Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Poems from the Backroom 127: Ink Asher Hemp

Most of the limitations of #plagueopoems come from the fact that its poets essentially were comprised of folk in my contacts list, and my contacts list reflects the fact I know some great poets but that also I'm an old git. However I've been really pleased that younger and more diverse poets have got into contact, and I am delighted to present one today.

Ink Asher Hemp is a queer, trans, disabled performance poet and theatre maker predominately working with 'Activising for Change' creating work that has been described as “strikingly direct… beautiful, sometimes funny and always necessary (Stanza Poetry). Past projects have included 'Graeae’s Crips Without Constraints' and' Cognitive Forgery' at Stills Gallery. Ink is a currently member of the 'Birds of Paradise Young Artist Programme' and has recently been commissioned by the Edwin Morgan Trust to respond to Morgan’s life and work through 'The Second Life Grants' supported by Creative Scotland. 'Doorway' is their first release collaborating with Nicholas Franck, 'Nico', a French/Danish musician, producer and sound engineer now living in Edinburgh.

Because the #Plague usually shows a poem recorded from lockdown, we have two versions of the same poem here, the raw version and the studio version, with a spoken soundtrack and smooth vibe by Nico. The text version is below. It is a cross between a monologue and a beat poem and combined with the music or not, is a powerful and engaging piece.

A Review of 'Sad Eyes to Smile With':


An Excerpt from '147hz-Can't Pass':


I left because id had enough
this isn’t some call and response game
but now you’ve come to me without the knowledge that there’s a decision to be made
that there might be a no
that now a door might have closed

the one that was only open before because it hung on wonky hinges
rusted open so anything had to be okay
and I did nothing about it because that was the way I knew it to be

my life
standing in an open doorway
and you
you were the draft
the one that breezed through but was never accompanied by your presence, actuality, physicality
a draft that over time grew to hold the heavy weight of empty

I cant fault you for being missing
no you were always there
resetting the temperature

sorry that sounds ungrateful
I was hugely lucky with the early years you gave me
the days when life was free and easy
when the world was primary yellow and things were sunny
and in the heat your presence felt strong and steady
as your breath touched my skin we moved in time
you showed me the world held me if I cried
taught me to speak truth to power
respect myself and the ground beneath me
work with audacity for the presence of honesty

I didn’t notice the time passing
or value the ease with which life was happening
except perhaps that trousers that once tripped me up and trailed on the floor
were now the shorts that barley touched my knees
but shorts aren’t the clothes for autumn
maybe that was the point at which you forgot
when things began to change
and my smile felt forced for the first time

curious of the outcome I extended my arm, gripped and pulled the handle
a tug that moved the door
my door
an inch towards its frame
a moment that was perhaps significant in re-framing our interactions
or maybe it was no more significant than any other breath we shared now slightly out of sink
but really I don't know because I could focus for years I think
but I still wouldn't be able to pinpoint the drop of rain that fell first
or the one that made me wet the worst
and when they hit the ground I don't know the difference between a tear from my face or one falls
as if running a race from the eye in the sky except the place

where they began
neither deliberately watered the ground
and maybe none of us deliberately worked for the outcome that is today
but that fact doesn't change the story
and id rather talk about the practicalities than spend a second longer drowning in emotional realities
so when the door moved only slightly
having lain open abandoned all summer to a cascade of evenings and mornings damp with dew
I sat down
that autumn
I sat down and hugged my knees
keeping warm
the way you showed me to
I sat down chin resting on my chest
and waited patiently
the way you taught me when I was young
waited for things to go back to the way they had begun

but there are four seasons not two
summer and autumn have to share
they don't just get to loop on through and through

so then I learnt winter
it happened at the moment when I was almost nodding off
by now used to your cold
instead of giving it the power to chill I had begun it brush off

it happened the day the clouds conspired
and instead of providing warm relief
it was hard to distinguish you from the wind that blew unchallenged down the street
but I still
you still meant the world to me

so I stayed sitting in my doorway
hugging my knees
except it was my arms not yours that now held me
my patience ran dry
so I stood up
remembering when I was little you taught me live proactively
not just to look but actually see
and question everything with tenacity

so I tugged at the door again
in an attempt to guide the wooden friend home
but stayed stuck fast at the compromise negotiated that autumn
so now it didn’t matter what I did
the person I became visibly or the person that I hid
because you see stuff could change but everything
well everything would actually stay the same

and I began to notice that the people I loved were no longer here
well you were here but at the same you were time long gone
my attachment locked on to the people you once were not those you had become

and that’s how we got to today
my hands caked in callouses from blisters been and gone
from sanding down the layers of curling paint
and sanding down the swollen frame
drilling pilot holes inserting screws
new hinges so now my door hangs true
so now when I wish my door swings free
providing or denying entry

because once I settled for the options you gave me
but after living them I became aware that none of them were really an option you see
so standing back up on my own two feet
I learnt to cave the future
I began to grieve
because this is necessary but its a choice I chose reluctantly
because i didn’t know before
but now I don’t know what to do
because you were gone
but now your back with no request for a reprieve
maybe you don’t realise the hurt you caused me
or maybe it was me that changed while you merely continued to breathe

yesterday I learnt that there’s a latch at the top of my door
I want you to know this
I also want to make a decision of which I am sure
so ill wait for now and wont draw it across just yet
but please don’t take this as a yes
a sign that its okay to come on barging through
instead please knock
for now I cant forget

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