transition

I wrote this just after my first internship and I doubt I am the only young woman to panic at the stages of transitioning from child to adult:

 

My beige mack ties me up in a waist band of calm;

chosen to match my two-tone low cut heels.

 

Coffee mug in hand, containing hot chocolate

that threads me back to my marshmallow days,

 

Comfort from those high school stresses,

the successes that carried me to this internship,

 

as I transition my way into an adult world,

where people email someone sat next to them.

 

Moving from homework to no home and underpaid work:

I am a teenager; a young adult

 

who could have died for my country a thousand times

in the last two years, but only just allowed to vote.

 

Show me where my shadow of debt can shed itself;

make a suggestion of where I may be of use?

 

When I was six I held a sale for Water Aid

and I still tick the £5 box. But I’m not sure

 

that researching or fighting for ‘human rights’

in a ‘Western culture’ that abandoned my ambition,

 

has worked, because I’m not sure

of what I was once ambitious for now I’m here.

 

But I still smile at the child who points and says,

‘Look mummy, that’s the woman who works at the BBC’,

 

I was that woman; but not a woman

and where am I going next?

blazer

I wrote this at 19 on an Arvon course. After being sexually assaulted the first time I found it especially helpful to reflect on my childhood and connect back to my experiences then: 

 

My school blazer held tools to paint

a mask in place: lip gloss and powder

to match the self imposed uniform

we shared.

 

They fell into the space where

my hymn book should have been.

Bound in yellow card with the

worst hymns.

 

So the book was left at home and, slowly,

I allowed the creatures of my ambition

to nestle there. All fast asleep,

dreaming of a day

 

When I might choose the words

I speak and sing. Miniature dragons

breathing futuristic fire of the trail

blazer I would be.

 

All left close to my heart; while

the pockets I thrust my hands into

contained the meagre beginnings

of this plan.

 

Notes, grades, speeches, briefing papers,

clips of quotes tumbled together

with the slips of paper slid between

friends in class.

 

My breathing army to fuel

the fiery dragons. Hand up to

heart. Gently waking them

to the world.

feminism for all

I wrote this for the first feminist poetry evening I organised at uni; looks awful on the page but I love reading it out:

 

Feminism for all.

Feminism for faces of fortune; faces of failure,

Not feminism for a few,

Not just for faces in frames; for famous feminists,

There are no forgettable feminists,

Our famous friends do not fade but

feminists for the future.

 

 

Feminists are not failures,

Feminists may frown at you for:

playing the fool, fighting

but feminists have fun too.

The frankness of feminism may scare you.

Feminism if the fable of the future

  • not a façade but a fact.

 

 

Foes of feminism facilitate forward thinking; fact finding.

Factions foster thought but

faith in fundamentals is at the forefront.

The frightening goal of feminism:

feminism equals fairness and freedom.

Frightening thought indeed: freedom.

Fairness for all; not for a few.

 

 

Far- seeing thoughts-

Familiar thoughts under a frightening name.

The fright of family overthrow.

Feeling for family;

family faces do not run contrary to fighting for freedom,

for fairness- a fantasy of feminism;

A fantasy where women are not all fainting fairies,

a fairy tale where the princess rescues herself.

 

 

Feeding family or feminism? Well, no

equal pay enhances feeding family,

fairness is the foundation of a firm society.

Feminism is functional.

Anti- feminism

  • a fascinating failure of fact.

But I have faith in fact finding, forward thinking.

 

 

There are many fallacies of feminism but

there is no fashion set,

Feminists wear what we flipping feel like

 

  • not for flattery,
  • not for feminine dignity,

 

Oh to fall from femininity,

but for ourselves; for me-

forgetting friend’s thoughts,

Abercrombie and Fitch fades but feminism fits.

 

 

Feminism is not a synonym for femme fatale,

Feminism is not for failures.

Nor is feminism for the far extreme,

for the forgotten cat lady without a fiancé.

Feminism is not for lesbians,

for the failed without a fella.

Feminism is not even just for females,

Feminism is fairness for all and all includes men,

Men should feel the need for feminism.

 

 

Feminism is not for the few;

Feminism is for you.

autumn

Written when I’d just turned 18, a turning point for independence: 

 

Catch me quick. I’m falling fast;

falling through the past to

the moment we met.

 

The moment it changed- I changed;

but I cannot make a change

for us, not now.

 

The golden leaves fell far but

won’t grow green again. We

are stuck in Autumn.

