3 Poems by Elaine Medcalf
Proper looking lad, looking for bother.
Should be a stranger to himself, but knows no better.
Living a drab life with low-key dreams on a long slippery slope.
Arms and legs strut in monkey style - don’t puncture my space.
Scorching frost of a murderous glare, beacons out beneath the shaven head.
No smiles on this face, only smirks at someone else’s expense.
Mouthing off like a condiment spicing up the last whispers.
As a skin-full primes the hot August night a little spark from a look fires.
Bring it on, come on then if you’re hard enough.
Fear of defeat in battle drives the fight another notch.
Feels the supremacy tattooed into his arms by twisted male modelling.
The need to be famous for fifteen minutes or longer would be good.
White t-shirt and boots now red
with a black man’s blood.
He’s sees it looking the same,
not different, but convinced it’s ok.
Others stand sentinel
while the job gets done
the running begins.
Proper looking lad, now looking at 25.
A letter from Passchendaele
We had the hot summer sun at Ypres,
which sweltered,leaving us dampened
Wrapped in your English wool khaki,
chaffing every hold, me with black
Belgian hair, and eyes of green.
No language yet, just looks and touch
with delicate steps learning Flemish
by the day, and love in the night.
With the race to the sea you were gone,
leaving promises carved strong in my mind
with the rain, and the rain, and the rain.
The worst for thirty years, making mud and slime
mix with blood and salt water, and in the fading
light each day the demons come and settle
their wings on my heart, speaking stories
of mustard gas, bayonets, bullets and mud drownings.
I worried how I would find you if you fell.
In December you walked through my yard weeping,
with a look of fear never to be spoken of again
as we travelled together through the next fifty years.
January Mornings aged 9
My lukewarm toes peek
fromluke warm sheets and test the icy air.
Dull grey light strains
through the frost on frigid metal frames and spills
through porous curtains
Onto lino floors, which, with sharp frayed edges,
ready to catch on a bathroom run
with naked feet, and pyjama bottoms shortened by growing legs.
I squat, hover over the damp seat,
wishing I were a stay-covered boy, ending with a shiver
and steamy breath, quick dash back.
Resist the pull to bed, instead tug on uniform layers
damp from the night, yesterday’s socks
Fly down to a sluggishly warming kitchen,
cornflakes with hot milk and sugar, kettle whistling
for the pot, tea’d-up, ready.
Now for the slip-slide walk to school, wrapped up
in the family duffle.
Copyright Elaine Medcalf 2013. Published with permission.