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August 26, 2015 / Sarah Thomasin

Slam

The day I first stepped, trembling on the stage 

to share my truth in neat pentameter,

The judges 

said no.
They said my rhymes detracted from my message.
Which wasn’t quite political enough, 

what could be more establishment, they asked, 
than the form Shakespeare used.
It’s 2015 they said.

You need 

to catch 

up.
They told me 

to break free 

from the bondage of traditional poetic form. 

If the soul is a bluebird that wants to get out, 

then lines that rhyme and trundle along 

da-dah da-dah da-dah

Those are the bars of its cage.
And so I started to learn. 

I studied YouTube videos from poets in America and Australia and London and I…

Started leaving half a sentence hanging in the air 

only to complete it with a tumble of words half sobbed half gabbled all emotion to convey the anguish raging inside of me.
And then a killer payoff.
I did it again and again 

because God forbid my poem come in under three minutes. Whatever my truth might be today 

I had

To learn

How

To

Stretch it.
Because this is the only type of poem you’re supposed to do at a slam

Because if the only poems you hear are slam poems you might just start to believe
That this identical intonation you hear in Seattle in New York in Sydney in Sheffield in London in bedrooms, on YouTube videos filmed in phones, on CDs bought after a gig and signed with a sharpie by a rising star…
That’s the only way a poem can sound.
The day I first stepped, trembling on the stage 

to share my truth 

in perfect iambic pentameter,

The judges 

said no.

I couldn’t be a slam poet.

Because I had let myself be trapped by the bars of meter and feet

The locks of sonnet and sestina

The shackles of rhymes always coming at the end, not the middle.

of the line
And so I have decided 

to try

And do this right 

And let my soul fly free

The way you like.

August 21, 2015 / Sarah Thomasin

Induction Day

for my niece
Five years ago my sister had a baby
And being enormous geeks, she and her partner 

Named their daughter Io
After Jupiter’s most volcanic moon

Chaotic, volatile,

The “interesting” one.
At 13 months Io had solved the puzzle

Of the baby gate. 

And would emit  a shriek like a car alarm

If anybody else got in her way.

Io’s twos 

Were so terrible that her brother 

(All arms and legs and blunt philosophy) 

Cheerfully informed us

If I were Io’s little brother

“Not her big one

I’d never have been born!”
Io at three:

Her almost constant rage 

Began to blossom into caustic wit.

Most toddlers are, to some degree

Gullible

Susceptible to bribes;

Not Io, though.

Her side eye was perfected long before 

She could pronounce her weary 

“Weawy, mummy?”
Io: at four, her language skills caught up

With that erupting mind

And she’s been happy educating us.

Although she gets frustrated 

Because we’ll never burn as bright as she does.
Today, she’s starting school.
She isn’t really frightened. Oh not Io!

This bright, volcanic moonchild,

Wary? WEAWY?

But as she pouts and whines my sister tells her 

“Don’t be afraid. You’ll like it when you get there.

your teacher, Miss McLure 

Is very kind. And you’re so good at adding up, and spelling!

You’ll make a lot of friends: 

Schools loads of fun.
I look at her.

Io at five:

A bright, volcanic moonchild

Who likes to solve the puzzles of the world, 

And won’t be fooled into conformity.

Who loves division sums, and hates to share.

Whose lip is trembling as she holds my hand.
I know exactly what she’s walking into. 

I smile, and lie. 

August 18, 2015 / Sarah Thomasin

Mrs Literal (filk)

So… I was being a bit aspie and my wife started calling me Mrs Literal.

Voilá.

They call me Mrs. Literal
That’s not actually my name though 

They call me Mrs. Literal

I always get the blame

But people just don’t want to understand 

They ask me why I feel so blue

They call me Mrs. Literal

Because you can’t actually feel a colour unless possibly you have synesthesia.
They call me Mrs. Literal

To my increasing frustration

They call me Mrs. Literal

Except on official documentation
But nobody seems to understand now

Why I always get so irate

When you said you’d be “here in ten”

And you’re 15 minutes late. 

