Poetry: Selections from Virginia Betts

Drive Asleep

Ginny’s on the dope run,
high on crack;
mamma’s on the school run,
kids in back
screaming blue murder:
forgot my lunch,
got a presentation,
charity donation;
stop at the junction,
run a red light;
we all drive asleep
in the morning night.

Daddy’s on camera
speeding in lanes,
Jenny left Steve-
he played away again.
Packed her case in the street-lit dark,
drives like a maniac
down to the dock;
exit’s blocked;
checks into the hotel
at the edge of doubt;
Dave is on the hard shoulder
and he’s checked out.

Teen in a coma
wrapped round a tree;
went on a joyride stoned on weed.
Kathy’s Mick
shifts his stick;
a man his age
goes quite a lick.
Johnny can’t drive ‘cos he’s doing time;
keeps his wheels oiled
with a bit of old spice.

Tired pen-pushers
on prescription pills;
church do-gooders
spewing all the ills:
the world’s on fire;
the ice is thin;
charity donation,
the people can’t function;
stop at the junction;
run a red light;
we all drive asleep
in the morning night.

My Love is Pure

She has sapphire magpie wings
falling in sheets of silk;
pale as death and fragile
as a cloud dissolved in mist.

She is amber wind,
spins hypnotic whirling dance,
black as a raven in her soul
and silver-lined like heaven’s walls.

She has splintered egg-shell heart;
makes music like the gods.
She stirs the leaves; she lifts the waves;
Deep as a well; un-touched.

Always scratching at your core;
never enough; wanting more.
When she’s gone you cry her back
When she’s back, you hate her.

She will hush a lullaby,
drift you down in feather bed.
but hollow dreams are all she brings;
she’s always in your head.

Broken feather; angel wings
driven, like the slush in snow.
Nothing ever makes her go,
although she’s gone by morning.

I love her with my hollow bones;
I love her with my ragged face;
I’d give her everything I own
If she would stay this moment.

Tragic face on silver screen;
dying swan; tormented scene;
and just as swift, a peaceful dream;
she wraps you up in linen sheets.

Always scratching at your core;
Never enough; wanting more.
That’s how you know your love is pure;
And that is why you hate her.

When Birds Sing Sweetly

When birds sing sweetly,
bright notes fall on deaf ears.

My sightless sockets
no longer watch the setting sun descend
in orange splendour
behind purple hills.
My fleshless limbs reach, suspended
in un-returned embrace,
and hope sleeps in earth’s damp bed.

I once walked in your place, above,
treading soft amongst the stones,
my mind fixed firmly on the stars;
warm wind stroked my face,
framed by a pale blue sky.

I gave no thought to those below;
long chains of lives laid out in rows.
I brushed aside insistent whispers,
growing louder year on year;
Time’s breath at my back,
closing in an ever-shortening shadow.

I am so close I could call out to you-
stretch up to grasp your ankles as you pass;
but my soundless cries are impotent
as dust on stone
scattered by the merest breath of air;
all thoughts dissolved
in earth,
and flesh to grass.

All poems (except Drive Asleep) were taken from Tourist to the Sun, a poetry collection by Virgina Betts. 

Virginia Betts is a tutor, writer and actress from Ipswich. She specialises in neurodiverse learning styles, being neurodiverse herself. She has had poems, stories and articles published in literary journals, won prizes, and published a story collection, The Camera Obscure, and Tourist to the Sun, a collection of poetry. She is a regular guest on BBC radio and a professional actor and performer. She formed The Dead Poets, has played Kate Bush, and recently played Mary Boleyn and Elizabeth Barton in The Rise and Fall of Thomas Wolsey, and Irish Revolutionary, Maud Gonne, in A Touch of The Blarney, both by Suzanne Hawkes (Black and White Productions). She is currently writing her next books. Virginia is a member of The Writers Guild, Suffolk Writers, The Wolsey Writers and Equity. 


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