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Elaine Medcalf

3 Poems by Elaine Medcalf



Hate crime


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

and then,

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

and close.


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

for quickness.


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.


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