“Do you remember”

the night we hid our childhood memories
in drawers and cupboards and make believe-safes?

How we wrapped secrets and fairy tales
in the blankets our five-year-old selves
couldn’t sleep without.

Whispering, we gently placed them all in unforgettable treasure chambers.

Do you remember how the shoes that blinked when we walked
slowly faded,
greying like streets heavy with rain,
as electricity bills ate all our ice cream pennies.

Our hiding places got more secret,
and as we walked past them yelling Marco, they stopped replying,
as deadlines and invoices and parking tickets called louder
than memories ever dared.

If you do, then please let me tell you
how last night I found that childhood drawer,
and today I’m sat here on the floor, flicking through dusty sweet wrappers
wondering whether I should give them back or not.

I almost throw them away.

Stamps are expensive and memories are heavy.
I’ve learned it’s not cheap,
to wrap nostalgia up in polaroid pictures
and Royal Mail envelopes.

I won’t throw them away though.
I don’t think I ever will.

-Andrea

a distant poetry family

The first poetry stage I ever experienced, and my favourite to this day, is Winchester’s Poetry Platform. A monthly open mic-poetry night, hosted in the attic space above the Railway Inn in Winchester — this vibrant spot of poets and writers who travelled in from (very) near and (a little bit) far, was the most wonderful introduction to live poetry. I loved it from the get go; the vibe of “everything’s okay here”, the little stage that welcomed everyone, how there was always room for one more person. It was like one of those big round tables where you can always pull up one more chair. I spent the first couple of months just listening, sat in awe taking in the words of the brave people on the stage, before I worked up the courage to join in myself. After that I never missed an event.

Moving away from Winchester meant moving away from a lot of things that meant the world to me, and Poetry Platform was honestly one of those things I was so sad to let go of. It was truly a space in which I found myself grow, both as a writer, as a listener and as a person.

Looking at this video though, you can tell I’m still as awkward a bean as ever. Gosh, I need to up my performance game, especially now that performance means talking to your own laptop screen and not the expectant darkness of an audience.

One of the very few good things to come out of this global pandemic, is the Poetry Platform going online and moving locations from the Railway Inn to Zoom. Poetry readings in your Living room aren’t the same as being in that attic space above a pub, with the smells and the sounds and the textures of pub chairs and cider bottle condensation, but it’s a hell of a lot better than no poetry readings at all.

I read two new work-in-progress poems on August’s poetry platform, from the safety of my temporary central Oslo living room. How strange to sit in this flat who represents everything that’s new and a little intimidating, reading poems about the sea outside my parents’ house, to people still living in the city that will forever hold my first proper adventure.

-Andrea

“I get it” by Harvey Randall

Coffee soaked into the roof of a mouth
whilst rain rallies itself outside
strawberry fudge melting between teeth
fingertips on the back of a neck.
The mist outside falls
into the bottom of the mug
coalescing white smoke
condensate heart on a window
is this what it is meant to feel like?

Image by analogicus from Pixabay

-Harvey Randall

16 to 23 and everything inbetween

Tomorrow’s my birthday!

I’m turning 23 and I’m not entirely sure what that means yet. I’m aware it won’t mean that I’ll wake up taller, wiser or more confident. I know your birthday is just a symbolic notion and that what helps you grow are all the days in between. However, like with New Year’s Resolutions, maybe birthdays can function as a day of reflection, a definite marker of another year passing. Not for everyone and not for the world, but in your very own timeline. What have you learnt since your last birthday? What have you figured out? What new people have you met, and what new paths have you travelled down?

To “celebrate” that today is my last day as 22, I’m posting this little video. It is a poem I wrote for the OctPoWriMo challenge, last year, about all the things I’d love to tell myself at 16. In the original post I wrote “this took a long time to get right, but I didn’t want to post it before I was happy with it. Felt like I owed 16 year old me that much.”

Filmed in my bed, with a comfy shirt on and a cup of tea waiting. It felt fitting to post this on my last day of being 22, as a symbol of all the things I’ve finally figured out, and of all the things I’ve yet to learn.

Here’s to making the next year a good one.

