A poetic interlude, by Elizabeth Kay

As I shall be in hospital on the 17th (again!) I didn't feel up to a long post, so I thought I would simply paste a few poems in. 

Inside the Powder

Room, at last.  You’re in, through the wedged-

open door, gritting your teeth, minding the pees

and queues.  And then, suddenly, they don’t matter --

not any more. It’s one of those Ladies’ moments.

The snake of people inside is as out of order

as the plumbing, curled in on itself like intestines.

You start by talking floor area, cubicles, urinals,

male architects.  You could be any vintage,

from geezer bird to hot flush to blue rinse.


As you wait, the temperature rises.  Now

you’re privy to period pains, polyps, Prozac,

uncooperative partners, ungrateful progeny,

quashed ambitions, quick abortions, quiet affairs - 

but no hot air, no soft soap, no flannel –

you’re dishing your own dirt, relieving yourselves

of skeletons you won’t be revealing outside.


The teenager with the tattoo is in the club,

and the cleaner has a closet lover – Scotch

as the tight blue stocking, also part of the outfit

with her seamless stories and her piquant quips.

‘Could we call this a wee problem?’ she queries.

You laugh, wince, and cross your fingers.

There’s a sweet and sour ache in your abdomen

that flips open the floodgates of confession.   

The pensioner with the pale porcelain skin 

takes a shine to the chippie China doll, (no flies on her)

whose hair smells of fish-fat and jasmine shampoo.

Both are waste products of queasy love affairs,

men who quit.  Engaged: then unexpectedly vacant.


The facing mirrors cry with exhaled breaths,

and the repeating fractals of female forms

get ever smaller, parodying your past.

You will never meet these women again --

but Here, Now, on one thing you’re all agreed:

the world is designed for a man’s convenience.

Nose to tail, the news is grim,

A cruel crawl, the light is dim;

The rain runs down the windscreen – how

To get from home to Hampstead now?

I’m keeping cool as best I can –

And then – oh no! It’s white van man!


Road humps are no obstacle, he finds them rather farcical,

A junction’s purely technical – to stop shows lack of testicle.


He sounds his horn, honed to a snarl,

It’s mean, it’s meant to sap morale,

But I’m no wimp, I won’t give way.

He inches forward – I won’t play –

He mounts the kerb, how plain his plan,

An undertaking, white van man.


Women should be biddable, and place men on a pedestal,

If not, it’s understandable that men will get inflammable.


His face is red, his eyes ooze hate,

I shout – “You’re on the pavement, mate!”

He winds his window down to shake

His fist, then has to briskly brake.

My right of way, orang-utan!”

I yell at my mad white van man.


His aim is to keep parallel (pedestrians can go to hell)

To let me go – unthinkable! His mindset is fanatical.


So down the road we ride, abreast,

But I know I’ll get past the pest;

He thinks I’ll stop – red traffic light –

But hard cheese, chum, I’m turning right!

He honks, I smile – I’m smarter than

That apoplectic white van man.

Let's hope this is still some way off...

Are those flowers for me? How terribly kind --

Fluffy and frilly like finely-worked lace;

Such pretty colours, all peaches and cream.

Freesias or fuchsias? I can’t bring to mind

What those ones are called – look, just clear a space.

Carnations, you say – my head’s in a dream.

Are those flowers for me? How terribly kind.

What delicate colours, an angel-cake theme;

Frothy and foamy, like scoops of ice-cream,

Fluffy and frilly like Chantilly lace --

Lavender? Lilies? The name’s slipped my mind;

These days I seem to exist in a dream.

Are those flowers for me? How terribly kind.

I do like the colours, all peaches and cream --

Are you from the home? I don’t know your face.

There’s so many strangers all over the place.

Apologies for a cobbled-together post, but I shall be having my second cataract operation on the 17th, and I am still recovering from the trapeziectomy I had in April (base of thumb arthritis) which makes typing very difficult as it is my dominant wrist. Feeling a bit ancient, hence the third poem!


Susan Price said…
Loved the poems and illustrations, Liz.
Good luck with the hospital and recovery!
Peter Leyland said…
Thanks for the poems Elizabeth. I know those white van men. I had one today in fact. I just didn't react quickly enough with the horn. Ah well, I chewed on my anger and headed for home...

Good luck with the cartaract op
Sandra Horn said…
Wonderful poems! Thank you and absolutely no need for apologies for this delightful post. x
Joy Margetts said…
Inside the Powder is fabulous. So clever and so spot on! Thank you
Allison Symes said…
Loved the poems, Elizabeth. Hope all goes well!
Umberto Tosi said…
Love these! Intimate, witty, poignant: You put is right there. Wishing you a speedy recovery.
I love these poems! I hope the op. goes well. xx
Elizabeth Kay said…
Right eye cataract op much better than the left eye. thanks to everyone who has wished me well. I can now see better than I ever have done! Reading is difficult, though, and I have to wait a month before I can get glasses from the optician. But the computer is fine - I just had to move it further away.

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