Survived the Troubadour

by isabelrogers

Going to a Coffee-House Poetry session at the Troubadour is like nothing I’ve ever done before. Down stairs to the cellar, we strolled past an extremely well-spoken doorman. I later realised he was also a poet, doing a PhD in something literary which he did mention but is too long for me to remember. He read last in the open-mic session. From Memory. With diction to die for.

CL Dallat was twiddling on his accordion as we found a place to sit: eyes closed as he moved seamlessly through disparate musical styles and key changes. I tried to buy John Glenday a drink, but he was strictly on water until he’d read in the second half. Anne-Marie Fyfe organised us with a list, and we were off.

My two minutes of terror came towards the end of the first half, so I had the chance to swither yet again about which poem to read. In the end, because I am more comfortable looking sideways at* any situation, I went for a dig at male poets who always seem to write poems sitting on trains. There is one in almost every collection. I got a bit of a laugh, and a small ‘hmm’, and a clap. Result.

The Train Poem

He was waiting for a station just like some people wait for trains.
Michelle Shocked

The Train Poem is an initiation rite for the boys.
The rhythm of the wheels will repeat a lover’s name
or lull him to dream into amnesia that bastard last line:
the sharp knife which should by rights have sliced him
a piece of the big time.

He falls in love with girls swaying to the buffet car.
They glow briefly at the tip of his focal length
as a leaky biro telescopes them onto dirty paper napkins:
busy words dividing, breeding. These boys
have a distinct and complicated way of feeding.

Sliding past perfection, his mind’s shutter clicks
as if the window itself had blinked. Another future blooms
in a delay’s oasis, its life fluttering petals of minutiae.

He uncouples himself deliberately to share a smoke
with the ghosts of coal and steam, while the last hiss
of her breath escapes softly from under the sleepers.

* taking the piss out of