Cleo – Headline draft

28 Jun

Can’t remember how many days into my stay it was.

But I’d been sat on the sofas in the common room

Talking to John who I knew saw goodness in me.


John was here for punching a police officer on a night out.

I thought he was the pikey Jeremy Kyle type… But once

you’re on the inside that might be considered hypocrisy.


Anyway, I started broken record crying again

About the meaninglessness of life

When John told me to stand up.


Next he tucked me into his chest where I buried my head.

My fingers tugged at his shirt until eventually

they rested in one place, tightly clenched like the rest of me.


Grey cotton was slightly sore against my freshly cut nails.

My cordless bottoms hiked higher when he pulled me closer in.

His lips grazed my makeup-less face but not once did he say


It was all going to be all right. But that was fine.

Because it wasn’t the time for that;

It was just a simple bodily exchange.


Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, that I knew wasn’t John’s

Because from the way we were sat

he couldn’t have reached around my back like that.


So I turned to see it was Ade,

the male nurse who gave me a benzo yesterday. He said

“Men and women can’t engage in physical contact here, I’m afraid.”


John and I remained embraced and tears turned to rage

Which was kind of nice – something a bit different

From plain old predictable pain.


One Response to “Cleo – Headline draft”

  1. mouthypoets July 1, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Hi Cleo,

    Great to see you have a piece up and great to see it twice yesterday, I stayed a bit quiet because I was trying to take in what you were trying to achieve – it feels quiet clear, kind of what was being said about this memory coming to you. It feels purposefully quiet blunt and prosaic… so I am tempted to push mentaphor and music but then I don’t because I feel you don’t want this, you want it stark and clear… I think?

    So I have tried to push my feedback in that direction. Also I don’t really think it needs to be longer, I think the intro should be in the performance as we mentioned yesterday – so it can hit you the performance and the audience like the memory did when you recollected it.

    -The simplicity of it.
    -It feels brav and courageous and important yet pedestrian… like something I saw and know I needed to remember but I am not sure why and that gives it power.
    -Some really nice word choices keeping in mind that simplicity yet carry accuracy – tucked is probably my favourite.
    -It is actually really hard to say what I love… because it is the opposite of a slam poem that has lines you click and moments you gasp at, it is so much more than that… it is something you take home and unravel slowly and quietly and I love it becuase of that… It has also made it really hard for me to give you feedback! I have written and deleted so many suggestions but I want to give you something so here goes…

    -Do you need the first line?

    1. Words: when using so few words, and giving the audience such explicit imagery, I think it is important for each word to really earn their place and holds the movement you are looking for. A few of the words feel a bit bland; stay, sat, talking, saw, goodness… things that could be used to describe a coffee in starbucks, a muffin from sainsburies… is that what you want? Either way I think it is worth going through with a thesaurus, closing your eyes, remembering and asking your self – is this really want it felt like? Is this the exact image, phrase, sound I need to hand this over to my audience?

    2. Imagery/emotion: connecting to my comment above, it feels that some moments,feelings, images have been squashed into a phrase like “who I know saw goodness in me”… they feel like they need unpacking. I also no adding detail, metaphor and poetic technique won’t be right for what your trying to achieve. So maybe the answer is in what you are not saying, adding detail to the memory to unpack the emotion. E.g.

    Anyway, I started crying again,
    peeled the leather casing off of the chair
    and stairs at the pool balls chase each other.

    When John told me to stand up.

    It is going to be a difficult balance, but there are definitely some words/phrases that need a little unpacking somehow, like; meaninglessness, goodness, it was going to be all right… was it really this simple? Even if you feel it was, these words are so big everyone will interpret them differently, so you need to explore a way to pin them down a bit more through things that can be seen and touched. Does that make sense?

    p.s. Have a read of Hills Like White Elephants by Hemingway, it is a good crash course in the unsaid, although it is all through dialogue it is a good read generally –

    3. I see that the ending here is different from the one you performed. I want to suggest an ending inbetween the two, why don’t you change the last stanza to…

    “Men and women can’t engage in physical contact here, I’m afraid.”

    Tears turned to rage.
    Which was nice – something a bit different
    from predictable pain.

    John and I remained embraced.

    -I thought of this because the last line didn’t feel like it had enough time to land for me yesterday, but I also think it is important that it is the last line and has the impact I felt it have on the audience whilst slow people like me can catch up. I also think the idea of rage being better than pain feels quiet an important point.

    -How are you feeling about the bread kneading idea? I think you should be doing something… I think what would be good is for you to memorise it and try doing it which doing lots of different things; washing your face, washing up, making bread, mopping the floor, doing your hair, folding clothes… and see if something resonates with the piece.

    I hope this is some kind of helpful,

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