Hey Night (Ode)

Cheap hotel. One bed. One sink.
December
Frostbite biting your lip.
Incense stick.
Smoke bellowing out in to the room-
Like it were your very own miniature factory.
Harlem in Vogue-
On the gramophone.
Saxophones have a strange way of taking you to a place you’ve never known-
And dressing it up like home,
Wrapping you in warm arms-
And golden blankets.

I can see my breath in the air-
But I like the sting so I won’t complain.
Hold my toes to the fire-
But keep on burning my face in cold night rain.

Hey night- what are your secrets?
What are you hiding out there in all your dark?
Can I climb into you?
Explore your crevices- these streets,
That seem so different now-
All the lights are out-
Bringin’ out a new crowd
I like to watch them get wild-
Dirty, filthy, dancing, writhing- with a defiance to live naturally.
I watch at distance in your darkness.
Put my tongue to it-
Without taking the full lick.
I don’t like the daytime so much-
In fact, she’s driving me quite mad;
With all her light
All that light, that she pours onto me
Begging me to love her- but my heart’s not that way inclined.
-But night, you–
You can make me feel alive
In dreams, I am dancing with you
And nobody is watching…

Hey night too blue ballad of the fortune teller is playing
Langston Hughes is laughing- howling a story
Some jazz mens is playin’ some blues

Oh, I’m in heaven with you night

What is heaven but a smokey bar in downtown New York
Out of the way, down some strange alley
Where all the creatures come to mingle
A strange man playing with my hair
Offering me a cigarette
Without uttering a word-
What is heaven, but that?
A smokey blues bar in Brooklyn.

Hey night, there ain’t no heaven without you.
You and all your dark.
.

.

.

Kate x

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Mouth (a poem)

The clench–

.

Before the release

The tongue;

The lips the teeth

The diamonds of sweat

Under my breast

Catch them

Cup them

Evaporate; into them–

Your skin on my skin

The way you make my

Cheek sting

With hot mouth

Soft hair

Eyelash

Lazily graze;- upon my nipple

Stirring in the dry summer heat

Deep- something arouses

The leaves of the trees-

Bring the great rain!

Within ecstasy- escape

Your kisses on my neck

Will bring me back again-

Muster your name

In silence. A cry or a whimper

A kiss or a whisper

I’m a firework at the tips of your;

Rubbing

He’s a flower blooming all over me;

Loving-

–This mouth belongs to me, but

Take my poor breath from me;-

Darling you-

You can have everything.

.

.

.

Kate

You’re family (a poem)

*spoken word*

When I think of you

There is pain

A part of my chest has become so soft

I have had to cut it off

I would give it to you

Because you need some softness

But I don’t think your white back could hold it

That doesn’t mean I think you’re weak

Because I don’t think you’re weak

I just think you already have enough in your rucksack

I see the way the eyes dart away-

At the dinner table

I know you’re afraid-

Of who you are

When anyone opens their mouth;-

It startles you-

You’re always on the edge-but don’t jump-

I don’t want you to

.

I saw a message on your phone

A reminder to go to the gym

A message that said “do it!

Start today”

But you don’t need to push yourself into a corner that makes you feel afraid

I know it makes you feel afraid

Most people don’t get that

But I do

Your girlfriend doesn’t get that

Sometimes (I hate to say it)

But I don’t think she gets a single thing about you

I wish you would fall in love

Because I wouldn’t call that love

I wish you could be braver

I’m asking for too much;-

Already bra-

ver than the rest of us

.

I wish I could take some of your thoughts from you

I would take an iron to them

Scorch them if you wanted me to

Or just smooth them out, and return them to you

I don’t want to wake up one day and find you dead

I remember my mum saying that is suicide material

Suicide material

So I know she’s afraid of it too

I can’t imagine my days without your eyes

The way you laugh and they crinkle at the sides

I can’t imagine my Christmases without you

.

When I think of you

There is a pain

It is so tender

I wish I could give this tenderness to you

I wish I could walk into your bedroom

And show you this song

And leave all my 2p pieces in an envelope at your door

Like I used to

I wish I could do more for you

But you don’t tell me how to

I wish you’d tell me how to

I wish you spoke more

I wish you weren’t afraid of your own voice

I wish you knew how funny you are

I wish you had friends that told you

I wish you were more free

I wish I never wished you-

Would stop smoking weed

Remember when we-

Would sit on our feet

In our pjs; play DS and CDs

How could you ever- feel far from me

.

When I think of you

There is something unspeakable

At the mention of your name

People speak through their eyes

Instead of their lips

That’s what happens when they’re afraid

And everyone’s afraid that–

They don’t know what to say;-

There is so much pain there

-And guilt

I’ve played my part in this

If only I’d have been less of little shit when we were kids

Maybe you wouldn’t feel like this

But that’s just death talking

I know I haven’t done anythin’

But when it feels like you’re so close

So close to slipping off

We go over all the things

The things

That we think we did wrong

.

I tried to tell my mum not to smother you

Sometimes they can be so embarrassing

I’m trying to be there for you

I’m trying to repair it for you

I think I get you, I think I do

But sometimes I think not one of us know a single thing about you

You know your mum, your mum, your mum

Yeah? She really wants you home

I think you should go,

I can’t bear to think of you, in that-

Flat all alone

Will you promise me you’re safe

Will you text you’re okay

Every day

That you are still here

Is a day that I will not

Take

.

For granted

.

.

