:: Article

Two Poems

By Joe Copplestone.

The Monarchs’ Bones.

We who’ve stared at the sun
And mobbed our way through the angry Whitehall streets
We who hold shopping lists close to our hearts
And rub holes in our clothes in nervous anticipation
We who wait in static
We are a stammer
At the edge of a river of rushing steel
We who come down in plastic cafes
And protect ourselves from ghosts with whiskey under the table
We who are beginning to get bored of dancing on grazed knees
We who’ve left the screamers passed out sharing downers off a plate made of last night’s ash
We who are bored of minding our words around people at work
Around bankers
Around grandparents
Around friends and lovers
We who are bored of being bad at sex
And wondering if we’re bad at life
We who’ve been let down by the pyrotechnic angels of life and death
Who are nothing of heaven
Nothing of a god made hell
Man made men
Fat suited cog faced bureaucrats
We who are bored of clouds
And scale
Of the English alphabet
And its limits
We who are bored of repetition
And the rhythm of days spent stoned and mourning
The TV of our youth
The play time and playgrounds
Pulled from under us
The hours and minutes
Phones and wallets
Spliffs and comfy nights sleep
Stolen from us
Bored of the men at the bars who banter with our choices
Bored of being bruised on the front line of the queues to feel democracy’s stiff Wooden rigor mortis
Bored of scratching our envy into silence
We who rave in the empty shells of London until the city rattles awake
And into the next day
We who find our selves in the corners of Digbeth
Cleansing our egos in spirits
Too stoned
Too stoned
Drunk and dabbing
Sniffed up and on the horizon
We who sit full lotus on a burning police car
Singing N.W.A
We who will tire again and again
We who will quit
And silently start again
We who plush pillows with our taxes
And jump taxis
We whose eyes see the future in fucks and chases
And the past in black and white
Dead in books
We whose joints creak and tap away slipping fivers into our work clothes
We who sample knells
And gut industrial red brick temples parading fluorescent virgins to a pedestal of unidentified powders
As dear to us as our mothers
As well known as our lovers’ nipples
And spouts
We whose parents burned their hippie clothes
And made a suburban hermit of their anger
We with chips on our shoulders
Who resent clocks
And wait for the drop
We who would chant backwards
For crescendos
We who know that freedom is a muscle
With aching balls
We who would not wish for 68 in vain
We who know that freedom is a muscle
We who wait in static
We who speak in static
Find love in static
Seek refuge hope and faith in static
We who know that freedom is a muscle
Trapped in static
We who are a stammer waiting to lose its place in history.


June Viv
In memory of June Vivian Sexty.

June Viv –
As a child I was scared of the dusted man who lived in the front room of the Stechford house
Your brother folded double in the bed – deep in spirits
A mirror and a bottle – the Sexty curse
Seeping out in black and white,
As I learned to walk in your garden
Fired on by crisp cans of coke,
and mince pies in the winter
Comfy under peacock feathers and an endless mass of turquoise matter
The second Ron was a sailor in my mind –
you made him smoke outside
But I loved the smell of his finger-printed thick Rizla fags trapped in the thick bristling hairs of his face
Did you really run away with a dentist?
You rolled me down Institute Road to the terraced house,
Playing old games with my young mind
And we dodged the old actress with a gypsy nose by lying on the floorboards
Drinking Ribena and milk –
It still doesn’t taste nice when I make it
Where we made dens, so that you could hide from growing old
Still your strong fingers crippled the doorknobs off both of our houses
Still you always asked for firm arms for help
The smell of plastic toy swords as I ran down the Ludlow hill
Thin white freckled skin smelling of soap and talcum powder
Your eyes reflecting William Morris, bathing everything in turquoise splendour
Still you were broken in the shadow of the sailor’s death
The last of many sisters and many brothers
The matriarch of our scattered family – the broken Sextys
You held the splitting heads together, from
Another bungalow, a concrete cul de sac, a city retreat
In amongst fat reddened Saxons, deckchairs on formulated lawns
A safe haven, a place where I can clearly remember
Turning on my kino-eye for the first time
My first passion –
Cinema Paradiso, it trapped me in your carpet
You alone witnessed my awakening
June Viv –
As you lay in the last bed
The tunnel of yelping last gasps
A painful place to pass
At your bedside in purgatory we still shared stories
– Grandma you inspired us
Did you really drop acid with Eno?
“Live fast die young” – you spoke it in Blake’s English
But we shared a moment of the mind
A motion towards life
The maternal poet liver
“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt”
A year or more has passed since the opiates turned your poisoned body over
And let your swollen knees rest
Your memories dripped out your mouth and left a mark on me
Your presence in every mark I make
These words are written with your fingers in my hand
June Viv, it’s only now I see so clearly that you made me what I am.


Joe Copplestone was born and raised in Birmingham. He spent his adolescence being mugged and assaulted a record number of times. At 18 he escaped to the University of Westminster where he learnt about the heartbreaking nature of filmmaking and decided to concentrate on writing. He writes because he’s not religious but everyone needs prayers and mantras. He tries to split his time between friend’s floors in South Birmingham, North West London and East Berlin. He believes with ardour that Guinness is good for you because that’s what his Gran told him and it’s bad luck to disagree with dead ancestors. He’s not really superstitious.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, January 20th, 2011.