On the storyteller's blog recently, I read this poem and Pat the darling suggested that it might be nice to be able to read it as well as hear it. Thus, making this weeks post easy for me. Here it is just for her. Please feel free, all you writers out there, to suggest punctuation, or other, corrections. Neither punctuation or poetry are my strong points so don't worry about offending me. I definitely think of this as a performance piece rather than a visual one. Some poems have a look on the page that, along with other aspects of form, contributes to the overall effect. Not this one. This one needs to be read aloud, preferably by a slightly stressed out housewife, with Charlie Parker playing in the background. So if you can get your most psychotic female friend to read it to you , slightly squiffy if possible, that will only contribute to its meaning. Failing that pop over to storytellers and listen to me reading it.
A Sense of Routine
- After Tomaz Salamun
I smell a blue tinsel Christmas tree
I smell excitement, expectation, a spicy fug.
I smell the lure of the snow but the threat of a cold not yet caught.
I smell Brighton, seagulls, cool blue light
The promise of the sea beyond that hill.
Sandcastles, ice-cream, flask-tea, modesty. Running, running to get wet.
I smell an ambulance long gone
I smell the absence of my father
As my mother ‘gets on’ I smell the fear in her eyes.
Time moves forward, I smell the silver jubilee
Bunting, street tables, a pride of neighbours, I smell camaraderie.
I smell puberty.
I smell the odour of indifference that permeates my school
Working class kids already dismissed
I smell the obliteration of hope. Teachers that preach resignation,
Boiled cabbage, meat pie, spotted dick, ho ho.
I smell a new boy in town, his middle class ease,
I smell London and restaurants and theatre seats.
I am infused with the perfume of ‘will you marry me?’
I smell parenthood. I am a mother, responsible, joyous, fat.
I smell Robert, Bob, Bebop, Bippity, Bobsey, BOO, there you are!
Baby powder, knitted booties, clown borders, Winnie the pooh,
Old broken pianos. I smell chit chat and giggles and tractors and trains and
When the fuck did I last talk to an adult?
I smell loneliness. To Kent, to Bedford, anywhere but here, I hate this town.
I smell grey, shrivelled, bastard natives.
I smell promotion, a new house a new town, hope.
The Heck, Islesteps, Glasgow, Bedford I, Bedford II, real friends.
I smell a garden, a kitchen table, supper parties and wine dipped nights.
I smell fizz at Christine’s, cat food at Julia’s, poetry at Frances’.
The aromas of friendship and comfort permeate my life.
Learn Italian, learn French, read law, learn to cook, to dress, to be, to relax.
Too soon, I smell change, smells like doom. Career, promotion, Moffat.
Leave friends, leave life, leave law, leave garden. Bob cries.
Follow husband, and smell stupid, sulking self.
I smell money, greed,
Virginia Woolf’s trifles and foreign holidays.
Thirty different types of lettuce in a French supermarket
Ruins in Turkey
Barney’s in New York, Frank Lloyd Wright. I smell consumed.
I smell a burgeoning friendship while smoking in the rain.
I smell the choohie monster wild but with a good heart,
The dirty fairy, just wild.
I smell Julie Arkell, haberdashers, ironmongers, V. V. Rouleaux, wallpaper, green.
I smell normal.