National Poetry Month-2

Here’s a poem for those of you with mother problems:


What Mother Says

     I’ve forgotten
     I carefully folded my memory away
     in the proper place at the back of my brain
but mother is whittering on again
and now everything’s got in the way

          Whatever I put in my memory
          Mother puts something in front

Whenever I try to recall
anything, however small
the first things I see as I look inside
are the lists and instructions and advice she provides

          Whatever I put in my memory
          Mother puts something in front

     Knowledge is something you read on the page
          or is it
               what mother says?

     Wisdom is something you gain
          or maybe it’s just
               what mother says

     Life is something you reach out and
          if you dont get stopped
               by what mother says

     Freedom is something that’s precious to clasp
          and it disagrees
               with all mother says.

Can no-one hear the tortured scream
of a frantic growing boy?

     I’m shutting my ears
     and running away
     to a fantasy world
     far far away
     where mothers just smile
     and have nothing to say

          What mother says
          what mother says
          I wish I had never heard
          a single word
          of all that mother said.

          What mother says
          what mother says
          she tucked me up
          and fucked me up
          and left me all but dead

     I want somewhere quiet
     I need space and I need time
     so I can clear out the attic
     for the things that are mine
     If i can get rid of mother
     everything will be fine.

© john clare 2011

I Hear Irina Cry

Somebody told me that it’s National Poetry Month, whatever that is. So, just for fun, here is a poem I wrote some years back for all those artists who work so hard, and try to be good at their art, and maybe they are good at it, but no-one hears or sees, and very often even if they do come across it, they dont really care. That’s hard to live with.

I will try and put up a poem a day for the whole month. Let me know whether something like this appeals to you. This poem was written at the time of the imprisonment in Russia of the poet Irina Ratushinskaya, hence the title. Here it is:

I Hear Irina Cry


Deep december cold

she eats

eats her

hour by mind-forced onward-going hour

In her head

once clothed so prettily

she manufactures life

driving the pulses on

in the numb


Outside it falls

from roofs

in fat prison bars

Inside a dandruff of cold

grows across her skin

Ah yes

i hear Irina cry

she is less fortunate than i

Her poems

the breath she made to fill her lungs

are nailed to posters in the square

as students wearing gloves and heavy overcoats

denounce again

another list of crimes against the soul

The words are stark

the poetry is in the pity

and i hear them cry

she is less fortunate than i

I have my food

my freedom and my

fingers warm

and so i cannot cry

My bitterness, my broken dreams

are nursed by money that i earn

i’m pampered, spoilt and rich

and laze on sandy beaches in the sun

while others fight the cold

But is the blizzard in my mind

so very different?

Each day i build a careful poem

that is the very breath i take

Each day i have to make

my backbone

to help me stand

to make me certain there is something i should stand for

I cry because i work

i cry because i dream

and quietly i cry

because there is no-one to buy

the things i make

and i am dumb

because there is no-one who cares

to listen

I am invisible because

there is no-one who wants

to see

But i cannot show you

shackles on my wrists or

blood across my back

merely the dying ember of a soul

that spoke so brightly

what no-one wished to hear

that made with loving care

the things that no-one wanted.

© John Clare 1987-2011