When our love is a Hackney estate playground past 1.30am

16 Jan

crying with chained swings and buckled zip-line wire

syringes peeking from a police ticker-taped climbing frame

tube-slide graffiti baring its gritted teeth in the lamplight


u kiss 18-rated violence into my pre-watershed heart

everything we wanted waz here. 09/09


as I sweep away shadows to find you

I cut “is still here”  into my victimed skin

with your broken fingernail extensions


I will still play tag with your shy ghost

dangling those knee-length Forever 21 boots

from the stubborn roundabout


it is still spinning

we are still running


hoods covering our faces

my hand muffling your loaded berretta

aimed at all those words we never meant

to leave our throats so gun-ho like that

‘bitch– bang. ‘selfish’ – bang.

you are so not the reason I want children- click


999, stop calling this crime scene

we will only commit ourselves tonight


touch noses lying backs across the hopscotch chalk

light sparklers in our gloved fists

scald pet names along our necks


smash the see-saw in two: keep one half each

so we can remember how to balance


fuck on top of the monkey bars (we always were awkward like that)

then paint them my favourite navy blue

throw your purple dress over the basketball hoop – miss completely

shoot that cute-as-hell disgruntled frown from centre court


draw an outline of our unborn daughter in Crayola

over the entrance sign asking us to ‘play safe’

next to a 4 year old’s squiggle of a donkey

list what we will work harder at:

drawing, basketball, using monkey bars properly

writing what we can’t always say (I am getting better at this one)


hold me close for air until we are hostaged to this feeling

don’t you cut loose our gag so soon

push us below the searching park warden’s flashlights

handcuff my shaking palms to your finger-printed cheekbones

we’ll live off this stowaway silence

swallowing love letters overflowing with all the breath

we could never give back if we tried


leave with me: my surname scarred across your knuckles


our first names on the lips of every East-End gang

for making child’s play of their wreckage

– Jim


10 Responses to “When our love is a Hackney estate playground past 1.30am”

  1. mouthypoets January 17, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Phew! Worn out just reading that Jim, like I’ve been left spinning on a roundabout and can’t get off. Strong imagery, a sense of innocence lost, real passion.

    On the page – it needs inverted commas round I cut “is still here” into…. because reading it I lost sense there until I realised – also the additions in brackets distracted me, as did ‘darling’ and ‘cute as hell’ – but that’s personal opinion/taste maybe. A great, dirty, loud, real, sensitive, vital, raw, personal piece. Anne.

  2. mouthypoets January 18, 2012 at 9:39 am #

    Brilliant feedback Anne – I want to be pushed on everything so personal opinion/taste is extremely valuable alongisde anything more detached.

    Have added inverted comma’s and removed the darling (this change really fits more strongly I think, so thanks!). Undecided as to whether or not to keep the ‘cute-as-hell’ aspect as I did want to have a subtle playfulness going on in the piece, to slightly affect the darker/rawer imagery. Will have a think.

    • Georgina Jeronymides-Norie January 19, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

      Really enjoyed this, I don’t know why, but before reading it was by you, I thought it was Deb!

      Agreed with the darling bit. I was a little thrown at ‘cute-as-hell’ bit because of the gooeyness?? of it, but actually, why not? If it’s a true/personal touch that is relevant to you then, even if it does seem a little out of place, it isn’t because it’s natural/honest, a part of you/the situation and therefore a part of the poem; belongs in this piece if you feel strongly for it and perhaps wouldn’t fit in to any other poem. Does that make sense?

      Can definitely feel the energy and fire of the piece, the imagery is powerful “scalding”. Really get the feeling of two people well and truly etched into each other’s lives.

      Last lines are wicked: “making child’s play of their wreckage”.

      It’s a poem where I had unpick almost every image thrown at me. As in, I didn’t always get them instantly but I really like that my mind is still unfolding it.


      • Chris January 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

        Jim maestro,
        Aye corumba and Wow, this is very different from your other pieces I think yet still has that hallmark of your style and quality. And yeah like Georgie, I thought this was from Debris at first and also when I read the title the thing that immediately surged to the forefront of my mind was Rihanna and Calvin Harris’s ‘we found love’. Strange that one. Anyway it’s a tornado of imagery, very interesting to see it performed, you might find that it’s more of a page poem possibly, as it could leave an audience absolutely reeling in terms of the on coming of description, it may be quite hard to absorb all at once, but I could be and hope I’m completely wrong. A lot of work is needed to decipher this and I can’t quite manage it all. A testament to you. “fuck on top of the monkey bars (we always were awkward like that)” just lol, in fact that whole verse is pretty funny, especially in and around the quite serious scene and I really admired the line “draw an outline of our unborn daughter in Crayola”, it speaks volumes I think.
        Can’t wait to see this one performed,

  3. Chris January 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Oh yes and as Georgie said also “Really get the feeling of two people well and truly etched into each other’s lives.”

