WW1 Event At Manchester Library

Tonight I was very honoured to be reading at a WW1 poetry event as part of Flapjack press alongside some amazing poets Tony Sheppard, Gerry Potter, Sarah Miller and Ben Mellor here is a poemI wrote especially for the event.

For the Radium Girls who suffered radiation poisoning as a result of painting dials for glow in the dark watches for American service men in Europe during WW1 Their ex employers claimed they all had syphilis instead of the occupational condition called radium jaw. Their legal action set precedent for employers responsibility to employees suffering from occupational diseases.

They painted glow in the dark dials for the new wristwatches
Accuracy in the dark for American soldiers in Europe’s trenches
The radium girls who painted their teeth to amuse their beaus
Soon lost them their jaws and voices too
They were branded faithless and diseased

A brazen glow of a lie from men who knew
Their words carried more weight, gold weight
Who would rather cast women into disrepute
Than admit fault as war profiteers

The bitter luminescence was known as UnDark
Taught to point the brushes with a kiss or a tongue
When scientists were shielded gloves and tongs
They knew about the match girls in London

Radium is absorbed like calcium a tricking poison
Bones that lived for thirty years then dissolved
Lie in graves with half-lives of five hundred

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New Poems From Plath Workshop

We free wrote from the last three lines of Lady Lazarus ”out of the ash I rise with my red hair and I eat men like air” and I had come to the workshop after my radio show where I was talking to Michelle Green who is wonderful. We were discussing representation for women in writing and how can we have confidence in our art when we are not represented which is the fuel for this poem. Erica Jong’s fear of flying was written in part about this part of the fear in the title is fear of what it means to be a woman who writes. The second poem is my Plath tribute using her images.

Miss Representation

Out of the ash I rise with my incomprehensible hair
that glamour of youth and innocence a veil to cast
between me and my intellect and I still I rise
and eat men like air and I will eat their foolish words
and let their fuckeries give me strength

Opening the jaw wide a snake dislocation
stasis is no longer an option
I must eat their words to make room for mine
there are too many of them rank and sulphurous
all the books on all the shelves stacked with them

if boys have all the best lines and you are always cast in a supporting role
and you are told the verse held in highest regard
is penned by dead white men
are you surprised women feel they need permission to write?

I have wasted too many of my own words
on the fuckeries of men who have shared my bed
hoping this thought could telephone myself
in these weak moments of desire

give over the strong jaw breathe into the lungs
the strength I was lacking manipulate that jaw puppet like
open the door gather their clothes and return to the cell,
an empty bed and a clear conscience

Before I lock the door I whisper in my ear
‘’You will never learn to be your true feminist self
when you let fuckeries occur in your bed and your head’’

For Sylvia

The mirror is a lake sudden and enormous
a flat surface teeming with life underneath
she can name you all the fishes and crustaceans
not shirk from their telescopic eyes as I would
She dwells either in twilight or scorching sun
perched on a rock an anomaly in a striped two piece
sobbing and holding a red balloon she hides a blade under a shell
scents bladder wrack, kelp, candy floss, cotton candy to her
beaches smell the same in all hemispheres
A white hot day where sand startles the eye reflective
she will reside like a mermaid until she shivers
waiting for the rising of her familiar companion
she traverses night terrors anchored to the moon

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New Silly Merpeople Poem

Does what it says on the tin. With a nod to Bowie.

We Could Be Merpeople (Just For One Day)

When our pens fail take me with you to the canal,
I will tell you where I hid the tails a fin secret
for just such an occasion when we were at an low ebb
we will make beds of discarded shopping trollies
bouncy balls will be our erratic pearls
wear crisp packet tiaras and beer can finery,
we will sing haunting songs under bridges
taking the rattle of train tracks as our bass
make flutes from bent piping
lure those who are lost to join us
with our beautiful off key music
and as the sun sets we will shake off the fading scales
clamber back to land on unsteady feet

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New Poem

So it was Fat Roland’s birthday and at some point after sambuca and wiggling a plastic fish called polly in his ear someone stole my bike lights. Wrote this in my head while cycling to work does anyone else find lines start coming to them when riding?

To the Bastard Who Stole my Bike Lights
(Sambuca Night Riding)

Thank you.
Thank you for giving me a reason to roar at the night ‘’fuck you’’
Thank you for unsealing my anger
I was roaring at those coils of smoke in my mind
Who shout awful things over and over
Today they are wisps and shrinking scorch marks
Thank you for adding anger to the beer and whisky and Sambuca
Which caused the bruised elbow and grazed foot
As I germolened it I was reminded of how once
I used to want to live in a body that hurt
Felt I needed an exterior to match the mind
Wanted people to know I hurt
Now I write instead and cats cradle these tangled thoughts

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New Poem Advice Gladly Taken

So have been working on a theme of work encompassing desire and feminism. Well it could be argued its one of my consistent ones but its been more obvious of late and here we have this piece. It’s been drafted but once so advice is gratefully received. It started s free writing in workshop so it is in prose poem form for now but I have feeling it would like line breaks perhaps.

On the difficulty of Loving Men

Today is as warm as the last making my head feel heavy and pulpy like a melon I have been wheeling its weight with my feet on the creaking frame of my new old bike, leaning at the table for a quick getaway. My writing companion is suffused with new love I can see it coming from her pores she has found a good man to love and give in return it is helping her ink stretch further. At the next bench a man is loudly saying he ‘s never abused women so why do they act like such cunts when he chats them up he spits this last word and I know a man like this would seek to pluck it from the mouths of women who own their bodies name them as they choose who lovingly roll the word cunt from their tongue to their lovers I am avoiding that whole show and learning my lust is drilling deep in dreams and making innocuous phrases instruments tuned to bawdy I am mocked by my subsconscious and this heat waking roiling in a sheet looking for the naked body I just saw sure I felt a and on my flesh the desire is brambles this heat and deluge summer has grown it large and knotted I am unsure if it would support fruit the raspberry has an orifice it’s a filthy fruit for capping tongues.

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eurgh not written for a while this came out half cut half cocked

Did several things you should not do tonight and had a few minutes of first catching my breath and then just feeling free in Alexandra park I am used to a place that gets properly dark in patches and easily forget there is a sense for me of absolute calm in the true dark. Not a real proper piece but here is how it came out just now.

I cycle through Alexandra park down the avenue of yet to be felled trees as if light and space is safety for those that fell the centenary trunks I want to gift them my blind ride my pathetic front light rendered a guttering candle and I remember the dark is my velvet friend I calm my raw breath and hear it and the clunking gears of my bike and nothing else it stops past the unemptied bins now made slumbering guys and remember dark and green is peace where I am from we lock parks as if gates and locks stop people we have grave yards with low walls all the youth know the calm of green and dark lack of light is not fear to me

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1st Arran Poem

This poem is dedicated to some amazing poets I am proud to call friends co horts and fellow adventurers Rebecca Audra Smith and Lauren Bolger.. We are staying in Lamlash bay and today inspired by conversation and ribaldry I wrote this:

 

We are basking sharks in the Lochranza whisky glow of our shared verse and kinship and I  feel us three women, poets, myth weavers are writing our true selves after years of word stumbles spooling lines out like kites high wire truths that cross like lightning. Together we are turning over the shells that hide our seal courage. We lift our vinyl crack voices to the sea and watch our black dogs minaturise and scurry in the surf.

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