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

“Part of the Architecture”

The sound of an organ woken from slumber
trickles out into the cold October night.
“Come on in, hear my tales,” it whispers,
as the streetlights catch on the Poor men’s Bible,
and the pitter patter of impatient feet echoes through the empty aisle.

The tales are of sneakers that blink with every step
and dress shoes that carry the weight of embraces that will never be.
Candle wax and sacred dust,
the footsteps of the faithful,
bake sale pies and sleepovers in the altar ring.

As life moves in circles,
as the village lives and dies;
as teeth fall out and love notes are hidden under the pews
we all come to learn that
God may not be resting in these walls,
but all of our stories are.

-Andrea

“To the sixteen year old who wanted to change the world”

I can see you standing at the edge of everything you know,
so ready to throw yourself at every opportunity.
You flex your fingers, nails bitten short,
everywhere but here, you think.

You’re sixteen years old, you have so many plans,
there is so much you want to do.
You’re gonna do it all.

But right now, you’re terrified of being alone,
so desperate to be part of a group that you’ll laugh at their jokes,
even when the jokes make your cheeks burn,
you’ll chant along to their songs,
even when the words make the hairs on your arms stand on edge.
Soon you’ll learn that your words are more valuable than that,
and most importantly, you’ll learn that you are capable of being on your own.

Right now, you don’t just carry your heart on your sleeve,
you have sown it onto your palm.
Every time you greet someone new, you give it away.
It’ll take you a few years, but you’ll get better at guarding it,
and you’ll start to learn to walk away when you need,
and persist when you must.

You’ll learn that not every opportunity is golden,
that not every acquaintance is going to help you grow.
The sooner you learn that, the sooner we can stop picking bad decisions out of our hair.

Stop being so adamant,
you know nothing of people’s lives.
You don’t know anything about the dreams they had to alter,
how they had to come to terms with what the future held and didn’t hold.
Instead, be kind, tread lightly on other’s challenges,
and try to leave every moment you visit a little bit better than you found it.

You give so much and expect just as much back,
but I will tell you right now, people do not work that way.
No one wants you to give them your all, to give yourself up for someone else;
making other people’s pain your own,
does no one any good.

And remember to let people know how you feel;
even the ones you love cannot read your mind.
You’ll be left with nothing but clenched teeth and a mouth filled with coal
if you always expect people to know what they did wrong.

But there is so much good in the world, and you will find it.
In places you never thought to look,
in friends that you won’t meet for years.

And come twenty-two, you won’t even believe where we are now,
you won’t believe the people we have in our life.
Soon you’ll sit on the kitchen floor
in a little house all on your own.
You’ll have your back up against a fridge covered in pictures
of new friends and old friends and places you have yet to see.

You’ll lean your head back, close your eyes,
and think about a day spent in a little cafe in a new city,
laughing until you had to clutch your stomach,
worried you’d laugh your lungs straight out of your chest.
You’ll think about nights spent dancing,
sugar under your shoes,
nightclub evenings with people you’ve known since you were children,
when life’s brought you down different paths, but never too far apart that a slice of cake and a cup of tea can’t bring you back together.

Right now, you want to change the world so badly.
You want to grow up, get out, see the world and everything it holds.
You want the taste of unfamiliar foods on your tongue,
strange new flavours and ideas,
you want to meet every soul that’ll ever change your life,
and all of that right this second.
I promise you, you will do all of that.

But let me tell you, growing up is happening fast enough,
and the people around you are growing old.
And soon, you’ll stop biting your nails.
You will move to another country, you’ll sign up to societies and clubs and events,
you’ll enter so many rooms knowing no one and exit with more love than you know what to do with.
You’ll start writing poetry, and you’ll read it aloud for almost a hundred people.
You’ll take the train to new cities you conquer on your own.
You’ll start sitting in cafes all alone, watching leaves fall off the trees,
and you’ll discuss how you love, but never really understand, Shakespeare,
with new friends who you’ll write postcards to, for years to come.
You’ll call multiple towns your home and dream in more than one language.
You’ll see sunshine in a raincoat and change the world one new thought at a time.

It’s all gonna happen soon enough,
so take your time. You’ve got plenty of it right now.

