Saturday, 15 August 2015

Origins are not the only fruit

Here's the first-ish version of a poem that came out of Apples & Snakes/Adam Kammerling's fine Origins poetry workshop as part of Fareham Arts Festival. It'll probably get edited n times before I'm happy with it, or maybe not - who knows - and may even end up as part of the long 'Stingboy' piece I'm (still) writing - but it came from an exercise looking at listing places we've lived, things we've said, music that was formative and so on, with the aim of incorporating them into a poem. Hope you like it.


I was born into a house of golliwogs,
spike-eyed toys,
soaps and sitcoms,
of throwaway laughs at 'Pakis', 'Micks' and 'nig-nogs',
of being dangled by one bony wrist,
a skinny meat piƱata
hearing the repeated line
“if you won’t respect me,
at least you’ll fear me”,
a self-fulfilling prophecy,
all an inadequate man could offer me
bar processed pap
and welder’s-callus slaps,
driving home the message that
I wouldn’t like that foreign crap,
those raucous songs,
and anything beyond the grey-and-beige
is wrong, looks like trouble,
but doubled-up one school night,
snuck out to taste the flavour
of Iron Maiden,
so much sweeter than copper on the tongue,
a lonely lad’s first gig
well worth the late-back round of Dodgefist.

Fast-forwarding from ruddy rage,
riffling halfway through biro movies,
I’m in Nai’posha, the Maasai’s cattle waterhole,
named for rough waters, ‘that which ebbs and flows’,
sun-drained then quenched
with rains and silty seasoning,
and it’s my inauguration by means
of shield and spear and knobkerrie,
quaffing nailang'a,
blood-and-milk straight from the gourd,
now I am a tribal brother,
witness to the intimate cutting of others.

In the latest scene,
I say “I do”.

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