You wanted it all
I get it now. There are many different ways of coming
close to heaven, you say and I’m listening
but outside the angel is dancing on burning leaves
and I’m wondering how long this pill takes to kick in.
What do you mean heaven is a material thing?
You don’t answer because there are many answers
and there are many ways of explaining the puffy eyed bliss
of leaning back on a stinking sofa with nothing but
a pipe in your hand. That bliss is quantifiable
in terms of dosage, monetary dosage,
but what of the day you walked across a street paved
with the pages of your autobiography; starstruck
by red brick, iron railings, when you stopped
overcome with the desire to freeze frame the blue house
that looked like a beautiful woman
winking at you,
you did nothing to preserve the calm you felt, did you?
The classroom is thick with
end-of-the-day Friday fidget.
I can’t stop remote control eyes
falling from the board,
falling from GCSE to park bench.
I can’t stop these kids, these kids are bricking it
throwing up gang signs to soften the fall.
One boy, at the back, doesn’t want to know
wants to be on road or in military tunnels
hitting LOL on spliff dusty keyboards,
doesn’t want to ‘learn how to learn’
with tables and goals on boards,
I don’t learn like that Miss;
I know myself- trust.
He is sitting at a table Jack Jones,
two girls whisper he’s just noise,
they don’t like his hair
or is it the way his trackies sag?
There never is a good time for questions
when your body is a construction site.
Outside cranes play at ballroom dancing
swapping bedtime stories for a
champagne smirk. Blessed for nothing,
these kids breathe the river, but
these kids slip through cracks
in Westminster Bridge.
I can’t hold their eyes, can’t
show them strength or
reasons to try. I struggle to keep their eyes
on whiteboards, on text books, on Apple Macs;
never the river bed with its brittle glass
stained with beer cans. I look to him
with his screen-red eyes, you are brave.
he puts his hand up, taunting.
Watch how we fall
out of line.
Don’t look at the sun, it is life,
but life can hurt, I know hurt
when I see it.
And I try to fade, and the children
are wearing cardboard sunglasses,
and they are laughing, they are laughing
at their robotic profiles; they shield
their eyes from sight, little vacuums
of light. But I’m not sure they understand
the severity of burning eyes.
Maybe they are watching
the shapes of the day play acid trip
on their eyelids, maybe they don’t
know anything about acid, maybe
their parents have taken
casual drugs, on the sofa,
in front of cartoons, maybe
they think this is another episode of
adults tripping balls.
Or maybe, they, like me, like
all of us here today, are hoping
for darkness, or an explosion, I know
there is nothing to fear, nothing
beyond the clouds, nothing to
swallow hope at half past ten
on a Friday,
but blindness keeps me interested,
the blistering of burns, the omniscience
of lampposts, the familiarity of pain,
I could dance in this light
but the children are hiding,
the children think the world is ending,
now is a good time to show face.
A child looks up, for a joke,
I feel a generation of parents gasp
and distract the girl by drawing
her attention to the pigeons
on the red slate roof that resemble
a gathering of sleeping soldiers, but
am stopped dead when I see her eyes
like leaves disintegrating;
she runs inside, I follow and find
all the children looking in the mirror
crying something incomprehensible
about the disappearing sun.
Sophie Fenella is a writer and performer originally from London. Her poems have been published in numerous magazines such as Popshot, Magma, Eyewear, The Rialto, The Morning Star, and she has performed her poetry at many festivals and events in the UK and Germany. Read more of Sophie’s work here.
Photo: Kevin Dooley