March 29, 2010

I can’t remember the last time I saw you
I can’t remember the last time we talked
was it the end of the day, or a Tuesday morning?
was I saying hello, or collecting my mail?

You always waved when I was leaving
You always noticed if I’d cut my hair.
When I went to Jamaica I told you.
When I came back home, you were there.

I wish I’d sent you a postcard on holiday
I wish I’d brought you some coffee
from the Blue Mountain coffee store
You were seeing a woman from Poland

You told me one day in the laundry room.
The letter said there was no pain
it happened on a Saturday,
in a hospital.

The other guy said it was bone cancer
you didn’t tell anyone,
just carried on coming into work.

I wish I’d known
when I was doing my washing
I wish I’d known,
when I was collecting my mail.

This evening I smiled
at the woman in the stairwell
I said goodbye
to the consiege.

I didn’t know you had children in Devon
or that your sister was a pastor.
I can still remember your glasses,
red skin, small hands, white hair.

Venus in Primark

March 29, 2010

Everything is so beautiful.
Venus has never seen anything like it
Rows and rows of crumpled silks,
woolen dresses, velvet heels.

She walks up aisles
like someone getting married.
walks past clothes
confettied everywhere.

Mothers hold up jumpers over leggings.
Teenagers twirl, like vinyl records,
a queue of people
snakes a line

around the tills.
In a changing room
like the back of a wardrobe
she holds a dress

against her body
traces a seam
of fragile cotton.
Wonders who made it.

Venus in Primark

March 28, 2010

Everything is so beautiful.
Venus has never seen
anything like it

Rows and rows of crumpled silks,
woolen dresses,
velvet heels.

She walks up aisles
like someone getting married.
walks past clothes

of bright confetti
Mothers hold up jumpers
over leggings.

Teenagers twirl,
like vinyl records,
a queue of people

snakes a line
around the tills.
In a changing room

like the back of a wardrobe
She holds a dress
against her body

traces a seam
of fragile cotton.
Wonders who made it.

The Other Women

March 28, 2010

How does the woman find out

that her husband is sleeping

with his perfectly manicured

Sainsburys assistant?

She finds two pairs

of 3D glasses

and a nail file,

hidden in his sandwich box.

She imagines their uniforms

behind a door,

the night he was working

away in Walsall,

the conference in Birmingham

the training in Peckham,

the week with his collegues

at the all night metro.

What does she do

with the bottle of perfume

she finds with a scarf?

Not her colour, not her smell.

What does she say

when he brings home flowers,

unsold stock,

roses, freesias.

How does she behave

when they go

to the cinema.

Does she look at him
like a different country,
in the silver light
remember the moon

the way it used to fall on them
the way they used to fall asleep
held inside each others arms.

March 28, 2010

I can’t remember the last time that I saw him
I can’t remember the last time that we talked
was it the end of the day, or a Tuesday morning?
was I saying hello, or collecting my mail?

He always waved when I was leaving
He always noticed if I’d cut my hair.
When I went to Jamaica I told him
When I came back home, he was still there.

I wish I’d sent him a postcard on holiday
I wish I’d brought him some coffee
from the Blue Mountain store
He was seeing a woman from Poland

He told me one day, smoothing his hair.
Brian Weeks is deceased
I will not see him anymore
The letter said there was no pain

It was a Saturday, in a hospital
The consiege service is very sad.

Call me Ellen.

March 26, 2010

I was made by my mother.
It was her
flour pale and red in Spring
who hauled me through the world
man-handled me into
skirts and scarves
bundled me up safe.

We lived in the green
in the village
you wouldn’t know it
it was quiet
one newsagent, one chippie
I lived with her, until it fell apart
until my childhood collapsed
like a too old paper box.
I left for somewhere else
somewhere new
like the print of a boot
to my slipper.

What did I do to my hand.
Someone grabbed my fist
and held it under boiling water.
What did I do to my hand
I did it on my mother’s stove
It was an accident,
What did I do to my hand.
I did it to myself
It wasn’t a mistake
deliberate as a knife
circling a date.
What did I do.

Look out of the window
Life is hard.
The woman works inside the shop.
The milkman collects his empties up.
.
I sit here in this empty room
high above the city fumes
I let the moon translate my skin
the creases, and the scars
I let the light soothe me

I sit here in the morning
and it’s just the same.
The way the sun makes me glow.
The way the sun makes me gold.
A new thing, a bright thing

I watch myself inside the glass
I watch the city and the sky.
I think of how my mother
use to hold me in the dark.

Venus in Primark

March 26, 2010

Everything is so beautiful.
Venus has never seen
anything like it

Rows and rows of crumpled silks,
woolen dresses,
velvet heels.

She walks up aisles
like someone getting married.
Mothers hold up jumpers over leggings.

Teenagers twirl,
like vinyl records.
A queue of people

snakes a line
around the tills.
In a changing room

like the back of a wardrobe
Venus holds a dress
against her body

touches it’s stitching
it’s small label,
wonders who made it.

Venus Walks into a Bar

March 26, 2010

‘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 on the wood panelling

The barman pours her a drink

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

‘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.

Look,
here’s a scarf to match your eyes
leather boots, size 5
I think I’ve got a bit of rouge
a push up bra and a suit

Venus? honey –
where are you going?
there’s no need to be like that
I’m only trying to help!

His portrait blooms
a faded newsprint

graphite lines
bleeding into heavy paint

He looks like knives:
his Elvis shirt
his checkered blazer

He’s fleur-de-lis,
pink chain
across his dark neck

And he looks like shadows
strolling into walk-ways

He looks like thoughts
realisations coalesced

He’s playing pool
and drinking lager

He’s dating girls
and eating chips,

He looks like knives:
his Elvis shirt
his checkered blazer

It’s the 60’s or the 70’s.
He’s looking at you.
Things are going to change.