Question & Answer 5 – Angela Topping

Question 5

We caressed the reservoir’s rapids
in the hope they’d cradle us and rear
us instead of our parents,
take us back to the sea
and lay our sinuous milk-laden bodies
on the turf of the tide.
There were giants in the back
of pick-up trucks stealing concrete
from the lids of mine shafts.
We saw our reflections wave back at us
some 70 metres under Mrs Bangka’s parking space,
two smiles for every concern.
Are these uncertain forms to be taken seriously?
Do we run when we see
ourselves deeper than the cathedral?
We called the names of our ancestors
and swore we’d burn every bridge we had
if it would clear our names from
the Redruth school register,
if we could just be cradled
and swaddled in tin,
if we could ride the oceans back
to the acorn our universe grew from.

– Aaron Kent

Answer 5

Spooled in my nucleus, the combined threads twisted together
lie the instructions, the form I took, the knots that make me up.
My mum’s blue eyes and fine hair, my dad’s plump cheeks
and worker’s hands, though unlike his, my cuticles are buried.
I went out into the world where they could never venture
to take my present form. They would not know me now.

Poems choose their form. I listen and do not hold them back,
Let them be the things they mean to be, though knarled
And rambling sometimes like old trees, or neat in the small house
Of the sonnet, gathering their blankets round them in rhymes.
There’s always my fingerprint, my heartbeat, thrumming
Behind them, though they travel far from me.

– Angela Topping


Question & Answer 4 – Angela Topping

Question 4

I found my father fighting the miners
under the streetlights – shaped triangular
– shaped unwanted. He never blew
glass into clouds, toned down the mayhem
of his youth, or resented throwing batteries
at the heads of immigrants. These were
stories of pride, tales of the fights he won
as a small right-wing Acton kid. As if
shanking some kid is a prospective gold
medal……………………………………………[I’ve used this line before] [I’ve noted my repetition
……………………………………………………before] [What are we if we aren’t just the signals of
……………………………………………………our memories?] [Like a broken fucking record] [I’ve
……………………………………………………used that before too]

– Aaron Kent

Answer 4

A line or phrase from a forgotten draft
can be prized loose and hammered
into a different poem, like a stud
in an old oak door, or a gem
embedded into silver.

It may wander until it finds
a new place to exist, or be lost
like junk in a jumbled drawer.

Memory too. Polish and shine,
add new flourishes, build it up
till it’s bright and new.

But beware. Beware of chanting
the same spells too often
else they may lose their magic.

– Angela Topping

Question & Answer 3 – Angela Topping

Question 3

I’m clinging onto the belief
that genius comes from working
with all of the lights on. POWER.
Creating a monster needs blood
on the leaves of paper. Do you
build your work on sight? Or
are you bound to other conventions?

– Aaron Kent

Answer 3

I buy the salted popcorn, bring a blanket
settle down in the best seats
to watch the movie with my inner eye.
Not just sight but a feely, smells and taste.
My mind’s eye is a quality cinema.

But most often, the poem comes
like a lover, to whisper in my ear
teasing phrases I can barely catch,
then runs away laughing.

I need all my skills to interpret
the other side of my brain, pin down
the wriggling, tantalising words.

– Angela Topping

Question & Answer 2 – Angela Topping

Question 2

My mind has been occupied with Frank’s cousin
and his mermaid. I heard wolves [or Wolves] in
the mix, while I don’t claim to see the future I
saw greatness in both record and recorded. If
I could sing, I’d scratch my poems onto the
inside of my lungs, find wings like yours and
bellow from parabronchi. How do you make
your poetry sing? I can’t even keep mine in

– Aaron Kent

Answer 2

Rhythm is easy, iambic heartsong
slipsliding of trochees
complicated butter pats of anapests
being slapped into shape by grooved pine boards,
runaway train of dactyls clacking along
Scansion is the salve for grazes

but melody arises pianissimo, tentative
trying to find the right key, the phrase
that opens up the arc and soars
until each crotchet and quaver finds
where it belongs on the stave
and the cadence
moves on in inevitable flow
to a new beginning.

– Angela Topping

Question & Answer 1 – Angela Topping

Question 1

There are lasers on the penon
from where I sit, burnt, burning
through Douglas Adams. Some sort
of sign sought from kids in the pool,
or drunks on the boardwalk. Emerald green
against a brilliant Jade, marking space
between the rocks. And all I can do is hope
the wildcats don’t chase lasers like their
domestic counterparts, and reminisce
of my own cats, back at home. Where does
your mind travel to, when you’re far from
the comfort of your own bed?

– Aaron Kent

Answer 1

Perhaps I am a bird. Let’s say a sparrow.
I dive down a chimney or spurt
through a tall open window
circle round Italian galleries
mistaking the art for real landscapes.

Or perhaps I am a fish. Let’s say a carp.
I allow Danube’s waters to love through me,
conscious of little but survival.
I flick my tail fin and feel its power,
as I glitter in my chain mail.

I am a bee entering the tunnel of a foxglove,
burrowing into air turned pink and freckled.
I bathe in seas of lavender, my fur sticky
with pollen, prepare for the coming cold,
the winter clustering.

A bird again, this time a swallow
I fly high across continents
guided by magnetism or some other
dark force I have to follow,
my companions around me.

I am higher than tall towers;
deeper than oceans; lost
in the music of the spheres;
rooted in the secrets of the earth.
I am alive, in all my senses.

– Angela Topping