Happy S&BJ Day

steak_and_bj_day

One month following Valentines Day, the supposed romantic highlight of the year, comes S & BJ Day.  You can look up what that means yourself, you didn’t hear it from me.  It is supposed to be the opposite of Valentines day, an anti-romantic holiday.

At its heart I think it is a reaction against crass commercialisation rather than against romance.  It is, at it’s heart, still a quest for companionship.  It does not reject the fundamental notion of two people wanting to be together.  Instead it rejects all the socio-cultural and commercial baggage that gets between two people.  It tries to pare the relationship back to raw basics.

In this regard it treads a well worn path.  How many times have you seen the narrative of the US Bachelor Party movie, where the groom or bride and his or her buddies have one last fling?  And how do these movies end?  With a wedding.  With true love and a lifelong commitment.  They end in happy ever after.

 

A Contingency Plan: by Suzannah Evans

What if we’re apart when the asteroid comes,
or the magnetic storm that shuts off the power?

You could be waiting for a train as the sun’s bulb
flickers out, high above the glass-panelled roof.

I’ll be at work. We’ll lose the phone lines,
the door-entry system will go haywire.

I will eat from the vending machine,
drink from the competition cupboard

and sleep on nylon carpet with my colleagues
all of us three-weeks unwashed. Stay where you are –

I’ll abseil down eight floors on a rope
fashioned from the supply of festive tinsel,

loot M&S, steal a bike and make for the M1
forty miles of silence and abandoned cars

so we can witness the collapse of civilisation
with a picnic of high-end tins

so I can lie in your arms on a rooftop,
our dirty faces lit by fires.

Me Tarzan You Jane

Tarzan

Today is the birthday of Edgar Rice Burroughs who never saw himself as a literary man.

He said:  “if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines

And so he did.  In the process he created the character of John Carter in the Barzoom novels and Tarzan of the Apes.  Tarzan has become one of the stock remake stalwarts of Hollywood and is re-created for every generation.  I grew up with the black and white Johnny Weissmuller movies and the 1960’s colour TV series starring Ron Ely.  I was in college when “Greystoke” was released in 1984 with Christopher Lambert in the lead role.  I brought my kids to the Disney version released in 1999.

The poem I chose for today is Helpline.  It is a bizarre journey beautifully rendered.  At first it will bring to mind the suffering of disaster victims and the heroism of the support service workers like those in Texas, Mumbai and Bangladesh today.

Then it segues into the pressure cooker environment of the modern day call center, environments described as the “dark satanic mills” of the 21st century.

Finally it resolves into the personal relationship of a daughter with her ageing lonely mother for whom her missing dog does seem like the end of the world.

Helpline; by Suzannah Evans

In the call centre at the end of the world
everyone is wearing the rags
of the clothes they came to work in two weeks ago.

From floor ten we count fires in the distance
the smoking remains of suburbs.

Tea breaks are strictly monitored
and the internet is still there
but we are getting tired of news.

We sleep where we’re comfortable –
stairwells, carpet, canteen chairs.

Lateness for shifts is not tolerated
although at this stage few of us
have homes to go to.
Demand for the service is high.

I don’t know why I’ve stayed so long in this job
when the world in which I could spend its ample wage
has disintegrated –
politicians in hiding
supermarkets forced open on burst streets

perhaps it’s because they all tell me
that my voice could be the last one they hear

perhaps it’s because almost every worried caller
reminds me of my worried mother

or because we talk about wallflowers,
the hunger, the smell of burned paint
reminisce about summer in the park.

Her dog went out two days ago and hasn’t come back
If I’d died he could have eaten me
she says
it sounds like a regret.