Protected: Poem (2)

May 25, 2008

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Counterweight.

April 23, 2008

His two left feet
arms around her waist
hung like clubs, or ice picks;
wing men, flippers on a bird –
his hands were:
meaty, sweaty, pockmarked, sour
she guessed been drinking
since the hour
the place had opened – this too tall,
clumsy man
who’d not so much as asked
as fallen in her arms-
was deadlocked round her calves –
left her helpless
only option just to – half dance
half cart – him back across the floor
bright lights, sweaty palms,
half dance –
one – two
half drag –
three – four
the man –
with the two left arms,
dangling useless like a
third limb – a soggy narn,
gabbling senseless ‘bout his mother
or her bra – get your hands from off my
ah!
the girl – with her strong right arm
decanted him into a stool
left him there to gurgle snooze.
The girl –
went back to dance,

Midasia

February 8, 2008

I’d always liked trees so that’s where I started.
Not the dead ones, but the bright ones. Ones that

burst into colour in the middle of the summer,
in the night. Those that look like

lampshades – made of gold.
The gold is important.

Here’s what I did:

I photographed the baubles from a pound shop,
the raised foil – from off my mother’s Christmas cake,

a stack of Get Well Soons
their bright, crimped lettering.

I cut the photos into pieces,
made them into leaves,

and you know what’s coming next,
I built the tree.

Here’s what really happened:

It was an all gold tree –
Gold like Cadburys Maple Syrup,

candelabras, glittered chocolate. I made it,
but not really – it was Midas –

made me do it, forced me,
took me by the hand

and led me through the forest
stopped me at the weeping willow,

handed me the star topped tapper.
He pushed me, made me, forced me touch it –

and I did – I wish I hadn’t –
it was awful – curling crunching

as the branches sprang out upwards
in a head of ripping foils.

The sap turned molton
and the leaves ran golden

and the birds bounced thudded
on the cracking bracken ore.

By the time it was over
I’d tucked the wand into the foliage.

But not before I’d got him back.

Dead Girl Walking

January 2, 2008

James May – the man from Top Gear, with the floppy brown hair and the well heeled home, is presenting a program on the history of toys. He’s considering an ailse of candy coloured boxes, shelves frilled – like layers of cake, the sugar lace of a Caroline Doll. James May, indigo cored is being told – when it comes to girls, pink will always sell the most. He’s making a face at slippers, Cindies, pink winged frocks. He’s glaring at walls of glitter tops, toxic prams like coloured punch, making the sign for throwing up. Later on, I count the pink inside my flat. The coral couch, incised with leaves, buds like hands of sharp Chrysanth. The slim band of strawberry pearl bent like water round the kettle, the Rampant Rabbit, talcum powder, Hello kitty pen and sharpener. Ever noticed how all makeup’s coloured like a Venus Razor? The slim stem of raspberry plastic, curved across the bathroom Harpic. If Barbie’s corset had a blade. If Cindy rose from out the grave. Can’t escape it.

Women with Attitude

October 21, 2007

Friday night saw Women with Attitude strut their stuff down at 27A. It went remarkably well.  After a day and a half hanging the stage set (with the very clever John Kirby) then further hours running around (buying up large quantities of wine, folding up and removing tables, then realising they’d be needed for the planet load of performing artist’s books and c.ds, lugging ’em back in again…then writing up my compere notes, then working out my compere poems, then rehearsing with the performers and oh god just don’t get me started, but after all that…) it went remarkably well.

When, at approximately 6.50 only a handful of audience had shown, I did get a bit worried. Apparently, poetry audiences like to add an hour to the start time of events and there was a weighty trickle right through the first half. I’m not especially  complaining though. By the end, we couldn’t have physically got any more people in-and the atmosphere was really lovely.

The Famous Word! Raffle ( this was afterall a Word! supported event) was particularly strong. Thanks to one of our performers (Linda Hart) it contained amongst other things: a job lot of Guinness and a bulk box of teabags. Women are complex creatures…

D’know, I can’t actually find enough words to say how well it really went. It just did. It went really, really well 🙂 I think it would definitely be good to do another one. Next year sometime. Might be good to use different female performers-just to give the largest number  of artists a chance at developing what they’re doing.

