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Pam Thompson

Poems from the recent collection "The Japan Quiz"

Three poems based on artworks by Louise Bourgeois



the spider wasn’t evident
when she was a pale pink cloth woman
with distended belly
nor when belly/foetus/ womb and all
its sustaining baggage was left on the floor
nor because it happened
there on another floor
and the pale pink cloth woman pressed
down pressed down

pale pink dry cloth
now spillage
yes the cord the cord
how many times wrapped round
lets say just once then
and then
then on and on
she kept
kept strangling him with his only means of life

and then we forget a stage

but there’s the son man with his head down
standing over there with his head
like a broken flower
pink one

and look there he is like a man
curled in a pale pink cot
pale pink cloth swaddle

he is marble

makes him reticent no doubt





Everyone can see them,
her old clothes
on the branches of the bronze metal

her champagne-coloured blouse
her oyster silk chemise
the black-beaded evening sheath
with the low back

the spider underneath the tree is
concerned  that
there will be no room
for the stockings, the pink satin brassiere
and the coat
she covered them up with


when she ran past the spider
into the night



The spider was in a different position in the morning.
She had left it there expecting no change.
All preconceptions shattered she turned to her army
of fetishes and of the one made up of sticky red
asked if there had ever been a moment of doubt
in all that and if its replacement would only mimic
the necessary sense of loss etc.





Coming back from another country,
leaving it a night for things
to settle I notice how this one, too,
is in colour, rinsed: leaves, sky, bricks,
light. Knowing where I have to go, it’s shades
of Blake and the prison-
door, the fluttering mind, clipped
and folded, stapled even; copied.
There’s only so far
you can go without kicking
out maybe by drawing
hieroglyphs on your wrist, pulling down
a screen, a tableau vivant, they can’t
see it, it’s your vision -
when they look into them your
eyes are attentive,
compliant. At this stage of the day,
strong colours are imperceptibly fading,
you’ll notice,
though, breathe, travel, remember




From The Japan Quiz (2008, Redbeck Press)

Copyright © Pam Thompson, 2008 and 2015.