Yesterday When I Was Young

in memory of Dusty Springfield 

Mimosas, dear, forcing lemony scent
into a cold reactionary March wind,
I bought them on the day you died
to raise a yellow torch in memory
of how your voice addressed our needs
in every shade of love that’s blue
and shared with us its aching entreaty
to find a little sunshine after rain,
a sanctuary from bruises dealt
invisibly across the soul.
Today, your death-day, you are on the air
posthumously, your husky R&B
slow-burners building in their rise and fall
smokily pitched delivery.
Your life returns with every anguished catch
in phrasing, you the bouffant blonde,
the patron saint of mascara

wreathed in a boa, lending signature
to how the song hinged on a frantic sob
to make the pain definitive…
I keep on hearing retros of your voice
as though you’re still singing familiar hits
six hours after your death. Big purple clouds
arrive, dispensing hints of flashy showers.
You’ve gone away, like someone takes the train
with no-one knowing, no address,
no destination, no reporting back
about pure music on the other side.
We listen to you in Freedom, First Out,
and hold you near this way and celebrate
a torchy diva’s dramas, feel the hurt
in your vocal authority,
and hope you’re healed in passing, wish you where
the light in its entirety shines through.

by Jeremy Reed

from This Is How You Disappear (2007)

This Is How You Disappear is Jeremy Reed’s most autobiographical book to date, and one in which he celebrates the dead and missing friends who were the formative and enduring influences on his life as a poet.  Using the elegy to imaginatively recreate the often extraordinary individual characteristics of his subjects, Reed’s personal book of the dead is one that burns with his customary dynamic for dazzling imagery, glows with compassion for the suffering, and sparkles with a visual retrieval of detail so acute it hurts. With the title taken from the first line of a Scott Walker song, ‘Rawhide’, This Is How You Disappear is elegiac poetry at its most brilliant.

Jeremy Reed was born in Jersey, Channel Islands, and read for his PhD at the University of Essex. He is widely acknowledged as the most imaginatively gifted British poet of his generation, praised by Seamus Heaney for his ‘rich and careful writing’ and by David Lodge for his ‘remarkable lyric gift’. His Selected Poems were published by Penguin in 1987. Subsequent collections have been Nineties (Cape, 1990), Dicing for Pearls (1990), Pop Stars (1994), Sweet Sister Lyric (1996), Saint Billie (2001) and Duck and Sally Inside (2004), all from Enitharmon Press.  He has also published Heartbreak Hotel (Orion, 2002), a verse biography of Elvis Presley.

Founded in 1967, Enitharmon Press publishes fine quality literary editions. While specialising in poetry, we also publish fiction, essays, memoirs, translations, and an extensive list of artists’ books.