Thursday, 7 July 2011

Us, Unvorsum

Thursday 7th July 2011, A. Palmer

Clouds rolled in your eyes-
white over blue like two
small planets in your sockets.

I was an astronaut, finally,
floating freely and seeing
double in your face’s rotation.

You had your hands in pockets,
mine, not yours, to draw
me closer to your sighs

and the safety of the station;
cables in arms, pressed palms,
pulling this spaceman home, finally.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Weather For It

Thursday 16th June 2011, A. Palmer

With the sun begging the curtains be
undrawn to mother red wine eyes,
I had stirred earlier than usual
so I even ate breakfast that day.

The headlines were jovial,
I finally replied to that text message,
and the starlings had not spooked when I
hurled my last round of toast and honey to them.

Later, whilst Charles Mingus captured
Antibes all over again upstairs,
I had strolled through cherry blossom litter
en route to pleasant time-killing, and had stood

barely thirty yards away when it happened.
The brakes shrieked with the 1960 crowd
and the burning rubber was the sole thing
to have pierced my sense of smell since

my rare cup of coffee for the hangover.
A beautiful day to go, he had died
before I could process what I was witnessing,
before the hubcap had pulled up outside Mrs Bannister’s.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Tuesday 14th June 2011, A. Palmer

I studied you, silent sage,-
out of the corner of an eye,
as I perched on that day’s flower
like only an eight-year-old can,
whilst a hill of crumpled drawings
I’d overshot the lines in sprouted
like a stem in fast-forward nearby.
I observed impressed how your brow
rooted and raked for the solution,
the lines like spades, digging
and tossing the problems
over for clues.
Occasionally, your pen
would rest between your reticent lips
like a fork emflowerbedded for a tea break.
just before you left for a locum,
your wilted fingers would 
plough your morning thorns,
dusting the soil from the answer, and you
would unearth the nine-letter word with nominal fuss.
That day, it was “grandsire”.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Slipping Down the Learning Curve

Monday 13th June 2011, A. Palmer

Yesterday’s conversation,
or interview given my clammy jaw,
was lovely. At least for me.
For you, in my imagination,
it was, at best, sore-
invitation for impromptu soliloquy-,
as any exchange I have fares well
until I open my mouth.
The whole time, you had some chap
mortaring food order shells
from an age two years south
that you let skip over your serving cap.
The whole time, I had cries
from my stomach to the tune of “alien life!”,
whilst the chips wrestled butterflies for room.
I was lost in your Saturday eyes,
and the realisation I’d met my wife.
So before your manager’s detonation loomed
a fourth time, with dry lips
I popped the question:
“Will you tell me where the bathroom is, Claire?”
Rid of my cowardice and chips,
but not the butterflies, the test run
was aborted and I left without looking, knocking over a chair.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Funeral Party

Friday 20th May 2011, A. Palmer

Not a peep from those with spades for two years at least,
but they’ve suddenly found their voices.
Seeing them line up like apostles,

you’d be forgiven for thinking the deceased
was some charismatic influence of choices
with his perpetual advice, a jostle

of criticism and encouragement designed for self-assay.
Or was endowed with a distance
and stamina reserves that could last one too.

In truth, he was neither. He was marbled with mercurial ways
and a wonderful savvy that built an expanse
of lucrative ventures worth a bob or two.

Cross-dominant, but not dominated by crosses and Above:
left-handed, but was always right apparently.
He was careful where to walk along the road in

case, (not) Heaven forbid, he should fall in cracks, dog turds or Love.
Stony-faced, and stonier-hearted, he
went about as though the world owed him.

He was no second Christ, nor Casanova;
he was merely a complex kind of simple-
if he said hello, he’d said too much. He was cold.

So to watch the morons compete, gassing over
one another in efforts to wimple
his will, with their spades hunting gold,

was infuriating. But I was smirking.
I held information that would make amends-
take wind from sails, along with dreams of higher parity.

