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From “Sour Grapes”

February 8, 2013

[Still unpublished, this was my first poetry collection, made up of poems written before I was 30  years old, in 1990. As befits a youngish man’s work, it’s mostly miserable stuff! Ah well, I promise to lighten up once the weather gets warmer. Meanwhile, “Sour Grapes” was in 4 sections: Bereavement; Love’s Illusion; Disillusionment and Romance. The following selections all come from Bereavement. There are likely to be further selections in the coming weeks, unless I’m specifically asked not to!]


My mother
Was a beautiful dancer,
By the time she was seven
She was so lovely
A famous artist painted her portrait,
She was aristocratic
(She wanted me to call her ‘Mummy’)
And sang ‘Golden Slumbers’ to me
Until she was put into prison
For not being able to walk.
She faded away as fast as she could
So we’d have time to dry our tears
And now all that’s left of her
Is that portrait, a silver ring with a blue stone,
Which she never saw,
And her sons’ distorted memories.
Look, Mummy, look!
I’m going to dance just for you.

The Hospital Visitor

The first time they made love
She was already living in the hospital.
The curtains round the bed
Didn’t stop them feeling nervous.
He thought they would never’ve got to this stage
If she hadn’t become paralysed.
Their bodies looked strange
In the harsh yellow light.
It made it easier
To overcome their squeamishness
But they could not talk.

To a Battery Hen

Poor bitch
You’d be pitiful
If you weren’t so pompous
Because of all those colourless
Thin skinned eggs you produce,
You don’t realise you’re sterile.
Taking great pride in your tatty feathers,
Sneering at the plumage of the free
You don’t realise you’re sterile,
You’d be lost outside your cage.
So you peck at my fingers
When I reach for the catch,
Squawking, “Get a job!”
Drawing blood,
Another triumph for the productive worker.

Women as Victims

First there is the victim we don’t know
The one who gets whistled at in the street,
Doing upwardly mobile circles,
Yelled at or knocked up at home.
She’s easy meat for thoughtless violence
But it’s not really her problem,
It’s the jerky guys who can’t resist
Trying to get away with something,
Who want to make some bitter point
Or who just aren’t very well.

Then there is the misnamed “victim simple
“The girl who tries to be the dream.
She usually ends up wearing black
For fear of being thought too fat.
They make the money, others spend
But it’s not really their problem,
At least that’s what she says,
Being anxious to solve all theirs,
Which they say she does,
Knowing she’s dying for a bit of credit.

The heroic victim is the worst,
She sees it all, gives nothing away,
Even when she wants to, she won’t.
Instead she offers people the “gift” of themselves.
But it’s not really a problem
Unless, of course, she won’t play fair
And refuses to be herself in turn,
Promising with false humility
To watch from somewhere else, far far away.


In conversation today
a common gesture is to turn away.
Media like people turn
From the subject
To comment upon it.
Translating the signals
Is like cracking a code
In conversation today.


From → Poet

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