Jacqueline Saphra: Three Poems

Jacqueline Saphra by Studio 6, Portsmouth

Jacqueline Saphra’s poetry has been widely published and her plays performed on stage and television. She has won several awards including first prize in the Ledbury Poetry Competition. Her pamphlet, Rock’n’Roll Mamma (Flarestack) is followed this year by a collection to be published by flipped eye and supported by The Arts Council of England.
The Mary Rose
The naval plot’s on repeat in Portsmouth Docks.
Our rosy boys, all fired up again, restless
as puppies, wave from upper decks,
juggle caps. Lipstick girls in fishnets
and stilettoes clutch Kleenex in lovelorn fists,
hold out for heroes. More dreams of epaulettes
and white gloves, wartime etiquette.
Amid the choke and churn of history’s mess,
gunpowder’s retch, flashes of SOS,
The Mary Rose, wreck of sacred wrecks
retires with her ghosts: sailors netted
in their own defences who toss dregs
of shanties to the wind. Eternally unchecked,
our ships sail on from one fucked era to the next.
‘The Mary Rose’ was made into a short film by students
at the University of Chichester.
Six Feet of New Linen
Do you remember our first, narrow bed?
It coaxed us close, our breath mixing to mist
that hid our fears and blemishes and fed
the myth of easy love and coupled bliss.
For years, I’ve mapped your web of veins, I’ve sparred
and stabbed. I’ve braved uncharted arteries
that spat blood, lapped your tears like milk, plunged far
into your depths, sought out new strategies.
I’ll have you yet, I’ll draw you in. Not done,
the endless round of touch and tussle, heart
and mouth trying to speak in unison,
so much to hold, so little truly grasped.
In this expanse of white, you lie beyond
my reach, waiting for me to take your hand.
‘Six Feet of New Linen’ was published in Equinox.
Lost Property
Since we parted I have lost my red wrap. This is a symptom.
I grow pale, I want my roses, I want to be fed, I make it difficult.
You will find my red wrap on the other woman, the one who sees
only what’s in front of her, who took it from a sofa where I left it.
Crimson is not her colour but now she basks in my heat and wears
the smell of my longing on her shoulders. Salted with flakes
of my skin and yours, she is all smiles, she is always replete.
If she had the eye she would touch my mind, she would read
my scrawls, she would balk at my famished words, circling.
But she doesn’t have the eye. I have the eye and I have the greed
and she has my red wrap and she has caught you inside it.
Oh, but sweetheart, how easy she makes it for you, she who has
such appetites. I do not see you struggle as she tightens the knot.
‘Lost Property’ was commended in the Ver Poetry competition.
Visit Jaqueline’s website.
Visit flipped eye’s website.

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