I was picking my moment to drop a bomb upon their irking:
that the mean old sod had come good near the end,
and left the lot to charity.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Time Killing (an Octain)

Monday 16th May 2011, A. Palmer

Upon the shelf, you sit and live-
We're taught your hands make presents past
and left to feel we're caught, outcast,

despite our belts in seats you give
to all those born to ride your scorn,
as we are dropped like sand through sieve

by those damn hands. No thing does last-
upon the shelf, we sit and live.

This is an Octain, a form of poetry devised by Luke Prater, which is also the focus of a workshop today (Monday 16th May 2011) over at One Stop PoetryAn Octain is a poem of 8 lines, made up of two tercets and a couplet, with each line comprising of 8 syllables (usually adopting iambic or trochaic tetrameter). The rhyme scheme is A/b/b | a/c-c/a | b/A, where A is a refrain (the first line is repeated closely or identically as the final line) and c-c is a slice of internal rhyme. I first tried my hand at an Octain back in January with a slightly more light-hearted affair than this one. That poem, on the subject of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, can be found here. To read more fantastic attempts at Prater's Octain, head over to the workshop, where there is a Mister Linky widget at the bottom with links to other poets' Octains.

The Dispute, Donnybrook, Dustup

Monday 16th May 2011, A. Palmer

That was just the first
of many slurs slung my way
like lexical dinner plates.
“Parsimonious” struck the door frame.
“Clandestine” knocked her grandmother’s
St Albans mug from its shelf.
“Laconic” caught my elbow.

Fury always brought her most impressive
vocabularic cannons out, almost as if
part of her battle strategy
to coerce me into eating humble pie
saw her first swallowing
(or consuming, devouring, ingesting)
a thesaurus.

It was only when she paused
to reload, or put
hand to head and begin to sob-
dreadful, delicate, defeated tears-,
did I offer a word of my own.


Sunday, 15 May 2011


Sunday 15th May 2011, A. Palmer

Photograph copyright Fee Easton 2011,
reproduced and used with permission via One Stop Poetry

As the clouds gathered around, scheming

to add to the ocean, huddled
from a sun seeming
close to giving up on getting a look in,
the indecision was late.

The salt in the air
teased a tongue to lips repeatedly, whilst winds
chased breezes through a hair
much thinner now than when,
his voyage, he had first meditated.

Visions of triumphing over Poseidon
with measly means,
had been, as age did stride on,
increasingly cut short
with stills of a watery grave.

But when she died,
the final piece of encouragement
the reminder of mortality did provide.
So before the little boat
flaked too much to be saved,

he would venture out,
rusty though resolute,
years of tarrying and counselled doubt
now second-adolescent fearlessness,
to bury his what ifs at sea.

This poem is submitted to One Stop Poetry's One Shoot Sunday, one of many entries based on one of five photo prompts by photographer Fee Easton. Check out the rest.


Sunday 15th May 2011, A. Palmer

From picking hay
off clothes endlessly,
to running back towards one another
on a rainy night in November,
to the corners of every
Baroque offset of Vienna,
we smiled, didn’t we?

Children, really, when we started:
kisses like a newborn deer, stumbling
onto the next stage we’d read about.
We never made it to Vienna.

Now you live parallel,
in more ways than two, and
I’m stuck on you
like hay,
trying to live the life I thought
I’d be lucky enough not to.
I’d wanted it to be intimate,
letting in only a few.

So whilst my heart
becomes a party of
guests who no longer care they’re there,
I’m sat in the corner,
laughing at the bits I think were intended to be amusing,
and avoiding debates with “I agree”
and mouthful after can’t-talk-mouthful of nibbles,

half the world away,
half my life away,
dreaming of Vienna.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Tracey Emin's Girl

Friday 13th May 2011, A. Palmer

Tracey Emin, Artist (1963- )

There were old bracelets made
from dark wooden beads
that came as a set of two,
and you divorced them to give one to me,
only I didn’t like it against my paler skin.
So when the elastic began to retire
around my thicker wrist,
I was glad to use it as an excuse to house it
in the glovebox of my car instead.

One day, on my way to work,
after reluctantly leaving you in my bed,
I found it tied into a flower,
or a four-leaf clover,
a propeller,
or something else other
than a coincidence, an act of chaos.
I induced a premature arousal
with a text thanking you for
making my car charming,
and me momentarily mirthful,
as I was dreading the meeting,
what, with opting for lovemaking
over notemaking the night before.

