P&P commission: Helen Mort

The following poem was commissioned by Poets & Players on the theme of ‘No Boundaries’ (inspired by ACE’s initiative of the same name):

Bartek

the wire pulls taut
the wire is a single thought
the wire is a line in pencil
through my name on the ringmaster’s list

neat flick-of-the-wrist….I close
my eyes………rub it out……my body
goes before me like a shout in a dark cave

down there……counted rows of seats
overhead……..a tapered roof
the colour of boiled sweets

music muted as I balance
sway……….my arms above my head
the fat announcer…….miles away

Will Bartek reach the other side
and win the right to stay? Folks,
you decide!

some of them lob……..oranges
some chuck bricks…….all of them
miss….sing songs….throw curses
in their single tongue

the wire is a note
the wire is an open throat
I drew the wire in the sand at Sopot as a child
until the sea went wild and wanted the beach back

slow clap…….I’m halfway
wobbling in the centre of the ring
a sawdust stink………glass breaks
behind the bar

Guys, no-one else has got this far!
Can Bartek make it
and become a citizen?

lights swim…..my blank face
steady steps….slow
pace….the circus in me
like a seam…..I’m stitched to air

the wire is a word no-one said
the wire is a hole in the head
the wire is a line of piss trickling down my leg

one side……..sunlight
one side……..strangers willing me
to fall

the questionscameras
afterwards……I say
I’ve done this
my whole life
that’s all

Helen Mort, March 2017 (from ‘Austerity Circus’)

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One Response to P&P commission: Helen Mort

  1. Pingback: Pseudo-worlds – Freefall

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