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Sandra Tappenden


The man who drank several pints
of carrot juice a day turned orange.
He died, as did the man who invented
lifestyle jogging. Time runs away
like water flowing from a clock
the history man paraphrased
plugging into me as if I could
save him the trouble or because of it.

Every staff room has a mug which says
Itís only the tension thatís holding me together
and today I thought Chris was on speed
because he didnít stop speaking for hours
as if silence meant uselessness or death.
Those ducklings I spotted were getting
nowhere going hell for leather against
a strong current; we go to the pub,

get lashed, off our faces, out of it. We
will not be able to run fast enough;
endings begin in the gym or a pool
of vomit.
If happiness were a club
I think, then somehow itís too
forced or convoluted an idea
so I reach for the cartoon mallet,
whap, thatís better.

This morning at 8 am
the regulars on the park bench
were tucking in to oblivion;
I could taste it, and felt superior,
brighter, for a clean millisecond.
When asked whatís your poison
I never say cocodomol although
I can see the attraction.


Iíve found it helps to carry an egg in my pocket.
In the past I tried using stones, and lay
amphetamine-eyed on the river bed
in a suitably heavy coat. I believe
I was waiting for obduracy to change
colour, texture, or shape, but it didnít.
Why this surprises me is another mystery.

Poor Arabella. She put an egg down her blouse.
It could only end in tears, although it was an option
I often considered, like the dream of removing
the egg from the dark on my hip to find
the shell had turned lavender, pink, or
transparent, and whether it was even there
when I didnít actually have my hand on it.

Sometimes my fingertips feel a contained world
moving slow as ocean beneath finite sky.
It is happiness, or misapprehension
no-one can fault. And when blizzards come,
or drought which threatens to crack
the surface of what I call Ďgetting on with ití,
my hand checks back in, okay, and it is.


Spotless matrix of magnolia sunshine
where frogs rain down upon sad, wide-eyed men
and black leatherís post-anti-fashion.

The music goes back, back and forth
to split, peel, manifest hybrids; goes
back to the start, piano or three chord guitar.

Irony is passť rather than passive, and shock
well-timed, or malleable. The question
is muted by degree, palate, image.

Mistakes donít happen in a vacuum.
Cultureís stuffed with and without us;
no sense but in reference.

So, and so

How important it is for you
to see me shave my legs or
dance in the front room
out of sheer happiness
thinking Iím unobserved
is a beauty to which I have to trust
excusing it intellectually
although part of me believes
itís just man stuff.

I do another thing entirely
which is not photography
but all the same quite obvious
e.g. holding your mouthís shape
and the creases of your frown
like a remembered scent
and your thigh upon mine
a line in my head of a poem
no-one ever could really write.

Copyright © Sandra Tappenden, 2005