With us still loitering in the phase
where impressions could be dashed
by a single neglectful brushstroke,
you replied instantly,
mismeaning “What do you mean?” due to slumber,
and with a slightly short tone,
but sowing a tapestry of punctuation at the close
designed to persuade me that, honestly,
you wouldn’t rather still be in repose.
I reiterated my glee in greater detail,
but you said you had no idea.

Another time, we were in a restaurant,
not the fanciest nor priciest
nor trendiest one I’d taken you to,
but we were wearing trainers
and weather-molested hair dos
and, as per, feeling we could eat a horse.
Just for starters.
Besides, like it ever mattered where we were.

I’m not entirely certain how it came about,
but something in the conversation led you
to suggest a suicide pact.
I appreciated that you were frolicking
but to avoid later, more damaging repetitions,
I broke from a bite of a burrito
to inform you that my mother’s brother
had hung himself.
Dismayed by the silence I’d cooked,
I ordered another couple of Cuba Libres
and placed my hand near yours so that our fingers nearly touched.
You said you had no idea.

I presume that, these days,
you’re in other eateries,
ones that are timeless and don’t
fall out of favour when
the next month’s flavour is announced.
Not like the ones we used to crash,
only to babble about the ones
in New York and Paris and Copenhagen
we would frequent because we were simply
young, British and artsy.
The scallops always went cold.

I presume, also, that you now wear pristine hair
and a different bracelet,
and the smile that masks a thousand
thoughts, plans and histories.
I envision it enchanting another
whilst employed as a decoy by you
to subtly observe how they tell better jokes,
are endowed with a more endearing laugh,
order Cuba Libres with more assurance,
but that they might lack that sparkle in their eyes
as they lean in closer
to make kissing your nose the full stop to the statement,
“You’re the largest name in my tent”.
It is that sparkle that I’d have pushed along your finger
in some foreign land
whilst a carefully-selected moon looked on
at another of Love’s young dreams.

Alas, you left without trying.
That still angers me.
Your next option was never far enough away
to encourage you to concentrate on the one you had.
How you gave up so easily though, I’ll never know.
Did I not paint it clearly enough?
Did I not define our art so that it was established
I’d have run into a burning building
to save whatever it was you wanted me to save?
After I’d already come for you?
I would have happily given you
everything I could whilst
making you feel that you could
happily have nothing.

But I guess you had no idea.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Matter, Anti-Matter and What Matters

Tuesday 3rd May 2011, A. Palmer

Quick, there's that star that looks like our rotten egg-blue again.
The cloud in front has returned to his seat,
and we've been given a good view again.

I didn't see you'd left your eyes at your feet.

Which is why I didn't know you'd stood in the quicksand-
I'd gone first up the ladder and assumed that you'd followed.
Why didn't you say anything as you sank like bricks and
why were you dribbling? You hadn't even swallowed,

let alone called out for help, and now the excess enzymes
your mouth had worked around the clock to get out
were making a break for it down your cocktail dress in limes.
The fen wasn't going to claim those, I had no doubt.

All of a sudden, all this time I'd been bogged down with answers
to questions I hadn't tried to understand.
Like what was before? What were the chances?
And could I truly discount an invisible Hand?

It's a good a theory as any, what take are we on here?
Can't be the first time, or at least I hope not,
because then we'll know how to rebuild it all in a few years,
when the sun decides that's it and murders the fucking lot.

That's when I'd looked back at you, and it hit me from the East,
that you are precious and I hoped find you again in the remake.
We're just blips in time, but we're that at least,
so let's leave the forces to themselves, I fancy a milkshake.

I snapped my ladder and you grabbed hold of my wood.
You fused splinters but left them in like mine.
The cloud stood up to watch us leave and the egg was gone for good.
I didn't mind, my star was beside me in a quagmire brine,

nearly lost but found all the more for it.
I walked it home, holding its peppered hand,
and it squeezed mine tightly, still wordless, though it winced a bit,
and I left my questions in the quicksand.