Here are some of my recent poems for you to read…
She worked at the Coca Cola
factory for years —
always told us it was her
who put the fizz in those bottles.
I move that silver ring from one finger
to the next, to see what wife might feel like,
to love someone to their bones —
to keep dinner in the oven, to keep it warm for years,
put garden fences on my Christmas list
and keep that list tucked under takeaway menus.
When I’m kissed, I’ll ask what you want
in your sandwich
and let’s say it’s you that kissed me —
you who goes off first thing
to sell pensions from a briefcase,
while I’ll make waving from square windows an art.
I’ll keep my past in the drawers,
write letters to the back of the oven,
sew my wishes into the sides of your vests.
I’ll dance in the kitchen,
cry into the bath,
always get us a lottery ticket, when I go out for the milk.
Somebody told me once that perfect love
is two trees growing side by side
in their own time, never leaning on the other one.
I think that sounds bloody lovely,
but it doesn’t actually happen like that.
If you ask me, love is wasps and grasshoppers.
It’s anger, patience and stings and finding the legs
to jump into things and get stuff done.
Today is another duvet day, we read stale news
and stay indoors. We talk less now, cuddle more,
remember when our legs did all sorts.
Outside our cluttered bedroom, the council
are chopping at the London planes,
they have to hack them back to make more space.
As they drop one by one onto the pavement,
I think, pretty soon we will be light and air again.
Stand Together Nicely, Girls
On a strangers front steps
you tell me to hold on
while you sort your hair out
to make sure I get the bridge in the background.
I feel like our Mum
when we were small —
that one of us two
stood on our front porch
in new school uniforms,
matching grey jumpers
on top of little girl vests,
or that one of us on Halloween
you holding out a caldron
in plastic witches fingers
me, dressed as Phantom of the Opera
in a bin bag and wonky mask
or us in the pink bath
with bubbles on our heads
or matching hats at weddings —
or on the top deck of ferries
all foreheads and frowns
or in my graduation gown
or matching fringes and wigs
us two dressed as clowns,
or in the beach bar red faced
our hair braided like snakes,
or at the Christmas table
in our best clothes,
or you on long car journeys,
mouth open against the window.
On the plane
I want to wake you up,
tell you that the view is magic,
all those little lights —
rows of humans lean over
to get a photo out the window
I take one to show you
I take one for my screensaver
I take one to show our Nan —
who’s never seen the earth from here.
Call Me Lady
The little girl with the bunches
is looking up at me —
a grown up lady
doing their makeup on the tube.
I want to tell her
my body feels as small as yours,
that I’d pull that face too —
women putting lipstick on is strange.
When she burps we all laugh
and her Dad tells her
it’s not very lady like,
I want to tell her
your laughter could smash all the plates
and I don’t think they’d mind.
I used to play
with my Fisher Price cooker
on the floor of the lounge
in my swimming costume —
the guests at the barbecue
would order food from my cafe
by the paddling pool, call me lady!
I’d sing from the patio steps.
When she goes for my scarf
her Dad says, don’t touch Poppy,
the lady doesn’t want to play.
I want to say, when I was your age
my Dad would send me up to waitresses
to ask for the bill and I used to feel so tall.
These days we board tube trains with brave faces,
make phone calls to each other on lunch breaks.
I tell you I’m gonna cook us a nice meal tonight,
a rescue remedy stew scenario, some sort of stodge.
I’ll cook the veg until soft, then I’ll add salt, pepper
a big dollop of butter, thank you Jamie Oliver. Done.
I ask a bloke with gelled ginger hair and orange fleece,
he’s reducing bags of broccoli by the fridge.
‘Excuse me, can you help me? I’m looking for carrots.’
He tells me they haven’t got any.
It’s when he suggests parsnips.
‘In the nicest possible way, that’s not the same,’ I say.
I look and see that they sell star anise –
‘HOW THE HELL CAN YOU POSSIBLY HAVE STAR ANISE
AND NO SODDING CARROTS?’
I’ve lost it in the veg aisle.
He tells me about these tiny worms
that will eat the flies in my house plants
Millennials love their house plants
I say with a smile
he writes the name on beige recycled card
caring for your plants, tells me to check Amazon
I tell him if you give a depressed person a plant
it can give them hope, I buy a plant to be polite
I’m anxious all my plants have flies
the whole world is falling apart
and it isn’t very Buddhist
to squash flies
with your bare hands is it,
snap just like that
Millennials buying cheap clothes
with comforting words
millennials dreaming strangers
into happily ever after
millennials making a house
look just like the picture
snap just like that
no one is posting pictures of their flies
somewhere someone is googling
where to buy tiny worms
All poems © Laurie Bolger.