So this is the last pick from our special guest editor, Clive Birnie of Burning Eye Books – thanks Clive! We promise that he saw all submissions fully anonymised, so it is just a testament to the consistency of his editorial tastes that he chose poems by two poets from the Burning Eye stable! This one is from Jemima Foxtrot. Clive says “I love that I am not totally sure what is happening here but I am jumping between the furniture and avoiding the cracks between the floorboards as I write this note, just in case.”
Written when freshly moved into a huge half derelict flat in a Poplar tower block
This is my house
where I pick wet and slippy fishes
from my kitchen’s apple tree
and bob for russet apples in the bathtub;
that rectangle of grey, translucent ocean.
My little patch of sea.
This is the first house I’ve lived in, all by myself,
that’s big enough to play sardines in.
I just need more things now to fill the space,
more tin for our sardines to hide in.
But I have space in spades.
Come in if you like;
drink wine, avoid the hoover.
And bask my hard-earned habitat;
when in my house, do as I do.
Jump between the furniture
to escape sharks that live waiting in the cracked blue tiles.
Don’t step on the cracks or the bears will eat you.
Sing to yourself on the toilet.
The tiny fridge strains
its muscles loudly,
square, white weightlifter,
but chills nothing sufficiently;
the milk’s off two days early.
The camping hob, spattered in festival mud,
has been donated with love from Jimmy.
I’m in no huge rush to find a new cooker.
The rugs stretch out, and unwind with their feet up.
They are much happier here
than in the skip that I found them alone in.
And I am poor in pounds but rich in zeal for it
because I have made it and it is mine.
Yes. I am money poor but energy rich.
So I sit on the sofa we found in the street,
and I am right in the very centre of it.
Jemima is a writer, performer, theatre-maker and musician who blends powerful, sonic-heavy words with snippets of song in her distinctive voice. Jemima has written commissions for BBC 2, BBC Arts, Channel 4 and Tate Britain. She has written three solo poetry plays which tour nationally and internationally: Melody and Above the Mealy-mouthed Sea with Lucy Allan and their theatre company Unholy Mess and Rear View with experimental theatre veterans I.O.U. All Damn Day, Jemima’s first collection of poetry, is published by Burning Eye Books.