Friday Poem – ‘Outcast Hours’, Rhian Edwards

This week our Friday Poem is taken from Rhian Edwards’ dark and sensual debut collection Clueless Dogs.

Winner of Wales Book of the Year 2013
Winner of the Roland Mathias Prize for Poetry 2013
Winner of Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice 2013
Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2012

clueless_dogs72Full of verve and humour, with a spiky syntax featuring hard-edged consonants, Rhian Edwards’ language has a winning honesty and intensity. Poems like ‘The Welshman Who Couldn’t Sing’ chronicle a fraught childhood in Bridgend, south Wales, where the sensitive child escapes through imaginative games of ‘Playing Dead’ and ‘Broken Lifeboat’. Later poems confidently explore teenage lusts, student rivalries, damaged peers and tense situations. Although the author doesn’t flinch from ruthless depictions in which we are often implicated by her use of the second person ‘You’, there is an underlying sweetness, an elegiac thread most evident in the poems of maturity.

Outcast Hours

White light weighs heavy, bullying
bright as squash courts. I fix a dirty look
on the electric clock. The walled
minutes stagger their blinks.

Wheel-footed suitcases scurry
about me like clueless dogs,
flip flops tick-tock
on the polished rink of the concourse.

One girl’s patience is vivid,
measured by the careful brush strokes
of plum on her toenails,
the soft turning of pages.

Her boyfriend hibernates,
his legs stretched out before him.
Ankles crossed, he wags his foot
conducting his concert of sleep.

A ponytailed mother raises
an eye for her wandering son.
Shc scoops him up and breathes in his scalp
in chase of a smell that is running away from her.

The antique couple are butchering time.
Their teeth tear through baguettes
raining faded confetti
onto their open laps.

Shy of games and companions, fidgeting
in plastic-boned chairs, we comb the air
for that splintered voice,
dictating when our sky will ship us.


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