Pretty good storytelling.
I'm @helenrcrawford, but you can call me Helen.
Pretty good storytelling.
You leave me standing idle,
stripped out by the shore,
waiting here for moments,
holding out for more.
I stand alone in wait;
in anticipation, trust,
but it turns out I was wrong:
Salt-air turns my hope to rust.
I never thought the day was grey,
but now I see through different eyes;
Sand, cold beneath my feet,
Dull skies reflected in my eyes.
Clouds gather and hang low,
I realise what I should have known,
and turning, walk back up the beach.
I know that you are out of reach.
Penny Crayon was the cartoon character I’d most love to be:
Imagine a thing, draw it,
then it’s right there to be seen.
But it sounds as though I could get my wish,
Because printing’s gone 3D.
An industry grows,
shrinks, develops, folds.
Another pops up; refines, realigns -
The Print Manager job description is redefined.
Skulls, dolls, houses, canals.
Cups, guitars, can openers, bars.
I’ve just enrolled on a college course;
I’ll learn how to use CAD,
Because it looks as though there’s a Penny Crayon future to be had.
Hold me in the days
I step along the tight rope;
Wobbly and leaning,
Smile, and believe in me.
Into the treacherous night,
Into the warmth of train lights,
Because Simon’s getting married tomorrow,
And Norwich has been forecast four inches of snow.
The car would be fine;
except for the snow.
The train would be fine;
except for the Met line.
So I’ll set off a night ahead -
rest my head on my uncle’s spare bed -
and tomorrow take the tube from Tufnell Park,
to the renovated-King’s Cross, complete with arcs.
But for now the familiar sound of train-pronounced names,
provides the soundtrack to travelling games
- except that it’s just me, and the game is a book,
a quickly-writ poem, and a friendly look.
My suitcase is full;
stilettos, snow boots,
in case Norwich paths are not gritted,
in case when I get there, my footwear’s unfitting.
But whatever happens - I will get there.
I just can’t make any promises about the state of my hair.
Yes for the London Underground, yes for Wendy Cope.
I googled The Sick Equation to see whether it lived online in some official capacity so I could reblog it without breaking copyright. What I found was a stack of exam board paraphernalia and teachers’ notes on example essays: a reminder that the only reason I know this poem is because it was on my GCSE curriculum.
I still have the very copy I annotated in class because I took the poetry anthology with me when I left the exam hall. Yes, theft. I got away with it because I had bought my own copy of An Inspector Calls, the other text for our Poetry and Drama paper. Sorry, Mrs Galpin. If it makes you feel any better, the ‘Best Words’ anthology has survived every house move over the years and has been one of my best teachers.
But back to the poem. It’s taken me a long time to figure out why I love The Sick Equation. ‘A cocoon of parental hate’ hardly describes my upbringing – but I’ve concluded that my love for it burgeons from:
1. The rhythm and rhyme scheme. Sorry to sound like an English teacher, but it is da bomb.
2. The very fact it didn’t mirror my experience. It put words to an experience completely new to me, and invited me in.
3. The very fact it did mirror my experience. I wasn’t a very open book back in my teens, and I was both intrigued and horrified by the aloofness it portrayed.
4. The mood lift in the final stanza. It moves me every time. I trust that something seminal has happened.
5. It’s just pretty good news, isn’t it? A bad experience shapes us in a certain way but later we discover that things are better than we thought.
I couldn’t find The Sick Equation in any official online capacity, but if this blog has done its job, you’ll trawl through a google-regurgitation of teachers’ notes to find the real thing. Happy World Poetry Day.
I’m also a big fan of A Subaltern’s Love Song by John Betjeman. That’s because it rhymes.
This year I’m writing a poem a week, which you’ll find here.
She sits, she talks
She stumbles and she walks
These old pavements are not enough for her
The cold walls, the cabs and calls
Can’t quite nail this life for her.
‘I hate my life,’ she says, hangs low her head,
And a tear starts to roll,
While her friends make the calls.
To get the taxi home:
The night has got too cold.
Back at the house,
She sighs, she cries, she apologises.
But still, she’s not understood.
These old walls are not enough for her.
She’s sick, tired of her life.
And as the morning dawns,
You have told me in a hundred stories, a thousand tales, a billion ways.
A gazillion story arcs entail,
Your rip-roaring, tumultuous, sacrificial trail;
Your self-denying, belief-defying story
weaves its way through
a thousand plots - and sub-plots, too.
It’s good to see you.
Thanks for repeating.
You are making it hard for me to forget,
Hard for me to misunderstand your plan;
So that I might not doubt that you are right in what you say:
Your love is gonna win the day.
I’m not sick and tired of it,
There are stacks more empty pages yet.
I know this tale,
But will you tell it to me again, another way?