• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 08
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Strip Jack Naked

I am from any one of the numerous packs of cards
that littered my childhood home —
ever ready answers for idle moments.
I am from Strip Jack Naked, Patience, and Snap,
from Gin Rummy, Old Maid, and Newmarket
played around the dining room table
with family on Christmas night.

I am from brown-stained skirting boards,
from gritty Vim and the smell of Mansion Polish —
from the well proportioned rooms of a 1930s semi.
(Box like, traditional, Music While You Work flew out of its windows)
I am from lupins and michaelmas daisies,
and polished nuggets of coal — calling cards
of the earth that left comfort and warmth behind them.

I’m from roast lamb and apple pie with cream
for Sunday lunch; from my father’s buck teeth
to my mother’s expression of purse-lipped disapproval.

I’m from the Taylors and the Pringles,
(but not the socks or crisps’ Pringles).
I’m from the easily over-awed,
and the ability to fall asleep on a clothes line.
I’m from ‘Always tell the truth,’
and ‘Just wait till your father comes home’;
from Uncle Arthur’s Bible Stories,
and All Things Bright and Beautiful
to tell out my take on life.


Strip Jack Naked

On top of my wardrobe, with the cards —
three ancient albums, full of family faces:
I hear their voices still, from echoes of catch phrases
recorded in fading, fountain-penned copperplate.

I am from the emoticon free albums
of my forbears, clicked and scrolled into the now.