INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD
GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2021
Sharon Larkin’s poetry has been
widely published in anthologies, magazines and on-line.
She is Chair of Cheltenham’s Arts Council and Poetry Society and jointly runs Poetry Café - Refreshed.
Sharon was founder/editor of the Good Dadhood poetry project and runs Eithon Bridge Publications.
These poems are dedicated to those who would describe their relationship with food as complicated
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
Interned at the Food Factory
Interned at the Food Factory takes eating as its theme, where food is less a source of nourishment and enjoyment, rather a series of individual and social challenges to be confronted and overcome.
We follow studious apprentices and reluctant apostles through a variety of culinary scenarios – domestic kitchens, inhospitable tables, factory farms, food processing plants – experiencing food on the hoof or in the company of characters, both malevolent and benevolent.
Wherever the roots of chaos lie, and however disorder manifests, compassion for those for whom food consumption is problematic is much in evidence.
“By turns vulnerable and sassy, heartbreaking and funny, consistently insightful and readable. The food in these poems is no spread for some twee picnic.
In an age of increasingly innocuous poetry, Sharon Larkin is to be applauded for the rawness
included here and for an exceptional instinct for the emotional weight and balance of her poems”.
“In these poems Sharon Larkin weaponises the language of food; sometimes witty, always moving. Watch out. This is a place where you must check whether ‘the knife drawer’ [is] closed.”
The way I learned to read you was to creep downstairs,
slip into the living room and listen.
If you were in the kitchen banging saucepans around,
I'd wait for calm before sidling in to find a cereal bowl.
If no sound was coming from sink or stove, I'd pretend
you were the five year old, I the parent,
peep through the crack in the door, check the oven was shut
and the knife drawer closed, breathe more easily.
The coins Freddy found in his mother's second best coat
chink in his pocket. Her favourite jacket went out with her
on Friday night and neither of them has been seen since.
It’s Monday morning. Freddy can’t find his waterproof.
His split trainer leaks and his stomach growls
back at the thunder. He shoots up the alley
and ducks into Pasty Haven to trade pounds
for calories at a safe distance from school.
The bag is warm and leaches grease
through his thin tracksuit top.
He finds a secluded doorway, pulls out
the Pulled Pork Special, scoffs it in seconds,
belches, wipes lips on sleeves,
knows Jack Hardiman will be waiting
outside the school gates
with his usual sing-song greeting:
He’s a Fa—at F*—cker
Looking for Crumbs
Come with me under the table
to look between shoes,
ankles – covered and naked,
toes that peep.
Try not to touch.
Hand over mouth
stifle the urge to observe
that children won't
have sneaked down here
to scoff their allotted cake.
Try not to giggle or snigger
at what might be found
beneath white linen.
Just fumble for crusts,
in dust and fluff.
I had no choice
but to slither down here.
Hope compels me to pretend
there is no stink of dog
dirt on this soul.
There might after all
be a healing.
It's January the first and she's at it again –
celery stalks and lettuce, no more cake.
Holiday's in June – she'll be slim by then.
Five days later, resolution’s worn thin.
She scoffs a Big Mac and banana milkshake.
Her will's in fritters; she's troughing again.
Back at the slimming club, her leader, Jen,
shakes her head as the scales all but break,
threatens to bring in the weighbridge men.
On salad for a fortnight and she loses ten,
celebrates with wine and a big juicy steak,
apple pie, ice cream and liqueurs – again.
Too scared to go to slimming club then,
she decides to work late, and that's a mistake –
she gets called ‘chubs’ by the night shift men.
For months she yoyos, then all of a sudden
it's time for her annual mid-summer break.
Strange how whales are invisible to men,
and soon she’s baking for Christmas again.
Thé avec Imogen et Toi
It's exquisite torture sitting this close
to you in polite company
with the restraint of Earl Grey
and amuse-bouches on a doily
when what I need is you, alone,
a slug of red, our tongues amusing
more than just each other's ears
on some good old-fashioned shag pile
somewhere other than Imogen’s bungalow.
A pale thin dangling thing is a noodle
suspended from chopsticks
above his open lips
and he's gagging for it,
sprawling barefoot on her sofa
where she gives him no respite
in her spaghetti straps,
feeding his desire
from her delectable bowl
Madame Manet Stumbles upon a Picnic
Édouard, what the enfer?
I'm not fooled by that panier de fruits et du pain.
This is no déjeuner on a pelouse.
This is une orgie dans le Bois de Boulogne.
Don't give me that old excuse.
You're not sketching for some grand oeuvre now.
The Salon wouldn't touch it.
You're staging porn en plein air,
dragging in your frère and his femme
and that harlot-cum-model.
You've really done it this time, Édouard.
Wait till Monsieur Zola hears about this.
Your reputation's going straight down the porcelaine.