Pennine Poets

Julia Deakin

Julia Deakin was born in Nuneaton and worked her way north via the Potteries, Manchester and York to Huddersfield where she began writing poems on a poetry MA. Widely published, she has featured on Poetry Please and won several competitions. 'Reading is a perk of the job,' she says. 'If only it were a job.'

'Crafted, tender poems, written with passion and purpose,' said Simon Armitage of her first collection, Without a Dog (Graft, 2008). Anne Stevenson 'read it straight through at a single sitting' enjoying its 'mature wit and wisdom'. 'Real linguistic inventiveness' said Ian McMillan. 'Bold, irreverent and wickedly funny,' said Alison Brackenbury of her Poetry Business Competition winner, The Half-Mile-High-Club.

Michael Symmons Roberts describes her second book, Eleven Wonders (Graft 2012) as 'powerful, assured, elegant. Her formal skill and inventiveness make this a rich and eclectic collection. Those who, like me, have admired her individual poems in the past, will be struck by their cumulative strength and range, and this book deserves to win her many new readers.'

Selected Poems

Faith in our times
With grateful thanks to Envoi, where this poem first appeared.

I. Desiderata

Let me win the lottery.
Let my indolence be deeply satisfying,
my new-found friends exude integrity,
my chauffeur drive me soberly,
my white stretch limousine be
inconspicuous, low key.

Let my investments
be low risk, high growth,
my helicopter safe as houses.
Let my media be favourable,
my paparazzi self-effacing,
my Sun reporters even-handed, fair.

Let my gluttony be flattering,
my lusts acceptable,
my drugs designer-pure,
my year-round tan not ageing nor
malignant. Let my plastic surgeon have
the hand of Michelangelo.

Let my paradise be well-protected,
my gates electrified,
my stalkers all pre-empted.
Let the gun beside my bed be loaded,
my aim be true
and let my sleep be dreamless.

II. Cold call

In the end you know they'll come for you
though you won't see them darkening the door:
Gothic, improbable throwbacks from some body's past
out of place but chillingly at home,
their white shirts luminous against
their strangely worn dark suits,
their flesh plausible enough but their expressions
ill-composed. Three of them. One fingers a hat
lifted from some bleak melodrama. Two hang back:
one with a holdall, heavy, black. Don't ask.

After formalities they'll leave them to it, your protectors
opening and closing doors like rank conspirators -
and after so long fighting you won't lift a finger either
but let them - stitch you up, truss you, robe you
outlandishly as they see fit, until
you are no longer you but some cold clone
that submits to be carried silent, prone,
out from your earthly home
towards some other    alien    unknown.

Pausing on SEND

New Year's Eve. Looking for beer, you find me
by the back door, downing tears. We slip like fallen angels
up the path between the throbbing house and crusty garage.
I'm sober and it must be freezing but I hardly care.

Not quite strangers but far from close, you take my arm
like someone out of Jane Austen leading in to dinner
up the narrow cul-de-sac. Your words calm,
I snuffle, gasping, through snagged breath.

Till now we've almost never not talked shop.
You stop to comfort me and as we move on, gently
leave your arm there. Past front gardens, weeping willows,
semis past their bedtime, other couples seeing us as one,

up past the park across from rows of pretty terraces
where proper people live, people who know,
who've found out somehow, how. Your arm still there
past sheltered housing, wheelie bins in pairs,

we're steps away now from the main road, taxis,
tough oblivion. These city arteries all strange to me,
unreal in sodium, your arm still there, I feel how near I am
to being lost. I do not even know what year it is.

I hear you're happy now, as you deserve to be, married
with kids, career. This is to thank you, twenty, twenty-one
years on. To tell you that I feel your arm still there
light as a wing, as words, gathering.

First appeared in Pennine Platform no 59

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© pennine poets 2016