The photograph is all the colours of a headache;
muted, almost sepia, a khaki sleeveless jacket, a belt, a camera,
you smoking over my mother’s shoulder.
Hot blood collects behind my eyes.
Until my eleventh year you were dead. Not there
in the misplaced picture in your plimsoll shoes and fat silver watch
you probably couldn’t afford.
I want to be inside this frame, between the two white billygoats,
burn the show tent down, stand in the ashes and say
daddy, it matters not where you have been,
if you come with me now I will write you poems,
push you around in a wheelchair in your old age.
I will sit with you around hospital beds,
contract MRSA and light your cigarettes.
I scan every last centimetre now as though it holds a clue.
Joe, your name is Joe.
by Melissa Lee-Houghton
‘Town Show ’82’ is copyright © Melissa Lee-Houghton, 2013. It is reprinted by permission of Penned in the Margins from Beautiful Girls (Penned in the Margins, 2013).
Notes from Penned in the Margins:
Melissa Lee-Houghton was born in Wythenshawe, Manchester in 1982. Her poetry, short fiction and reviews have been published in literary magazines such as Succour, The Short Review, Magma, and Tears in the Fence. Her first collection, A Body Made of You, was published in 2011. She lives in Blackburn, Lancashire.
Beautiful Girls was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Writing about the collection, Chris McCabe has commented that ‘Beautiful Girls is not a book for the faint-hearted. The reader has been invited to a sleepover at the asylum, a night in which five-year old girls drift alone through the wards, where the mentally unstable do sit-ups when nobody is watching, and where heaven is a place between “the sky and the planets” reserved for those with personality disorders. This collection will be a home-to-home for sufferers and a journey through terrible night for those who’ve been fortunate enough to take the non-scenic route in life.’
You can read more about Melissa Lee-Houghton from her blog, and also follow her on Twitter.
Penned in the Margins is an independent publisher and live literature producer specialising in poetry and based in East London. Founded in 2004, the company has produced numerous literature and performance events, toured several successful live literature shows, published over twenty-five books, and continues to run innovative poetry, arts and performance projects in the capital and beyond.
Their recent anthology, Adventures in Form, was awarded a Special Commendation by the Poetry Book Society and was chosen as one of 50 Best Summer Reads by The Independent. You can visit the Penned in the Margins website here to sign up to the mailing list, and follow the publisher on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.