Graham Clifford reads from Well at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival

GrahamGraham reads alongside fellow poets Holly Magill and John Porter on the final day of the festival – Saturday May 4th, 5.30-6.30pm in The Cheltenham Playhouse Lounge.

 

For tickets and more information go HERE CPF-logo-2019

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The Dancing Boy

See below four poems from the brilliant The Dancing Boy by Michelle Diaz. The pamphlet is packed with gems like these. Available to buy from our Shop.

The first night after my father left

my mother lay as if the darkness knew her,
closed herself up inside, became so small
that she couldn’t find alone.

The sky was full of nouns.
She dare not look at the stars,
would not fix her eyes on light.

The night was the belly of a whale.
She was not Jonah.
Nobody came to save her.

Repeat the words –

She could not find where she began or ended.
There was no definition.

The air was thick and black.
Her throat an oil spill.

She delivered her heart like a stillborn
into the mouth of the darkness.

A Birth Journey in Nine Movements

We are en route to Yorkshire.
I stir my latte with a pregnancy test,
it shows up positive.
All the waiters do the Macarena.
My mother finds a Clear Blue box in the fridge –
it is full of eggs.
We have omelette for tea.
The family has never been so together.

I am carried around by four angels
who guard my apple pip cargo,
pump me full of oxytocin,
airbrush the stretch marks.

My body wages war on vegetables,
organic and tinge of green are off the menu.
I am possessed by the Honey Monster,
only pear drops and Jelly Tots will do.

Three weeks to go and somebody has let the bathwater out.
Oligohydramnios. The midwife tells me you’re shrinking.
The sofa becomes a wet grave I bury myself in.

The hospital – I have a bed with a bell,
Mr Doc says Emergency caesarean.
We float round the room like balloons in denial.

Seven days go by – you are still not out,
despite Doctor Patel’s insistence,
despite the letter on serious yellow paper,
despite my dangerously high blood pressure.
I sense we are dying. I am probed silence.
You have been leaked information.
You are not coming.

C-section. They find you. I become Mummy.

The room breathes morphine, the women sweat.
I am in Tenko. The nurse has a moustache.
She withholds pain relief, wheels away precious baby.

A cold star rises above the saline drip,
guards the broken nativity.

My old skin lines the corridor,
the curt nurse picks it up.
Strangely, I cry because you are no longer inside.
Your dad closes the curtain in case they think I am depressed.
I’m not. It’s just that I will never again know such intimacy.

The Rebellion of Sleeping in

I want to scrape back clouds,
bring morning to you on a tray,
allow you that extra hour.

I want to scrunch the world up, pocket-sized,
then feed it to you
in pieces you can swallow.

Instead, routine makes a Colonel of me.
I bark instruction:
Face and nails, tie straight, cornflakes,
blazer. Hurry up, it’s late!

Not today.

Today I will let you sleep ’til ten,
swim in your unseen dreams.
To hell with school, alarms,
the regimented day.

Your face is the softest peach.
The way things have to be
will not consume the fruit of you,
dribble you down its chin without care,
without tasting your sweetness.

When I rehearse my deathbed scene

every face I’ve ever loved is there.
It took Morrissey a while but he made it.

Gretchen the blue-haired doll
has been scooped out of the bin
where she fell in the late 80s.

All the cats buried in the garden
shake their bones,
stripe my duvet.

There is no confession, no last rites
or familial fights.
All prayers are offered in dance, all tears in song.

There is snow and Baileys
and Christmas crackers
even though it’s June.

The men recite poetry,
the women write it.
There is a ban on taking umbrage.