Poems of the Decade revision


Eat Me

Depiction of an abusive relationship, in which the women is forced to eat so she reaches a large size, to satisfy her partners sexual desires

Relationships, women, food, abuse

Submissive tone initially that moves to a defiant attitude

Rigid form of ten tercets

“So he could watch my broad belly wobble, hips judder like a juggernaut”
“My only pleasure the rush of fast food, his pleasure, to watch me swell like forbidden fruit”
“Too fat to leave, too fat to buy a pint of milk, too fat to use fat as an emotional shield, too fat to be called chubby, cuddly, big-built”
“I rolled and he drowned in my flesh. I drowned his dying sentence out. I left him there for six hours that felt like a week”

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Chainsaw versus the pampas grass

About a man who takes a chainsaw to cut down the pampas grass that continues to grow every year. The chainsaw is a symbol of masculinity and the poem explores how destructive masculinity can be towards both nature and femininity.

Masculinity and femininity, destruction, violence, change, nature, control

Anger and determined tone

8 stanzas but differing lengths could show unpredictable nature of chainsaw

“All winter unplugged, grinding its teeth in plastic sleeves”
“The chainsaw with its bloody desire, it’s sweet tooth”
“The pampas grass with its ludicrous feathers”
“New shoots like asparagus tips...wearing a new crown. Corn in Egypt.”

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Elegiac which uses the hanky as a symbol of the poets mother and the past role of womanhood. The poem depicts the change as a result of modernity and how the speaker demonstrates the new modern mother

Past and present, women, change, society

9 stanzas all regular in length except the 7th which has six lines - where the shift from past to present occurs

Reminiscent and defiant tone

“A mums embarrassment of lace, embroidered with a v for Viv, spittled and scrubbed against my face”
“She bought her own; I never did. Hankies were presents from distant aunts...the naffest Christmas gift you could get”
“I raised neglected looking kids, the kind whose noses strangers clean”
“This is your material to do with, daughter, what you will”

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The poem explores the impact of significant events, like 9/11 on the world and society

Society and culture, identity, conflict, life, transience, nature, time, change, community

Pensive, thoughtful and tranquil tones

Highly irregular structure (free verse) and length and spacing of poem is erratic - could resemble fall of twin towers and confusion when disaster strikes

“Today as we flew the kites - the sand spinning off in ribbons along the beach”
“But something lost between the world we own and what we dream about behind the names”
“Sometimes I am dizzy with the fear of losing everything - the sea, the sky, all living creatures, forests, estuaries”
“But still, through everything attentive to the irredeemable”

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An easy passage

Poem is about a young girl sneaking back into the house whilst watched by a friend as she climbs the window. Represents the transition from childhood to adulthood, which is not as easy as the girl thinks because she returns to the comfort of her home

Childhood, change, youth, identity, society

Factual tone

Single stanza but free verse which appears daunting, evoking similar emotions to which the girl may have

“Once she is halfway up there, crouched in her bikini...trembling”
“The narrow windowsill, the sharp drop off of the stairwell”
“What can she know of the way the world admits us less and less the more we grow?”
“Their hair and the gold stud earrings...grey eye of the street”

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The deliverer

Poem shows the differential treatment of women in varying cultures through the abandonment of baby girls

Women, secrecy, gender, culture

Factual and unemotional tone

Two different sections to highlight contrasting cultures

“Covered in garbage, stuffed in bags, abandoned at their doorstep”

“Don’t know of her fetsih for plucking hair off hands, or how her mother tried to bury her”

“When mothers go to squeeze out life, watch a body slither out of body”

“Trudge home to lie down for their men again”

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The Lammas Hireling

Speaker recalls the story of his hireling, whom he later believes is a warlock adnd subsequently kills

death, guilt, witchcraft, transgression

regretful and ominous tone 

structure shifts through the passage of time, enjambment creates a sense of guilt

"he struck so cheap...mine only dropped heifers, fat as cream. yields doubled"

"disturbed from dreams of my dear late wife, i hunted down her torn voice to his pale form"

"i saw him fur over like a stone mossing. his lovely head thinned"

"in a sack that grew lighter at every step"

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To my nine year old self

Poet looks back on their life as a 9 year old and the positivity of her childhood. However, there are allusions to potentially sinister elements within their life

childhood, change, past/present, growing up 

nostalgic tone

free verse to show the freedoms of childhood

"you would rather run than walk, rather climb than run rather leap from a height than anything"

"that dream we had, no doubt it's as fresh in your mind as the white paper to write on"

"time to hide down scared lanes from men in cars after girl-children"

"God knows I have fears enough for us both - I leave you in an ecstasy of concentration"

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A minor role

Poem uses a semantic field of theatre and performance to allude to the struggles of illness, in which the speaker is either the patient or a carer

Suffering, illness, society

Chaotic tone

6 stanzas all highlighting the different roles and routines which the speaker has

“I’m best observes on stage...exits and entrances with my servants patter”
“The waiting room roles: driving to hospitals, parking at hospitals/... getting on terms with receptionists”
“At home, thinking ahead: bed? Good idea!...cancel things; pretends all’s well, admits its not”
“Not the star part. And who would want it? I jettison the spear”

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The gun

Poem presents a female speaker, who becomes fascinated with a gun and becomes skilful in her kills.