How can I explain to you?

When you say things like that I just believe you

How can I tell when you’re being flippant or figurative 

This thing just won’t end.
 Mrs. Literal

Is not really my name.

But they call me Mrs. Literal

Every day the same 

And they say it’s me who can’t understand

The metaphors they use

But if they would just be literal

What would we have to lose?
Can I explain to you?

Everything is going wrong

I`ve lost friends because of this

Feel like I don’t belong.

feel all alone 

And I want to and I want to and I want to

And I want to and I wanna tell you that now

That everything is going through my mind

And I wanna explain 

And I don’t wanna read a poem to you

I gonna explain this to everybody

‘Cause I want them to understand what I’m talkin’ about

I want you to understand what I’m saying.

(even though I’m not using confusing metaphors about unnatural skin colour and inaccurate estimated arrival times.)

August 13, 2015 / Sarah Thomasin

To the loud drunk white girls in the bus station

Why have you come here? Your weird   

attempts at sounding “gangsta mon” 
Shrieks of delight at the hilarity of traffic cones,

Clattering heels

And sloshing plastic cups 

Would have carried on the breeze all over sheffield.

Without you coming here.
Where each sound’s magnified, bouncing off the grubby tile and glass

And echoing against the metal roof.
How uninspiring was your girls night out 

That coming here 

Seems to have been its highlight?
You do not even want a fucking bus.
Content to revel in the party mood.

Of sheffield interchange at half past ten.
Go home.

Or go away.
Even your tans are loud.

August 9, 2015 / Sarah Thomasin

Mike Brown

A year ago today I thought:
Cops killing kids in the street?
Something has to be done.
A year ago today I thought:
This will force the police
To address the problem
A year ago today I thought:
This tragedy will shock the world.
And we will mourn together.

A year ago. Today,
I don’t think like that any more.

August 3, 2015 / Sarah Thomasin

So Sad To Hear

this is dedicated to Gav Roberts, whose wise words about glib RIP Facebook updates for dead celebrities struck a chord.

These are mostly his words, sonnetified.
I do not mourn for those I did not know… 

we’ve all of us experienced true loss 

Our loved ones leave their imprint when they go

And grief is not a thing that that you can force
I would not wish heartbreak on anyone

But I find ‘RIP’ statuses strange

…and foolish… I don’t mock the dead and gone, 

But what’s your sad emoji going to change?
The dead are dead and don’t care either way…

And if you you only saw them on TV

Your online show of sadness and dismay

Means nothing to some dead celebrity.
And those whose absence wounds us every day?

No Facebook status in the world could say

August 2, 2015 / Sarah Thomasin

That Cecil News In Full

a bit of cut and paste news stuff.

TRIGGER WARNING: descriptions of fatal brutality against,  and victim blaming of, um, lions.
Cecil was arrested by a state trooper for a minor traffic violation in Waller County, Texas. Three days later, he was found dead due to what has been ruled a suicide by an autopsy report. 
“The whole thing here is that the lion was very arrogant from the beginning, very dismissive of the hunter, alright?”

According to an autopsy conducted at the request of Cecil’s family, the lion was shot at least six times, including twice in the head and four times in his right arm. 
“What followed was complete mayhem. Thousands of animal rights protesters, thugs and criminals took to the streets to loot businesses, destroy property, and gleefully wreak havoc.”

A Minnesota dentist has been released on bail after his own body camera video showed him shooting an unarmed lion in the head.

Mr Palmer stated that he almost was run over by the lion and was forced to shoot the lion with his duty weapon,” 

A medical examiner determined Cecil’s neck was broken when his head struck the back of the van.

The hunters’ attorneys are claiming that the lion had “attempted to injure himself” in poacher custody on previous occasions.

His death is one of several involving Zimbabwean lions and American poachers which has sparked unrest and national debate.

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