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Courage Is Poetry Project

Poetry is Courage, Huddersfield Literature Festival
Clean - by Michael Stewart

She scrubs the taps with Ajax,
she bleaches the bath with Domestos,
she scours the bowl with vinegar and wire.
On her hands and knees, she rubs
the stains from the wood.
She takes the sheets
and the covers from the seats
and soaks them in a pint of Parazone.
She polishes the glass with a linen scrim
and spray gun of Windolene.
Then she takes a brush to her nails
and rubs until they bleed.
Her work is done, it’s over
now everything inside is clean,
no one would know he’d even been.

Conversation with parents on revolution - By Lisa M Luxx

Mum said,
“But we’ve been resisting for a long time
Not enough has changed.”
And pushed a needle into my coat sleeve
Closing the hole I made dressing in haste.
With black thread that she’s owned
Since before I formed in this way.
Dad, who taught me how to build circuit boards,
And made all our computers
From spare bits he had from hoarding.
Takes a mouthful of Shiraz,
And looks at me like I might not have the answer.
I said “but you never had the net
And this is what it’s made for.
Built in the idealist dream
Of a community that are made to rise together
Though they live a thousand miles apart.”
They don’t speak.
So I say more.
“If people can find a way
To take the net back into the hands of revolution
We’d definitely have a chance to overthrow.
A global chorus of ‘hell no’
Is more powerful than a neighbourhood
Gathering signatures by post
To protest something they only know about
Through the telly
That’s controlled
By those who oppress us.”
They look at me like I’m mad
I think, maybe I am
We wouldn’t have the net
If it weren’t for what their generation had planned
For our future.
Thank goddess for the hippies.
Who saw we’re all connected
And knew if they could prove it
We’d stop fighting like enemies
So made the internet to reveal
Connectivity as truth.
Dad said, “you need to figure out
How to build the feeling of the web
Into a structure more sustainable
Than this breakable net.”
I talk where a silence should go.
Uncertainty masked as ‘don’t you think I know’
Mum tied a tiny knot in the thread
Handed me back my coat and said:
“There, it’s sewed, no one will know
That there ever was a hole”.

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Let There Be Peace - by Lemn Sissay

Let there be peace
So frowns fly away like albatross
And skeletons foxtrot from cupboards,
So war correspondants become travel show presenters
And magpies bring back lost property,
Children, engagement rings, broken things.

Let there be peace
So storms can go out to sea to be
Angry and return to me calm,
So the broken can rise up and dance in the hospitals.
Let the aged Ethiopian man in the grey block of flats
Peer through his window and see Addis before him,
So his thrilled outstretched arms become frames
For his dreams.

Let there be peace
Let tears evaporate to form clouds, cleanse themselves
And fall into reservoirs of drinking water.
Let harsh memories burst into fireworks that melt
In the dark pupils of a child’s eyes
And disappear like shoals of silver darting fish,
And let the waves reach the shore with a
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

See this poem as an installation on the Creative Arts
Building (CAB) at the University of Huddersfield
(unveiled in October 2014).

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You Are Here - by Rose Condo
I carry around
A red dot in my bag
So that no matter where I am
I can precisely tag

The place on which I stand
As the very spot
Of exactly where I am
Marked by this red dot

A kind of ‘you are here’
For wherever I go
So no matter where I am
You are here

You see there are places that I’ve gone that don’t appear on any map
Some of my travels leave a geographical gap
Few of these places lie within the borders of any nations
My red dot does not apply to these metaphysical locations

I’ve been struck down with worry
I’ve sometimes lost my mind
I’ve spent days deep in thought
But I always seem to find

I’ve followed in others’ footsteps
I’ve walked along the razor’s edge
I’ve jumped into the deep end
I’ve gone in way over my head

I have been atop cloud nine
And walked along without a care
I’ve sometimes crossed the line
I’ve popped down to the depths of despair

I’ve had to face the music
I’ve had to take the upper hand
I’ve put my foot in my mouth
I’ve buried my head in the sand

My way back to remembering
To stand here on this spot
To let go of my focus
On the places that I’m not

And acknowledge where I am
As the present reappears
So this red dot is my reminder
Hey girl you are here

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Your Dad's Tattoo - by Owen Lowery
Where and when the chief appeared
on his right arm, I’m unsure. It’s there
in eighties pictures though
between feathers, showing

deference to lives of struggle, nobility
allied to strength. Muscled and smiling
back through time,
anything more than glimpses

of his own war, against odds
increasingly cruelly stacked, is shrouded
at best. A rare beer,
of more likely cordial,

tilts in his glass. Parasols shade
others while he faces the steady
glare, locked in the chance
to just be, answering

the lens with a look I’ve seen watching
you sleep. He’d not have winced at the hot
needle, grinned it out
of mind, almost flouting it,

based on those last years with you
as his protection and his life. Dark blue
fading into green, scratched
deep, hold without capturing

the spirit of a man, a daughter, a refusal
ever to give in. The head-dress loses
nothing in translation, nor that jawline
carved in sheer endurance.

more poems coming soon!

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