Kate

Leaders (a poem)

Leaders

We follow them up the sludgy verges,
Mouth wide open
Just gagging
To swallow their words,
Like they were a mixture of,
Yorkshire puddings and gravy,
Like they were a swirl of home.

We tied ourselves
With bruised finger bones
To the spikes on their shoes,
Willing to be dragged along
By men like you,
As if they could take us, to places,
That could soothe us
Of the things they do to us,
When nobody is looking.

We let them slip out
Through the side doors,
After each poor performance,
But they’d sell our hope for a profit
If they ever came up short.

They loved to misbehave,
We ended up, battered
And bored,
With bust lips
And bent hips
Cracked,
Slowly we just got
Trapped,
In the chaos of it all.

They fed us lies,
But we hadn’t eaten in weeks,
So we-gulped down belief, we-
Were thrown against walls,
Just to see if we could stand it,
They used our broken parts
As their propaganda.

We followed them into skanky swamps
Of corruption or love,
and instructions because the water was cool,
And full of promise,
In fact, there was not much, we would not do.

-Kate W

Your Version of Me

*Spoken Word*

Quieter, because I was tired,
Of trying and giving, and pleasing a liar,
Quieter, because my skin still burns,
Like your throat still burns, like hot desire,
And hot were the words you spawned to make me believe,
To make good use of me,
Weaker, and my hand still hurts from lifting the metal mask that you welded on,
It stayed long after you were gone,
And quieter, because you fastened a filter like a muzzle, like chains, like warnings or expiration dates,
And I’m just screaming to say..
And quieter, because I got into bed,
With a man I’ve never met,
And still never met,
Your half empty heart, your acidic scars,
Have left a mark,
Dressed in gowns velvety,
Of affection and security,
So long for me,
Finally undressed for me;
Less like me,
I was doused in her scent and memory,
More like her
I craved to be.

Broken too,
I did that for you,
And I wonder if you know that
You’ve changed me,
That it all felt like,
Birthing dead babies,
The death of a love
I had nursed for 9 months,
Took the soul and life,
On long, tired, lonely, argumentative nights,
And i’m scared now
To leave the house,
You passed on anx-i-e-ty
Like an STD
With every kiss you pressed on me,
Terrified, you might interrogate
Or crucify me,
It was real for me.
Lonelier, because I was in love,
Half hollow waiting to be filled up
But there were other holes and other goals,
God, I was unaware,
Your love was cut and share,
So now I hold myself, like the lover that you never were
Never were because you were loving her,
And my broken pieces,
Lie around in pieces,
And slowly come back to me
Like memories of you do in unfamiliar, dark streets.

I find parts of me
All over Leeds;
In the record shops and coffee cups, and lighters and candles and night time, and the sound of singing saxophones,
Or a tired friend’s arms,
Or my mother’s home,
Or anyone’s lonely heart,
Prefer to be alone,
Or when a joke makes me laugh,
From the pit of my dead butterfly stomach,
A song makes my limbs vibrate,
My dead pulse race,
I dance longer and louder,
Or try to,
An unfamilar face,
I forget you
I see the person I was meant to be,
And in some shimmering moment truly believe
I will no longer be,

Your version of me.

-Kate

The contradiction of being both a Beat fan and a feminist

Is it possible to be a feminist and a fan of the Beats?

My readings of the Beat generation are mostly limited to the canonical texts of Kerouac, Burroughs and the poetry of Ginsberg, but you would not exactly have to search far and wide to notice that the Beat’s representations of women are not particularly equal or inclusive.

When I first picked up Ginsberg’s Howl as a teenager, it is no exaggeration to say that I fell in love with it more than any piece of literature I had ever read before. It was new and exciting. It was bold and brave. It was nonconformist and it was fucking liberating. It was disappointing, then, to see that this liberation did not extend to women and I remember feeling conflicted at Ginsberg’s remarks of the “one eyed shrew who does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of a craftsman loom.” I brushed it off, pretending Ginsberg had not just aligned all women with the female archetype of the ‘Housewife,’ reducing her to nothing more than a hindrance to male intelligence. I suppose I felt like a guilty feminist finding so much enjoyment in a text that so strongly reinforced the exact depictions of women that I should be criticising.

The more I read of the Beats, the more I fell in love with their writing and their way of life and yet, it was evident that there was very little place for women in their counterculture of drugs, jazz and roadtrips. Women were outsiders to their world rather than respected equivalents. Any female characters in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road served no more of a purpose than negligible, pretty accessories, and the absence or inferiority of women is consistent across texts. Even the female Beat authors are still largely ignored today, drowned out by the sound of angry, Beat men. It is certainly a bizarre contradiction that whilst the Beats confront capitalism, institutionalised social conformity, hegemonic heterosexuality and literary forms, their views on women remain entirely backward. Despite their many challenges upon American society, this is a downfall of their literature and we should pay attention to it!

Denial of the patriarchal ideologies that are present within their writing is no way to deal with this predicament, however, nor is denying ourselves the enjoyment of reading the Beats altogether. I certainly will continue to read, enjoy, and rave about, Beat brilliance and I do believe it is possible to be inspired by them whilst also recognising their shortcomings.

I love the Beats but I most assuredly do not accept everything that they have written. We should take care not to fall into the trap of simply overlooking and ignoring their harmful presentations of women. I think as long as we can remove the rose tinted glasses and, instead, apply a critical eye when reading them, then it is possible to be both a Beat fan and a feminist…