A poem I wrote in 2015 during my Open University degree, and resurrected from my archives.
I’m broadly happy with it looking back, though with fresh eyes I think it is a little overwritten. And I hope those caesuras were for a good reason! (I think they were.)
I used the ottava rima stanza form due to its origin in song, and use in mock-epic poems, which seemed to suit the subject matter.
Five Go Mad in Magdalen
Evening slides over the summer with an
accordion buzz flowing from the radio,
trickling into my ear, a haven
on the M40 between cat’s-eye glows,
and a dark-eyed sailor’s lily-white hand.
Night-time is on and a fair lady roams,
her crystal voice massaging the shore, ‘Euterpe’s
new single,’ says the white-lining DJ.
Pink wine is flowing over me, waterfalls
rolling great boulders of vegetables and roasters,
and gravy boats loaded with chocolate truffles;
the thunderous torrent shakes the rafters
and floods the lights. Drowned bodies rise from puddles
under tables, undead dripping dancers
whose Cons and stilettos groove with Terpsichore,
beating like hooves in their music-less revelry.
The spotlight moon shines into the darkness,
now a stage of intoxicated shadows
and syncopated dressage: the half-mast
leg of Billie Joe breaks blow-up didgeridoos
across its knee, and Tasha Yar does apple jacks
while Vulcan-saluting me, signal becomes
noise tuned to the laughter of Thalia,
the windows they howl and cry condensation.
History has taught me dining and drinking
don’t mix, but I’ve forgotten again in sweaty
headiness, so like a river sinking
to the sea, I flow through open airways
into the courtyard, where there’s someone reading
behind glass, beside a stone lion, in cosy
yellow light: I gaze into the face of Clio,
her knowing skin a yellowed, faded, scroll.
Curtains close over more-sensible minds,
tucked in tightly and locked inside, but I’m out
in December ice, where my senses find
nothing to hold, no scent from closed-bud pouts,
no mistletoe over my head. Time
is fleeing and too many star-lights to count,
when a scope inscribed ‘Urania’
is raised to my eye, and she whispers, ‘Audacia.’