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Gas and Air

by Midnight_Sun 

Posted: 08 February 2012
Word Count: 208

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The forecourt cleaned and gleaming, inviting
everyone to drive up to the pumps. Shined back
from carcinogenic black to haematoid red
with spit, and a rag that hangs
from the pocket of these dungarees.

My brow, once cleaned and gleaming, inviting
sweat; it trickles down, prickles my neck;
frenzied fire ants lancing venomous tongues
behind my back.
I think of you and stare out beyond the road.

A life all cleaned and gleaming, inviting.
Scented with gasoline, unable to keep
my fingernails clean from the grime
of this dead end regime, bring me back.
Undressed, regressed, let me retreat.

A foetus cleaned and gleaming, inviting
me to grow into a different mould.
In spite of my silent pleas
the amniotic bubble busted;
pushed out

years ago, in a ward cleaned and gleaming; inviting
birth. Agonised screams lulled to whimpers
through breaths of gas and air, dilated, elated:
emergence of my crown of hair.
Proud of what you’d made; could I have made you proud

with a brow all cleaned and gleaming, inviting
a mortar board; acceptance of a scroll
in a roll of honour? Years lumped into one,
pumped gas, goods stacked; a lifeless larder, cars pass,

a mirror-glass in shining red; I shine it all the harder.

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 15:39 on 10 February 2012  Report this post
We can keep discussion going on this for a bit if you like, because it’s very rich in meaning and there’s a lot to be said. My first thought was about the way your ‘cleaned and gleaming’ refrain reflects the repetitiveness of the ‘dead-end regime’ which your narrator is stuck in. There’s a mini-version of this to be found in the adjacent rhymes - ‘Undressed, regressed’ and ‘dilated, elated’ - as well as other rhymes placed close within a line or two. It’s a great strength in a poem to have the form in tune with the meaning in this way.

The motif of cleanliness is subtle. Again, my first thought is that cleanliness represents in a very telling way the ideal, wished for life that the narrator might have had if he/she had been able to ‘grow into a different mould’. Dirt represents reality, and his/her efforts to ‘shine’ suggest the frustration bordering on despair that reality has produced.

These are just first impressions. I like too the clever way you have deployed ‘gas and air’ in different contexts, and the rhyming at the end - gas, pass, glass and larder, harder - which ends the poem resoundingly, almost like the closing bars of a piece of classical music!

I’m looking forward to discovering more in the poem, seeing it from different perspectives.


Midnight_Sun at 09:39 on 13 February 2012  Report this post
Thanks for the feedback James,

You're spot on about the dirt representing reality. I think part of me is in this poem, when I get bothered by something I tend to clean a lot!


TessaF at 00:36 on 16 February 2012  Report this post
Hi Patricia
I have really enjoyed reading your poem. The cleanliness of the labour ward is nicely juxtaposed with the grime of the forecourt. I can feel the the narrator's desperation as he labours away at his job and again this contrasts nicely with the real labour (birth). We can see real hope and aspiration in the line 'emergence of my crown'(of hair). Also 'acceptance' seems like a key word.

Usually I would pick my favorite lines from a poem, but really I just love all of it.

Looking forward to reading more of your work


Midnight_Sun at 08:39 on 16 February 2012  Report this post
Thanks for the feedback Tessa,

very much appreciated!


SarahT at 21:27 on 22 February 2012  Report this post

You haven't had many comments on this so I just wanted to reassure you that I have read and enjoyed this several times but I am still puzzling over what feedback I can give. I think James has probably cornered everything I might want to say about it but I will be having another look and if I can think of anything to add, I will make my contribution.


Midnight_Sun at 10:36 on 23 February 2012  Report this post
Thanks Sarah,

just the fact you've taken time to read it is very much appreciated!


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