Friday Poem – ‘September’s Child’ by Dai George

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘September’s Child’ by Dai George from his new collection Karaoke King which was published this week.

The cover of Karaoke King shows a drawing of a teenage boy, with short dark hair wearing a yellow and brown stripped vest over a white shirt. His head is to one side and his glasses are wonky. He wears a crumpled, gold crown. The title is on a yellow-gold box at the bottom.

Dai George’s confident second collection Karaoke King, addresses the contentious nature of the times. Always deeply thoughtful but also alternately ebullient, angry, curious, ashamed, the poet moves through urban and digital spaces feeling both uneasy and exhilarated. As with the Auden of the inter-war period, there is a feeling of history shifting, as a younger generation confronts its ethical obligations, its sense of complicity and disappointment. Ecological crisis hovers in the background, glimpsed in the ‘Fooled Evening’ of a world whose seasonal rhythms have fallen out of joint. Karaoke King also contains numerous reflections on popular culture, culminating in ‘A History of Jamaican Music’, a sequence at the heart of the volume speaking to urgent contemporary questions of ownership and privilege, pain and celebration. 

September’s Child

Hormonally it ripens, tickling the blood, building
through the part of me that would be womb,

a premonition of loss or change, an over-fattened moon.
Saccharine and festive, it makes of me a boy in bed

failing to sleep on his birthday eve. Still I find myself
September’s child, bookish, mild, ever eldest in the year,

a connoisseur of subtle treats, like ravioli from the tin,
the adult jokes in Asterix, or better yet a malady

that softly lowers you to the settee but doesn’t stop
your eyes from lapping at a page. Every year,

sure as morning bell, I’d feel the bulge descend upon
my tonsil gland, as now I feel the blossoming

of an earthier and urgent need, a waft of chestnut
smoke at summer’s end. I don’t know what it is,

I only know it comes in August with a sky of schoolsweater
grey and declining light. My pinky custard

shivers, barely set within its rabbit mould. Sometimes
it only takes a bar of Charles Trenet unwinding through

‘La Mer’ and I’m awash. A salt of yearning rises
to my throat. Everywhere I look the children are

younger, or else I’m fatter and forgetful, still stumbling
on the brink of coming into something long deserved.

Karaoke King is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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