Poetry Files. Part 11 Signs from the old Times. From Mental Fight. By Ben Okri.


Fifty Strong Fifty poems chosen by teenagers for teenagers
Published by the South Bank Centre, London
Part 11 Signs from the old Times

From Mental Fight 

Ben Okri

What will we choose?
Will we allow ourselves to descend
Into universal chaos and darkness?
A world without hope, without wholeness
Without moorings, without light
Without possibility for mental fight,
A world breeding mass murderers
Energy vampires, serial killers
With minds spinning in anomie and amorality
With murder, rape, genocide as normality?
Or will we allow ourselves merely to drift
Into an era of more of the same, without shame,
Without wonder or excitement,
Just the same low-grade entertainment,
An era boring and predictable
‘flat, stale, weary and unprofitable’
In which we drift along
Too bored and too passive to care
About what strange realities rear
Their heads in our days and nights,
Till we awake too late to the death of our rights
Too late to do anything
Too late for thinking
About what we have allowed
To take over our lives
While we cruised along in casual flight
Mildly indifferent to storm or sunlight?





Poetry Files. TW. Our Own Soft. Katie Clark. Cinnamon Whiskey.

Our Own Soft
Katie Clark
Cinnamon Whiskey

everyone told me the winter would be bad but
no one said it would be cold all of the time.

it hasn’t been over forty degrees in over five months
and the lake keeps freezing and thawing and i’m less for it.

for now, it’s 10pm and twenty degrees and my friends are all smoking
cigarettes shirtless outside for the second night in a row.

it seems unfair now to live the life i wanted at fourteen,
but here we are.

my 9th grade self keeps drunk texting me things like
“get home safe,” and “can you buy me fireball,” and

i can see her sitting cross-legged in a circle in someone’s
upstairs bedroom in borrowed pajamas with a red cup

and someone is telling them all what it was like to
have sex with a boy named jack or rob and

she’s asking me what it’s like but i’d rather her remember it
this way: small, but significant and eventual.

i don’t want to tell her what’s coming, that the first time
will scar because she won’t say yes, that it won’t be

the last time, that sometimes it’s not fact, it’s
whoever gets there first and says their version louder.

she shouldn’t have to know that sometimes it’s not fair to
have a body, that no one tells you how to know

whether or not you wanted it if you didn’t scream or push,
that sometimes the absence of yes is a dry mouth.

i don’t want her to see this part, but she has to
to know why the time by the water mattered so much

the river salt and that kind mouth. right now,
i don’t think she knows it won’t be jack or rob,

that it will be those long smooth legs draped over
our lap like folded laundry on a Tuesday morning, simple and

happening. this will be the real start.
soon, she’ll know how love will make her unknown to herself

and she will be glad for it, grateful. everything will change
and it will end, and it won’t, and she’ll live.

but for now, i say, “thank you,” and “no,”
kiss her goodnight.

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