Hello everyone! Today I’m taking my prompt from Apples & Snakes, a poetry organisation here in the UK. Today’s was to write a poem about either a spectator being captivated by an image or the image being captivated by the spectator. As I’ve been using Instagram a lot more I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot, so I tried to write out my thoughts. Enjoy! 🙂
She stares back at me
and I don't know what to tell her
- this isn't the real me,
only a part of it,
at a certain time,
in a certain light,
turn me to the left and
I'll look better
but to you,
some sort of reassurance that you're not doing
you climbed inside
long pink skirts and lipstick stains
just to touch me,
and you vanished
- the best known magic trick
in your repertoire.
did it make you feel better? worse?
I want you to look at me.
I too am magic:
To her, I am the plastic surgery she cannot afford, the skin she always wanted, the curves she envisioned, but never owned.
To you, I am a broken mirror you never wanted to see, so you could reach for that plastic surgery, skin-care and extra padding.
Des Voeux Road West never faced west,
only towards the other blocks opposite ours.
my foot was met with a bunk-bed ladder
too slippery for
who had slept through the sweatiness of night.
But, I'm convinced it wasn't meant for
since each night the scurrying of thistly legs decorated the wooden floorboards, as a woosh of red went past us and
-- EEK A COCKROACH!
The tssst of cockroach repellent was a tune we knew well,
a prayer song we'd sing
to keep those sinful creatures away.
we, unwilling pilgrims, travelled by feet to the 6th floor
or lok lok
locked the door yet?
- the handles had to be turned in opposite directions,
each afternoon shop
meant sticky custard buns by the time
entry was permitted.
When the buns had been bitten,
and stories of the workday distributed with them,
the Bunks craddled us to sleep
and told us their their stories of a better Hong Kong,
where agorabphobia trembled at us leaving the house,
and police had vanished, so
the fish-smelling, Cantonese-yelling road lay ahead,
just for us.
And then we awoke at sunrise,
with buildings lain before us,
‘A moth-craft, ether, a plant that tells your fortune’
Those crumpling brown wings, which I once thought ugly and decrepit, let the sun through so beautifully, that I had no choice but to embrace its warmth. I stood beneath that large moth as it flew overhead, the rays overlaying another shade of brown to my skin. At last I bathed in it, and let it fasten itself to me. Then, as I strolled through the rest of the garden, the clouds drew themselves together. They were following the trail of liquid behind me – so I called to them:
‘Come, children, follow behind me.’
They were often jealous and angry, shifting their moods more frequently than the seasons themselves (but I suppose in that sense they do take after their mother).
Cumulo chased ahead, riding the mists of the azure. The concave sky gave into his weight, as he dipped into the atmosphere to walk alongside me and drink from the pools of hawkmoth below my feet that carried me forward. In rage I blew him back up into the air, but in rage he blew it back out at me, flooding my pools with rain. Drop by drop, I began to fall through the slow-forming marsh, encased in his horrid opaque secretion, like that hideous spineless creature I expelled those years ago.
Happy International Women’s Day everyone! Sometimes it annoys me that women are treated like amazing goddesses on this day, and praised for being super strong superwomen all the time without people ever actually vouching for change? So, I wrote this poem. Let me know what you think in the comments below! (PS – this may or may not have been inspired by Avatar)
You, woman, are
rising each day to
set each night
even though you know the pain of doing both.
You, woman, are
spreading yourself across continents simultaenously,
and sometimes even into those dark caves,
where no one else will go.
And yes, sometimes you are tsunami, sometimes you are
Some people deserve to be washed away,
I hope you make them drown.
You, woman, are
built from the mud lain before you,
growing things anew.
It’s a slow process, OK?
You’re still sprouting,
so don’t let anyone walk over you.
And you, woman, are
not a natural wonder or an unnatural disaster,
not divine nor domestic,
not anything you don’t want to be
Sundays are for rest, and in my case, it was very much needed. Despite the protests not travelling to our area, I felt the tiny ripples that the protesters left in Causeway Bay reach me. Buildings in Hong Kong (at least on the main island) are very close together, so I can look out of the window of my flat and see into someone else’s. So, at night I was awoken at about 4am by someone yelling, again what I can only assume were the pro-democracy slogans, in Cantonese from one flat and someone responding to them from another. I listened as the waves of rebellion wash over the small corner of this huge city, and felt admiration for their unity. However, this was then undercut by a single loud scream of pain which I ascertained was below my building.
A bed of thorny white roses lay strewn across the garden;
the flowers spilled over the walls and the vines coiled in and around empty
bricks, thick and piercing. The evening sun threw itself across the leaves,
turning them transparent. Their veins suddenly rose to the surface, like a
diver swimming to the top of the ocean’s surface, the frothing waves matching
the tone of the flowers.
Two young boys stood, arms crossed, shoulders hunched,
loitering outside what was usually a post-40 dominated neighbourhood. Their
slumping bodies moved secretly, exchanging glances and hushed but cool tones as
they slipped joints between their fingers and sipped in the smoke, clouds
enveloping their faces.
One blasted reggae out of a boombox larger than him, and slid next to me, an intruder. The roses quivered under the weight of the music, and closed up for protection. I tip-toed over them but was grabbed by the waist of the second boy and saw the sun vanish to the other side of the world. He looked into my eyes and told me he saw the milkyway. I told him he must have seen the chocolate. He laughed, and didn’t stop.
One of the roses coiled itself around my foot, brown turning pink, and threw me all the way back home. As I was being thrown, all I heard was his laughter echo around me.
Jacob Atkins sat amongst the wading sea of children at Gateway Primary. Assembly was a dull dreary ritual that the school conducted to deliver important messages to the children, and make them sing songs about being a good person and other such rubbish. Today, however, was slightly different. The messages had been gathered throughout the year and saved for this particular assembly on the last day of school (hopefully ever, he thought). Jacob never much cared for primary-school level education. But could he truly be blamed? The teachers were dull and uninspiring. The curriculum was basic knowledge, all leading up to one exam which he passed easily yesterday.