This is where she keeps her objet d’art

glass cabinet at the back of her head


            nowhere to display them


I’m a front room, Christmas, 50’s. 60’s

maybe into the 70’s and I ask

what was the front room for?


English clipped tones and a mother not

unlike my own through china eyes of an owl

bought as a  Christmas present

            cut glass sherry glass silver bells

tinkle: who has front rooms nowadays


            nowhere display them


I live in a flat. Not completing

sentences: you live in a house

do you have a front room?

                                    Or have you

knocked through the history of

the English language is the struggle

between freedom and prescription. Do

neighbours stare through windows

at the speechless furniture? We weren’t

allowed in the front room sent

to the auction house and prepositions

not for ending a sentence with


            nowhere to display



happened to back parlours front rooms

the Middle English Vowel Shift

they’re not for living in

                                    Never ask the way

of someone who knows the glottal stop

has gradually entered Standard English

from the dialect one day we took the walls

down around the front room. Leave the

coats in the bedroom would anyone like

a drink you risk not getting lost


            nowhere display


                                    however much

you dusted the Spode the Queen’s English

never drove down your street but she

visited the front room 1953

                                        your first TV

split infinitives a ghostly flicker

in the corner of the room

Last poem of the year

◄ Prayer Text



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Steven Waling

Thu 29th Dec 2011 13:39

Thanks everyone for you comments - and Chris - I probably didn't 'intend' the fugue thing because I didn't really know what one is, but I think you correctly got the musical intention.

I'm a strong believer that poems should connote more than they denote.

I'm glad y'all enjoyed it.

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Chris Co

Wed 28th Dec 2011 17:38

I like the way this reads in differing ways depending upon where reader places pauses or emphasis and I would presume this was very much intentional. Lines also read as interestingly alone as they do in context. You've caught an eerie notion of time from the view of a place rather than a place viewed by people. You can almost smell aspects of other decades- front rooms indeed.

You also have a recurring yet shifting line akin to a musical fugue. The line sounds almost identical but it shifts its meaning/connotation or suggestion.

nowhere to display them
nowhere display them
nowhere to display
nowhere display

Enjoyable read.

My Best


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Fri 23rd Dec 2011 16:36

I like this!

(turn the volume up first)

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Ray Miller

Fri 23rd Dec 2011 16:34

Enjoyed this. I think I understood most of it. The Front Room = Standard English and the back rooms are where dialects, everyday speech are spoken. That's a great metaphor. What I didn't get was the repetition of the variations on nowhere to display.

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Val Cook

Fri 23rd Dec 2011 15:58

We had a front room with a huge bay window looking out into the world, or if the world look in on
us they would see perfection. No,we lived in the dingy smaller back parlour looking out on to a yard,very private. Enjoyed this poem Steven thankfully today I enjoy the view.

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