Tuesday Poem: Two by Jennifer Compton

I’ll cheat this week and post two poems, both from Jennifer Compton. Jen is a New Zealand poet who lives in Australia, though she’s our visiting writer at the moment here at Massey University. Jen works in a number of genres–short stories and plays, among them–so perhaps it isn’t surprising that her poems show a rather admirable range. The two I’ve put below are very different in their aesthetics–the first a traditional lyric to mark a particular occasion, the latter a more elusive poem, its elusiveness stemming from its use of a kind of symbolic dream logic reminiscent of contemporary poems that are sometimes called surrealist.

Remembrance Day in Coles on George

I was riding the escalator
into the teeth of the minute’s silence
on the eleventh of the eleventh at eleven a.m.

I was the only moving thing
ascending from ground to first
a tiny sliver of scepticism.

Ascending into the immense wind. Into the longing
for the voices of young men. Men, still young,
returning for the reasons men return.

Princess on Wheels

I am the Princess, living in London.
I queue for my ticket at the bus station.

Back at the Palace my children are locked
up with their Nanny in a nice padded room.

The Footman in uniform takes care not to notice.
I skate down the corridor in search of a kitchen.

The windows I wheel by always look out on London.
London, fortunately, contains many kitchens.

Alone in the kitchen at last I reflect in
the languorous length of stainless steel benches.

The floor slopes towards me, promisingly.
The refrigerator makes an attempt on my life.

The first poem is from Jen’s collection Parker & Quink; the second is from her collection Blue. Both are  from Indigo, an imprint of Ginninderra Press in Australia.

If anyone plans to be in Palmerston North on Thursday (27 May), her play The Third Age is getting a reading at 1 p.m. in the Dance Studio at Square Edge by some actors from Centrepoint, with a short audience discussion and feedback after the performance. Jen will be reading in our Writer’s Read series–sponsored by the School of English & Media Studies and the Palmerston North City Library–on 11 June at the library, 7 p.m. (come at 6:30 for drinks).

Check out the other Tuesday Poems at www.tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com

4 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: Two by Jennifer Compton”

  1. Thanks Bryan for Jen’s poems. She does traverse poetry so confidently … the first poem is a marvellously caught moment in so many ways – I love the ‘e’ sounds in the first stanza – and the way she evokes the stillness and silence and so much more by showing herself as the only moving thing on an escalator … the second poem is her hallmark humour – I love the fridge making an attempt on her life. I’ll remember that next time the fridge pounces at me… I thought it was friendly…

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