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Jack Senior

Attempt at a Horrible Poem
(In response to Attempt at a Beautiful Poem, by Clare Pollard,

from The Heavy Petting Zoo [Bloodaxe, 1998]) 


I wanted this poem to be horrible for you; 
longed madly to say vile things, 
but from this restaurant window I can only see 
clear blue skies that empty the mind, 
and happy people beneath them 
healthy from living 
clean, natural lives, full of simple pleasures, 
joyful song and charming acquaintances.


Those smiling waiters are most likely humouring me, 
but the bubbling, sickly, green-pea soup, 
however hard I try, can only be your emerald eyes.


Couples move elegantly across the dance floor, 
humming songs from their forgotten years, 
because the moon, the full moon, 
was out last night.


I could pretend that the sun is an uninvited guest, 
but its beams clear away the shadows 
and ripens my pale skin to a tan 
like those pretty peaches sold on the market stalls, 
that are kissed by soft, thirst-driven lips;


until, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see 
a smile creep across my stern face.


I so wanted to give you a poem that was horrible, 
but somehow I know my promises of bringing more harm 
than a vengeful Mars, with sour-sharp, poisonous words 
and fists full of loathing,
are not going to work this time.


Why hire a hit-man to carry out 
that dirty damnable deed, 
When I can do the job myself 
and finally get the thrill I need?


I will slice you up and put the stuff 
in seven black plastic bags, 
then light myself a cigarette 
and leisurely take a lengthy drag.


Your seductive skin all torn apart, 
limbs no more than cuts of meat; 
I’ll enjoy touching every part 
and selecting the best piece to keep.


I will do the things we never did, 
kiss the parts you wouldn’t show, 
snap you up for my photo book 
and lovingly watch your red blood flow. 


I'll be the Moon
It's alright darling, I'll be the moon, 
that plain and pretty satellite - 
voyeur of earth, watching from every angle- 
a mere celestial poetic device. 
And you, my world, 
amazing as you truly are, 
with your vast oceans, 
deep forests and bustling cities,

forever waging war on broken men;
once you have grown tired of yourself 
and the bright light of day has burned out, 
turn to me in the night, see me glow, 
and know it is me whom you love 
beyond all doubt. 


Standing On My Own Two Feet
I try to stitch it up; it doesn't hurt anymore, 
it couldn't do - not in my state of anesthesia. 
The needles pierce the skin, and I feel like patchwork:
like a Picasso portrait of myself; 
I stare into the mirror and see someone else.


But sipping on my red-bush tea, checking the leaves, 
I tell myself how it feels serene 
being able to stand on my own two feet, 
even when every song, from every C.D. 
tells a story of us and how things might have been.


Then my mother takes me by surprise 
when she asks if we still talk, 
on the journey back from the hospital, 
and I wonder: can she tell?

Like that time when I was dancing around the kitchen, singing to myself,

and she knew, she just knew – instantly!


When disillusionment hits 
it is a bell that tolls and tolls; 
each vibration rips through you – 
a wave of emotion, 
a wave of clarity…


Independence is nice, I think, 
but only when you've someone to share it with.


Based in Birstall, West Yorkshire; Jack's poem 'Heavy Waves' recently won the Nantwich Words & Music Festival poetry competition, and features in the 2017 pamphlet. He studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Huddersfield University, enjoys vegan food, bonfires, procrastinating and dating websites, and is currently pursuing a career in song-writing.


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