Identifying Parts of You in Plays

after Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams

Violet descending, grieving light in the white shade
of a jungle that strangled the dinosaurs,
Venus; the fly trap for a summer’s notebook
of fine young cannibals along a coast of blazing sands
where saint Sebastian dug down into sin
and beak broke into the belly of all they had named
as enchanted.

The Blue jays had departed to other places;
blond shores after a season of too many browns.

In the operating room, sugar is a dose of doctor
caught between cause and the cost of being peaceful
after the dry heat of all that horror,
of sliding desire back into the parts it cannot dissect
and the Drum not bright enough to silence.

Rainbows were only reflections of light
before they became pathways of pride.

Suddenly, in the last summer of kindergarten,
I am closeted case in the examination room of teenager;
turning Tennessee pages tentatively,
dreaming of tasting how it would feel to catch fire
for a moment, in a summer that didn’t burn,
on a faraway beach that stank of wolf’s breaths
and flesh eating birds; a desire to be torn
from the choke of all those Venable pearls.

Lonely is deeper than death, alphabet blocks
are only clutter in the darkness of a closet.
A lobotomy is a cut cold to consideration.

This was one of the first plays I saw the movie version of when I was trying to come to terms with my own identity. It’s difficult to understand who you are when on TV or stage they were not even allowed utter the word gay or homosexual and a lobotomy was ordered for someone who tried to explain it- Let’s just cut it out! I read this poem on the Pride episode of Eat the Storms, the podcast podcast, one of two poems I opened the show with. Spotify link below but also on Apple, Anchor, Google, ITunes, Breaker, Castbox, Overcast, Pocket Cast…

To be able to Identify ourselves in Books

We are still, all of us, hungry.

We are, all of us, today, Hungary;

wanting to be able to open a book,
in the early days of trying to identify
who it is we’re on route to becoming,
and find a reflection of that self
smiling back at us from the inside pages
we can easily open out.

We are still, all of us ,
trying to teach the others how to spell Pride.

The New Hats

Movement, into open,
this Earth is now an ocean
and our toes eager to taste the tide again.
Roads are waves,
cars are accompanying dolphins,
schools of fish, cruising outside of classrooms.
Movement, into open,
we are astronauts
teaching ourselves how to stabilise our legs
on old streets that come to us
like giant steps onto new moons.
Motion sickness
triggered in these minor moves
we used to make blindfolded
and now take, breathless.
We are bouncing Ariels and Armstrongs.
Movement, into open
with that far field still stuck to the sole,
masked now
with vaccined assurances
where before we had a hat and that hurry.
Minor movements we are making;
the universe no longer as big
as a 20 minute bus ride that drops us off
in leaps of elated exhaustion.
And so, even more,
we say thank you to the drivers of busses
and trains and taxis and check-out assistants
and shop keepers and sales teams
and chemists and nurses and doctors
and the girl who stabbed me yesterday
with Pfizer and a 15 minute
pause to preserve.

He Didn’t Bite, NaPoWriMo

He was tame, if truth be told-
a curtain twitching kind of fool-hearted
guard dog making studies of how the others
made their way through the humdrum.
He was sturdy in routine, if not stature-
nose in the paper after the Six O’clock news
on the far edge of the sofa every night,
inside-out sweaters on a Saturday
and passing round the basket
in the chapel on a Sunday-
altar boy breeding still beaten into his being
like the scars he wore on his shoulders
of all the things he could no longer put down.
From afar, you could see how fear
had opened itself up within his frame
like a cushion forced to house too much foam
and the stitches strain from the stuffing.
He was tame, of course, but at the time,
I was cautious of his bite.

The Sum Of

Everything is about numbers;
numbers to hold,
numbers to call,
numbers to count you back to when you last came,
to where you came from,
to the miles you’ve moved
since then, the things you lost,
the weight you gained, waiting.
Everything is about numbers;
race,
pace,
the breath you chase,
the peace once possible,
the place you never knew you were meant to be in
in relation to where you ended up,
in its place.
Everything is about numbers,
2 metres apart,
4 doors to the left
of where you thought you were going,
3 corridors in mourning grey, daisies on the floor,
1st floor,
cubicle number 5,
patient number 196629.
I was 18
the last time I was here.
I was 4 days in the 1st ward where 2 men died
on my 1st night.
They moved me
to another ward, later
when they figured out I wasn’t to be number 3.
I stayed 5 more days.
I’d been courting glandular fever-
the kissing disease, the doctor said with a giggle
and the nurse smiled, all 20 years of her wanting.
It had been 2 months
since I’d told someone I liked boys
instead of breasts.
6 months after lying in bed with the kissing fever
I was kissed for the 1st time
on the 8th of august.
I was 23 days away from 19.
Sometimes you catch the disease first,
sometimes it’s all in your head although
the comfort of kisses can’t be calculated on charts
like the outcome of an ECG
that happened at 13.46pm.

The Lounge of No Departures

In the airport bar
he was wearing my eyes;
circles ripped with hurricanes.

The wind reached for my hand,
saw me old,
took contradictions & splashed them
on my brow.

Should I make them valentines;
the trails, the test?

One loves more. One loves less.

This ring we’re in; let them lose, win?

In the airport bar
he was wearing my eyes;
circles ripped with hurricanes

but there was no one left
to leave or land for,
anymore.

Less; just more of less.

There are limits to what we can hold on to

We pick things, pull things,
up from under, roots, weeds,
things we dropped, things to distract,
flowers to fill the spaces since vacated.
We pick things, pull things.

We keep things, store things,
in boxes, under beds, in sheds,
under sheets; your stool of support
where you watched us, running; out, off, gone.
We keep things, store things

things we didn’t know, then
how much we’d miss, later,
things we can’t pull up, now
no matter how deep we dig.

For my Nana Frances who died 13 years years ago on March 30th but is still very much with us, and her stool too.

WE HAVE EATEN ALL WE COULD NOT ACCEPT – IMBOLC

Come Imbolc / we’ve left the gate on the latch / waiting

Come Imbolc / turn us over and all else / out
We’ve left out straw to ignite ashes into action
Into obliteration / cleanse this dust / this despair

Come Imbolc / empty us / our bellies lie open
Eager to be burped / belched / unburdened
We have eaten our own fears and grown fat

Come Imbolc / there’s an empty bed / for later / after
And the gate is off the latch / has long been off
while we waited and the door has long creaked of welcome

Winter stayed too long / we grew weak / under its weight
Under all this waiting / swallowed all we did not want to see

Come Imbolc, carve the fear from the tissue we’ve choked on
That festered in these bellies / come bring it out / unbirth it

Tomorrow we will light a candle / burn the memory
and the ash / the ash will turn to notes as we sing of your return.

Imbolc is the festival celebrating the beginning of Spring and I wrote this poem based on a Poetry Prompt from Catherine Ann Cullen, poet in Residence at Poetry Ireland via Twitter on St. Brigid’s Day which was the 1st February 2021

I read this poem on last weekend’s episode of Eat the Storms, the Poetry Podcast…

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