Ursula (Film-Poem Online)

<a href="https://vimeo.com/82382137"><img src="https://www.robertpeake.com/files/2013/12/ursula.jpg" style="max-width: 500px;"><br>Click here to view the video</a>

Ursula

Black hair. Red claws. That’s all
you need to know. She left
the cubs a long time ago,
and now all she wants is a man
to drink gin and play snooker.
She keeps a gun in her purse
and two ex lovers in jail,
signs her letters with a kiss
and a dab of cheap perfume.
She knows how to use a letter opener,
walk upright like a lady,
forage berries in the forest,
bandage a gunshot wound,
claw her way out of the trunk
of a speeding car, and roll away.
She’s on the hunt when hunted,
growls obscenities when hit
by a tranquillizer dart.
In this city full of garbage,
she knows you by your smell.

Behind the Poem

The BearPaul Stephenson and I have been sending each other postcards with the implicit dare to try to write a poem about whatever is depicted — the stranger, the better. When I received this postcard advertising some kind of noir West End stage production called “The Bear”, it set my head spinning.

I wrote a very different kind of poem about a bear several years ago, a lament that became part of my first short collection Human Shade. But the more I stared at this “dame” with a pistol in her hands, the more she and the bloody-clawed bear behind her seemed to fuse in my mind.

Valerie and I found some old excess footage, now in the public domain, from a Los Angeles film studio in the 1950s, and we put this together with road, wind, and bear noises as accompaniment. So this new film-poem was born.


Mice of the London Underground (Poem and Audio Online)

Baby MiceMy three-part poem “Mice of the London Underground” is now available on the qarrtsiluni website as part of their Animals in the City issue. Part three of the poem draws inspiration from a prank notice about attacking mice at Farringdon tube station, which I commute through frequently.

I love the theme of this issue and look forward to the other urban animal poems, which will be published on the site in the coming days.

Read and listen to “Mice of the London Underground” online at qarrtsiluni.