For my EMA, I chose to write about the London bombings of July 7th, 2005, in this instance the Edgware Road bombing, detonated by Mohammed Sidique Khan. London is a candy shop of material for any aspiring writer/poet and I am no different; my particular geeky areas being the everyday and travel, so the London Underground is a magnet of imagery and ideas. Working these into real, traumatic events in fluid, complex poetic form is both challenging, intricate and exciting.
The long poem mirrors this, winding its structural way from Auden-esque free verse, briefly into blank verse and then into sestina, so three different complex poetic forms work together to give a brief glimpse of horror and the humanity involved with life and death. I am very pleased indeed to receive a grade of 79% for this piece - a high pass. As you can all guess, I couldn't have done it without copious amounts of tea! :)
Cat among the Pigeons
Dancing down steps, toes twinkling but late,
ballroom floor bustling at Notting Hill Gate.
Suited and booted for office block grind,
toes following suit on the egg yolk line.
Quicksilver arrives half-covered in red,
a bloodied blade running through sleepy heads.
Dotty orange tempts with the Broadway of Ealing
before hisses of doors lead to frenzy and squealing.
Push past the pilchards and hold the bar tight
as the beeping doors close, then into the night.
Bayswater next, a scrum then a squeeze,
I’m joined by a girl in black named Louise.
We sway like we’re in an involuntary hula,
jolting me back then throwing me to her.
Badge pinned to bust, I can just see ‘Assistant,’
so playfully ponder on what she does with them.
Primping of locks or spraying with tan,
kneading tired muscles, both woman and man,
tinting of this or trimming of that,
fixing chipped nails at the drop of a hat?
b e n
g n i
Puce pilchards frying in the pan, in tens,
the crowded can just like an apple cored
with hate, without a cord to stop the glow,
its poison with nowhere to go, except
inside the x-rayed ghosts still in their seats.
I’d never seen a skeleton before
So this was death – I guessed – though no idea
of what that meant, except I’m out of reach,
just me and pain, a devilish domain
of souls from life before, tales caked in blood
our platform now we’ve reached the final stop,
a Waterloo of sorts, just under ground.
I heard them first, feet crunching on the ground,
a black man’s voice, ‘There’s one just over here.’
’He’s gone.’ I try to yell to say ‘No, STOP!’
but voices fade and slip just out of reach.
I woke again and groped around; felt blood
and reaching down - my leg did not remain.
Then lights flicked on and I could see the main
event had left a butchered battleground;
‘Dear God’ was all that I could say, the blood
I clearly saw, remains of those held dear
a blackened pick-n-mix where some beseeched,
their skin to save, albeit scalped and chopped.
The voice was firm, she sounded like a cop,
‘I’ll tie this round your leg, you’ll feel some pain.’
She carried on, ‘There’s been a bomb, don’t speak,
help’s on its way,’ then moved just further down
the choking abattoir, no pause, no fear
of death, much like the petrified dead wood.
The backpack scene, played out in human blood
with Khan’s cucumber cool encore, can’t stop
his fundamental hate, his sick idea
to take us to that devilish domain.
At Edgware Road, he bombed us to the ground,
no need to preach with vitriolic speech.
I never saw Louise again; no reach
to hug, no tight embrace in tresses blond,
the encore took her fast, the inquest found.
I see her still, serene and smart, black topped;
turns out she was a croupier by day,
until Mohammad Khan’s dark heart appeared.
Ideals that twist, infect your poisoned blood,
will never reach their stop; like those you took,
they must remain forever underground.
© Nigel Pamenter 2013
The right of Nigel Pamenter to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.