Poems from Playing House by Katherine Stansfield (Seren Books - 15 October 2014)
Brian Blessed in Pwllheli
SciFi Weekender, 2013
Brian takes to the stage
for what’s meant to be a Q&A
about Flash Gordon and his love
of goosing but he’s
on a mission to spread
the good word
we are children
of stardust, meant to travel further
than thought, the moon
only the start:
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn are waiting
for us who must leap light years now.
Brian announces he’s completed
cosmonaut training and is ready
to go. He holds out his hand and I,
until now afraid
of space –
the cold, the ease
of getting lost and my head
take it. The hall’s sticky carpet
and discarded Starbucks cups
melt away as I mount the stage
and Brian’s saying yes, yes, that’s it
and the walls fall flat and the floor
warms then lifts and we’re going
It brought me back to land, that cake, kept me months
in galleys that didn’t pitch, didn’t fill with heaving men.
Training had whipped my ambition, stirred a need
for swift precision, and the blueprint proved in dreams.
Rum-drenched fruit foundations, cement of yolks
and sugar joists. It would be tall but not as tall as her:
I want a cake, not a monument. But I couldn’t stop.
Each sultana had to pass eight separate checks.
Cherries only made it if they glowed.
The icing took me weeks to roll; a growing fall
of snow it settled fast then drank all light nearby.
She looked afraid, her smile lost
inside the white. I saw it later as I covered cracks
with fresh caresses.
Too much hid in that blinding place:
my father’s voice, torn football cards, the allotment
People only ask me now because
she’s dead, as if the recipe has answers.
How many raisins? How many eggs?
My dental hygienist and I listen to Radio 2
I open up. Plaque, he says, and scrapes me.
What colour ribbon did Max tie round the old oak tree?
My teeth are splitting.
We'll have to push you for an answer.
I spit small clots.
Name the first studio album from Oasis.
Polish, like being pebble-dashed. Like dying?
Ok, moving on. Two minutes left.
My tongue flops, is braised by the buzz head.
Who had a number one hit with Breathless?
I am slobber. Shining pain. Finished, he says.
Here’s what you got wrong.
Swill, he says. The beach in my mouth.
Would you like to say hi to anyone before you go?
I regret not wearing braces when there was less shame.
Coming up next – travel and weather.
I’ve seen worse, he says. I swallow the blood.
But first, the song everyone’s talking about–
Floss, he says. The answer is to floss.