Three poems by Tom Norton

 

Atomic Jam, Birmingham, October 2001

 

following a crocodile of blokes dressed as neon nuns with habits

shining orange and fluorescent blue we scale the stairs, kick drum

rumbling through double doors, inside the giant nave stained

glass saints bow to glow sticks and boiler suits, seats slope in

galleries toward the packed and bouncing floor, green lasers from

the rafters cutting smoke and strobe with Hawtin on the altar

spinning missives of enfolding sound

 

thighs jitter full decks of camels and sock-smuggled pills as we

ready in wooden pews to ascend, for the swell from stomach to

fingers to brain, for the leaping and grinning, the wringing of

hands and the strutting, the blur, warped faces and sweat-palmed

embraces, sour cigarettes in chill-out rooms, gurning reconciliations

to head massages from a dreadlocked girl – the world outside has

shifted, office workers fall to flee the acrid smoke as steel towers

crash into the dust, our leaders tensing vengeance, in here we beat,

molecules vibrating to a common technic heart, laying claim to

our millennium, though we know what is to come

 

foetal shiverings as slideshow scenes unravel under eyelids,

snapshots of a shuffling dawn, glances on buses from african

mothers in sunday best, their pinks and oranges blanching

colour from our pallid faces as we hold the rails, eyes darting

anywhere but back

 

 

 

New Marigny

 

Flip-flopped feet splash the coloured

shotguns of Dauphine, in darkness

cross the tracks at Press, frogs call

from storm puddles. Candy plays blind

inside Big Daddy’s, ban forcing crowds

onto the corner, neighbours earplugged

through the night. In the Spotted Cat

I spin with green-haired Emily, between

Sazerac and Makers Mark, Bruno blasting

blues on alto sax, down Frenchmen

lights and sirens stop illicit jazz with jeers

from jocks and lawyers, who cling to neon

hand grenades and stagger the Big Easy.

Above St Claude no whites walk,

bass lines rattle wooden shutters,

grandmothers resigned on peeling

porches, storm-strength windows

smashed at St Roch Market,

‘Fuck yuppies’ painted on the wall,

while a new Marigny builds.

 

 

Dropping Coins

 

In a tequila sweat I wake to rows of drivers baking in tin boxes and

leaning on their horns, Mixtec mother screaming ‘giant balloons!’

beneath my window while the old boy hawking scratch cards is

straining to be heard and the organ grinder who once under his

breath called me a fucking gringo has begun his day’s rotation of

the handle – I listen to this bees’ nest, watch the colours in the

furry morning heat and then I’m with them, sweating on my way

for heuvos and frijoles. By the high wall of Santísima Trinidad my

man exits a taxi on his hands, gorilla shoulders heaving him across

the pavement where he rolls his blanket out onto the dust.

‘Buenos días, joven,’ his large face creases recognition because

I am the sore thumb, particularly tall and pink, that passes every

day, often dropping coins into his hat. And, spooning salsa onto

eggs, I wonder where he sleeps, who drops him off and picks him

up each day, how in six months I haven’t seen him angry or upset,

give any sign of irritation at the chaos of the city, nor of pain

though his bones are buckled, not even in his eyes which speak,

saying ‘no, I never long for crisp spring mornings, for grass still

wet with dew, for bitter beer and car rides through quiet Surrey

hills,’ and he will hunch on his brown blanket long after I’m gone,

nodding up at passers-by, an island in the clamour of the street.

 

 

 

May 9, 2016

Tom Norton Poetry

Three poems by Tom Norton
May 3, 2016
Layout 1 copy

Birkbeck Arts Week

Birkbeck Arts Week, 2016 runs from Monday 16 to Saturday 21 May and the Creative Writing department will be hosting two events during Arts Week. These events will be complimented by MIRLive on May 13th and Birkbeck Poets on May 22nd.
May 2, 2016
MIRlive 480

MIRLive May 13th

Our first MIRLive will take place on May 13th 2016 and we are joined by Benjamin Wood, Nadim Safdar, Courttia Newland, Gilli Fryzer and Anne Rabbit.
May 2, 2016

Steven Rogers Poetry

Two poems by Steven Rogers
April 28, 2016

Dance Affliction

Creative Non-Fiction by Paola Moretti
April 26, 2016

We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Fire

An extract from Chapter One of We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Fire by Jules Grant, out on 28th April with Myriad Editions.
April 20, 2016

The Future is Not Here

Creative non-fiction by Tom C. B. Williams.
April 18, 2016

When We Say Goodnight

Short Fiction by Aliyah Keshani
April 15, 2016

Fran Lock Poetry

Four Poems From Risperidone Diaries
April 13, 2016
Courttia 480

Courttia Newland to read at MIRLive

Our first MIRLive will take place on May 13th 2016 and we are looking for readers to join Benjamin Wood and Courttia Newland.
April 13, 2016

For Bowie and For Spurs

Creative Non Fiction. Words and pictures by Elizabeth McGrath
April 11, 2016

Murmurations

Short fiction by 2013 Bristol Short Story Award Winner, Paul McMichael. 
April 4, 2016

The Don

Short Fiction by Paul Goodman
April 1, 2016
SS-480

Stefanie Seddon Shortlisted For Prize

Stefanie’s short story, Eel, has been shortlisted for the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, she tells us a about the inspiration behind the story.
March 31, 2016

Luke Tredget Poetry

Luke Tredget explores relationships in these three poems.
March 30, 2016

Tono su Tono

Federica Lugaresi spends four weeks in the Stamperia Bertozzi.
March 29, 2016

The Night Shift

Short fiction by Jo Holloway
March 24, 2016

Kate Seferian Poetry

Savannah, 1969 and A Deafness
March 22, 2016

Broken Promises

  Short Fiction by Kate Nkanza.
March 18, 2016

Madeline Cross Poetry

Three poems from Madeline Cross