Change – for National Poetry Day: Matthew James Friday, Laura Potts, Jenny Hope

 

 

 

Old East German Man

In the basement of our apartment,
an old man slowly decants rubbish bags
into recycling bins. He shuffles back
to the elevator, right foot sloping
in that italicized signature of a stroke.
I peer down at his bald, blotchy
head and hearing aid. I guess, 70,
imagine him wailing his first breath
as the fire bombing gulped Dresden
Days later he’s playing in the rubble,
kicking dusty bricks as footballs.
Becoming a man in a grown-up
secret police state, separation
shaped as Socialism. Then confused
by that blundered fall of the Wall,
wondering what comes next: bright
adverts, too much choice, smart
phones and young people identical
to the children of those he was once
divided from. Now he ambles out
of the elevator, mumbling thanks
to me, an English immigrant, grandson
of a man who aimed a tank’s turret
at his father or uncle, Germany.

 

 

 

Matthew James Friday has had poems published in numerous international magazines and journals, including, recently: The Brasilia Review (Brazil), Dawntreader (UK), Ginosko (USA), New Contrast (South Africa) and Poetry Salzburg (Austria). The mini-chapbooks All the Ways to Love and Waters of Oregon were published by the Origami Poems Project (USA).

 

 

 

Sweet Autumn

And years later, you at the bus stop.
Yesterday’s leaves in your hair.
The seat where we laughed.
Our words in the air.

Sweetheart. The years threaded up
our names scratched on the glass.
Rain argued away the grass-stained
fingerprints, the love turned over

on clumsy tongues, the moonbows,
the flimsy suns. My skin soft-tossed
in sheets, hard-kissed. The taste
of your words. The clench of my fist

in the deafening dawn. Oh day,
when the pavement rolled beneath
our feet. Bubblegum from the shop.
My Monet mouth, your Friday chips –

Stop. Darling, how we used to crease
at the waist. Pink and white laughter
poured from our lips. And when I meet
you at the curb of my sleep it is when

we were here, my heart in your hands,
your hands on my dress. They said you
spilt your filth down telephone wires.
Cheap love. Sex. I wouldn’t know.

I walked away. Like this. Yes.

 

 

 

Laura Potts, twice-recipient of the Foyle Young Poets Award, became one of the BBC’s New Voices last year. She was also listed in The Oxford Brookes Poetry Prize and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018.

 

 

 

On becoming a bee

Choosing when was difficult. What time of year?
Winter could get me five months or so, if you were lucky enough
to make the cut, to be spent mostly in the hive.  Bee Hygge?

Honey-scented?  I’m over romanticising.  It’ll be clustered
together for warmth.  And besides, these bees aren’t Danish.

Spring to summer might be best, a six-week stretch,
but I’ll pray for decent weather.  I’m reliably informed
I can go in at cleaner level – (accreditation for prior learning they called it).

My children wanted to know – Why?
Children always do – especially when full-grown.
Why? Because my job here’s done.  You don’t need me now.

I tell my children I have to work my way up before I get outside.
Cleaning, nursing, building, guarding – “Oh you’ve done all that already.”
I know, (but marvel how they do actually remember this)

“You’re old enough to do it for yourselves.”
They’re not impressed.  “I’ll always be your mother…”
Of course I’d let them watch the process of me becoming bee.

God only knows they’ve seen the worst of me already and besides
they need the closure.

Will it hurt?  What will happen?  What will you do?
They’re still asking the “why?” My heart buzzes.
They look unsure.

“When I do get out…” “You’ll look for us?”
“Yes…” they’re happier now.  “What else will you do?”

“Oh…I’ll have to learn to shit mid-air.  They both thought this funny
especially when I told them I’d get on-the-job training.

So the day came.  We went into the garden.  Yes, the sun was out,
a warm mid-spring day.  I wouldn’t see the sun for a while.

“Here’s where I turn myself inside-out.”
I pause for effect, and to lighten the moment.
“ and I officially become hard-arsed.”

A dandelion clock rolls between us.
“Mum…”  My daughter’s hand holds mine.
My son catches the clock.

 

 

 

Jenny Hope is a writer, poet and workshop facilitator.  She lives on top of a hill in wildish-Worcestershire.  Her websites are www.jennyhope.co.uk and www.poetrymaker.co.uk

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