Ballad of a chopped-up house

(with apologies to Philip Larkin and A.A. Milne)

I am a room in a chopped-up house
(in a five-bed, no lounge chopped-up house)
and there once was a lady lived in me
was as far round the bend as she could be –
but was fine, far as anyone else could see –
in a chopped-up house in Cambridge.

She dragged every day to her fucked-up job
and she moaned home again from her fucked up job.
She peeled off her days like sweat-soaked clothes
and she piled them in corners and piled them in rows –
unwashed, unexamined and on the nose
in a chopped-up house in Cambridge.

Bits of meals she dredged from the cramped-up stove;
and the grease-caked pots from the cramped-up stove;
and last month’s news, and the month’s before;
all mulching down on my mouldering floor,
with her piled days pushing against the door
of her locked-up room in Cambridge.

Still she shoved through my knee-deep, choked-up space –
through her days, unreclaimed, in my choked-up space.
Her bed was a pile of unopened mail
and her dreams were of soapies, and telesales,
and a dim understanding going stale
in a chopped-up house in Cambridge.

And then one day, in the chopped-up house,
she stopped dragging out to her fucked-up job.
The house-mates thought it was slightly queer
but did nothing (discreetly) for over a year –
not til the rot-stench and rats appeared
in the chopped-up house in Cambridge.

When the landlord forced through my locked-up door
she was festering there on my fouled-up floor
dwarfed by her heaped-up life’s debris;
overcome by the fumes of her lethargy.
She’d been fine – far as anyone else could see –
in a chopped-up house in Cambridge.

from Pushing thirty, wearing seventeen, Ginninderra Press, 2004

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One thought on “Ballad of a chopped-up house

  1. New and fascinating ideas. I like the bluntness of the vocabulary and how nothing is hidden. I can feel the intensity as if I am inside the chopped-up house. A woman suffering in a post-modern world. Why? Who knows. I like the fact that it stays at just the “fucked up job” and doesn’t try to tackle any larger issues, thus keeping the focus sharp. I would really like to hear this poem performed.

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