitched like antennae and flapped like a moth’s.

Legs like a stick insect
Brain like a frog
The butterfly man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

Yes Butterfly Boy had grown wings to be folded
Under his clothes like a laudry-day loaded
a couple of papery, leathery darts,
he pressed them out flat like a cloth when he bathed.

Now he’s living in Leicester, a man with no name
Raising his insects and miles around famed
He’s got stick insects, beetles, roaches and lice,
Weevels and slimy, milipede pipes.
He ‘s got

legs like a stick insect
brain like a frog
The butterfly man
is as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lives in a house
with his butterfly wives.

Gig

June 28, 2008

I’ve got a bit of a weird gig on Wednesday. I’m meant to be performing at an event marking the 60th anniversary of the NHS. I’m thinking of doing my newish poem – one of the pieces I wrote in Wales a couple of weeks ago – and getting the audience to do a bit of participation at the chorus. My plan is to get one half of the room to say “he was grasshopper lean’ and the other half to do ‘and millipede spry’. Of course, this plan will a: require me to get to a definitive version of the piece and b: require me to actually get the performance side down – especially as I’ve not performed it before. Obvious I guess as I’ve not even finished writing it yet! Anyway, as always, I’m using this site to work through drafts so I’m going to post up and work over some versions. This first has got some minor tweaks (to help the rhyme) so is a bit different comparative to the earlier version on the site. Mainly though, I think I need to work out which verses can be dropped. Needs tightening.

Butterfly Man

Legs like a stick insect
brain like a frog
The Butterfly Man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

His obsession began when he was a nipper
Got silk worms at school from his 7th grade teacher
He took them all home to keep safe over summer
kept 12 in a tank – fed green leaves like butter.

The butterfly boy would watch them at night time
Lie on his stomach, face down with a flashlight.
The silk worms would rear on their little back hind legs
Jut snouts at the glass like some kick-ass style hybrids.

They were nimble as fingers and clever as cats,
graceful as limas and stronger than bats,
butterfly man as a boy was entranced by
florescent green fellas that lived by his nightstand

Legs like a stick insect
brain like a frog
The Butterfly Man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

That summer from school was the longest one yet
and the silk worms grew slow as the oak leaves grew less;
but when waking one morning he looked at the tank
he found they’d all vanished replaced by white bands

The butterfly boy, was ridden with grief
and drove to distraction, picked up the left leaves.
Like yokels with grass stems, he chowed down on shoots
thought of his wrigglers and prayed for his troops.

Night after night he saw visions of green-ness:
curled up tight bodies unfurled like burritos.
The hours he slept in were hung up in flight plans
wing spans of patterns flew bright in his islands.

Legs like a stick insect
Brain like a frog
The butterfly man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

One morning in August he woke with a pain
an ache in his shoulders – a lumberjack’s strain.
He looked to his fish tank – saw broken out shells,
threads looped and empty – and wings spread like bells.

When he patted his muscles to ease up the joint
he found by his shoulders the nubs of two points
the two little lumps – were feathered and soft
and twitched like antennae and flapped like a moth’s.

Yes Butterfly Man had grown wings to be folded
Under his clothes like a laudry-day loaded
a couple of papery, leathery darts,
he pressed them out flat like a cloth when he bathed.

Legs like a stick insect
Brain like a frog
The butterfly man
was as strong as a bug,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lived in a house
with his butterfly wives.

Now he’s living in Leicester, a man with no name
Raising his insects and miles around famed
He’s got stick insects, beetles, roaches and lice,
Weevels and slimy, milipede pipes.
He ‘s got

legs like a stick insect
brain like a frog
The butterfly man
is as strong as an ox ,
he was grasshopper lean
and milipede spry
and he lives in a house
with his butterfly wives.

Child Escaping

June 28, 2008

Mostly I’m fine. But then
someone says your name,
asks me how I am, without you,
in the flat – and I break as easy
as hard chalk
dropped on flagstones,
weakened glass, pressed.

Last night, I met a guy – tight curls
like massed particles of sleek darkness-
who talked about a French theory
for being in the world where
places that are new
may unfold like open grass,
where one may walk easy,
straight backed, free from fear
and with one’s inner child –
wide eyed and ever curious,
never anxious, hopeful in the world.

But what if
the child you used to be
was never like that?

What if
you closed them in a room,
because you had no choice?

Venus Meets a Mannequin

June 19, 2008

Someone has painted the mannequin gold:
like the woman in the book
who got hit by her boyfriend – Midas’s girl.

Venus feels sorry for her,
she looks drawn – stretched with hunger,
dressed in swim wear – Venus –

traces the line of her narrow torso,
presses a palm against the window,
mouths words:

‘Are you in any pain?’
‘Is there anything I can do?’

Midas’s girl
stares straight ahead.
Says nothing.

She gets to wear clothes.
They are nice clothes,

like new skin, but brighter,
more sophisticated.

She learns five ways to use her lips
and none of them involves a penis:

Smile (with teeth, without)
lips-a-jar, smirk, pout.

The photographer says
the camera loves her.

Her agent tells her
she’s a natural,

but she could earn some more
if she could drop some weight.

They ask her if no clothes will be a problem.
Venus says no. She’s used to this –

days at sea and not a stitch
but they ask her to do strange things:

touch herself all over
like she’s got a broken limb.

She tells them that she’s good with shells.
Standing in one like a bell

But the studio, it’s got a style:

Venus gets a deeper tan
Lifts her hair from gold to platinum.

The photographer adjusts a light
to line a curve – smooth a thigh.

They say the game would earn her twice
If she could up her breasts a size.

Up and About

June 18, 2008

Spurred into action by a poet/comedian friend of mine, I’ve reignited my regular run habit. Went day before yesterday after work and just got back from a trek up the canal now. Did about 45 minutes, and stopped off on the way home to buy some cereal. Most of the shops were still closed so I had to buy the one box of cereal possessed my newsagent: Cornflakes. I’m not a big fan of cornflakes though.

I don’t know if it’s the lack of breakfast before going, or the lack of fitness, or sleep, but I now feel decidedly sick. Maybe it’s the thought of the Cornflakes (Lydia thinks about Cornflakes to test the theory) Hmm – they’re definitely not helping!

So. It’s been a long time since I made a journal entry type blog post. I kinda like doing them once I get going. Loads to do today – meant to be on a radio station called Panj Pani from 1-3pm. I know I can talk, but for 2 hours straight? I’m meant to talk about arts and health and my work. It’s a bit concerning. I’ve got some poets from BrightSparks to come down with me and do some poems inbetween my project talk – so hopefully that should break things up a bit.

Right. Should have a bath. Will post again later.

Venus Walks into a Bar

June 17, 2008

Venus walks into a bar
Naked. Barman says:

‘Venus, Venus,
every night the same thing:
you come in here, no clothes, no money
and you just stand there, saying nothing
till I pour you a drink. It’s bad for business –
customers don’t know what to make of it
strip bars – they understand – but this?
You’re killing me, Venus.
Baby, listen to me.

Venus stands there,
arms folded beneath her ribs,
bare feet glistening
on the oak wood paneling.

The barman pours her drink.

He says:

‘Look, if you’re gonna do it
least you could do is wear some sequins.’