 

No snow, no Santa Clause, no

Saviour. Just a beautiful

death to share in.

 

The leaves are bright- a mocking

echo of the life we once

shared together.

 

Making memories is what

our youth was for. But you

made two too many.

 

Our separate memories

separated us- a shame;

do you feel sorrow?

 

I used to love Autumn time,

independence, but now

it’s too much. Summer.

 

My freckles have fast faded

with the lack of light. I

look older at last.

 

So many changes- I bought

a new skirt. Would you like

it? That doesn’t matter.

 

I will throw the fire leaves up

in the air and breathe in

this new coldness.

body

I wrote this when I’d just started university, a time of huge change for many people: 

 

My relationship with my body changes every day,

I can’t find any continuity within myself,

and I definitely should not have read so

much ‘Mrs Dalloway’ before going to bed.

Septimus has died.

 

I would say my body is my own but I do not think

I own my body; I’m convinced I am my body

-my body and my past. It depends on the day

and the people and my mood what I’ll say.

My mind is changing.

 

But I have no way of knowing if I do have a mind,

my body seems stuck for now- such a  shame;

My confidence is dictated by my skin

but I know wanting men’s approval is a sin.

That’s not what matters.

 

Saying sorry is so British but I may take it too far,

I’m genuinely sorry- just for existing sometimes,

But I don’t know I definitely do exist-

my minds memory tells me my body persists.

I think I’m changing.

wipe it off

Written at around 16 when I was starting to get a little sick of make up:

 

Smudge the smudges all away,

Let the spots stand raw,

Mascara may mask the mystery,

But what does it really stand for?

 

Remember that child? That child

with the clear skinned smile,

the child with the freckled face?

 

Well that child is not my child,

but the child of the human race,

 

Wipe away the cracked foundation,

it serves no purpose anyway,

Looking that little more beautiful,

won’t increase your chance of a say,

 

Remember that moral? That moral

you were taught as a child,

a child with a freckled face?

 

Well that child thinks covering your

freckles is silly & somewhat base,

 

Cleanse the shadow all away,

The shadow that opens your eyes,

For open eyes with a closed mind,

are susceptible to lies,

 

Remember the past? The past

without worry as a child,

The child with the freckled face,

 

Well that child considers the

money & chemicals all to be a waste.

goethe

Not sure if this counts as a poem but I wrote it when I was about 14 and it still brings a smile:

 

‘He who cannot draw on three thousand years of history

is living from hand to mouth’

and they who write of only he, not she, must be from

a land stranger than the South.

dusk wanderer

A poem by Heather Farley: 

You’re a wanderer of the dusk.

I’ll love you in the dark and in the light,

I hope you’ll love me in your shadows.

 

You were born to leave me,

Maybe tomorrow, maybe yesterday,

You’re not going to change.

 

I wish you would,

But I’m scared to think you might…

You’re a waltzing ghost to me,

 

I underestimated how erotic I find you,

The moment of understanding,

Awoke me finally from my nightmares,

 

Lying behind your shadow in the grey sheets,

I wonder if my smile is a memory you hold dear,

Yours made me hope I might be capable of love.

 

I’ll be immortal with you forever;

In haze of drunken memories,

You’ll stay burning on, even when I’m fragments of dark ash to you.

 

Run away in the lighting you most love,

Prove me right though I long to be wrong,

I’ll follow pictures of you into my past,

 

I’ll watch you wander away as you so frequently do,

Left alone I don’t feel guilt or torment, just empty.

Missing something I saw once in the evening’s dusk,

 

Someday I’ll stop writing about you,

Stop dreaming about you,

But not today, today I’m in love with the absence of you.

never cheat on a redhead

I wrote this when I’d just turned 18 in response to an ex cheating on me:

 

You’re a fool for failing me,

You’re a fool for fooling around,

You’re a fool for forgetting to see,

You’re a fool for ignoring what we found,

 

You wasted the foundations we laid,

You wasted the dream that we dreamt,

You wasted the memories we made,

You wasted it because you think you’re exempt,

 

You scattered your pride to the sea,

You scattered your semblance of sanity,

You scattered all the confidence in me,

You scattered it for the sake of your vanity,

 

You were arrogant in acting your crime,

You were arrogant in assessing the aftermath,

You were arrogant for all of the time,

You were arrogant in aborting the moral path,

 

You’re a fool for failing me,

You’re a fool for fooling around,

You’re a fool for forgetting to see,

You’re a fool for ignoring what we found.