Joke Blood

The self-dyed tennis-shoes’ new burgundy
soaking my socks I made an expedition
to the office block where I knew you worked

past the castle mount   old marmalade factory
static canal   out of a toy-box

Part-time in polling seven pounds an hour
you surveyed on hoovers and microwaves

were you happy / very happy / not happy at all

Drunk since breakfast I had to sit down
cool air a bad knock ache a concussion

I wandered a clown big foot cartoon
squeezing and swelling in the mangle crowd
what could I pour out to you that was real

I started to run through the city like a slave

by Graeme Richardson

from Hang Time by Graeme Richardson (Landfill, 2006)
Copyright © Graeme Richardson

Hang Time is a sequence of free sonnets about youthful experiences. The unpunctuated verse of ‘Joke Blood’ gathers pace from the painful romantic comedy of its first eight lines (the octave) to the more urgent realisation of despair in the final six (the sestet). As in the classic English love sonnets of Sidney and Shakespeare, the poet goes from being love’s clown to love’s slave. Graeme Richardson is Chaplain of Brasenose College, Oxford. His poetry criticism has appeared in Areté magazine and his poetry in the magazine 14.

Landfill Press was founded in Norwich in 2004 as a publisher of contemporary poetic sequences.