The ones who did it this time were just great. Rai Studley (the singer/songwriter) did these really lovely, well crafted pieces, that reduced the audience to putty. Jenny Woolman had some real moments of hilarity and did some very thoughtful pieces that a couple of people remarked on to me at the end. Linda Hart was the eponymous Women with Attitude. I will say no more. She was fab though…

One of the nicest things to happen, happened right at the end. This really cool, sassy women came up to me. She said how she’d found out about the thing through seeing a flyer at a local venue. She lives with housemates and that evening they were all off out to  a house party – she could have gone with them but she came to WWA because she’d been looking forward to it all week. She came on her own and she said she was really glad to have made it.

That was just one of the moments that made it worth all the effort:)

Finally though, must thank all the staff at 27a. They were more then lovely. I know I’m gushing , just let me, I can’t help it, they were. They did so much for us and we will think of a way to repay them…

Hope everyone else’s weekend is going well. Night till the next post:)

Delilah

August 5, 2007

(ITALICS SUNG)
Here’s the thing about Haircuts.
Here’s the thing about Haircuts.
You never know
what you are going
to get – when you get your
hair cut….

Why.

I’m known everywhere
and that’s the first thing they ever say:

Why.

Why d’you do it girl?
Why d’you hurt the one you love?
Why d’you take away his strength?

Why.

Why, why, why?
Delilah. Delilah like a
knife in gut, Delilah like a
poisonous snake.
Why, why, why?
Delilah. Delilah who
they’d all want dead.

I loved Samson.
I loved him like an insect loves
the kiss of flame. I loved him like a
mother loves a child she’s grown
like a child returns a parent’s gaze
I loved Samson.
Delilah loved Samson.
And then it all went wrong.
But things were never like they said…

Am getting better at real time ‘you’ve got large breasts’ come backs.

Yesterday at the Orange Tree.

Lydia (minding her own business) enters the beer garden, looking around for her friend, The Ghost Poet.

Previously unseen man, seated at a table closely to her left, amongst a mixed group of young men and women …

“That girl’s got the biggest breasts!”

Lydia (the subject of this observation) obviously hears this as easily as all the other people, immediately seated around the table. She is after all right next to them all.

Lydia looks straight at the young man with the admirable eyesight. Guilty pause, in which whole table goes silent. Lydia:

“and also, surprisingly good hearing. They don’t always go together. Hearing. And breasts. But on this occasion they seem to have. Don’t they?”

Young Man’s friends and/or possibly Young Man himself (Lydia is too annoyed to notice) start stammering some kind of feeble apology.

Lydia exits beer garden. Lydia Storms off. Lydia decides to write down her witty quip, for future reference.

This does of course come hot on the heels of my “Get Your Tits out” poem reading, read at WORD! this Wednesday. Just goes to show, you can’t practice these cutting put downs too often. It’s clearly a war out there. Bastards.

Oh, quick note to Googlers who having searched for ‘getting tits out in fields’, ‘tits out field’ (or some such combo) have unfortunately been directed here. Sorry about that, I guess you’ll be feeling rather frustrated around about now…

Jess

July 20, 2007

The day he left I stayed in bed for 2 whole days.
For the first 4hrs – I did not move.
I stayed on my side beneath the duvet
and listened to the thud as the door to the flat
banged repeatedly, against itself. That day –
it was unseasonably breezy for summer.

I slept for a couple of hours-
and the wood on the latch was a lullaby,
but when I woke it was dark
and the thumping was loud
and I thought that he might have returned –
but he hadn’t. And I think –

I must have cried for hours,
but I really can’t remember how long it went on.
It was cold – my skin was hot, my face was wet,
I could not breathe for the mucus in my throat,
and my bed -had stuck to my skin
like a death shroud. Of course-

I did not sleep that night.
I watched the light from late day grey
to midnight black. I hugged a sack
like pillow – and recalled how I thought it a cleche
and on the morning – of the second day,
I wondered if I’d been forsaken.

It was around about then that I gave him up.
I remember the moment. It was like
a synapse crushed – a wish bone cracked –
a fine skin of bright white milk
split like blood. So I wasn’t expecting it –
but on the Sunday morning – he came back.

