You can’t always get what you want

by Claire Askew

 

At her feet was a footloose man  — The Rolling Stones

It might be a good start
if you knew what what you want
was.  If you stopped trying
to do the right thing: drinking whisky,
buying black underwear, acquiring
a vibrator that leaves you unable
to come under your own steam
for several weeks, and other acts
that scare you even more.  Since when
were you the woman swiping lipstick
on the back of her hands
in the department store?  Since when
did you take bathroom selfies
in your bra?  Just why exactly
are you 3am-ing all over the black
and white diamonds of someone else’s
kitchen floor?  A clue: it’s male
and six foot two and bought you
a drink once — rhymes with you want
to go somewhere quieter? Want
to get out of here? 
Looks like
a lee of green, gauzy shade
on a hot afternoon — answers to
dreamboat, heartbreak, long tall drink
of deadpan smile.  Just FYI:
when you think things are going well,
that’s a tell-tale sign.  But if you pack
your car right now — flashlight, shovel,
cheap wine, Anne Sexton’s Collected
and the roadmap to your own
potholed heart — you might just make it out
before he rolls back up and kisses you
into the ground.  It’s possible to be
okay on your own, you know, if you
try sometimes.  You might find.

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CLAIRE ASKEW

Claire Askew’s debut poetry collection, This changes things, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016. The collection was shortlisted for an Edwin Morgan Poetry Award, the Saltire First Book Award, the Seamus Heaney Poetry Centre Prize and the Michael Murphy Memorial Award. Claire is also a novelist, and her debut novel All The Hidden Truths won the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and was published by Hodder & Stoughton in August 2018. Claire is currently the Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh, and you can follow her online @onenightstanzas.

Photo Credit: Dominic Stevenson

Read more from Claire:

KnifethornfieldAll the Hidden TruthsIn Conversation with Poet and Novelist Claire Askew