My poems have appeared in Poetry London, The Best British Poetry 2011, The Martello, the online journals Berfrois and iamb, the blog Poems and Pictures, and in a Sunday Mornings at the River anthology (forthcoming). In 2021, I was a shortlisted poet in the Cinnamon Poetry Pamphlet Competition.
I DRAW A MAP OF WHERE WE'RE GOING I draw a map of where we’re going. It seems that all our pens have come from hotel chains or medical reps. This one is called chlamydia. We stop to buy flowers – sea-holly and tulips – and a coffee. Good luck with your move we’ll say - then we wait too far along the platform and are forced to make a run for it again. (We’d been naming the trains, and I’d been checking out the latest deeds of the guerilla gardeners.) Some lines have newer rolling stock, and a more reticent smell, unlike this carriage with its warm, worn fibres. The train is packed and no one travels light: a briefcase, rucksacks, violin case, nappy bags. We’re not the only buggy. I am reading you facts about hagfish: eel-like, jawless, squirt slime when they’re scared, and an old man is swearing at this couple. What a slime eel I think, sipping my coffee, so I try to catch the woman’s eye and smile. Just then the old man takes from his beaten-up duffel bag a kitchen knife. Someone – I wonder who - pulls the emergency cord, and the armed man’s sincerity when the train stops as he mutters about why we’re being held up is almost touching. Two days later from a café, I look out at a metal-grey sea. Above me portraits acting louche while another shuts her eyes, and a customer pronounces on a poem, how it gets to him on every read right between the ribs. Cutlery ripples on mismatched china like applause. He smiles and says to his companion I’ve been threatening to give them a recital for I don’t know how long. © Emma Page
THE LAST TRAIN TO LONDON
Engaged in triplicate, your accounting found wanting,
sharing your boxroom with the undertaker’s calendars,
you’d rise up late, the local ghosts’d rattle you,
and you’d waste your wits on them and blot your books,
but I still loved you, Billy.
So we buy our one-way tickets for the sleeper,
smiling at the contents of bags we packed in haste,
and all you’ve to do is nothing but you buckle,
you’ve a sudden thirst for ‘Cool refreshing milk!’
and when the whistle blows, you’re stood there
clutching two cartons to your chest, as thunder
passes. My carriage twists away the night,
and I lurch, a diamond stylus
on your mother’s long player.
© Emma Page
TO GAS AND AIR
No drugs or dramas (yet), the still midwife
jotting, with careful fingers, line by line,
our doom: a disembowelment, a new life.
Her milky tea and chit-chat pass the time.
O Eileithyia! if it please thee, close,
in midst of this thine mess, my willing eyes.
A hookah pipe of gas and air bestows
around my pool its lulling charities;
its efficacy steadily declines,
and respite narrows, breeding many woes;
save me from curious conscience, that still hoards
the classes, birth plans, everything we’re told;
turn the clock forwards to the labour ward,
the long-hushed casket issuing pure gold.
© Emma Page