Talking for England – NaPoWriMo 23

That woman could talk for England.
She can talk. Her mouth opens and shuts,
sounds tumble out, tinkling, crashing
to the floor. You can’t stop them.
Press your hands against her lips,
they’ll just keep moving. She talks
and talks, saying nothing, just words,
just jabberish, just gibber-gabbling,
like a blackbird sings –

danger danger danger danger

or a wren calls

stranger stranger stranger

her words fall in soft piles around her,
making it hard to walk, they amass
accumulating dust and gathering
fragments of unswept memories,
old tears, fluff balls of one-liners,
scraps of mashed up vowels,
ripped consonants, and here and there
a single sentence glimmering like gold.

She’s talking just because she is afraid,
she keeps you here, pinned by her tongue,
her moving lips, her greedy slobbering
of words words words words words words,
afraid that you will leave and she
will be alone with all these words inside her head,

or worse.

What if she spills them out when she’s alone,
the mad woman, muttering in the carpark,
mumbling in the queue for fruit,
chewing her words over and over, swallowing
regurgitating, masticating, pulping
the words that used to mean so much
and now mean nothing? That’s the fear.

Danger. Danger. Danger. Danger.


My offering for Day 23 of NaPoWriMo, where we are asked to write a poem that springboards from something overheard:

And now for today’s (optional) prompt! Kate Greenstreet’s poetry is spare, but gives a very palpable sense of being spoken aloud – it reads like spoken language sounds. In our interview with her, she underscores this, stating that “when you hear it, you write it down.” Today, we challenge you to honor this idea with a poem based in sound. The poem, for example, could incorporate overheard language. Perhaps it could incorporate a song lyric in some way, or language from something often heard spoken aloud (a prayer, a pledge, the Girl Scout motto). Or you could use a regional or local phrase from your hometown that you don’t hear elsewhere, e.g. “that boy won’t amount to a pinch.”

Happy writing!

2 thoughts on “Talking for England – NaPoWriMo 23

  1. You take us on a long journey with this poem, Sarah. There are some delightful images. I particularly like the stanza that starts “Her words fall” and ends “glimmering like gold”. It’s a lovely poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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