  4. Panya January 21, 2012 at 12:47 am #

    Hi Jim
    bursting with imagery
    one of those poems that when you re-read it you see something new each time
    I too loved the line “draw an outline of our unborn daughter in Crayola” amongst many others, I could feel the vulnerability of the characters as well as the passion
    if you are performing this piece it would be good to work on pace to allow the audience time to digest the images

  5. mouthypoets January 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

    LOVE THE TITLE! (Deborah here)

    Great image – if this was in an anthology I would read it just because of that. It is so packed with specificity and context and juice. Although I think me being English effects that 🙂 … being in American forces me to realise and questions these things i.e. the universality of our poetry and levels of specificity (that was a tangent sorry).

    -Can I ask why you have chosen not to capitalise the first word – is that deliberate?
    -Your use of italics, bold and quote marks is confusing me? What is the difference between them and what differenciates them from the convercation that seems to happen in the normal text itself? I love the sense of characters and you amazing use of imagery and language, which advances everytime I read a piece of your work – I think you are becoming better at giving images space to breath and therefore more power – but I think largly because of the layout it is hard for me to build a narrative and differenciateably characters … is this deliberate? Either way can you let me know what you wanted to achieve?

    -It is interesting so many people thought this was mine. This is an interesting point. I think we both know we have parallels in our writing and teaching methods and styles. But this is something you should be very aware of as you are my mentee and our careers run paralel. You want your voice to be easily destinguished from mine. I actually think this is easier yo do than it sounds … I heard Rowan Atkinson talking about why he put Blackadder in the 18th century etc, and he basically said so people wouldn’t compare it to Faulty Towers … I think maybe because here you are talking about East London it has drawn attention to our similar styles because you are writing about a place I often write about. You know?

    …I have to run… I will finish critiquing later but hopefully in the meantime this will help 🙂


  6. mouthypoets January 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    Thanks to everyone for all the comments and feedback on this one. I again challenged myself with this one and for now will just respond to your immediate comments Debris:

    I deliberately didn’t capitalise the first word so the opening line would flow naturally following the title of the piece, so the reader could read the title and flow naturally directly into the poem – was this distracting for you?

    I explored the use of italics, bold sections and quote marks for several reasons:

    – to create a deeper visualisation of physical actions that are taking place in the piece.
    – to experiment with how to push the use of such techniques to allow for a more interesting and engaging layout across the page when reading. (this part is important, there was an experimental tone throughout this piece – some things would work, others wouldn’t.)
    – in an honest sense, to allow potential for the reader to become drawn into the ‘world’ of the relationship between these two characters, which will help when I break down how I wanted each part to enhance visually what is happening please do challenge them!)

    ‘u kiss 18-rated violence into my pre-watershed heart’

    ‘everything we wanted waz here. 09/09’

    (this was to represent the literal graffiti scrawled across the tube slide, maybe a ‘:’ beforehand would help with that?)

    I cut “is still here”

    (to express the literal words being cut into the skin)

    ‘bitch’ – bang. ‘selfish’ – bang.

    ‘you are so not the reason I want children- click

    (to create a whispered, hushed affect to the words that are harsh to say, to speak)

    drawing, basketball, using monkey bars properly

    writing what we can’t always say (I am getting better at this one)

    (This is to showcase the way these words would be written on the playground next to the 4 year old’s squiggle)

    Annoyingly, can’t seem to put italics and bold on this reply post, so hopefully the above will make sense.

    In response for the parallels between our writing, this feels tougher than you say initially, if only because there is zero awareness of similarity of crossover etc when I am creating my work, and so to hear people say ‘woah, I thought this was deb’s’ piece at first’ is suprising if only because I never maybe stepped out of my own work and compared to notice, if that makes sense?

    It’s weird because I still feel like I don’t quite feel the similarity, even when hearing or reading your work..

    Maybe that’s something I should be aware of in future, that those similarities are there, even if I don’t notice them myself until others express it? This way enabling me to push hard to retain my own specific voice when writing..

    Very interesting man.


  7. mouthypoets January 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    Oh, also wanted to added that in terms of differentiating between the characters, I was aiming for conveying the blurred, intensely close relationship between the two:

    so much so that I deliberately aimed to create little space between each character or a clear separate narrative of their interaction.

    It was more about a shared series of actions and images representing the depth of their pull to one another, the mix of childlike/very much adult imagery representing what their love feels like, and truthfully getting a little lost in their world (i.e not distinguishing exactly who is where in the piece) is okay with me..

  8. mouthypoets January 22, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    … Hey me again, from Boston, MA airport – ON MY WAY HOME!

    Beautifu concepts, language and juxtaposition of urban violence and beauty – which is something I know we are both about.

    BUT I am not really sure what the story/message is here (a big part may be strucural re above)…

    Let me know what you want to achieve? What you want your audience/reader to think/feel?


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