Monday, November 03, 2008

3rd November

Here's the second poem:

THE DOORWAY TO ANOTHER WORLD

It was in this doorway that I used to do it
Away from the gaslight
In this doorway in the dark
In my own life’s darkness.

The man who raped me
Gave me a cast off scarlet dress
I’d hook them off the streets wearing it
I’d land them down the alley
And here I’d make them gasp and writhe
As I took them in my mouth
Or jerked them off by hand.

It all depended on the price, of course:
Though after the man had had his cut
I’d always end up with pennies.
I sold myself so very cheap those days
I was young and innocent
Still only just a boy.

When they beat you just hold still
Curl up and try to protect your face.
A cut lip or a black eye
Is just so very bad for business.

It was the third time that I understood
There were men who just couldn’t bear to see me
Living on this earth.
A voice told me. A voice in my head.
The dingy sooty angel of this place
Whose wings are stained and filthy
But whose face
Is pure, untainted, glorious:

“Run!” she said.
And so I ran.
Down the alley, down the street
Into the arms of a lion tamer.
She was walking down the street in top hat and tails
And I almost knocked her in the gutter.
She picked me up in my tattered tear stained cumstained dress
And said: I’ll take you in.

Years later I came back here
Glasgow Pavilion, top of the bill:
A juggler, rope dancer
An acrobat of wild desire
Who had mistressed the flying trapeze:
ANNA THE AMAZING AMAZON
THE DEATH DEFYING MYSTERON
WHO IS ALWAYS MORE THAN SHE SEEMS

And when I died
Peacefully, in my sleep
After a happy and disgraceful old age
I came back to hover here
In my grimy dress and tattered wings
My heart still glowing
From a caravan’s warm, spangly, grease painted darkness
And I whisper to the young ones shivering here
Huddled in deep fear and shame:
“We can survive
We will arise
Pass it on
Pass it on”.


Jo Clifford Friday, 12 September 2008.

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