A sudden gust of wind
that seemed to cause the door to break its back –
proved in fact to be my love –
standing in the hallway like a hero –
returning from a war
and expecting to be thanked.

He seemed surprised
when I told him to pack. Even now,
I can remember his back –
bunched like a sackful of apples
heaving impatient and seething with
frost – Love,

I said, it should not hurt-
and it’s not about sacrifice
and it’s not about loss.
I’ve never liked tests.
and I’ve never liked bluff
and I really,
I told him believed –

that what fails to kill you
can only make you strong.

When he finally left,
I broke my fast on a plate of bread
and a cup of wine.
I’ve never liked sardines.

New Draft

April 17, 2007

Hmmm…seems that last ‘fragment’ post ended up containing nearly enough to be the whole thing. This is the fresh version of it-I’ll carry on tweeking it in this post, so I don’t take out anything from the last I might need later…

I don’t want fame
impossible to say and not sound false
but I never did and just as well,
I don’t expect
you’ll know too much about me now.
Doesn’t matter-never wanted fame;
fame was never what we
ever cared about. We wanted-
justice.

In the eyes of God all men are equal.
Ha – all men, not
all wo-men
and not jews
and not blacks.
We knew a bit about oppression,
we knew a bit about
second. So, no –
fame? it never really
ever had a chance. We wanted-
freedom.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Must slow down. My name-
is Elizabeth,
Elizabeth Heyrick,
wife of John, John
who never did a great deal
worthy of distinction –

dead now.
He was old and I was young –
heart attack and me at only
26-but when he went
he let me go –
like a dove


Dear John,

It’s Elizabeth, your little Dove,
John, I’m dead now,
but thought I’d write and tell you
what’s been going on.

Hello – pleased to meet you.
My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick-wife of John
born in Leicester, 1769.
You won’t know me
Don’t be embarrassed,
we’ve never met-
you might know William though –
William Wilberforce?-
yes?

William Wilberforce.
1769-1833.
Politician,
philanthropist.
Leader of the
parliamentary campaign
against the trade in slaves-

William hated me. You see,
after my good husband’s death
(god rest his soul)
I began to get
much more involved
in all those manly things
like politics and public life-
the immediate end to slavery,
was one if my major fights.

Heyrick believed that women
were especially qualified
‘to plead
for the oppressed’

Well I rather think I did-
I guess I lacked a little patience
when it came to
woman being raped,
men in chains and
babies being sold
like they were slabs of meat.

I wanted it all to stop
immediately

William-
he wanted to take things
much more slowly.
Just the trade in slaves,
for now. But he
didn’t get the urgency. He’d
never been forced
to sit in church
with his head down.
Forced to marry a man
twice, thrice,
four times old.
He never knew,
what it was like
not to have the vote.

*****
In the early 1820’s
Heyrick shocked those around her
By openly sympathizing
with the West Indies

slave revolts

and I’ll tell you something else I did.
Back home in Leicester
I went door to door
calling for a boycott
on slave grown sugar-

and I mobilized the woman-
the ones in the kitchens
buying the sugar
to fold in the puddings,
to stir in their husbands tea-

And they understood.
And they stopped buying it.

Are you listening to me?
I know I’m probably going on a bit
but I’ve been so cold
for quite some time…

Elizabeth Heyrick,
helped to form
the Birmingham Ladies’ Society
for the Relief of Negro Slaves.
The group would subsequently change its name
to the Female Society for Birmingham.

John,
when all was said and done
I did miss you-
it’s just,
for the first time
in nearly 30 years
I finally felt free.

In 1824
Elizabeth Heyrick
published her seminal work
Immediate not Gradual Abolition

It was in stark contrast
to the gradualistic position
of the mainstream society.

William
Do you remember what you did?
you stopped your men
from coming to speak
at any of our meetings

William,
do you remember?
You tried to block the
distribution
of my pamphlet.

What were your words..?

“for woman to meet,
to publish,
to go from house to house
stirring up petitions..
these appear to me
to be proceedings
entirely unsuitable
to the female disposition.”

William-

when it came to woman
you really didn’t get us-
did you?

In 1830
Elizabeth Heyrick submitted a motion
to the National Conference of Wilberforce’s Society
She called for it to demand
a direct end to slavery.

