Saturday 4 April 2015

D is for Dunmore

I haven't read much of Helen Dunmore's poetry but I love her as a novelist (previously reviewed here, here and here). This poem is from 'Staying Alive - real poems for unreal times' edited by Neil Astley, and if you are at all interested in contemporary poetry this anthology is an excellent place to start. (Though when I read it through again, the poem comes across a little like middle class existential angst.)

When You've Got

When you've got the plan of your life
matched to the time it will take
but you just want to press SHIFT/BREAK
and print over and over
this is not what I was after
this is not what I was after,

when you've finally stripped out the house
with its iron-cold fireplace,
its mouldings, its mortgage,
its single skin walls
but you want to write in the plaster
'This is not what I was after,'

when you've got the rainbow-clad baby
in his state-of-the-art pushchair
but he arches his back at you
and pulps his Activity Centre
and you just want to whisper
'This is not what I was after,'

when the vacuum seethes and whines in the lounge
and the waste-disposal unit blows,
when tenners settle in your account
like snow hitting a stove,
when you get chat from your spouse
about marriage and personal growth

when a wino comes to sleep in your porch
on your Citizen's Charter
and you know a hostel's opening soon
but your headache's closer
and you really just want to torch
the bundle of rags and newspaper

and you'll say to the newspaper 
'This is not what we were after,
this is not what we were after.'

(Linking back to the A to Z Challenge)


  1. Hmmm...most poetry would probably read like some kind of angst :) just kidding. Must say this A-Z is making my tbr list explode in ways I never thought it would.

    from Madly-in-Verse

  2. It's funny ... I don't think anyone's life ends up in the way we envision starting out. Most of us can relate to "This is not what I was after."

  3. dreams melting away like those snowflakes. is this whats going thru the heads of all the Battersea mummies?


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