Friday, 14 July 2017

Poem by Shelley Roche-Jacques

Shelley Roche-Jacques’ poetry has appeared in magazines such as Magma, The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House and The Boston Review. Her pamphlet Ripening Dark was published in 2015 as part of the Eyewear 20/20 series. She teaches Creative Writing and Performance at Sheffield Hallam University, and is interested in the dramatic monologue as a way of examining social and political issues. Her debut full collection Risk the Pier is just out, from Eyewear.



Shrink

In here I’m fine. It’s watercolour prints
and plants, and wisely-chosen magazines.
I’ve thought all week about the goals we set.
How I must stop and think and draw deep breaths.
You said we need to figure out what triggers
the attacks. Did you call them attacks? 
What’s triggering the rage. The incidents.

I’ve really thought on that. The one at work
the other day. For God’s sake! They’re good guys!
Collecting for charity - dressed for a laugh
in floral blouses, lipstick, sock-stuffed bras
and heels – I guess I knew one shove would do. 
I didn’t mean for him to break his leg. 
But he was asking for it dressed like that.

I still can’t quite believe they called the police.
Second time in a week. Who knew that taking
adverts down on trains was an offence?
I had to climb onto the seats to reach,
but then the plastic casing slid clean off.
I wrenched the poster down and stared at it.
Are you beach body ready? I was not.  

There’s no getting away from it.
Even at night
it’s all bunched up tight 
in a sack of dark
above my head.
Or it stretches away 
like the pier, or hospital corridor, 
through the stale bedroom air
and there’s me at the end of it
there –  tiny – 
shaking my fist silently.

But let me try to keep my focus here.
The worst of it is when I hurt my son.
A children’s party is a hellish thing.
And this one had a clown who made balloons:
a flower or tiara for the girls, 
swords for the boys. I didn’t say a word.
I simply smiled and helped set out the food.

I nearly made it past the party games.
Musical statues. Robin Thicke. Blurred Lines
There comes a time – a limit, I should say:
it’s five year olds gyrating to this song.
The music stopped -  I yanked my frozen son
and scrambled through the streamers to the door.
Through You’re a good girl. I know you want it.

Unfriending soon began – and Facebook throbbed 
into the night – She calls herself a mum.
She’s fucking nuts. It’s just a fucking song.
And worse, the snidey stuff, the faux concern.
It must be awful to be in that state
where something like a song can trigger that.
She has some issues. Let’s give her a break.

A break! Yes please!
I’m sad face, sad face. Angry face.
The trolls of Twitter 
sent me almost off the edge.
Why d’ya hate men so much @suffragette?
Look at her! Jealous!
The bitch needs shutting up.
I know where you live.
I clutched the blind,
and stared into the dark
each night for months.

I lost the fight online. Or lost the will.
I said I’d try to focus on real life.
Now that’s become as messy and as grim.
I keep returning to the Town Hall steps.
I must have played that scene a thousand times.
I knew the strip club bosses would be there
in James Bond suits and aviator shades.

The dancers, I had never seen before.
I left the meeting, having said my bit
and found them waiting cross-armed on the steps.
One blocked my way, with eyes I won’t forget:
so green and angry. What right did we have?
Did we want them to lose their fucking jobs? 
It was alright for us - the la-di-da’s.

I’m not alright. I think that’s why I snapped.
I really wish that I could take it back. 
I don’t remember everything I said. 
I’m pretty sure I mentioned self-respect
and then the men came out and shook their heads.
If I had stopped and thought and drawn deep breaths
would that have worked? What else do you suggest?




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