My Children

My poems are my children

Seeds
Deep inside me

Fertilise
Develop

Emerge
Part formed
Wholly dependent
Noisy and vulnerable

I worry
Petrified their fragility
Will kill them
Guard them with my life
Most survive
A few don’t

I nourish them
With an organic balanced diet of
Adverbs, adjectives,
Appropriate poetic devices

Emotional development
A serious matter
Can’t be rushed
Time and space
To understand
To express
Their own feelings

I want them
To feel safe in my hands
I want them
To bring out the best in me

Maturity
Responsibility
Compassion

I want
To guide them
On their journey

While protecting them
From my overprotection

I love them for themselves
I don’t compare them to other poems
I don’t enter them for competitions
I don’t have permanent favourites

I encourage them
To feel attractive
Confident

Reluctantly
I accept
They often disagree with me

My poems are my children
With heavy heart
I release them into the world
To make of it what they will

I release them into the world
It makes of them what it will

My poems are my children
May they educate
Stimulate
Spread love
Fascinate

May they seek the truth
May they speak the truth

May they believe in themselves

The Top Floor

On the top floor
The air is thin
Unsurvivable

The Death Zone

Where every two weeks
I find Mom

Mind ascended
To the heavens

Body discarded
To crouch cramp
Another season

Mom

Whose greatest expressed regret
Was she never learned to swim

We sit
Amongst the gravestones
In their high-backed chairs

A few neatly tended
Most faded to oblivion

My favourite
Pacing the corridor
On an endless country walk
With her soft toy labrador

The one I’d choose for myself
If
God forbid

And the carers care
And the cooks cook
And the visitors visit

And I make my lame excuse
Kiss her rigor mortis hand

Mom
Never easily fooled
Creaks her head away
I descend
To base camp car park
Key twitching in my hand

Turn

To see
Mom risen
At the window

Not waving

Drowned

Stigmata

Yesterday evening
I went blackberry picking
In the filthy alley

Behind our house

Defiant
Amongst the detritus
Of the dumpers

Rows of jam bushes
Bursting
For the intrepid

There were snags

Clothing caught
And a stranger asking
If the nearby houses have cameras

He said he needed to know
Because he was burgled last week

Being the distrusting kind
I gave him nothing

Not even blackberries

I continued
Then saw
The plumpest fruit
Ripe as inkblots
Under armed guard

Trick or treat?

Both

I got them
Emerging with my pen hand
Smeared
In nettle rash hives

So I keep on
Harvesting my poems

Mildly irritated
By indifference

And
Occasionally

More deeply stung

By patronising
Reassurance

Conception of a Caring Child

Let me lick your wounds
Let me soothe your burns
Let me erase your marks
Let me end your start
Let me cleanse your sin
Let me unlock the gate of guilt
Let me flow rhesus positive
Let me sow seeds of hope

Pinhole Heart

In the dead of night
Soundness sleeps

No distractions
From my anger

Red-eyed
Dead-eyed

Focus

On the pinhole camera
Of my heart

Darkness grants
The necessary permissions

To expose
The hidden

Not my fault

Still my problem(s)

Self-therapy
If you like

If you don’t

Family snapshot
Not
Sepia tinted
Just faded

Marriage
Much clearer
Definition

Yet
What

Inflamed
The pinhole

If not

The barbs
Of negativity
Superimposed
Over everything I do
(I do it for you)

Daytime
Laugh it off

Not really about me
I know it’s you

Night

There’s no you

Pinhole heart
Broods
Glowers

Infra-red

Burn myself
To spare you

You

And your issues
Of you own

As with me
Not your fault
But…

All I know
Is
I’ve the strength

To process
Ask the questions
Act

For all I know

You may ask
Yourself
Questions too
For all I know

I lie there
So truthful
I tremble

Totally unsupported

sinking

Would I swap
To the left side of the bed

No

My pinhole heart
Is my vital sign

Stay angry

Stay vital

Stay alive

Andy Conner is a Birmingham (UK) based poet, activist and educator, with a long track record of performing his work nationally and internationally. His work has also featured in numerous publications. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee. His credits include BBC Radio 4, Jaipur Literature Festival and India International Centre. He has also conducted workshops for The British Council.

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