Elizabeth McGeown

the poet

Elizabeth McGeown is from Belfast, Northern Ireland, and is the current All-Ulster Slam Champion. Winner of the 2019 Cúirt International Festival of Literature Spoken Word Platform, Elizabeth has been a finalist in the All-Ireland Poetry Slam and represented Northern Ireland at the Hammer & Tongue UK Slam Finals 2019 in the Royal Albert Hall. She has received funding from Arts Council of NI and The National Lottery to work on her first full-length spoken word show. Her poetry has featured most recently in Banshee, Abridged and Riggwelter.

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the poems

SUFTUM

00:00 / 03:06

Ulster Rugby have a slogan: 
Stand. Up. For. The. Ulster. Men.
Stand up in court.
Stand up for 8 days detailing, and detailing, and detailing their triumphs
while they get half a day each, 
in their delicacy, 
for their delicacy.
You are a delicacy, not-so-gently roasted over an open fire. 
Liar!
Stand up as underwear is passed around –
yours – while they hmm and haah and examine:
'These are a bit showy, aren't they, Jennifer? 
Almost as if you wanted someone to see them, Sadie.'
Stand up and explain VPL spoiling an outfit 
and dressing for yourself from the inside out.
Sarah/Lynn/Sue cries. 
Classic victim!
Stand up while they debate the merits of certain bloodstains, 
the consistency of menstrual blood versus trauma blood 
and stand up while they tell you 
you don't know the difference.
Don't know the difference between a lot of things.
All fingers and thumbs. 
Just fingers and thumbs. 
No harm done. Stand up.
Stand up explaining why you wanted to go to a party, 
why anybody wants to go to a party, 
why parties exist and the evolution of humans 
gathering for friendship and celebration.
It seems they have never heard of parties before, 
not met a woman who seeks out company for conversation.
Stand up when they accept the party, grudgingly, 
other middle-class girls were at the party but aren't 
sure why you went as you're not middle class, 
aren't sure why you went into the room. 
The room!          
Theroomth         eroomt         herooooooooom   thero   ooooo oooooooooo            m
Stand up while there's a giggling babble from the gallery,
faint sounds of popcorn munching.
Stand up check your phone
*new messages* 
because word gets around.
This is why you don't go to court.
Lie low, hide, 
be proud, be honest, 
just the facts, you're lying 

This is why you don't report.
STAND UP.
Stand up and explain 
that a room can just mean a kiss, 
a room can often mean a kiss, 
in the past a room was a kiss on its own merits.
A room is not a promise and a kiss is just a kiss.
Stand up and explain 
you didn't know you were going into a room 
with a top shagger,
with suemepaddy.
You didn't know it wasn't a room but a merry-go-round.
You just thought you were going into a normal room 
with a normal person.
Singular, not plural.
It's hard to stand up when the whole room is spinning 
and you are a carousel horse.
But stand up.
Stand up for the Ulster ... women?

Everything You Could Ever Need

i.m. Comfort, Praise-Emmanuel and Gabriel Diya

(d. December 24th 2019)

00:00 / 03:17

We have everything you could ever need.
Welcome to your home away from home!
We provide you with luxury, we are full board,
we are an undisputed hotspot,
we are whatever you want us to be.
A romantic getaway?
Our beds are the best beds, the finest,
you will sleep on feathers and dream away.
You will watch beach sunsets with panoramic views,
you will dine by candlelight.
Explore, please, our lush tropical gardens.
A family break? We have daytrips:
visit Malaga – the home of Pablo Picasso.
We have golf! Your children can come with us
SCUBA diving, or painting, or to the fun fair.
Our complex boasts twenty-one swimming pools
and of all the pools in all the world, she had to d    
                                                                                       i
                                                                                             v
                                                                                                  e
                                                                                                      i
                                                                                                         n
                                                                                                           t
                                                                                                            o
                                                                                                                   ours.

 

I know an old woman who swallowed a fly, who swallowed a spider to swallow the fly, who swallowed a rat to swallow the spider, who swallowed a cat to swallow the rat all the way up to a horse. She's dead, of course.

 

A girl is drowning.
There are no lifeguards but we offer such luxury here!
Such candlelight, such silk sheets,
such a wondrous buffet,
no lifeguards.

Children struggle in water all the time.
An older brother sighs. 
In the absence of a lifeguard, he will fix this.
Pauses his game, 
puts down his tablet
and gets wet.

A boy is drowning, 
trying to swallow-save his sister-fly
but it is just a coincidence.
We have tested the water and examined 
the drainage system.
We boast twenty-one pools in our complex!
We know how to pool safely.

An increasingly concerned father
tries and tries his best as he has done his whole life;
to protect his children,
to open large embracing arms,
to be the horse, to swallow the cat to catch
the rat to catch the spider to catch 
the daughter-fly.
His wife and other child, 
dry child, still 
breathing child
pray loudly, 
pray screaming
as defibrillators are employed to no avail
on girl, brother, father.

We have everything you could ever need!
We have retrieved her swimming hat 
from the filtration unit.
After the investigation was declared complete, 
we reopened the twenty-first pool.
We need no lifeguards,
we have twenty-one pools, we know how to pool.
We are so delighted you chose to spend your Christmas Eve 
with us.

Flesh

00:00 / 01:47

These sacks, these bags of flesh we live in;
they expand, beyond what one could ever comprehend.
Would you sit and eat chocolate naked
watching your nudity grow?
Thinking about what you used to be:
whip-thin.
A boy laughs and tells you you are both sticks;
rub together would create fire,
would burn out.
You find this romantic.
Hip bones crash flintily,
sheets appear, on next day examination,
to be scorched.
But what is this compared with whale?
Glorious whale.
So many curves of you that you have 
lost track of which island your hands rest on.
Is this breast or
stomach one or stomach two (lesser stomach) or a buttock or a back roll?
It all forms a melange
and you know you could create more of it and yet more
(no intellect needed for this creation;
to simply eat with gluttonous abandon).
Skate fingers across the pink-coloured more of you,
twisting and turning to admire the new excesses.
Thigh dimples smile and wink at you.
Tiny purple cracked lines of lightning express your power.
Raise hips and thighs and thunder them in time to the music.
You are all weather conditions.
Droplets of moisture gather between mounds as you consider your next move.
It will be colossal.

Publishing credits

SUFTUM / Everything You Could Ever Need: exclusive first

  publication by iamb

Flesh: Abridged (0–58 Kassandra)

© original authors 2020

inspired by

Poetry Archive.png