Voices

I want dull, full-fat vowels
And words like blunt fucking hammers.
I want to hit you about the eyes
With a broad Yorkshire birth-twang
And let it resound like a flat vow
Around the inside of your head.

Nothing refined or polished.
I want real. I want earthy.
Not planned hendecasyllables
Or genome-mapped love sonnets –
Give me shaman-muttered rituals
And a world with a periphery.

But the acid-wash of BBC RP
Modernity clings to me like wet denim.
I hear myself slowly moulded
By the coca-colonisation
That restrains my conversation
And supresses a guttural tongue;
The inexorable magnet-pull
Of the next wet rung of the ladder.

So I grasp for my Northern drawl
And find my voice airlocked
Dolled-up, maimed and cut-glass
When I want simple and cut grass.
My identity drummed down, beaten back
Vague, beige, imprecise, unmoored;
A guiding, heavy hand on my shoulder
Like a touch of gentrifying plague.

However, the child-sounds are still there
Like hidden birthmarks.
A lurking bloodline moor-wolf
Waiting to be found, nurtured
And finally drag me back down
To the autochthonous, muddy roots;

To urban grey, cultural downplay
The howling wail of a sectioned city
Sanguine heather, tobacco grass
Crumpled-paper hills buckled at the knees,
Sighing ice-white vein streams.
But now, this is all at my feet in a mongrel heap
Of decaying Viking grunts and growls. Fuck,

Inject them back in, give me origins
In my throat, thudding like a jugular
And caustic verbs of errant sparks
To burn down poems like dry wooden shacks
With my pyromaniac pen and knuckle cracks.

Love, love, love
Come, let’s step back together –
Just to look, watch, bask
With our charcoaled hands like iconoclasts
As the house we built is engulfed
With licks of tongue-fire.
Let it all burn in a bonfire
Until there is nothing left but sulphur
And the stone heart on the pyre.

Smell the smoke. Hear the wet dirt vocals.
Feel the charred, ancestral gasps of locals
And the low groan of forgotten gods.
Here I am. Hear – I am
With you, too. I didn’t do it alone.
You are with me like an accomplice;
It falls only because you give it sound.

You see, we need to strip it down
Until we have flayed the flesh pink
And hit granite.
Each page a flint, rocky outcrop
And each poem rediscovered bones,
Architectural bones,
Ajar like a skull’s open-mouth jaw.

This is a reclamation.
And then, when the fire-fallowed lines
Have plunged down like mines
Reaching for something pure,
In the flickering of ash and cinders
We can at last gaze at the smouldering
Words, ripe with original sin and true-raw.

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