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.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

What are you waiting for?

I'm waiting for the fire to catch, and for the freeze;
for the embers to fade and for the thaw.

I'm waiting for the drifting log to turn,
to feel the crunch of teeth shearing
through flesh and bone, to flail, limbless
haemorrhaging, sinking, lost.

I'm waiting for lunch, for the show to start,
I'm waiting for it all to be over.
I'm waiting for all good things
to come to an end, I'm waiting for all things
to come to those who wait.

I'm waiting for the warm south wind to blow
the scent of lemon flowers over silver
fish-scaled seas, and incense smoke
of smouldering phoenix feathers.

You may as well ask
'What do you fear?'
or equally
'What do you long for'?

You can take your pick...


Rouchswalwe said...

Arresting, Lucy! All of my senses are engaged.

Julia said...


Roderick Robinson said...

You kinda like the seamy side of crocodiles, don't you? They indulge in even more misanthropic practices but to tell you would be to egg you on.

I like this one because you take your (and, indirectly, my) revenge on clich├ęs and make them damned well work for their living. 'ppreciate that.

Rosie said...

I like the idea of turning familiar ideas inside out and giving them a good beating and hanging them up for our delectation in a new light

Lucy said...

Thanks for coming to read.

BB - you mean the larders, don't you? Somehow we didn't get that worked in...

Thanks also for the affirmation about the cliches; it's the only time I've gone against an editorial suggestion from Joe. He was inclined to rework the 'all good things/all things come' lines to freshen them up, but I decided I wanted them as they are most commonly spouted. The wisdom is usually to avoid cliche and truism, of course, but I think perhaps if the irony is fairly clear it's OK...

Lucas said...

This is a poem of opposites!Dark and frightening images are balanced by more reassuring ones. The very beautiful stanza that begins "I'm waiting for the warm south wind to blow..." however thrives on a visionary quality and intoxicates by its assonent music.