Sophie: week 6 exercises


Unfurling fists
I cannot lace my fingers through
They huddle under a sweeping wave
And my mouth hangs open
A rusted hanger.
Weave of sweet soup,
Lemongrass anoints us
Like crippled shrubbery
Fallen down dolls.
My feet are stone membranes
Crystallised egg yokes
The greased plate of my shoulder sticks out
And I fall into the dried up wound of his mouth.
they moan like wind chimes
A chorus to send me away.

Toppled white tower,
Hump-backed paving blubber.
Harpoon thunder
Wailing the
Skittered rope to drag us taut
Itching hands over red pits.
Bone buttons collected in the cracks
With the yellow puddle of his piss.

2.A gap in the curtains

Smear me with well planted kisses,
fall back onto the mounds of sheets,
our borrowed limbs flung out at rest
across the pillow.
The nightly stains, dream slug trails,
slither from our uncurled lips
while we breathe in the must and
sweat filled hollows.
The internal clinking of our
rhythms match and bleed and blend
while I turn and wriggle down into
the empty indent.
That weighted groove you left for me,
unwashed marks and bare shadows,
you made for me a soft cast
I do not fit.
I sleep with my mouth closed tight,
my hands clawed under the pillow,
ignoring the call of whistling birds,
the lances of dust
dancing between the curtains,
a split throat of morning.
I clutch the sheets, our warm bed divided
with a thin line of light.

Flat and cold I can wrap my palm around it, thumbing the sleek curvature of it’s rectangular body. Thicker at one end than at the other, it was cast to be a lever, a fulcrum, a turning point. It is the coldest thing in this room. It smells of old metal, not rusted but not well-loved. It has no marks or chinks, no imperfections. It lies on its back, or on its side, as if the window had fallen on its back, but it hasn’t, the sleek pane rushes up to the ceiling so high as to make the handle a petty thing, minuscule and not up to the task. It has fallen to the bottom of a rabbit hole, and lies on its back. A thin raised ledge with a black rubber seal divides it from the wider ledge that sits below. The ledge I am forbidden to line with books, as if it is some valid escape route, some valuable portal I could flee through if I was a smoke wraith in a fire. But I have tested it. And read the polite label stuck just above the handle’s shoulder, that says neatness must be maintained. A window is just for looking up at, and they must all be identical. As the rain sulks down the pane, the droplets clinging on as if to be let in. The handle resists. I wrap by hand around it and hear the sizzle of wind trying to push its way in. I turn the cold smelling metal from the right to the left, and nothing. I am jangling a locked door. I tug the handle into a T, a long drooping nose. And when I push it the world rushes in through the crack where I could not fit a penny, much less my bus change, or my fire fleeing ectoplasm, and my heating stops.


Here then set the torch,
The saintly 10% of battery,
Against the bus timetable,
The Rosetta tome of unreliability,
That we cling to like a raft
As we wait feeling our feet
Becoming icebergs,
Becoming tombstones
Becoming purple fossil-mounds.
And our teeth have conversations
Without us,
The clatter-traps,
Of empty mouths,
Snap and snake,
Crack and ache around
The roll of bone tongues.
While the gentle wind knifes
The grooves in our cheeks,
Shaving us like ole Sweeny.
We are a pale bruise of cold,
A welt to press the backs of our hands against
Nevermind the gloves,
Leave them there,
On that steel bench,
Dead children’s hands,
Dead fluffy pink children’s fists
Lying on the slats with the melted snowball
The stone like a gall pit peeking through.
Let the frost have them,
Let the wind,
Let shame sink into their cells
As if they could be as weighted down as ours
Invaded and pole axed by happier molecules
Smiling screen-splatters of warmer folk
With beaming faces like dead flowers,
Old egg yokes and crystallised eoliths.
Ha! You thought I was a poet.
No conjurer, only cheap tricks
A stopped wander, grey and greying,
Thin and thinning in the glowing cold,
Cheap night air blanket,
With the dim echo of adventure
Crawling back to its den,
I can’t remember if we had a good time.
It rings like lamenting music,
Dying in our killed ear drums,
Expiring in a piercing shrill
Like urgent birds,
Still unheard,
Unherded out of the fields into the bitch sky
To be swallowed and digested away
Forgotten as always in the
Brown gut we pull our jumpers over,
Wasted sludge tub, our waddling excess,
A fixed slab like the stone strut of that statue,
some old war man,
Waiting to be unveiled,
As if the name carved beneath his feet meant something to us,
Strangers stalking and stumbling,
Streaming like concrete steam past
The scaffolding that still protects him from our grubby hands.
And I watch that homeless wench who leans against the payphone box,
Unpaid, unpayable windcatcher,
Just some midnight toilet.
Well she’s there eyeballing that statue,
She’ll slink between the looped chinks when we’re not looking,
She’ll lap her tongue over his bronze bulge
Just to see if it’ll get stuck in the cold
Maybe then we’ll notice her come morning.



3 thoughts on “Sophie: week 6 exercises

  1. raefonb

    These are pretty mind-blowing. I got really excited seeing a poem about cold waits at bus stops, that’s so much of my life these days haha!
    “And our teeth have conversations
    Without us” – fantastic example of putting an original twist on a dead metaphor (chattering).
    Oh, my mate just came into the pub so I have to go haha but I’ll be back to critique a little more… 🙂


  2. raefonb

    2) is a powerful post-break up poem. I think it flows well with lots of interesting but comprehensible imagery.

    3) is an interesting and thorough examination. Weird that you’re forbidden to put books on the shelf – unless it’s actually big enough to be an escape route, but sounds like it ain’t.

    “curvature of it’s rectangular body” (its ?)


  3. ecopoetics

    These are terrific: so many arresting images:

    “my mouth hangs open
    A rusted hanger . . .

    Crystallised egg yokes . . .

    Bone buttons collected in the cracks . . .

    dream slug trails,
    slither from our uncurled lips . . .

    a split throat of morning”

    Yet you also retain the capability to arrest with direct and simple statement: “I do not fit.”

    I too love that line about “our teeth [having] conversations
    Without us.”

    Your strength seems to be more in objectifying inner rather than outer worlds. The third experiment has less poetic energy, I feel. How might you strengthen your writing toward the outside?

    I wonder what would happen to the fourth experiment if you removed as many of the adjectives as possible (and/or went through replacing, where possible, adjective + noun combos with more specific nouns)?

    e.g. “urgent birds” = ?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s