From the coast road, springily square,
car-crammed, the family, bull-bumptious,
descends to the shore.
Aunt Maud mumbles a knuckle-Kyrie Eleison
of never-ending keeper-key prayers against rain.
Uncle Owen, bottle-party-bovate,
sets out drinks four-square
while Baby Ann, duck dummy
spinach-spitting, sobs on the sand.
Cousin Willy two-times-tables the sandwiches
next to Father’s drum-duchy with his
spouse-special tobacco treasury
and orange-peel organisation.
Wearing her haberdashery-handy straw hat,
Mother, nightdress-nifty, certificate chatty,
sits Empress enigma on her silver strand,
the fidgety pastry-peckish children
as they bucket-bustle, sandcastle-building.
At Bank Holiday’s end
traipsing back to trunk-road Tuesdays,
the car’s hostage-houseful returns
to minute-book miseries and ashpan aspidistras
to wait, promising-proper, for the next
Jam-Jehovah all-allowed holiday
with a sand-scattered holdall-homecoming,
leaving the darkening beach
nightwatch-noble to the bow-legged breeze.
Pat Jourdan was writing poems even while at Liverpool College of Art. She has published five collections of poetry, the latest : Citizeness. Broadcast on BBC poetry Please, Radio Eireann, Radio Norfolk, Radio Suffolk. Latest poems in Orbis, Tears in the Fence and poetrycooperative.org.
Beach Body Ready
The human body is never really
Beach body ready.
It is designed for rain,
for offices, for chairs and sofas.
So if I was to get a body,
ready for the Beach,
I would develop a Crab’s body.
A hard outer shell,
two razor-sharp pincers,
I would grow stalks for my eyes,
learn to walk sideways,
and always look angry.
It would be brilliant for the beach,
but a dead loss in nightclubs, car parks,
making friends would be difficult,
and Line Dancing would be impossible.
Chairs would be uncomfortable,
young children would point and stare,
and it doesn’t matter how good a hard shell is,
it never protects you from the slings and arrows
of careless laughter.
Learning a decade later what I stored in my fridge
Newly back from Salzburg
Alex the Milliner waltzed
into the staffroom and my new post.
Just three coffee breaks into November,
after I’d left the job from hell.
Pure pantomime, he passed around his swag-
Don’t look! Just take a feel,
and grab the first one that you rub!
Yes you, new woman, you!
Well. I did.
Something like a lightbulb
rolled around my palm.
I hid it in my pocket, but
cupped it in the dark.
Then I laughed. Of course I took it home.
Allegedly, it’s filled with cream liqueur.
The other sort had added chocolate.
Who cared either way? The lid
is still intact. Presumably the contents
have long evaporated or gone off.
But I like it in the top shelf, a sphere
of welcomes, care and craic.
I told him once how much it meant,
after all the dark. He did his most
magnificent only-Alex roll of eyes.
Whit? Ye’ve really still kept wan o Mozart’s balls?
We know where all the bins are
and the window keys
and how to operate the washing machine.
We know the quirks of the toilet,
the floorboard that creaks,
the pipes and tubes that are liable to leak.
We know where the dust gathers,
the knack to broken gates,
that the clock in the kitchen runs five minutes late.
We know our local A+E,
the nearest doctor,
that strange night-noise is the Police helicopter.
We know hours of pubs and shops,
takeouts we can trust
and which cupboard holds spray to treat the rust.
We know what the TIVO holds for us,
our spots on the settee,
my bed is memory-foamed the shape of me.
We know grubby cook-books well,
our stash of herbs and spices,
and where we store treats to feed our sugar vices.
Sarah L Dixon tours as The Quiet Compere. She has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears and The Interpreter’s House among others. Sarah’s inspiration comes from being by water and adventures with her five-year old, Frank. She is still attempting to write better poetry than Frank did aged 4!
The sun revives,
and the sand eventually realises
I’m on holiday.
Old energy saps away
replaced by new
with its unguarded optimism.
I take two cigarettes from an imaginary pack.
I light them both together
and offer one to you 3000 miles away.
You take it
and glance quizzically in my direction.
I didn’t know you smoked you seem to say,
sitting at your office desk.
Peter Yates is a playwright who has his own Theatre Company Random Cactus. He works with various charities and is a Theatre Critic at London Theatre 1.