Voices

I want dull, full-fat vowels
And my words like hammers.
I want to hit you about the eyes
With a broad Yorkshire birth-twang
And let it resound like a vow
In 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,
A world with peripheries.

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

I reach for my Northern drawl
And find a voice that is air-locked,
Dolled-up, maimed and cut-glass,
When I want simple like cut grass.
My identity drummed down, beaten back,
Vague, beige, imprecise, unmoored –
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 drag me back down
To the autochthonous, muddy roots.

To the urban grey, the 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, it’s at my feet in a mongrel heap:
Decaying Viking grunts and growls: fuck:

Inject them back in, give me origins
In my throat thudding like a jugular,
Caustic verbs like errant sparks,
Burn down dry wooden shacks of poetry
With a pyromaniac pen and knuckle cracks.

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

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