Poem introduction

These poems are from a series about parenting called ‘Scenes from Childhood’.

Scenes From Childhood, part 1

I

 

After all the creditable presents
from our reliable friends
there’s one box left, unexpected;
like the one in the sci-fi movie
on the table at the end
in its horrifying halo of silence.
Opened, it’s a monster indeed,
A plastic oriental dream
of brute America, a cop-car,
with two cops craning outside
and gunning everything in sight
when batteries are provided.
Which he wants, now.
I read the box:
toy makes six separate sounds,
klaxon, bullet-fire, engine effect,
horn, radiophone, wail of victim.
I play for time: ‘No batteries,
pity’, trying to re-route interest
to his cork-mat stencilling kit,
his sowing cress indoors frame
which he hates, now.
I read the box:
toy takes eight 1.5v batteries,
enormous empowering of hate,
enough to run a small factory
and twice the cost of the car.

Later, sitting in the kitchen
safe from Chicago next door,
I catch his hysterical delight
as the law rams our furniture,
and putting away the presents
we’d only make a mess of,
him impatient, me bored,
I enjoy the afternoon rest
that snows all over the house
as homicide keeps him happy.


from West Pathway (Bloodaxe, 1993), © Steve Ellis 1993, used by permission of the author

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1The Age of Innocence

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2Gardeners' Question Time

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3Recipe

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4Rubbish

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5Washing

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7Scenes From Childhood, parts 1, 2 and 4

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8The Holiday Jigsaw

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9United

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10St Francis’s ‘Cantico di frate sole’ done into Hollywood gangsterese

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11Milkman on winter mornings

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12Shoe

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13On Completing His Thirtieth Year

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14White horse

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15Genocide

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16To Ted Hughes

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17On a Royal Doulton figurine of Anne Boleyn

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19The land

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20An Old Plate’s Farewell to the Table

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21Cats listening to Cole Porter

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22Spring Collection: Crocuses / Spring Fayre / Daffodils at Baddesley

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23Slips

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24Letter to an editor

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25Wotox

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26Assembling the orrery

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27Summer ’84

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29Ancor non m’abbandona

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30Hols

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31Ad Patrem

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32On Re-Reading the Liverpool Poets

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33St Tropez: Yorkshire Impressions

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34The Bodybuilder

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35On the visible ageing of Steve Davis

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36Fish and Chips

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37Elegy on the Fishing Correspondent

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38Sending out Christmas cards

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38March 28

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40Inferno 3.22–136

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6Man of Sorrows

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18'The Angling Times'

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28The death of Joe Loss

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