Dear John,
we begged and we pleaded
we used all our female ways-
but when they didn’t work
we pointed to the money.

Heyrick’s network was the 5th largest donor
to Willberforce’s Party

and when our 73 different cells
threatened to withdraw that funding-
William Wilberforce, had to take us
much more seriously.

In a time of male dominance,
Elizabeth Heyrick succeeded
in assuring the abolition of slavery.

But I never lived to see it.
the bill we pushed was passed
in 1833 – I died
in 31 –
just too early.

John,
I remember you-
but even back in Leicester
very few remember me

Hello out there-
had any of you even
heard of me..?

Google me.
Go on, Google me:
2 silhouettes,
4 photos of my pamphlet
and more pictures of Wilberforce
than you’ll find of me.

A woman is a woman is a woman
and no one even thought
to keep a drawing.

Still-
I never wanted fame.
We wanted Justice
We wanted Freedom
We wanted liberation.

And here we are
you and me-
free at last to speak

It’s not the end
but we’ve made a start…

-haven’t we?

Lizzy4

April 15, 2007

I don’t want fame
impossible to say and not sound false
but I never did and just as well,
I don’t expect
you’ll know too much about me now.
Doesn’t matter-
never wanted fame
fame was never what we
ever cared about. We wanted-
justice.

In the eyes of God all men are equal.
Ha – all men, not
all wo-men
and not jews
and not blacks.
We knew a bit about oppression,
we knew a bit about
second. So, no –
fame? it never really
ever had a chance. We wanted-
freedom.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Must slow down. My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick, wife of John,
John who never did a great deal
worthy of distinction – still,
not a bad man, Mr Heyrick-
John – dead now. Died 8 years on,
into our marriage – left us childless,
but perhaps for the best now-
perhaps none of this
would’ve happened,
if John had hung around.

Dear John,
It’s Elizabeth, your little Dove,
John, I’m dead now,
but thought I’d write and tell you
what’s been going on.

My name,
is Elizabeth-
Elizabeth Heyrick, wife of John,
Born in Leicester, 1769.
You won’t know me
Don’t be embarrassed,
we’ve never met-
you might know William though –
William Wilberforce?-
bear with me-

William Wilberforce.
Born the same year as me,
Politician, philanthropist
and abolitionist.
Leader of the
parliamentary campaign
against the trade in slaves.
Didn’t much like me.

You see,
after my good husband’s death
(god rest his soul)
I began to get
much more involved
in all those
mannly things
like politics and public life-
the immediate end to slavery,
was one if my major fights.

William – he wanted to take things-
much more slowly.
Just the trade in slaves, for now.
But he didn’t get the urgency.
He’d never been forced
to sit in church
with his head down.
Forced to marry a man
twice, thrice,
four times old.
He never knew,
what it was like
not to have the vote.

William. When I wrote my
seminal, Immediate
not Gradual Abolition

(you remember the pamphlet-back in 1824)
Do you remember what you did?
William, head of the official,
society against slavery,
you stopped your men
from coming to speak
at any of our meetings

William
, do you remember?
You tried to block the
distribution
of my pamphlet.
You said it was
unseemly,
woman with teeth.

“for woman to meet,
to publish,
to go from house to house
stirring up petitions..
these appear to me
to be proceedings
entirely unsuitable
to the female disposition.”

William, you were a good man-
a man against slavery-
but not above oppression.

Dear John,
guess what we did?
WE begged and we pleaded
we used all our female ways
all our gentle wiles.
They didn’t work.
So in the end
we took the simple route-
and pointed to the money.

My society, The Birmingham
Women’s Society,
had lots of money.
we led
76 different cells
of woman against slavery-
and we-
were the 5th largest donor
of William’s Party.

When we threatened
to withdraw that money,
Surprise, surprise,
William took us
much more seriously.

In 1833,
the bill appeared in Parliament
led by William-
forced by woman

John,
I didn’t live to see the end of Slavery
the bill passed in 1833.
I died in 31
Just too early.

Still-
I never wanted fame,
I wanted Justice
I wanted Freedom
I wanted liberation.
It’s not the end
but we’ve made a start…

haven’t we?