Poetry Centre

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  • First place: Kurt Cobain Proposes to Courtney Love, TJs, Newport, December 1991, Jonathan Edwards

    Kurt Cobain Proposes to Courtney Love, TJs, Newport, December 1991

    Some young dude staggering from the station,
    all jeans and grimace, all tufty coat
    and peep-toe sneakers – that’s nothing
    new around these parts. He rubs
    his eyes, approaches this first stranger:
    Excuse me, do you know the way to a place
    called TJs?
    That voice
    he has. A mile away, Courtney

    Love is sound checking, warming up. Rain
    comes down as he passes the ruined
    castle, crosses the bridge
    statistics say more than fifty people
    will jump from that year. Nevermind
    has been Billboard #1
    for six weeks now. What
    exactly does a human being do

    with that much love? I am four
    miles away and twelve years old, and Kurt Cobain
    is walking through Newport, three years
    too early for me. At the door
    of TJs, his nose-ringed
    biggest fan in the world
    just tells him the price, stamps
    his hand. Inside,

    his eyes accustom and he spots
    her, at the bar, back to the room. Her
    mane. Her little girl’s
    dress. People are brought into being by moments
    like this: Kurt Cobain is crossing
    the room in TJs, Newport, is falling
    to his knees. The cold
    floor through ripped jeans. The barman leaps

    across the counter to deal
    with some punter, and the bouncer,
    grinning, gets in the way
    as one girl punches another. Of course,
    there are those who say all this is folklore,
    legend, gossiped up by someone
    with a romantic imagination
    or a marketing background. I am twelve years old

    and dreaming in a room lined with posters
    of footballers and, on Newport Bridge,
    a couple are walking hand-in-hand,
    the man pausing now, perhaps, to light
    a cigarette. In that sudden spark,
    someone passing might almost glimpse his face,
    before he turns away,
    before he walks again into the dark.

    Jonathan Edwards

  • Second place: Stay, Natalie Whittaker

    Stay

    A dog’s shadow crosses the park, let loose
    off its black lead it sniffs and is sole
    eyewitness to empty booze bottles
    tangled in nettles; the necromancy
    and parliament of the previous evening
    where we exercised our shadow dogs
    on the slopes up to the smashed-glass hothouse,
    fearing their size in the heartthrob dusk,
    their stilt legs stretched and monstrous
    as the sun sat obediently down.

    Natalie Whittaker

  • Special Commendation: Mary Wants To Sleep With The Painter, But Pretends Otherwise, Maddie Godfrey

    Mary Wants To Sleep With The Painter, But Pretends Otherwise
    (with thanks to St Paul’s Cathedral)

    Mary has crooked toes and
    a belly full of bread

    Mary is tired of people
    painting her pretty,
    she is the last mouthful
    of a home cooked meal
    but this does not mean
    she is devourable

    Mary sings with the silence
    between bells, she is
    the aftermath of music
    the way dust looks
    like powdered gold
    under warm light

    Mary is a building
    that longs to be abandoned
    but still stays full with people

    she is tired of being
    strung across the walls
    of rooms she cannot undress in

    Mary is naked
    hidden in a stone closet
    that cannot be seen from
    the inside or out

    Mary has nipples like Jesus
    Mary bleeds into a cloth
    it stains in the shape of
    her own face

    Mary’s lips are sketched silent her thighs are torn pages
    her menstrual blood stains
    red, like the Bible

    Mary gives birth
    is only a mother
    never again a woman

    which is to say,
    she is a sacrament
    that cannot be eaten,
    only admired

    the painter tells Mary to put her clothes back on
    wipes her lipstick off, says “you must be holy”

    he does not understand
    how a woman is a place of worship
    even when her womb is empty
    even if she speaks in sin

    the woman has crooked toes
    and a belly full of bread
    someone calls her “Mary”
    she walks away from them

    Maddie Godfrey