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"A Rumoured City"

6 Oct

Today is National Poetry Day. Yeah, my reaction was ‘so what’ as well. A whole day of poetry really? …wake me when it’s over. Hull lays claim to being a city of poetry so I thought I’d post Margot’s poem about Hull written a few years ago when she used to be a “Hull Poet”; she’s given up on all the tomfoolery of poetry, as she calls it, these days. Anyway here goes; it’s one of her more cheerful poems, there’s hardly any blood in it all …

 “A Rumoured City”

This is where the poets come to die;
like elephants in their legendary graveyard
they leave their bones, their teeth, but nothing
so rare as ivory.

You know all the stories…
Two of them shared one wife:
one tried to sell his gold tooth, being thirsty:
another drowned in marriage and normality:
a few fled in panic and never dared look back.

You think of it as human, this city.
You think of it as a woman –
decked with flowers, crannied with docks
whose waters have a female, secret smell.

At first she seems to beckon,
to offer you the freedom of her byways,
to twine her streets around you
in a mistletoe embrace.
But her hosts are dependant on her;
they cannot escape, they forget to try,
they learn to love her as she drains them.

Her choice of iconography betrays her.
Here at the place where her heart beats hardest
two copper statues, corroded green –
one a bare-breasted Amazon
threatening with a lethal trident;
the other sexless, nameless, hooded
and draped like death’s unbearable face.

You penetrate the vampire streets;
twilight coils you in its caress.
You think of giving it another year
since the city seems to fit you like a glove
and the docks possess your imagination
when sunset shows them brimming with blood.

                                                       Margot K Juby

A Rumoured City was an anthology brought out some thirty five or so years ago; a collection of stuff (some duff some not so duff) by the then “new poets from Hull”, a few of them are dead now or left Hull years ago. A Hull poet, it seems, does not have to live in the place. You can get a copy from here but it’ll cost you at least £82! Ouch!