Play Lists is Jessica Mookherjee’s new book out now from Broken Sleep Books.
38 pages, £6.50
“A collection of poetry dripping with nostalgia for a time when love was a name on a pencil case, rock and roll meant everything and the world seemed so much wider. Mookherjee’s poems are bedazzled with glossy and alluring figures; Bowie, Bryan Ferry and Iggy Pop all feature as Mookherjee grows from school crushes, first dates and small town escapism to the excitement of being a young adult in London. Play Lists is an absorbing and tender stroll through the golden years.”
The sun and air were your best friends, you were cool
breezes at the back of the class with them,
they didn’t get your jokes but I laughed. I was at the front
taking notes. Heartbeat like a sickening ship as you put
an arm round my neck at break and asked
why I hadn’t been to school for weeks. The other boys
distracted looking down Lucy King’s shirt, you kissed
my hand and asked if I was into the Smiths.
Those lunch breaks dancing in the playing fields
waving bits of grass, twigs and flowers, sprawled
with our over long jumpers as we laughed. You’re the only one
I know that think’s they’re funny, I mean who says
‘heaven knows’ anyway? So we kept our shaded secrets
until I knew the weight of the summer crushed me.
Comic caper, dressed like the Velvets, gave himself haircuts
and false names. Pick this card, stick it in the fridge to keep it
the coolest trick. A Waterloo Sunset while he sipped
cola in a Soho bar. London cooled, he met her at the bus stop
on Islington Green, St James’ park, a party on Caledonian Road.
He met her in the Samuel Becket , pretended he wasn’t looking,
Call me the devil, the horned one. Could explain herself on a night bus
to Clerkenwell, sometimes Baudelaire, other times beer
and jellied eels. It was his turn, what a co-incidence, he said,
Primal Scream, football, Oasis and cocaine, he offered her Molly
and thirty quid. Cartoon girlfriend, she wept tears Oh Brad.
Won’t you take me out? She tired, the bands waned and the mixer
didn’t fix her, play me a torch song, she didn’t like his answer,
or his reveal, You can be Betty Blue and I can be Walter Mitty.
In the heat of a new, improved city, where the bands played
footie on top of HMV, she took the card from up her sleeve,
said she wanted something real, rubbed him out.
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