Sonnet 212

Head in the clouds - Amsterdam, October 2015.
Head in the clouds – Amsterdam, October 2015.

I wrote this poem around two years ago – the first love poem I’d ever written. It came after a conversation with Pete about how we use the word ‘reality’. So often we attribute it to the things we do – in particular the things we don’t want to do. ‘Oh well, back to reality!’ ‘It’s time she started living in the real world!’ ‘The alarm clock going off again was a real reality check!’ This struck me as a strange truth: isn’t the world of our thought, going on silently and personally inside our brains, the real reality? Isn’t that the thing we are experiencing most of the time: that we wake up with and go to bed with and have to put to one side occasionally in order to attend the far less natural obligations of dentists appointments and meetings with our colleagues?

I’m always resistant towards any way of thinking which strives to make life seem more unpleasant and strict than it actually has to be, and I suppose this falls in with that. Give me the internal reality of books, love and daydreams any day.

Besides that tangent, this is also a sonnet which likens falling in love to the Big Bang. Not that I take myself too seriously, or anything.

Emily x

Sonnet 212 or Virtual Reality

In over-starched clothes in a blank hotel,
We said the world existed in our heads.
My life began (or really got going)
On a rain soaked blanket, a king-size bed.
The Big Bang banged in a makeshift teepee,
foreign bodies binding; new entities.
Elements exploded; bound you to me.
The solid world around us began to
redefine itself; empty cells imbued
with fireflies and lightning, meaning renewed.
Carbon became two technicolor gods,
Dorothy landing in the land of Oz.

The galaxy lives in your underwear;
In a midnight feast; a waiting room chair.

Cosmic Grace

I have avoided writing a poem about Grace for a long time because she is much better at poetry than me. I first started liking poetry at university when we lived together, and she would read it aloud to me.

Grace found out she had cancer just under a year ago. She has dealt with the whole thing with a vaguely pissed off nonchalance which I have found staggering: I can’t even deal with being gossiped about or talking to strangers on the phone. But yesterday she was reasonably frustrated: after being asked to move to a Young Person’s Cancer unit, the ward sister told her she couldn’t use the special facilities (a TV room, x boxes, the kitchen) on the near empty ward because they were for young persons aged 25 and below. Grace turned 26 last month. And she’s recovering from cancer. The lack of compassion was unfathomable.

So I wrote this sonnet thinking about how the nurse was more attached to the rule and to her patient as a statistic rather than seeing Grace as a person.  And she is a wonderful person.

Emily x

p.s. I love this second photo of Grace, because the fish tank in the background reminds me that when we lived together in our 4th year, we bought two fishes (Dolly and Kenny) which mysteriously died within 24 hours of purchase. Being the lazy layabouts that we were back then, we just scooped out and disposed of the dead fish, then kept the tank – death water and all – on display for approximately 6 months. With this level of commitment to hygiene in mind, it wasn’t particularly surprising that we had a vermin issue.

Glastonbury, 2010.
Nasmith Road, Norwich. 2010
60B Nasmith Road, Norwich. 2010
Cosmic Grace
Today you are yellow and twenty-six.
I can see that these stats make you feel blue.
The skies around the ward are charcoal grey
But colours prismatic still burst from you.
The ward sister is a bleach white abyss.
(Cancer’s cool at twenty-five and under).
Your cogent disdain is cool duck egg blue
But your outrage strikes as blood red thunder.
You read poetry in smooth pastel rose
and daydream of whales in aquamarine.
Your dream to win crufts is black, white and gold.
Your shrieking fits of laughter are forest green.
The sister may be colour-blind on YPC,
But you’re more than twenty-six and yellow to me.

Smiley Virus

For once Robin Thicke wasn't the biggest douche in the room - VMA Awards, 2013.
For once Robin Thicke wasn’t the biggest douche in the room – VMA Awards, 2013.

I made reference to this poem in an earlier post; I wrote it in angry response to my Year 9 class (who were writing love poems) and their obsession with Miley Cyrus. I wrote it after one of the students asked me why I didn’t think she was a good role model.

Of all the stuff I’ve written, this has been received the least warmly. I think because it’s perhaps a little vicious to get so angry at Miley Cyrus for being awful when she’s working in an industry that encourages young women to behave in the way that she behaves, and rewards them with cash and sycophancy when they do.

But at the time I had been reading about Miley’s conflict with Sinead O’Connor and so I sort of hated her for that already. There was a lot of bile built up, basically.

Happy Friday!

Emily x

This isn’t the role model you’re looking for

Miley wasn’t born: she was factory made,
That devil-may-care tongue jammed on with glue.
Someone else’s lyrics retch from her throat.
Nothing that she does, ‘thinks’ or says rings true.

Like Hollister, botox and nicotine,
Plastic promises hide the ugly truth:
Money is the only real objective,
Hiding behind that old illusion: youth.

Off the rails? Miley’s train is deftly steered.
Girls who like reading don’t get Google hits.
‘Hey kids, take drugs!’ Nice. Stay classy, Sony!
‘And price your soul more cheaply than your tits!’

Miley, the time will come when payment’s due.
Then only the devil will care for you.

A View From The Bridge

Scarlet O'Hara

A while ago I read an article in The New Yorker about the popularity of the Golden Gate Bridge as a suicide destination. Apparently the allure is the chance of success; while only twelve per cent of drug overdoses result in death, jumping off a bridge is “almost always fatal”. However, the huge discrepancy between the number of jumpers from the Golden Gate bridge (where somebody jumps on average once a fortnight) and the nearby Bay bridge suggested to the article’s researchers that there was a certain romanticism attached by a lot of people to jumping – specifically – from the Golden Gate.

The article also sought to talk to the few people who had survived the jump. Since jumping from a bridge has a reputation for working, they assumed that the jumpers had really wanted to die. So the writers wanted to know: did they regret it? The answers surprised me, and one man’s response in particular stuck in my memory:  “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”

Around the same time, I saw Gone With The Wind for the first time. I became a bit obsessed with Scarlet O’Hara; her tragic delusions of grandeur and the tragic romanticism of jumping from the Golden Gate bridge got tied up in my mind, and I wrote this.

Emily x

Gone With The Wind

Thoughts from the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Four seconds later, I imagine, when I arrive,
I’ll cleave the water as an Olympic dive.
The wind shall whip my hair; art deco curls
As my martyred body twirls and whirls.
The bridge will blaze a panorama
Rich as the sky behind Scarlet O’Hara.
Like her, I’ll never go hungry again.
This choice will neatly underline my pain.
The watery skirt of my floral dress,
Will wrap me in a last caress.
And though by then I’ll be far away,
For once, I’ll make the news that day.
Falling, at last, the truth hits. BAM!
The world still doesn’t give a damn.