Janet Charman – 27 scenes from modern life

Charman LE Aotearoa NZ P&W April 2023

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Live Encounters Aotearoa New Zealand Poets & Writers April 2023

27 scenes from modern life, poem by Janet Charman

27 scenes from modern life

1. a wet sheet wound round me
that as it dries
wraps your absence tightly

2. driving home in the dark conjuring her
i have to pull over
–sweet buds

3. standing up
to eat
from a cold plate

4. will anyone? ever
caress me beyond reason

5. my hand to your
the weight for your ascent

6. rain comes
shattering lightly
limbs ashiver

7. she says she’s embarrassed
he says: ‘I’m hungry be quick’
–a man wrote that

8. Emma B & Anna K
meet in the street and kiss
as they fall into step their fingers link

9. Gustave F and Leo T stick up
female flatmates wanted post-it notes
though no-one replies –understandably

10. the camera can’t see
but they’re washing each other
we know where

11. not her
tell him to use
a milk bottle

12. fine motor skills –opposable finger and thumb
male anthropologists claim it was an adaptation
get this –for fruit selection

13. i’m not deterred
we’re both the year of the horse
in my pen and in my hand for you there’s sugar

14. i didn’t look –promise
well not more than i needed
to get your wet clothes off

15. she has red-fleshed peaches
a greengage with a ridged-stone
she has sweetcorn

16. opening the quilt
her answer
–see me now

17. time to read the news
and wash my hair
she’s not afraid of me anymore

18. placed here
for as long as your cries
wild as your hair

19. when i saw you at Daily Bread last week
it must have been a hallucination
because you’re dead

20. to make amends for insults delivered in public
what should i take from your apology?
–offered in private

21. this longing tide
one day it will flow out
and leave my body stranded

22. the cat has her back to me
but her ears are alert
–you’re like that

23. when the male narrative threatens
to overwhelm the female narrative
she pulls on her coat and walks away

24. i keep the chipped cup
because it’s
where your lips were pressed

25. so what if i am awake all night
light will enter

26. by the time our baby came
and i’d bled out
you were sober

27. as your heart stopped
you saw me
i was there

© Janet Charman

Janet Charman’s collection ‘The Pistils’, OUP, 2022, was long-listed for the following year’s book awards. Her monograph ’Smoking! The Homoerotic Subtext of Man Alone – A Matrixial Reading’, is forthcoming from Steele Roberts.

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