Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I just heard my poem 'This One Tuesday Night' has been accepted for Clean Sheets. Wonderful news!

And in the real world, all my friends are suddenly getting married/having babies. As my other (unmarried, childless) friend remarks - "the patter of tiny feet is getting deafening."

To celebrate all these events in a rather pissy way I've bastardised another poem. This time, it's 'Walking Around', by Pablo Neruda...

Sitting Around

After Neruda

It so happens I am sick of being a girl.
And it happens that I walk into hairdressers and movie houses
drenched, sickly, like a lamb on helium,
steering my way in a fuzz of squeals and fakery.

The smell of smalltalk makes me break into hoarse
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool .
The only thing I want is to see no more shops, no
no shoes, no parties, no circuses.

It so happens that I am sick of my heels and my nails
and my hair and not casting a shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a girl.

Still it would be marvellous
to terrify a batchelor with perfume
or kill a myth with a blow to the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green stem
letting out yells until I died of the cold.

I don’t want to go on being a pink blur with tits,
insecure, twisted around, shivering with nerves,
going on down, into the crackling guts of the witch,
taking in and not-thinking, eating stale chocolate.

I don’t want so much gleefulness.
I don’t want to go on breaking my back,
surrounded by hens, the living machine of the world,
half drunk, dying of grief.

That’s why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my liar’s face, blazes up like duchesses,
and it shrieks on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the night.

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some dry
into hospitals where the babies fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like tobacco,
and certain streets as hideous as fists.

There are paper birds and cellos with no strings
hanging over the stone walls of places
I’ve never been. There are stirrups and mirrors
that ought to buckle with the lies they’ve told,
there are feathers everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical cords.

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopaedic
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.

(The last stanza is unchanged. You can read the original poem, translated by Robert Bly, here) .


Shanna Germain said...

Oh shit, yes!

If I never participate in small talk again -- ever! -- I'd be a happy girl :)

This is awesome, darling.

Love ya! s.

Nikki Magennis said...

Hey, S!

I can't really say thank you 'cause it's Pablo's work with a few little tweaks...

But yes, one more conversation about table settings and nailpolish and I'll snap.

; )

N x

Neil said...

I don't know the original poem, but your re-doing of it really blew me away.

Anne Tourney said...

That's stunning, Nikki. I love "like a lamb on helium," and "a pink blur with tits". And it was fascinating to read this juxtaposed with Neruda's poem . . . your girl-persona contrasts clearly with his man-persona, yet they're alike in the sense that they're assumed sexual guises.

I didn't know you wrote poetry -- I'm looking forward to reading more. I'm a poetry freak, as well as a lover of sheds :-).

Speaking of sheds, a friend of mine took some photos of a fascinating old falling-down corrugated shed in the American South. If you're interested, you can check it out here: http://picasaweb.google.com/james.steelmon/SouthCarolinaRoadTripMay122007

There's something so appealing about getting out in the middle of nowhere and inhabiting an unclaimed space in a little shelter of your own.

Nikki Magennis said...

Hi Neil,

Thank you! Did you read the original? It really is very beautiful.

Hey Anne,

Gracias. It's funny how changing just the one word - 'man' to 'girl' right at the start makes the whole poem something else entirely. Partly I suppose because 'man' is read more silently. It can be loftier - a poem about existence and humanity, whereas a poem about being a girl is always about one's sex.

Poetry and sheds?! Rock on!

Nikki Magennis said...

Oooh, nice link! Thank you!