Melanie Branton – three poems

After Larkin

The vast, warm store on the High Street,
pimping overpriced clothes. An overheated house
of mandatory fun, where placards
shriek, “Mix It Up!”, “Playful Colours!”
above rails of sour lemons, hard emeralds, thorned roses,
chains, belts, clutches, tights, corsets,
wire cages trimmed with lace, deceitful
whites that you know will renege
to grey within a couple of washes,
where uniforms with clipboards
guard a chilly hall of mirrors.
They tag you with a number, before
hiding you behind a heavy curtain.

But past the columns of structured separates,
past the headless mannequins twisted
into seductive poses, past a line of twill slacks
pressed into knife pleats confronting you,
a flight of airforce blue, a whole flotilla of navies,
sprawl Men’s Casuals. Charcoal that glows
into umber, groves of olive, a Sahara
of khaki opens out before you. Airy
boxers flap in the breeze from the fan,
elasticated slips bunch on a pair of thrusting hips,
Y-fronts, algebraic in their mysteries, enfold
a value you’ll never find, an insoluble equation

that warns us we will never know what men are,
or what they do, that they will always lounge
beyond the limits of our striplit section,
loose knit, light jersey leisurewear
printed with cartoon characters.

The Guardians

I use the names of people I love,
people who were once briefly kind to me,
as passwords, talismans I touch
several times a day, my fingers

seeking out their gentle kiss in the keys
to my treasure chest, my word hoard.
They stand sentry, ward off harm.
I type and, by the magic of megabytes,
they are transfigured into little stars.

I wish upon them.

Instructions for Candidates

Do not turn over your paper
until instructed to do so.

You may attempt the questions in
any order you like.
You do not have to answer
in full sentences.
Some sections of the paper will be
multiple choice.

All work submitted must be
the candidate’s own.
Do not write in the margins.
Write clearly and legibly
in black ink.
If you make a mistake,
draw a line through it
with a ruler
and start again.
You will not be marked on your spelling.

If there is anything you do not understand,
put your hand up
and try to attract the attention of an invigilator.
If you require any additional equipment,
put your hand up
and try to attract the attention of an invigilator.
If you feel unwell,
put your hand up
and try to attract the attention of an invigilator.

It is the candidate’s own responsibility
to ensure that he or she manages the time wisely:
you will not be told how much time you have left.

When told to stop writing,
put your pen down immediately.
You must leave the examination room in silence.

The following page has been left intentionally blank.

Melanie Branton is a poet and spoken word artist from North Somerset. Her first collection will be published by Oversteps Books towards the end of 2017.

2 thoughts on “Melanie Branton – three poems

  1. Robert Nisbet August 14, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    I really enjoyed these, Melanie, particularly ‘The Guardians’. And the Larkin poem is a clever turning of the tables.

    Liked by 1 person

    • melanieb88 August 14, 2017 / 7:12 pm

      Thank you, Robert. That makes me very happy.


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