5 poems by Jude Brigley

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    Jude Brigley has been a teacher, editor, coach, performance poet and a speaker, and she is now writing for the page.  She believes that poetry should be at the heart of the English curriculum and that it can play an important role in everybody’s life.  While being an experienced examiner, inset provider and research student, she still retains her enthusiasm for the classroom. In 2008, she was named as a teaching trailblazer by the Poetry Society (UK) and in January 2011 she was awarded a Doctorate for her thesis which suggested that students can be trained in poetic thinking. In the past, she ran two performance poetry groups,  and she is also the editor of two poetry anthologies, The Poet’s House (Pont, 1998) and Exchanges: Poems by Women in Wales (Honno, 1990), which were created with students in mind.

     

     

    SPILT SUGAR

    Why do your children remember that one time
    when you lost your rag over spilt sugar?

    And it was only a gentle smack on the hand.
    Or the time you promised to buy skates

    for a birthday but were distracted at the counter
    and brought home painting by numbers?

    Instead, why couldn’t your children recall
    the night you sat up all night to dab with calamine

    erupting chicken-pox pustules or how you
    drove through the early hours to get them

    to an important audition but they did not wave
    as you drove back with tears scalding your face?

    Later, as you waited for their flight to land
    or waved them off on some wayward journey?

    Why did they not look back and see you, there,
    waiting, always waiting with favoured candies

    love and handkerchiefs, and an encouraging
    and a practised smile sieving the sour from the sweet.

    COLD SWEAT

    My fridge is out of control.

    I dare not scout around the dead
    grapes, kept green by cold.

    The tomatoes are waiting
    to burst skins and ooze red.
    They are patients of suffering.

    The yoghurt ferments,
    seething under its lids,
    while butter lies rancid
    in its foiled churn of despair.

    It is a controlled, capsuled
    death for them all. And yet
    indifferent idleness lets them
    stew in their own indolent juices.

    Still, I can’t pull the plug
    and close my face to this
    presentiment of decay.
    Instead, making sure that
    the door is sealed –

    I am the emissary at the
    delicatessen’s sandwich counter.

    WELFARE

    Driving through the estate,

    lost and wondering

    why the maze of streets
    were not signposted,

    she came upon a building
    high on a hill that once

    had been erected to
    a spirit of community.

    And, emblazoned across
    its
    crumbling

    façade

    was written

    FOOD BANK

    on a printed

    ribbon that the wind
    caught and

    flung out,

    like a flag for forgotten heroes .

    THYRZA’S FLOWERS
    ‘Studies show that children are better at identfyng Pokemon characters than real
    animals and plants.’ THE GUARDIAN.

    My aunt could name the flowers on our walk
    as through the lane, her voice announced

    the Greater Celandine and helped us pick
    the fairy fruit of wild strawberries.

    I know the names and hear them in her voice:
    through the meadow, Shepherd’s Purse,

    Milkwort, Ragged Robin and Hare’s Foot,
    Red Clover and a Lady’s Mantle for our game.

    Through the woods, an eye for detail and
    love of clarity found Columbine, Red Campion,

    Enchanter’s Nightshade and Pimpernel
    whose scarlet petals close to signal rain.

    Stigma, filament, sepal and carpel
    detailed in the neat writing of her notebook,

    and still we’d run to find another flower,
    to test her power to charm us by her naming.

     

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