Longlisted Poem 2013

Olivia Johnson

D’Overbroeck’s College, Oxford


I misunderstood a Browning poem once
I saw two voices where there were three.
As YOLO to me
Seemed the wisp of a sick joke
Sometimes I catch the shadow of my mind
And it laughs at me.
A mind made thick with matter
Stupid matter, Useless matter
Matter that’s never mattered.

But would it have been different?
What change would be made
If I did not compile secrets in a sock draw.
If scars could be revealed and healed
And time could be woven
Into a knitwear piece from Zara.
If those houses would not cling to one another
Like the lovers they are.
Smug.  Engulfed in their bricks and doors,
Windows and interior design.

There’ll be a blueprint when I die.
Tacked on a wall somewhere
My details laid bare
Blotchy and spotty and raw
As though coarsed by a make up wipe.
To be as cold as Robert’s blank verse.

But before I die
Please hold my hand
Entangle it in yours
and when I ask one thing
Answer in bare honesty.
Because you promised.
To look at the chipping varnish and splitting nails
but not to see them.

Post poem I found that I was left wondering
Wondering what?
Wondering that whoever one asked
‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’
Had obviously.
Read Browning.
© Olivia Johnson

Project Details

  • Date January 20, 2015
  • Tags 2013 The Details - Longlisted Poems