Categories
poetry

The Disappeared

What if,

there were an entire world for

all the little things we lose in life.

A parallel universe,

so to speak.

Imagine,

all the bobby pins, hairbands, lighters, odd socks, lipsticks and biros,

slipping through the looking glass

onto a mountain of rubble

in a distant corner of the Universe.

But look closer and see

all you’ve lost

existing in space and time.

A testament to the consumer age

languishing in the dust.

Think of that next time

you rummage in your sock drawer

desperately looking for the accomplice

you know has disappeared,

or searching through your bag:

you know there’s a hairband in there,

there always is,

or should be.

But you must sweat today,

the hair clinging to the nape of your neck.

After all,

life is too short to match socks

to find hairbands

or to finish a lipstick

or a lighter

or a pen.

Categories
poetry

Oh, Frozen Peas!

I’m having a lot of fun riffing of the tomato puree idea this week, delving into childhood memories to exult everyday food items.


Oh, frozen peas!

I think of you now,

crisp green gems languishing

in frigid depths.

Be careful now,

jiggle tentatively,

the stiff drawer creaks and sighs,

If my band has come loose,

or my twist not quite

twisted enough, then

lift cautiously,

or I may gush

my numbing life blood

over the kitchen floor

or in the drawer

forever more-

we’d rather forget.

The sharp, tinkling pour,

bullets hit the bottom

of the enamelled mug,

clink, clink, clink.

A jewelled sea floor

a pebbled layer

misting in the humid air

of the kitchen.

You hand mug and contents

to the eager child

lurking by the door,

conferring this treat.

She sits in front of the TV

enjoying her prize:

frozen peas.

Categories
poetry

Oh, Tomato Purée!

The following text is an intralingual translation inspired by the poem, Oh, Tomato Purée from Claire-Louise Bennett’s anthology, Pond.


Oh, Tomato purée!

When I peer over the rim of the simmering pot,

I get the nod. It is time.

Revealing the cool chasm of the fridge,

I reach for you amongst the garlic and wasabi,

release you from your inner sanctum,

around one tablespoon at a time. 

Dissolute, you disappear into the sauce on the stove

seething blisters of red.

And now to conclude the ritual,

to savour the prize.

I roll the tube up a notch,

for me, this time. Thick, burgundy ooze,

an explosion of taste with fiery red petals.

A season of Sicilian sunsets,

stirring on my tongue.

Categories
poetry Teaching

The Hill We Climb

This poem is the only one which has ever given me goosebumps and moved me to tears. I’m not usually a huge poetry lover. I’ve taught this poem since first noticing it after the inauguration, and I know it’s almost old news now, but the words and the message are still churning around my brain.

As part of the advanced English course in German high schools, students have to learn about the American Dream. As a British woman, I can never proclaim to fully understand the USA, but I have studied the Civil Rights movement at university as well as having been obsessed with US political podcasts for the past year. Listening to ‘reality TV show America’ was a welcome escapist break from the tediousness of repeated lockdowns.

My students have to learn the roots of the American dream, from the settlers of the 17th century to its ultimate success or failure. They learn its hypocrisies and paradoxes, that America is simultaneously hopeful, egalitarian, divided and prejudiced. The USA is not the classless society it claims to be, and Lord knows it had not always protected the interests of freedom and democracy worldwide. I would argue that you cannot truly call the US a democracy until after African Americans ‘won’ the vote during the 1960s. It’s also important to remember that voter intimidation continues to this day.

This poem beautifully sums up exactly what the American Dream means to many people in the 21st century, at least to those who do not fit the mould of the ‘model’ white middle-class heterosexual male citizen.

Amanda Gorman amazes me. The youngest ever Poet Laureate, and a Black woman. Her genius and composure are inspiring.

The US needs to focus on building bridges right now rather than burning them, Gorman justly points out. How can the US be an example to the world if it cannot keep itself together?

She reminds us that rights, once granted, are not immovable and permanent, but must be continually preserved and maintained. It is ultimately a hopeful poem, but one which does not brush over America’s violent racial and colonial past. The US is a product of its history and is perpetually unfinished. There is no point at which you will ever be able to step back and say, there, we did it, we all achieved the American Dream. Gorman’s message is not new: that ultimately there is more which unites America than divides it, but it is a message she delivers with a unique, calm passion. It’s a timely message, and I couldn’t have chosen a better poem to analyse with my students. We all need a ray of hope right now.