Love, a twenty-two year old who’s just starting to figure it all out

OctPoWriMo2018, the prompt for day 7 was “unsent letters”. Yes, I know day 7 was yesterday, but this took a long time to get right, and I didn’t want to post it before I was happy with it. Felt like I owed 16 year old me that much. Life has gotten a bit in the way for my October Poetry Writing Month and I haven’t posted a poem a day at all, but I’ll keep trying as best I can, and post the few poems that do come from this challenge.
This, however, felt both strange and wonderful to write at the same time. Packed full of cliches and abstracts, as a symbol of how nothing feels more cliched and abstract than being sixteen.

Have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

“I said there’s no getting rid of me now to which he replied I’ll hold you to that”

and when we’re fifty-three
we’ll have a house with a sea view and a stove top kettle.
There’ll be a cat called Steve
and you’ll put on red slippers to fetch the newspaper.
I don’t know where we’ll be,
Portreath, Marrakech, Porto,
all I know is that I’ll race you to the cupboard every morning
and you’ll hide my glasses every evening, we’ll make every day a game.

And when we’re sixty-two
we’ll sleep naked like starfish in the middle of the bed
and your heavy hands will follow my wrinkles,

trace the stories in my worn thin skin.
For the one million and thirteenth time,
I’ll stroke your balding head,
and go in for a kiss
but lick your nose
instead.

And when we’re seventy-four
I’ll smack your butt in the kitchen,
as you take out the turkey,
and our daughter of forty-three will sigh and tell us
get a room,
so we’ll sneak away to the pantry,
and steal kisses by the roast potatoes.

And when we’re eighty-one
I’ll ask you if you love me
and you’ll say
nah, you’re just handy to keep around,
so I’ll stick my tongue out at you,
and you’ll put your hand in mine,
that space that’s made
just for you.

(An edited version of an old poem, picture from Pixabay)

-Andrea

“Poem for the thighs”

Tea stain scars run down my thigh,
and the new skin growing
feels soft under my hands.
He has never touched this skin,
never let his fingers linger over it,
or kissed it with seafoam lips.
It’s like a teacup in my lap was what I needed,
to discard him,
grow out of him,
to make me see that the spot he used to rest his hands on,
isn’t there
anymore.

table-3224645_1920
This picture’s not mine, but it can be found here,
and for more poems, both text and video, click here!

-Andrea

 

Poetry Platform @ the Railway Inn

Before I came to uni, poetry was one of those things I enjoyed reading and listening to, but never did myself. Even though I read the works – and listened to the words – of all these wonderful poets I found online and in the library, writing poetry still seemed like something angsty teenagers did alone in their rooms. Then I got to Winchester, and I attended my first ever Poetry Platform. The Poetry Platform is a great open mic night, where poets from all over Hampshire can come together for a monthly night of wordery (this is a word now). I loved it from the beginning. The vibe of “everything’s okay here”, the little stage that welcomed everyone, how there was always room for one more person.
The entirety of first year was spent watching everyone else perform, while I was trying to build up a portfolio of half-decent poems in the creative writing course’s mandatory poetry lessons. I started loving those lessons too. Seeing poetry so alive,  and workshopping other students’ lines, sentences I could only dream of writing one day, made me fall in love with poetry as a medium. It’s a love affair I hope will last a lifetime.

I don’t call myself a poet. There are way more talented people, those who can express everything they feel so elegantly, who’ve just got words flowing out of their brains in poetic sentences every minute of every day. However, I do love putting together simple, uncomplicated poems, poems that ponder on how we all more or less fumble through life. My poems are rarely very deep, they don’t often tackle very heavy subjects, but after a performance the other day, someone told me they thought my writing felt like “a hug in poem form”, something they felt they could relate to, and I loved that. That’s exactly what I want my “art” to be. Something to make people feel nice and warm and good.

Here’s a video of a poem I did on this month’s Poetry Platform. I’m still working on the title, but it felt like a fitting poem to do on my (most likely) last performance at the Railway.


(The song is “Har du Fyr” – Hekla Stålstrenga, a beautiful song about your home always being there waiting for you, no matter how far off you venture.)

It’s all a bit soppy, but my three-year England adventure is coming to an end, so I feel like I’m allowed to be.

(For more poetry, both page and stage, check out my Published Pieces and Performances page!)

-Andrea