POETRY IS LIKE TAKING A DEEP BREATH

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

KID




Batman, big shot, when you gave the order 
to grow up, then let me loose to wander
leeward, freely through the wild blue yonder
as you liked to say, or ditched me, rather,
in the gutter . . . . well, I turned the corner.
Now I've scotched that 'he was like a father
to me' rumour, sacked it, blown the cover
on that 'he was like an elder brother' 
story, let the cat out on that caper
with the married woman, how you took her 
downtown on expenses in the motor.
Holy robin-redbreast-nest-egg-shocker!
Holy roll-me-over-in-the-clover,
I'm not playing ball-boy any longer
Batman, now I've doffed that off-the-shoulder
Sherwood-Forest-green and scarlet number
for a pair of jeans and crew-neck jumper;
now I'm taller, harder, stronger, older,
Batman, it makes a marvellous picture:
you without a shadow, stewing over
chicken giblets in the pressure cooker,
next to nothing in the walk-in larder,
Punching the palm of your hand all winter,
you baby, now I'm the real boy wonder.



Simon Armitage
1963



Simon Armitage comments:

"It gave me great pleasure taking a big, swanky character like Batman and placing him in a little terraced house in West Yorkshire. See how he liked it. I suppose the poem is about power dynamics: father/son, employer/employee, funny guy/straight man, etc. Bravado fuelled by bitterness is the tone of voice I was hoping to catch."



5 comments:

  1. This one's new to me, and I enjoyed it immensely.

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  2. You have NO idea how many times I have taught this poem of Armitage's. I love it. I love Simon Armitage, too. There's just something about him - I really like any TV programmes he does. And his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is to die for, if that's not an unfortunate turn of phrase.

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  3. Poor Batman, all his self-flattering fantasies deflated. Be nice on the way up, since you need to deal on the way down. ~Mary

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  4. This makes me desperately sad. Imagine if all men mentored other men. No destroying, no cruelty, no dwarfing. I like to imagine what that kind of world would look like.

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  5. I have a very soft spot for Batman (I should post about that!) and this made me sad. But it's wonderful in its own way.

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