Saturday, September 15, 2007

Slam poems

Thought I'd post the poems that I referred to in the post below. These are performance not page poems, as are some of the other poems I've already posted! The Slam was recorded, so I might at some stage be able to get the audio version of these up.


There is a country between us
farmed blue cotton valleys
embroidered with small daisies

not quite a gulf
not yet
a bridge

your hand sleeps
coiled near my pillow
veins veiled conduits

to your dim shape
that curls
beneath still-drawn sheets

the terrain fogged,
blurred blinds
holding back the tide.

After the machines had ceased
their messy business,
after the hand holding and tears

nights I left a space
your side of the bed
your body

heavier on mine
than before, darkness
blooming brightness

as I found your limbs
entangling mine. Sometimes
you left the smell of your hands

on my skin
smoothed along silk rippled
pyjamas, our pulsating bodies

hunched beneath the surface
as if damming the flow
of unswerving sheets

and I let my hands rise
along the line of your back
counting each vertebral bump

until I reached
your traitorous skull,
and forgave.

But now
the tide is rising.

It rises
foaming over barricades
it rises
bright and unkind
through slashed blinds
it rises
thrusting cruel fingers
along bedded valleys
into unwilling eyes
it rises
sharp surgical steel
and cold clinical light
sucking your body back
under the fold of night
it rises
the sheets drawing tight again
over your face,

the light stabbing
through the X ray
stuck stiff on a box
the clot of blood seen hooked
between the spidered tissue paper
of the arachnoid mater
and your drowned brain
the clock
too fast

the sheets are empty
the dark day
erases even
the warm stain
of a hand

on my pillow

To a Husband
Medicine is my lawful wife and literature my mistress.” Anton Chekhov.
The keys are on the bench
still warm from nine years and nine months
in my white coat pocket,
nine years of wearing my name and a smile
hung from a rope around my neck.

The keys. Still warm,
worn from trying to fit
to so many locks, so many stories,
to histories,
none of which fit me.

I wrote them all down.
Wrote them down, in handwriting that slid
off the page when I was tired,
scuffed my shoes down lino corridors
the right heel wearing down first

pushed buttons on a machine to strengthen
the coffee
washed my hands between patients
tried to take only one towel each time
kept smiling.

In the early days when we went out
I remember how proudly I wore
the white coat you gave me
the heady feel of your gloved hands in mine
the beat of the oximeter marking our breaths

but even then you demanded of me
absolute devotion,
jealous of my time,
piling rosters and journals and exams
against my escape on Saturday nights.

Once you put your arm around me
whispered we'd be together forever no matter what
but, barren
I milked the smiles of babies
belonging to others.

You woke me at nights
to ask if I still loved you.
You chained a telltale canary to my hip
to remind me of my promises.
You had me constantly watched.

When I found someone else to love
I couldn’t tell you. I don't know why.
You found out in the end anyway
you in your pinched mouth
prim pouted way,

you with your contracts
your rosters
and your moving goal posts. In the end
I just couldn't run fast enough
and there you still stood blowing your whistle.

Honey, I tried. Sorry it didn't work out.
The keys are on the bench.

1 comment:

j a s o n said...

I love "to a husband"! Well done!