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Image by Caroline Forbes

How It All Started

 

Do you know this dream? An exam-room
full of neat, serious girls, your lucky gonk
by your fountain pen, the plop of tennis balls
through an open window. You're here for
'O' level history on The Causes
Of The First World War but you've no idea -
too busy bunking off to watch Crown Court,
and the teacher says You may turn over
and begin and there's a question
on the Algeciras crisis and all you can think is,
Algeciras sounds like a virus or a cloud formation,
your eyes blur, scanning for something
you understand, you wonder who Bismarck was,
why his web of Alliances was so significant,
your throat swells like a new loaf, you watch
the girls who know the answers to these things,
and you think of the stutter of gunfire, a soldier's
booted foot lying in a puddle, how the leather split,
how the rest of him wasn't there, just a stump
of bone, and if you'd learned how it all started,
you might have known how to prevent this.
You should have known how to prevent this.


from Lip (Smith Doorstop, 2007), © Catherine Smith 2007, used by permission of the author and The Poetry Business.

Recordings

Catherine Smith Reading from her poems

1How It All Started

2Losing it to David Cassidy

3Back

4The Fathers

5The Ewe

6The Set of Optics You Wouldn't Let Me Buy in Portobello Road Market, September, 1984

7Heckmondwike

8Blue Egg

9Simulacrum

10The Biting Point

11Snakebite

12Smoking and Reading Nietzsche in the Kardomah

13Ascension

14Baptism

15Cut

16Colin Pepper I Luv U

17Original Residents

18Sleep

19The New Bride

20Australia

21Calculation

22Cast

23Feral

24Hover

25Fontanelle

26Night

27Marcus

28Postulant

29Nectar

30Twin

31What's Required After a Day Teaching Poetry to Nine Year Olds

32Doors

33With Love, and the Date

34Prayers

35The World is Ending Pass the Vodka

Books & cds by Catherine Smith