This poem was written for a local spoken word night in Worcester (http://42worcester.com/), where this month the theme was “Superheroes”. Thankfully everyone present kept their underwear on the right side of their trousers.
Ok, apart from one specific reference, my links to the theme were tenuous to say the least, but I’m happy to report that it seemed to go down ok, so I thought I’d share the piece here. It’s quite spoken word-y rather than page-y, which is why I wanted to read it aloud – for me, it’s about momentum and movement in the rhythms – a journey, if you will. One day I may even suss out getting audio on the blog!
You’ll notice the poem still has no name – there’s been a bit of a running joke of it being entitled “That Wretched Poem”, which was my name for it whilst drafting, redrafting and generally struggling to whip it into some form of order. But as titles go, I think that’s probably not the one…
The city described is Worcester, where I live – there are a lot of dreamy and beautiful spots in this place, but I wanted to highlight other perspectives too, and those are not always going to be found via the local Tourist Information marketing info…
Anyway, here it is… As always, I’m glad to hear from you, either here or via Twitter (I’m still learning Twitter…) via @HollyannePoet.
The busker saxes outside Debenhams
over a naff backing track:
sexes a Pavlov’s hip-sway out of me.
But today there is no time
– it’s fast-forward, go-time.
I’m spinning on my sandals,
slicing the cashpoint line,
Wonder Woman slash Roadrunner,
a caffeine-high hybrid flying
in the stink and hiss of burger van onions –
not to be distracted by buns
jiggling and hot meat sweating –
I’m late. Late, late, White Rabbit
blowing out a less important date:
a text and a tube of Parma Violets,
that’s all it’s taken.
And my craze-brain’s snapshot;
his palm, rich with lifelines stretching
empty over the Severn’s scum and glitter,
the Queen’s swans debating, if he’s waving…
They decide it’s probably the other thing.
So I’ve no time – no time to stop,
feel the cathedral bells vibrate my bones,
the sureness of magic and home.
The city’s upchuck Technicolour
blasts me on, sensory Redbull:
past the Scope and the Oxfam,
Barnados and all those cancer shops,
hospice shops, Red Cross, Blue Cross
– the big fuck-off M&S.
Swarovski, TK Maxx, Sports Direct,
every second shop a Poundland,
a Costa, A-boards for Cash Converters,
chalkboards for tapas and Prosecco;
Argos, Caffe Nero,
the queue at Greggs for steak bakes,
nuclear pasties – out of flavour this election.
Maccie Ds spills giddy kids into the bus lane,
selfie-artists portrait-posing, iphones skyed.
A street-preacher megaphones love
the Big Issue man down to his last few copies,
the issue no smaller this day or tomorrow.
Suits stream regardless;
white-collar wideboys, ties flapping flaccid,
fake tans and flammable hair gel.
All the faces that aren’t my mission.
All the places, not my destination.
So I plough on, zagging crowds;
escapee toddlers poddling,
pensioners tutting. Chuggers chugging
Hello! You look nice! Would you like
to help sick children? It’ll only take…
But I’m not nice. All human life…
There’s wannabe crims and dimwit girls
sucking lollipops by Topshop;
letchers, leather jacket posers,
perverts in cheap shirts,
lonely old blokes –flat cap clichés,
street-smokers and pickpockets.
Dogs on string. Dogs in designer coats.
Lovers. Lovers in scuzzy blankets,
lovers in Nandos, lovers in Barclays,
sweating in the air-con to bag
that murder-sentence mortgage.
All needing a hand to hold,
but not everyone’s going to say it.
And none of these hands are his.
Today the exhaust-rot scum that greys
your trainers sparks the air.
Trees spew spring blossom,
Weatherspoons belches out
unrepentant on the pavement,
bleary in the sun’s glare
and the glares of the staple-mouthed
Daily Mail demographic.
This is my town.
Tripping down the side of Superdrug,
skid-footed over fag butts, gum-spit,
cardboard and cartons.
Past the Housewives Choice –
apples overflow like an Eden ogy;
bruised berries sweet-up half-rank
stacked outside for wasps
and wanton tea-leafs.
Lustful wheeliebins yawn their ripe mouths,
guffawing at the latest Council cuts,
they shout me on,
my squat reject cheerleaders
Come on. We must take what we can
whilst sly backs are turned,
whilst knives are pointed elsewhere,
back-pedal fast from twilight’s chill
before the night stalks in to claim us.
The police are moving on skeleton-fades
somewhere else today.
Nothing is solved,
but the grime is free, the grime is shared:
pigeons will shit on anyone’s head.
I’ve got the hand for him to hold.
The swans were wrong.