I’ve often written, in this blog, about my influences and my favourite poets. In poetry, as in all art forms, it’s very rare to come across a work that is sui generis – completely unlike anything else – and many poems are obviously inspired, directly or indirectly, by other, previously written, poems.
I first got the idea for “Property” when I read the poem “17” by Emma Danes. “17” was written after the poet moved, with her family, from London to Cambridgeshire. She wrote, later, about the genesis of the poem: “It was an old property which demanded constant work, and yet despite all our care and attention, it never quite seemed to belong to us. Years later it remains a strong, rather haunting presence in my mind.” Reading “17”, I started pondering on the fact that I had never written anything about previous places where I’ve lived. Suddenly, memories started rushing back about the first flat I ever owned, in London, and the rather dramatic burglary that happened there. It was a large property in South London, converted into several flats, and I was lucky in that I had nothing stolen in the burglary; but the event obviously had an impact upon me, and I’ve finally – many years later – got around to writing about it.
My first flat. My very own!
London, early eighties; the start of the boom.
Until then, all I’d had was a room.
I did love it – a little.
But it was entry to The Great Property Game.
Life-changing. Things would never be the same.
One evening, back from work.
a blonde sat on the stairs,
black-smudged eyes glistening.
Behind her, the door hung open,
askew, on its hinges.
Brutal dentistry had been done
on the gaping mouths of the flats.
All the doors, on all the floors.
“My jewelry. Can’t replace it.
Bastards!” She wailed.
Hindered by my heavy heart,
I trudged up to the top floor,
where my own door greeted me
with a yawning, sickly grin.
But they’d sought only precious baubles,
Of which I had none.
Nothing to take. Nothing was gone.
I was shocked – a little.
But: insurance, a new door.
Incidental damage, nothing more.
Two years later, I sold it, for profits
undreamt of, and moved on.
Like a burglar myself; ruthless.
Moving in, moving out,
taking my purloined profit with me.
Moving on, to that next rung;
for I was young, then.