Questions is a collaboration by Lucy Kempton and Joe Hyam. Poems are based on questions drawn from an agreed starting question and formed by answers, which contain and inspire the next questions. In response to Lucy's first question, Joe kicks off. This follows our earlier work in Compasses, archived here, where Lucy's photographs illustrate Joe's series of 50 sonnets under the title Handbook for Explorers.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

What have you heard?

What have I heard?
That people talk to keep the unknown out.
I've heard their voices,
Low and monotonous,
Nervous in the dark; heard a woman sing
Of love as cruel and old as tigers;
Heard the shingle shift beneath my feet
As each wave breaks;
Heard empty cans kicked down the street;
Heard the waters flowing past
The unblinking eye of the crocodile
Fast contained in silence.
Today, I heard the new year break
Out from the old with a cry;
Heard a door open and close.
What are you waiting for?

Monday, 4 May 2009

Where's my lunch?

Where's my lunch? Well now, I fear the cupboard's bare!

Time to fall back on scavenging for scraps,
through rubbish heaps and dustbins to survive
or find a meal, and even those yield slender pickings.
Once you'd have found immaculate fish-heads,
-tails and -bones like ichthyosaurs, for cartoon cats
to steal, potato peel and chips gone cold
in papers old as yesterday, and ash and cinders,
the residue of forests, fossilised or live.
Now it's mostly plastic shards and shreds,
old cat food tins and wrappers from fish-fingers.

I've heard we'll burn or bury ourselves yet.
What have you heard?