Violence, death, women, the home

Ominous tone

Stand alone line brings attention to the impact of the gun, changing stanza lengths reflects the guns presence morphing into something more sinister

“You lay it on the kitchen take, stretched out like something dead itself”
“At first its just practice...then a rabbit shot clean through the head”
“Your hands reek of gun oil and entrails. You trample furs and feathers”
“Excited as if the king of death had arrived to the feast...his black mouth sprouting golden crocuses”

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The Furthest Distances I’ve Travelled

Reflection on the travel experiences of a young woman and comparison to her life now

Identity, society and culture, past and present, memories, travel, journey

Reflective and sad tone

Free verse - open chance to travel and lack of stability

“The way my spine curved under it like a meridian”
“It came clear as over a tannoy that in restless, in anony mity: was some kind of destiny”
“If I’m stuffing smalls hastily into a holdall...than to be doing some overdue laundry”
“The furthest distances I have traveled have been those between people. And what survives of holidaying briefly in their lives.”

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The poem retells the uncles story of the murder of a captive ‘mermaid’ which is recalled through the nephew

War, conflict, death, guilt, transgression, power, cruelty, fairytale, compassion

Matter of fact and unemotional tone

Free verse to add to the story like attributes of the poem

“The only captive mermaid in the world was butchered on the dry and dusty ground”
“But the priest who held one of her hands while her throat was cut”
“And when they took a ripe golden roe from her side...an egg is not a child”
“But couldn’t look me in the eye, for which I thank god”

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Out of the bag

Revealing the secret of how children are born through narrators knowledge in life

Childhood, innocence, birth, healing, miracles, religion, family, past and present, memory

Inquisitive, naive and personal tone

Free verse to show flowing nature of memories, consistent stanza lengths, separate poems brought together as one shows narrators understanding of world changing

“With the bag in his hand, a plump ark by the keel...”
“Miraculum: the baby bits all came together swimming”
“In sheets put on for the doctor, wedding presents”
“And what do you think of the new wee baby the doctor brought for us all when I was asleep?”

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Narrator is coming to terms with the death of his mother, re-evaluating their relationship with adult eyes through the flip between past and present memories

Death, past&present, relationships, memories, guilt

Nostalgic, reminiscent, unappreciative and guilty tones

One stanza made up of two sentences-unstoppable flow of thought and feeling, overwhelming effects of death
Irregular rhyme scheme could mirror the close and distant nature of their relationship

“I held her hand, that was always scarred”
“Drink after drink, and gulped and stared - the scotch that, when he was alive, she wouldn’t touch”
“Please don’t leave but of course I left”
“A nurse brings the little bag of effects to me”

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Recalls the separation of the speakers parents, but how she views them to be connected still within her

Family, connection, separation, genetics, inheritance

Hopeful and positive tone

“My fathers in my fingers, but my mothers in my palms. I lift them up and look at them with pleasure”
“They May have been repelled to separate lands”
“I shape a chapel where a steeple stands...my fathers by my fingers, my mothers by my palms”
“If you bequeath your palms. We know our parents make us by our hands”

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From the journal of a disappointed man

Explores the differing expectations of masculinity and the effects of industrialisation

Work, gender, society, culture, contemplation

Seemingly positive, ambiguous and confused tone

Epistolary poem

“I discovered these men driving a new pile into the pier”
“For all he cared the pile could go swinging on until the crack of doom”
“Leaned on the iron rail to gaze down like a mystic into the water”
“That left the pile still in mid-air, and me of course”

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Look we have coming to Dover

Recalls how people sailed to England in hope of a better life and plays on the racist stereotypes

Change, society and culture, identity, conflict

Satiety, hostility and hope

5 regular cinquains with no rhyme showing unpredictability of immigration

“Stowed in the sea to invade”
“The vast crumble of scummed cliffs, scramming on mulch as thunder unbladers yobbish rain”
“Grafting in the black within shot of the moons spotlight, banking on the miracle of sun”
“Babbling our lingoes, flecked by the chalk of Britannia”

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Please hold

Depicts a mans experience with new modern technology and the effect it has on society

Modern life, technology, communication, inhuman response

Satirical, anger and irritated tone

One stanza aside from end shows lack of fluidity and communication. Lack of poetic devices shows how technology reduces the power of language. Repetition could resemble continuous cycle

“Wonderful says the robot, when I give him my telephone number and great, says the robot when I give him my account number”
“Please say yes or no. Or you can say repeat or menu. You can say yes, no, repeat or menu”
“Please hold. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Please hold.”
“Please grow cold. Please do what you’re told. Grow old. Grow cold. This is the future. Please hold”

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On Her Blindness

Poem is a eulogy dedicated to the speakers mother, who experienced deteriorating health as a result of her blindness. It follows through her determination and resilience in dealing with the illness

Death, strength, denial

Personal tone

Stanzas of 2 lines to show her determination and the restrictions/permanence of her blindness

“It’s living hell, to be honest Adam. If I gave up hope of a cure, I’d bump myself off”
“The usual sop, inadequate: the locked-in son”
“The autumn trees around the hospital ablaze with colour, the ground royal with leaf fall”
“She was watching, somewhere, in the end.”

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Ode on a Grayson Perry Urn

Looks at modern society through the interpretation of John Keats poem and the use of an urn

Society and culture, past and present, identity, creation, youth, materialism, recklessness, beauty

Wistful, condemning and opinionated tone

Five stanzas of ten lines which resembles Keats work. Changes in rhythm due to rhyme shows changes in society

“Hello! What’s all this here? A kitschy vase and some Shirley temple manque”
“They will stay out late forever, pumped on youth and ecstasy”
“Given head in crude games of chlamydia roulette”
“You garish crock, when all context is lost”

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