Sophie Sparham (British Working Class Poetry)

Sophie Sparham is a poet and writer from Derby. They have written commissions for BBC Radio 4, The V&A, The National Forest and The People's History Museum. They co-host the night Word Wise which won best spoken word night at the 2019 Saboteur Awards. Their latest collection 'The Man Who Ate 50,000 Weetabix' came out in April 2021 via Verve Poetry Press. Sophie's work has been published in Orbis, Under the Radar and The Morning Star. Their poem Sunrise Over Aldi won third place in the 2020 Charles Causley International Poetry Competition. They co-direct Derby Poetry Festival.

 

 

Everything aches

 

As if I were a motorbike

lying sideways like a bunion on crutches

of curb, a record collection

boxed up in rain. As if I were a memorial bench

In a pit of clay, a punctured hill, a peeled dawn.

 

As if I were a television

mounted to my father’s wall, his eyes

glazing over the elevator music of my mouth

as if I were a sunset drowning

a jar of wind, a jawful of stones.

 

As if I were a river of broken teeth flooding

bedrooms like a finish line.

As if I were a sea, where every wave was a person

and they just kept breaking 

 

 


 

American Diner in C Major  

 

As soon as we touch down in Seattle

I demand you take me to the nearest diner

where I order pancakes and ask the waitress

to refill my coffee cup five times.

 

This is just like the movies, where they talk

and smoke and scrape the knife against the plate.

 Camera one pans to me telling you my hatred

of tight jam jar lids and how you can never

 

find Coca Cola in a glass bottle anymore.

Camera two zooms in on your raised eyebrows.

You grunt and respond with an anecdote

about a neighbour’s dog who has alopecia.

 

We’re still nobodies, but here we’re international

nobodies. And I think that means something.

Mickey and Mallory, Rizzo and Kenickie, Mr Pink

and White have all sat in these cheap plastic seats.

 

I picture them, staring at the TV, watching scenes

of us from back home. Fade in to me queuing

at the post office, flicking a switch in the fuse box,

hanging out the washing on the line. Don’t lie to me,

 

 you think about the soundtrack to your biopic. Sometimes,

I live in my own made-up film montage longer

than in a conversation. Bruce Springsteen would play

the role of me, and I’d watch as he held his hips

 

in the mirror. Cut to Bruce at the chippy, Bruce stirring

pasta over the hob, Bruce standing in the reduced aisle

of the supermarket, Bruce photographing pheasants

in the Peak District, a smile on his face.

 

No, I wouldn’t pay to see it again either.

 

 

 

Sax at Watford Gap

 

There’s always been something intimate about service stations. 

 

Strangers pissing side by side,

 

 piling together

waste as though building a monument to the straight concrete roads which

 

enable life to slip past the landscape.                               In an era, where speed is the destination,

 

X doesn’t normally mark the spot by a building that fills and empties like the tide,

 

yet here we are.

 

Stood between rows of bumpers

close enough to kiss. He crosses the white line and lowers the case to the concrete

 

before retreating to the safety of his wingmirror. And I, all fingers and thumbs,

 

lift it to my chest, as if new born, and crack open the shell. Inside, a small bronze body, 

reflects the streetlights, swan necked, keys waiting to be touched. He knows that

 

I have longed for you,

 

scaled the corners of my darkness, where slowness is a scripture

held between my teeth. The three of us walk the embankment, stare at the McDonald’s sign,

a landmark amongst the gulls.

 

Two strangers and you, a bucket chain of sound,

passed from generation to generation, between the empty coke cans and the old newspaper headlines.

 

 Headlights stream off your body as he drives into night.

 

I shall never meet him again, but together

we held a gap between us, as fresh and sensitive as the wound a milk tooth leaves when it

detaches itself from the gum.

 

It gives me comfort to think hundreds have sat here,

 

some as unsure as me, feet dangling from the edge of this hour hand, thinking back to a time

where they didn’t have to sprint to the next season.

 

They say jazz is about the silence

 

between the notes.

 
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