I was ready from the off.
I let the midwife know
she’d only get one free
and a second slap would cost her.
A punctured can of pop,
I seethed with six others born that week,
one of whom would father his own child
with my first love in the small world we’d inherit.
Despite the Rockwool insulation of amniotic fluid
that spared my family my debut album,
I heard all that went on: brothers fighting to the death
over crisps, Fig Rolls, and Jaffa Cakes,
my mother raging from the loss
of her husband’s younger brother,
her monologues, how she liked to break things,
and my father’s deafening silence
through her swift descent to madness.
I have to say, I wasn’t sure I’d make it out alive,
and, even if I did, what hope I’d have with this lot.
But out I came, sharing my birthday
with Jimmy White and Catherine The Great.
It was clear Mum couldn’t cope;
she was soon shipped off to High Royds.
I was farmed out to a woman
who’d find it hard to give me back.
But she did and Mum got better,
dragged me up amid their chaos:
all that conflict, all that laughter.
Mark is a Leeds based poet and author, and is the compère of the lively Word Club monthly poetry event. His poems have been widely published in magazines (Envoi, Dreamcatcher, Prole, Sarasvati, among others) and anthologies. His first pamphlet, Life is a Long Song was published by Otley Word Feast Press in 2015, with a second full collection due out in 2017 from Stairwell Books. His novel Stickleback is published by Armley Press, available on Amazon.