Poem One and Keats & Fanny – Commissioned poems by Anthony Hett

POEM ONE

We had both been there, everyday.
The same time, the same place,
every weekday together for the past five years;
as is the law
and so it was not so much fate that we met,
but as silver saliva danced upon her glossed lips
we glanced at one another
from across the narrow pea green corridor
and although our hearts did not entwine,
mine did melt.

I already knew who she was of course
and she knew me, maybe.
I’d spoken to her older brother
once or twice but
me and her had never spoken.
Not directly I don’t think
and certainly never on purpose.
A polite hello through half smiling lips,
or a quick where is so and so,
but never anything more.

I’d seen her looking,
at least I thought I had.
You get that feeling,
that somebody is looking,
it’s obvious isn’t it?
Except no,
instead they’re looking at your handsome mate Dave
standing at your side,
ordinary name and not a lot going on in his head,
but chiselled features and fuzzy 60’s sideburns
that make the girls go weak at the jaw.
Oh right your not waving at me
you’re waving to him.
Yeah, I knew that!

But this was slightly different.
I knew she was keen,
for her chubby friend
– all good looking girls must have one –
had told Dave just the day before;
or at least he had told me so.

Up until that day last week
I hadn’t so much as noticed her.
But that day was a little different,
except not that different at all
and so a little strange
that I took such notice as she breezed
through the heavy grey doors
with their attractive wire mesh glass
and thuggish metal handles.
I took a little more notice than
I normally would.
I took a little more notice than
maybe I should,
and as the door smashed open,
my not so subtle mate pointed her out.
Her artful friends
forming a giggling huddle,
obstructing the corridor.
A passing teacher moving them on,
repeating the school mantra.
‘Only walk on the left. Girls.’

She had to know their game.
But tried not to let it show
and let out no more than a cute coy smile
that flashed my way like a firework in the dark
lighting something inside of me.
And as she glided by,
each blonde ringlet bounced, like a
wine cork lost at sea
and I swear, her hips,
wriggled and wiggled
a little more provocatively than ever before,
and I took to observing her,
with a vigour like never before.
A walk so so annoying
and yet so so sexy at the same time.

Obviously we didn’t talk,
but so it was arranged,
with a little if not our whole knowledge
that we would both be at the Tiv,
the local underage disco event
that Thursday night.
And there we were.
Me and handsome Dave,
pop in hand “casually” learning on the bar.
Dave pointing her out,
as she came through the door.
Centre stage my eyes scan from top to toe
and he “whispers” at full volume
– so that I can hear over the music –
the one in the middle.
Only it stops at exactly the wrong moment;
at exactly the right time for her to hear me say
ye I know who she is,
she’s alright.
And so I’m not quite sure how it happened,
a lot of friendly help no doubt,
but just an hour later and we were kissing,
it was love at first dance.


Poem One (Keats & Fanny)

Many times had she visited.
Her face I had seen,
from my window seat
each day since their move
from my own part of town.
But I never looked upon it as fate.
Not even,
when from my place beneath the plum tree
across the garden our eyes did meet
and I felt our hearts entwine,
or at the least, mine melt.

Her name was Fanny,
that much I knew for sure
but little or nothing more.
I’d spoken to her mother once or twice
and seen Fanny talk to Charlie;
but me and her had barely spoken.
A polite smile from upon far
and an awkward comment about the weather
but never anything more.

For a girl her age she was quite flirtatious.
I had seen her looking
I had seen her flash
her pearly white teeth.
But all too often she flirted with Charlie.
His fuzzy sideburns and mop of curly hair
enough to make the girls giggle and sigh.
Hi, hello,
oh right, you’re not waving at me
you’re waving to him.
Yeah, I knew that.

But this time I could be sure,
for she had begged her mother
to ask me for poetry lessons.
She had told Charlie just the day before;
or at least he had told me so.

Up until that fleeting glance,
I had little more than noticed her
but that day was a little different,
except not that different at all
and so strange,
that as she carelessly skipped by
my heart beat faster and
I took a little more notice than
I normally would.
I took a little more notice than
I probably should,
but the plums in the tree looked brighter
the nightingales song in the air sounded sweeter
and I found myself thinking,
that the silly young girl who had visited,
had somehow blossomed
into a beautiful young woman.

She had seen me gazing
and wanted to stop to talk
but was keeping her mother waiting
and so shone my way a coy smile,
that showed me the way to her heart
like Polaris my way home through the dark.

Several days passed and we didn’t talk
but with Charlie’s help it was arranged,
that I would give her
her first poetry lesson that Thursday afternoon.
And there I was
casually pretending to read
Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’,
a poem I have read so many times
I have it to memory,
when Charlie shows her in through the door.
I was trying not to be obvious
but my eyes gave me away,
as they scan from top to toe
and so the lesson begins, awkwardly,
the room stifled with tension.
But from behind a book of poetry,
that pales in their presence,
her eyes sparkle;
but I know I cannot like her.
As her mother put it so eloquently:
I have no living
I have no income.
But I know that she likes me too
and so I venture to steal a kiss.
And there it was
it was love at first sonnet.

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