Issue 8

Andrew Jamison
Four Poems

Subway Poem

Hot as hell. Black as hell. Fast as hell.
Crammed as hell. Sweating like hell. Awkward
as hell. Confusing as hell. Delayed
as hell. Uncomfortable as hell. Sexy
as hell. Is she smiling at you? Like hell.
Fat as hell. Smelling like hell. Her legs
are as long as hell. Her bust is as big as hell.
His bust is as big as hell. Braking like hell.
Piling in like hell. Looking like hell.
Reading like hell. Sleeping like hell. Kissing
like hell. Drinking like hell. Drunk as hell.
Sad as hell. Beautiful as hell. Noisy as hell. What the hell.
Hungry as hell. Tired as hell. Thirsty as hell.
Texting like hell. Laughing like hell. Quiet as hell.
Thinking like hell. Checking the time like hell.

Teacher Training

for David Park

In the desert of a deserted classroom -
chairs on desks, floors unswept, paper-bins full -
behind the desolation of an end-of-day desk,
beside a colourful noticeboard being colourful
but having no-one to be colourful to,
as pupils coursework hangs sadly off the wall
and pupils, off home, course through each ringing corridor
on a day when spring is only beginning -
daffodil buds just getting going,
the strange sensation of heat returning,
and the sky is a take-me-back-to-my-childhood blue
and the playground, having emptied, is empty too -
I take an accidental glance up at the sun
and there is still so much we have to learn.

Bigger Picture

Opened-window evening air keeps me awake
through another bout of lesson planning,
another struggle with objectives, outcomes
and all the other terminologies
shoved down the trainee’s neck, term after term,
interminably. Somewhere a sun is setting,
a sea is falling over itself to reach a shore,
a sky is darkening only to set a city alight
as here tomorrow darkens the door.
Does Day have a focus or a target
which is measurable, achievable,
is it bearing in mind the bigger picture?
And when the night is all stars and moonlight
is this good, satisfactory or inadequate?

Thinking about the Point of Things on a Spring Evening on the Killyleagh Road

Sunlight shows up the dirt on the window –
bird shit, streaks of rain-stain from an overnight shower
put the pristine white of the PVC frame to shame –
a Belfast-bound flight disappears into Belfast,
flares and unflares in the soft blaze of a spring evening
like a second sun, or a one-off star
through this one-off, belter of a blue sky
as it’s radioed through its last approach
touching down to a province of ‘politics’ –
we’d call it something else if there was a word for it –
untouched by the in-your-face canvassing,
the prospect of door-to-door campaigning,
the lecturing in the electioneering
that’s going on and is ongoing now
as lampposts wear placards of touched-up,
photo-shopped, yet puffy, pasty-faced politicians,
cable tied, fastened to streetlight after streetlight
by some fastidious, unpaid recruit, with hope:
busy-bodies, do-gooders who’ve got done over.
MEP’s double chins belie their à la carte lifestyles –
scream ‘foie gras to start, fillet steak, then the cheeseboard’;
a taxing regime of lunches on tick to the taxpayer –
there they are, beside words like future, your, vote, for,
the same old same old from the same old-timers
while buccaneery young bucks bear the look of the duped;
dimpled, malevolent grins of hard-liners,
the streets of Crossgar are festooned with them,
wherever you look - left, right and centre –
like a festival without the festivities,
festivities without a festival,
or come to think of it, a festival without a festival,
but their greens and their blues will fester and fade
in the elements, the heat and the rain that will fall
through all the Baltic founderings of an Ulster winter,
rare days of summer’s sun-split trees, heat-woven lull,
as lampooners, gossipers, small talkers
lampoon, gossip and small talk it all up in their blogs.
Here, the chickens, however, take it all in their stride
as if the world is one big joke, a cakewalk –
I’ve been especially impressed by the rooster;
sometimes I wonder if he has seen the future.
My father footers at something in the garden,
someone says something unimportant in the kitchen
to my mother’s usual, love-full clatter of pans,
rattled to within an inch of their life,
the Hollyoaks theme tune comes from the living room
as loud as you like, as if there was no tomorrow –
you cannot hear the tick of a clock here –
ironically, you wouldn’t catch me dead in there.
And tonight death seems like a million miles away
as I, perhaps, get closer to what it is I want to say.
And tonight the world feels like a million dollars,
and I feel the need for words like shebang,
arpeggio, carpaccio, Caravaggio,
piano, allegro, pimiento, bravado,
and in the garden everything seems so
abandoned, so easy-come easy-go:
the watering can has fallen on its side,
the daffodils are here, there and everywhere,
the spade against the ditch - a loner,
the deflated and faded Gilbert rugby ball,
unkicked, undrop-goaled, unconverted, un-tried,
tired, it lies beyond my brother’s jinking,
dinking, running-rings-around-me, scoring,
reminds me of the games we used to play, one-on-one,
garryowening, chipping and chasing
our life away on an evening like this evening,
thirsts slaked by big pints of Robinson’s Orange Barley Water,
a pause in play before we’d sidestep each other
until it couldn’t get any darker,
(older now, perhaps to grow is also to outgrow;
older now, we find ourselves homesick at home)
as now my nephews’ Disney slide is folded, horizontal
on the patch of grass it will keep from the rain and kill,
and beside the pampas grass beside the greenhouse
the midges seem left to their own devices:
a swarm of small sun-gods hovering en-masse,
up to no good, a swathe of sunlit nuisance,
and the robin, alone, skitters through the leylandii
from one branch to another branch, inching,
shaking, then steadying, shaking, then steadying,
and I, for the life of me, can’t tell you why
but, remain gobsmacked at its balancing act,
its light-footed, easy-does-it, there-there, now-now knack,
the quiet science behind its body’s equilibrium,
its give and take, tightrope-walker-like suspension,
which makes me see an order in the world, a system,
and think it’s not so bad, it’s not all doom and gloom.
And so, birds yap all through all the ash trees
as evening burns into the back of my head, recedes,
and so it is that I weigh things up, catch myself on –
second suns, one-off stars, robins, leylandii –
caught up in all the catchings of the eye.