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.

Saturday 22 August 2009

All the lonely people, where do they all come from?

They're sewn from motley, so it seems, threadbare, thin
patches, tattered clothes from shabby, faded scraps
which sag, or don't meet at the seams, show leering gaps
embarrass us with sight of unaccustomed, light-starved skin.

Or else they're sown from serpent's teeth, pulled from the grin
of the reptile's skull, and scattered in the dust,
fleshless and clattering bones who only know they must
hurt, fight and kill, burn rankly from the emptiness within.

Mis-shapen, sad or savage then they seem,
and alien. But who's that kidding? I'll not deny the fact,
the face kept in the jar is also on my shelf.

Love (tra-la-la-la!) proposes that we're not alone, and may redeem,
we hope - if losing it won't kill us first - the act
of living. So tell me now, just what have you been doing with yourself?