Friday, November 14, 2014

BETHANY STIANA PATIENCE


Bio

Bethany (Bee) Stiana Patience

Performance poet, marketer, founder of ‘Run Your Tongue’ spoken word night, and Charles Bukowski devotee. Bee graduated with first-class honours in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of Nottingham. Following a brief period working as a poet in schools, she has since moved into the fast-paced world of marketing, where she’s able to use both the left ‘logical’ side of her brain and the right ‘creative’ side. Inspired by people and places, Bee’s work focuses heavily on the five senses, and she believes that every word counts. Her ultimate aim is for readers and listeners to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel her poetry. Bee also happens to be the 2012 Nottingham Poetry Society Slam first prize winner.

 

Poetry

 

Written in response to a poem called ‘Song for Bethany’ by the late Graham Joyce; a fabulous mentor, an incredible author, and an insanely missed friend.

 

for Graham

 

life tasted like candyfloss

rolling ourselves in rizlas of earth

finding feet through hopscotch

joining freckles like dot-to-dot across

shoulders and collar bones

imagining cartoons and unicorns

onto skin

 

pulling

 

thorns

and arrowheads and bluebirds from chests

 

stabbed breath

twenty-nine reckless

glasses of wine

then coming up Sunday

aching gazes down stranger’s spines

 

unmarking red lines

under empty cigarette packets

and double-decker wrappers

what do they know?

what do I know?

 

standing in love with another

not falling

promising not to let them hurt me

as much as the first

 

or the second

 

or the third

 

pulling thorns

and arrowheads and bluebirds from my chest

 

underneath my tongue

broken guitar strings

are buzzing

like heavy rain on the sunroof of a car

like standing on the edge of a platform when a train goes past

 

I’ll use lowercase for every single word

so that each letter knows their worth

 

 

and I will write

 

I will write

 

 I will write

 

I will write

 

and listen

to the sound of

 

rules

 

tearing

 

themselves

 

up

 

 

He Didn’t Want to be a Victim

 

What did you carry?

Anything –  flick knife, lock knife, butterfly knife

 

How can something so beautiful share its name with something so...

 

Why?

I didn’t want to be a victim. I’ve seen things, lost things.

The whisper of prison missed my ears beneath the shouting streets.

A slap on the wrist – I can handle that

then he’ll fall back into concrete embraces,

continue to subsist in a vulnerable bubble of kindred pretences

 

choosing violence, over conversation

 

Because they live in another post code?

Their skin’s a different colour to yours?

Or you can’t pronounce their surname?

 

I didn’t want to be a victim.

I didn’t want to be anybody’s victim.

We can’t harmonise with a handshake.

 

Peering from my back pocket, hidden in my jacket

 

the blade

boasts protection, saves face in front of connections

 

better to arm yourself with a weapon, denote intimidation

than be a victim.

Victim?

 

I didn’t want to be a victim.

I didn’t want to be anybody’s victim.

We can’t harmonise with a handshake.

 

And now all I see are these walls

eats and sleeps a metre away from his toilet –

it disgusts him. The drip

drip

drip

of the sink, syncs with the thud of his heart and the blink of his eye

    as he tries to forget

the encounter of my shank with their skin

 

puncturing layers of cotton, cells, tissue

flesh tearing

at the point of his knife                 

and the life that taints his iron hand

that can’t be washed away with peroxide.

 
 
Unnoticed, until

 

around half past seven, eight o clock

he’s there. Just there

 

A lost receipt for a packet of wine gums

an elderly leaf, shrivelled

beneath your foot

 

Look.

 

The stranger captured in the background of your photograph

 

Always there

wrapped in

damp, last month’s shirt, rolled in tobacco

 

as if he grew from a seed of ash in the air

you stare

at this 1900s circus beast

 

but it’s you who paints a smile on your face.

 

A naked head hides

under the peak of a cap

his hair lost

years ago

to a receding hairline

along with everything else.

 

Both hands placed below his chest

his fingertips kiss

earth’s cast offs trapped

under his nails

his hands offering

a bouquet of decaying fruit

 

‘Excuse me? I don’t suppose you’ve got forty-six pence?’

 

He glances at the change cradled in his palm

 

‘I’m just short and I need to get a bottle of pop?’

 

For a heartbeat, you panic

smell diesel, taste metal, hear train brakes

barbed wire pricks your spine

 

then

you think, he needs more than a bottle of pop

 

Two small spheres of black ice, too close together

look at you

wait

 

‘Uh no, sorry-’

 

Before you’ve finished, he’s turned away

as if swung by a gust of wind

zig-zagging through the blind

 

unnoticed, until

he asks them

 

He’s asked me three times – twice

in the same night, once

 

He’s there, always there. Just there

 

He mustn’t have remembered me.

I remember him.


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