Bea Udeh – Purple Plane – Mouthy Tour

7 Sep

Next January I will be 8

The same as my brother, Chinua

Actually, by the time I am 8 he will already be 9

It’s his birthday next month


I’m not quite sure what present to get him

I’m not quite sure if he’s been a good brother to me all the time

He always gets to choose the biggest slice of mum’s banana and walnut bread.

He gets to stay up 15 minutes later than me at bedtime.

That’s like…forever.


He can run faster than me.

I am always a good brother to him. Sometimes.

I let him beat me at chess and play with my Thundercats, Eye of Thundera


When I grow up,

I’m going to eat a whole banana cake to myself

When I grow up

I am going to be a


A rock star

The first brown Dr Who.


I am going to design a plane that will squiggle through the sky

Leaving purple contrails to draw doodles way up high

My plane will fire water bombs on houses down below

Quenching flames to save multicoloured souls


My mum says that life is the bitter Kola nut

shared at family gatherings

Life is sweet In my playground,

Like the orange massacred by pudgy fingers


In my playground,

making a paper plane is easy

You really need to focus, fold it very carefully

In the middle, here

Then the wings


And here

Then again like this on both sides



My aunty likes songs by a little man

formerly known as Symbol.

He sings about laughing on a Purple Plane

Not meaning to cause no pain.


Garden blossoms fall on tissue paper wings

The race breezes fast against my one sibling

Bickering is only a whisper when we both play

Though sometimes I wish Chinua’s plane would not win


I saw the grown up news on the telly the other day

There was a man who was sent to prison

For killing his six children in a house fire

That made me sad. Sad. That made me think of Dr Who’s tardis.


It happened just down the road

round the corner from our house

Near our gymnastics

That made me wonder


‘Not a very good thing to do to your children

My mum likes to throw our unloved toys

in the tip or take them to a charity shop

Making room for new toys our cousins give

At Christmas-time. 


Maybe I will get Dr Who’s sonic pen

And use it to make things right again

Maybe that man should have taken his children to a charity shop

So that they could be fostered like my friend Robert at school.


I know a boy who has behaviour issues

I think that man has behaviour issues


Glued on the side of my paper plane

Are chilli seeds for rocket fuel

Jumbo felts fill broad purple strokes

Disguising pink love hearts my mum stuck on each wing.


Soaring through the doodled sky

Down below Derby is a postcard fly-by

I draw 9 square windows,

to fly Mum and Chinua and me


Plus the ghosts of those 6 children

to forget about the pain

just to laugh and enjoy my

purple plane.


One Response to “Bea Udeh – Purple Plane – Mouthy Tour”

  1. poetclare September 8, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    Dear Bea

    This is brilliant. It manages to be both really cute and funny but dark and serious at the same time, which is quite an achievement. I’d call this a ‘dramatic monologue’ as it’s in the voice of a persona other than yourself, and I think you sustain the voice really well – it’s very believable. There are some lovely little details that really bring the voice alive like the chilli seeds for fuel.

    A really clever thing about this poem is the way things that seem throwaway actually keep coming back and gaining deeper resonances each time. Like the plane dropping waterbombs to quench fire – you only realise the significance of this fantasy later on. And the way the charming line about being the first black Dr Who comes back with that chilling line about the burnt house being like Dr Who’s Tardis – so much unimaginable horror and loss in such a small space.

    I really like the verse about the kola nut and the ‘orange massacred by pudgy fingers’ – the speaker thinks it’s a sweeter image but a violence has still crept in there, even into the children’s playground.

    Only a couple of critical notes. There are a couple of places I feel you could tighten the poem even more, for example in this verse:

    Garden blossoms fall on tissue paper wings
    The race breezes fast against my one sibling
    Bickering is only a whisper when we both play
    Though sometimes I wish Chinua’s plane would not win

    ‘Tissue’ – really? Surely it wouldn’t hold a shape? Do we need ‘one’? (I think it’s fairly obvious). Do we need ‘both’ (is it implicit)? The last line feels slightly clunky too – would ‘wouldn’t’ sound more natural than ‘would not’?

    I also wondered about the line: ‘Not a very good thing to do to your children’ – it seems to be rather stating the obvious and doesn’t sound like the child’s voice to me. Could you just cut this?

    I’m being really picky though. I thought this was excellent. Let me know if you have any other things you’d like to ask,

    Best Clare x

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