Thursday, March 31, 2011


(based on suggestions from @sorrell_smith, @eglantinescake, @margolanagan, @_boobook_, @ernmalleyscat, @skippy_2 and @GretasTARDIS)

Skin is an unexpected enemy.

Gloss of green hums like wasps,

shines as if a loofah had sloughed

off the roughness off a tree.

Five tastes dull the senses. One taste -

a quick rush of spit, familiar and I

outrun nausea upstairs.

Emerald razors roar up the flume

broken apple glass slices

soft pink throat, whispers unfair.

The world burns and strobes pulse

vision doesn’t run to the edges

zooms in circle transition.

Five colours blind the eye, five

fingers racing and hunting to buttons

shake the maddening mind until

even autocorrect doesn’t undertand.

Preservation overtakes

to lie down a hot face on the floor.

Confusion is a necklace of buttons:

driving, Bundoora, toilet-training, poetry,

playgrounds, wine, eggplant, worry, friends,

Kirsty, Dawn, Claudia, Mallory, Jessie, Stacey

and the other one. Appointments, tremors.

I agree with you about ninety-eight percent

But the other two percent scares me

half to death. We’re talking about two things

as different as day and night.

When breath beats staccato spasms

there are ten seconds to get low.

Twitching hands tick away to silence.

Disco lights circle at carpet level

withdraw their stingers, return to linear.

Overheard conversations about

Neighbours return to Ramsey Street.

Why do people think so little of death?

It’s not an art, even if you do it

exceptionally well. Someone got up

off the floor shaking and alive.

I hope to hell it was me.


Today's poem is based on suggestions from six peeps:

  • @sorrel_smith: “Baby-sitters Club”
  • @margolanagan: “Include a flume, please”
  • @_boobook_: “Buttons. Humming.”
  • @ernmalleyscat: “Lao Tzu and Zooey Glass”
  • @realnixwilliams: “hearing the neighbour’s conversations”
  • @eglantinescake: “Fainting and vomiting #writewhatyouknow #gladyouareok”
  • @skippy_2: “Skin polished with a loofah”
  • @GretasTARDIS: “broken glass”

Ever thrown up an apple? Really painful. It's the skin. Slicey. Ow. I went all vomity and fainty at work yesterday (must have been something I ate - oh, the irony). I'm a bit of a seasoned fainter (never go with me to give blood, it's messy). I am always irrationally surprised to hear that some people have never fainted. So this poem is kind of about what it feels like for me - I get really hot and everything goes black around the edges, like tunnel vision. What I can see starts to pulse, and my breath turns to little short puffs that I can't control. My hands start to jerk and can't hold on to things, and at that point I know I've got a few moments to lie down before I keel over. Then it's a bit like that point where you're almost awake from a dream, and random images just whirl around in confusion. Then, like sleep-walking, I start to realise where I am (the floor) and what's actually going on, am somewhat embarrassed and feel sick. Fun!

Regarding @ernmalley's cats suggestions - lines 5, bits of 14-16 and 36 are from Lao Tzu/Laozi. I apparently wrote an essay on Laozi for a Chinese Philsophy exam once. I have absolutely no memory of it. Most exams are a bit like that. Lines 25-28 and the final line are quotes from Zooey Glass from Salinger's Franny and Zooey.


Penni said...

Does time go wibbly when you faint? I fainted once and could have sworn I remembered a whole picture book being read to me from start to finish in what must have been seconds.

ern malleys cat said...

Wow, what a turmoil.
Fully sick. :)
Great images that must have been confronting to go over so soon after.

I remember the 'two percent scares me half to death' bit and like how you've used it, but I think weaving that 'hope to hell' in those last three lines is absolutely brilliant.

Look after yourself.

Anna said...

@penni - yes it does, a bit like how you can have a dream that seems to take hours and hours but when you wake up it's only been a the duration of the snooze button.

@ernmalleyscat - Thanks :D And I will.