Bristol Open Poetry Slam 2015

This year’s entry for the Bristol Poetry Festival Open Poetry Slam 2015 which took place at the Arnolfini in Bristol:


Video (c) 2015 Jane Carvell

Long Distance Dad

It’s just another Saturday morning
Sliding silently out of slumber
The darkness, shrouding all around me
Leaving you in drabbling dreamtime
As I’m sitting drinking tea
Wrapped in the blanket of the excesses of last night

One hundred miles lay before me
Outside this front door
Frost crunching, shivering, dragging the engine into startled life
One hundred clattering horses
Pulling me forwards on this journey
So familiar, back into a time gone by

Dawn breaks as the years roll back
The miles gliding past on caffeine and pills
Revealing the blame and shame of my past
Until I arrive once more outside her door.

And there she is, the one reminder of it all,
Waiting, bag packed with dreams and expectations
Ready to go like one hundred times before

“Hello, my daughter, I’ve missed you. Look how you’ve grown!”
“Let’s spend some time together
Just you and me on our own.”
Each week, each year slip past me,
As the child I left has flown
A young woman sits now beside me
And I feel myself growing old.

But thirty hours are soon over
and we’re back outside her door
“I’ll see you later, much later”
As I head on down that road

And what if the pressure of conformity
Suddenly becomes too much for me?
In the cold light of day
My responsibility far beyond the limits imposed on me
That night she set me free.
After we had spent a lifetime together
All we’d known since our youth
Yet like a supernova
We were blown apart by her truth.

One hundred miles lay before me
I rewind back into my new life
The miles gliding past on sadness and regret
Until I arrive once more outside our door
And there you are
Armed with the excesses for tonight
One to land me, another to ground me
And one more for the road travelled

I wrap a blanket around me
As I fall into drabbling dreamtime
Dreaming dreams of horses and miles
With you slumbering silently by my side.



“Armageddon” – a video poem by James Laurie paralleling the destructive power of self-harm with the destructive power of an emerging nation.



I slice my forearm from the soft white part of the inside of my elbow down to my wrist
I feel the razor sliding sharply through my skin raising a bead of blood in its trailing wake
Warm, the red line lies juxtaposed against the white skin beneath
And somewhere in my fucked up mind chemicals bond to receptors and my cross-linked brain simultaneously registers a mixture of relief and ecstasy
I watch from a safe distance as I contemplate another stroke
Another slice from the soft white part of the inside of my elbow down to my wrist
Deeper and more assertive this time
In control
In control of this life that is running out of control
Like the bison running wildly westwards across golden plains
Cutting swathes through the tall pale grasses of a disappearing nation
To escape the onslaught of the untempered power of a new nation
Foretelling a future in which the destructive power of all nations might destroy whole worlds and deny my very existence
Which I now contemplate destroying.


First published in A New Ulster Issue 37 7th October 2015