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Poetry Pleases: Sounds

A concatenation of sounds conjure up memories of childhood and adolescence for Jean Cowgill.

Chalk scratches blackboard dispensing knowledge.
Ink pens split and stutter across best exercise books
trailing abstract patterns amongst the ill-formed letters.
Slipper smacks on bottom and canes arc separating air.
Gas lights pop and splutter on Autumnal afternoons.
Whips crack spinning tops; marbles trickle down earth holes.
A raucous rag-and-bone man peddles water-pistols and balloons.

Cars rest on hill summits. Steaming radiators
issue malevolence through rubber hose.
Fishing boats are launched at Flamboro.
Fresh crabs crackle and are crunched.
Feats of engineering implode on the beach.
Angry spades seek revenge on brown legs.

God rustles behind the red curtain.
‘Sunday best’ hats wave hymn tunes.
Lay preachers shout ‘Hell Fire and Damnation’.
A Christmas show is spent clutching
the letter ‘S’ and pretending to sing
‘Jesus wants me for a sunbeam’.

Culture concentrates in one room round the wireless.
We listen to recordings of Kathleen Ferrier.
Her rich contralto sits strangely in our front room.
‘Have a go Joe’ asks ‘How much money on the table, Mabel?’
On children’s radio ‘Uncle Mac’ exudes security.
‘The runaway train’ is never played near the news
for fear of mixing tragedy with pleasure.
Lonnie Donnegan provides an antidote to Rock n’ Roll.

We are martyrs to the demands of mangle then ‘twin-tub’.
Mondays are spent listening to their relentless conversations.
Carpets are heaved onto washing lines and beaten soundly.
Flat irons hiss, spit and plan their revenge.
At night we listen to the murmurings of a coal fire.

Daisies cartwheel information - an advance
on the clunk, clunk, clunk whiz of the Remington.
Banda machines churn out data…reluctantly,
liable to moods and the consumption of ‘master’ sheets.
A drone of dictation transmogrifies into Pitman.
There is a final closure of double-entry doors.


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