Sarah – SST9 2nd Draft

18 Jun

I’m not sure I’m confident I want feedback right at this point (the poem feels like bits and pieces stuck together rather than a whole) but I want to be in the Auditorium show so I’m putting up what I have at the moment. I’d been struggling to get the tone right and feel honest, which is very important to me in this one as it’s a personal poem about how I grew up. I am getting more and more confident as I keep working on it though – it’s a slow trajectory but I’m getting there. Feel free to comment but I’m hoping to put up another draft in a few days. I’d appreciate what you think about it generally, particularly in terms of tone, what is good and what needs work. Individual lines I’m gonna work on, but let me know if there’s any that stand out that I should definitely keep.

Waffles and Cocktails

When I was 14 skiving an afterschool netball tournament

to eat waffles in loosened turquoise ties with two daytime friends

for maybe the first time I felt untouchable.

I escaped the carnival and lounged in a patio chair

with ice cream forming the circumference of my mouth

on borrowed money because it was that spontaneous.

If my mum would lose her job tomorrow I would spend my last hours

drenched in chocolate sauce listening to my friends bellow

‘Vote Sarah’s Mum!’ at last minute Lib Dem canvassers

and sing a reworked cover of Last Christmas in ode to the occasion.


On May Day

Dad would take me to the fair

to escape the carnival.

We left the floats decorated

with red and yellow posters

on the windows, stickers from

before I was born flicking off

coats and the constant ripple of

paper propaganda through my

mothers’ fingers to ride the

steam trains.


Old men with normal sized

conductor hats but

tiny engines shovelled coal the

size of pennies and collected

50ps so I could straddle

cushions reminiscent of those

seats at McDonald’s

in an antiquated form of transport

miniaturised to be cute.

We’d ring along and get a tour of

the comparative future: junk

shovelled onto parents wanting gifts

for their kids out of a

car’s backside and muddy white

tents with elaborate structures

made out of Meccano inside – my dad

tells me it’s an old form of Lego.


I can’t remember not being

too old for the steam fair.

But I liked to feel his sturdy

torso behind me as we

zoomed around the fair and

sense him duck his head

from a different kind of carnival.


But the carnival follows me around

when I walk home from the shops

and see the houses where me and mum

would count Christmas trees in December,

and the political posters stamped on their windows

in April. Every year there were less posters,

but the Christmas trees felt brighter.

Sometimes I wondered if people could see our Christmas tree,

hidden behind the curtain. But the posters, one in the living room,

one upstairs in my parents’ bedroom, would stick central and firm.

Or think how quick the trip took, on my own,

hidden from my mother’s local celebrity status

that brought pot hole gossip and my awkward hovering.


At university I wash the red face paint off

but I pick off red scraps from my eyelids after general election results

and cling to news outlets when early May drowns me in silence

as I spend our Christmas alone.

The carnival follows me in candy floss hidden in textbooks,

the slips of ‘roll up, roll up’ in seminar discussions

and the ferris wheel in my bank account

every time I nurse a cocktail in a bar with friends

and think I could’ve felt untouchable.


One Response to “Sarah – SST9 2nd Draft”

  1. MouthyPoets June 26, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

    Hey Sarah,

    Appreciate your direction on feedback in this one – maybe it would be good for you to come to one of the editing sessions and talk through how your feeling about it to get some clarity?


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