:: Article

Steubenville & other poems

By Prudence Chamberlain.

Love poem to Debbie Tucker Green

I act you out in black & white
Lily Allen’s baggy pussy no concern
where objects are concerned
& I find myself directionless & line-
     we kiss just
off Lavender Hill & I am blue
like the middle of a riot

I excel at such short-lived intimacies
you are too dull even to write about
     though you wear all the leather
a girl could wish for

the lightness of our time
is all from ipod minis
& I sing along I do like
all the others     I take you
like a punch
     of salt.

In this world of keeping
tabs behind bars
I do lines
of poems & sit-ins that should
be illegal they feel so good :
we are led off one by one
hashtagging Team Nigella

Drug Education is changing
so that the worst side-effect of coke
is Charles Saatchi’s hands around
your neck

So I laugh as you slip across
the tiles of Embankment tube
after the rain being non-pedestrian
down the escalator & on
the district line

How you
take     up     space
     how     you     take
a breath
     I am astounded
by this wonder-

What is that dialect
that makes you such
a beautiful moment of talk
an exposed thigh on an old
LP sleeve broken pair of heels
painted nails & blood on the pavement

At this time
of high artifice
&     6:34pm
I am on the wrong
side of the bar
possibly in the centre
of a gay speed dating event
like some effete perfect boy
I worry for us & our
future on the street
so let no one follow me home
but you

My Vincent Warren Period

I feel joyfully
in the mornings
& I make coffee
am not hung over
open my laptop
to begin again
with poems
almost a lady lazarus
of 9am but less
internal rhyme
& a little less feeling

It’s like that time I joined
the Labour Party & ignored
all of their e-mails until
a local representative turned
up on the door step
     like some dispossessed
disenfranchised ideology in a
sad greying suit

I had a paintbrush in my hand; ripped trousers;
sometimes I’m so butch & so great & had been
painting a wall
     but I see myself reflected
in the eyes of others & I know I’m O’Hara
fairy not Myles urban gunslinger

since I’ve met you
I can’t stop for writing
& this better not be
my Vincent Warren period

where you go off to Canada
leave me with an ugly STI
& my death is imminent
&     if we’re honest you’re
not the beauty of the Bolshoi ballet in a body
but there’s something in the fragile
between that obvious collar bone &
the line of your shirt that subtlety of
masculine I love all the way through
your jaw line

     we’re all such straight lines     aren’t we?
The way we fall & fuck & think

So I dance to show tunes all the way across
my bed which is paisley & made
& think about my ineffectual political subjectivities


On a public shaming website
the steubenville case is being
tweeted facebooked redditted
disseminated deconstructed
& what shocks me most is that
one commenter can write on
social issues but has not learnt
the difference between ‘could
of’ & ‘could have’ so for all his
conditional tenses & futurity
haters gonna hate; rapers gonna
rape, but the rules of grammar
should always apply

luckily a twitter lesbian couple
I follow like a traffic report on the
M5 have met other lesbians &
are live-streaming their dialogue
& tube rides & cake eatings &
smiles homogenous smiling homo-
     so I’m distracted by
that & all the blond machinations
of what I could be with a lady
that matches better than my bag
& shoes

here is a picture of my
self; let me attach it to
the e-mail then whatsapp
you about it     I’m
wearing pants in it which
is novel for this age      but I’m trying to make
new new again;
you tell me I’m all delicacy
of form & lies of lyric eyes
which are blue & batting
their heavy eyelashes like
a victim would

you write such alphabetical
torture; I couldn’t come up
with a better way to hurt
than reading you all day     So I do;
sit down with coffee & start at your blogspot

let me be your memory loss
or let me be your yesterday
at the local Indian takeaway
I remembered our first date
& felt the familiar easing in
of how you used to walk down
stairs & smile my way so I
went home and googled Julia
Kristeva at Queen Mary this
Wednesday booked tickets for
how To Survive A Plague at
the BFI & found ways to make
this longing a culture all my own
     but it is always
you now

Steubenville is still at the centre
of my evening   though I
am a London girl by heart & word:
& in response to this crisis of he-said
she-said he-did she-was-unconscious
Piers Morgan has suggested we
equip our women with whistles
for a whole new public shrillness
but I’ve heard Flo Rida’s ‘Whistle
Song’ & know blowing anything
is analogous to trouble

Prudence Chamberlain is a practice-based PhD student in London where she works on flippant feminism, Frank O’Hara and Eileen Myles. She is a visiting lecturer in Poetic Practice at Royal Holloway and has done readings at POLYply, Feelings, Hi-Zero and Benefits.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, April 9th, 2014.