Sentinel Poetry (Online) #25     2nd Anniversary Issue    December 2004



She fusses still, worries them like a hen,
loves to commandeer them
into the execution of little chores,
feels their temples for signs of fever,
in expropriating when she can their lives out of them
can, in temper, bad-mouth
their lack of a will outside her own,
then, soon, welcomes them back, all hotly forgotten,
tries their temperature again.

Only, when one of them achieves something she can't do,
signals independence,
she can't help murder
welling up in her wet, hurt avoiding eyes,
sudden embarrassed loss of loquaciousness,
as, like a child, she draws her body in into a sulk,
numb-potters about the room,
feels jealousy tear at her heart
at the next generation
daring to invalidate her.


Inches away from a thrashing,
numb-hot flesh smarting my pain,
I square up
to my terror pinning me to the ground.

My fate totally in his hands
I teeter out his glaring eyes and unclenching fists,
the brink of frenzied assault
tugs at his red wide face,
I face, amidst tele-watching and job-bashing,
a different moment.

Steadfast, I cower,
unflinching, I can't move,
in the paralysis of a moment
I frantically forward-wind time to liberate me
into a safer after-frame.

In the moment he could smash my head in
I mix it with thugs with hands like bananas
head-butts at the ready,
I shuffle sideways with squat legs
in a duet-circle with a fellow neanderthal,
peer out at enemy lines
bluff bullets that could detonate my skull.

I get away with it this time,
calmed-down, he lets me off with a warning.
I gaped at my moment of truth,
a flicker on the television-screen,
waited for the credits to roll.

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Alan Hardy, living in St. Albans area. Language teacher.
Poems published over the years in Envoi, Orbis,
The Interpreter's House, Iota, Poetry Nottingham, Braquemard, Borderlines, South, Poetic Licence and others of the usual suspects, + I do a little reviewing for NHI-online.