Tuesday, May 24, 2011

home to you by Michele Amas

one husband lost
playing a game
of tennis serving
or returning his heart
just quit and in this queue
for coffee his wife I can't ignore
so order pay hug hold
apologise for Christmas
being just around the corner
but this was not the one
I had arranged to meet
find a table, wait for another
wife, one who wishes
her husband dead
in as many words
one whose husband's
heart just quit
on her so
hug hold apologise
for this first Christmas
alone, too many tears
in this Olive café
my arms are branches
reaching for home
in a Christmas rush
gratitude and fear
green and red
I want to ditch the car
feel my legs walk
home to you
feel my heart pound
home to you
and when I'm home to you
lovepraisefuck you
like you're the Son of God

                                                                                   Editor: Mary McCallum

Michele Amas is an award-winning poet and actor who lives in Wellington but recently enjoyed a year-long stint in Menton, France, as the partner of a recipient of the Katherine Mansfield Prize: playwright Ken Duncum.

It's not the first time the KM has netted two writers for the price of one. Michele says she took a lot of notes but didn't feel the need (pressure?) to write poems while she hung out in the citrus heat of the South of France.

Back home in NZ, she started writing again and entered the inaugural Caselberg Poetry Prize, joining me in hitting the right spot with Judge Bernadette Hall and scooping a prize. It was - and still is - a surreal moment for me.

Bernadette's judge's report is a marvellous piece of writing about poetry and what makes a winning poem:

It’s as if I’ve been invited into a series of small rooms, 237 of them, and it’s up to me to choose the ones in which I’d like to set up house for a while.
Some rooms are plush, some are spare; some are draped in funereal black; some are like confessional boxes; in others people and creatures, rivers and trees dance and sing even though the walls are a bit wonky and there’s an odd knocking in the antiquated plumbing. My favourite rooms, a whole clutch of them, are fresh and surprising. They’re well built, there’s flair and imaginative energy in their making. The world looks replenished through their windows.

Yes! That's it - replenished. And on Michele's poem: 
‘home to you’ by Michele Amas, is wicked, there’s no doubt about that. It’s also elegant and quick and clever. You have to be alert as you’re jumped from line to line. Above all it’s an audacious love poem, circling, gathering, exploding in that unforgettable last line.
'home to you' was written after Michele rushed home with her heart pumping. She needed (her words) to get it down on the page as much as the woman in the poem needed to 'lovepraisefuck' the man she loves.  And oh! the reader feels it. Reading 'home to you' is what I imagine bungy-jumping to be - the vertical rush, things colliding/blurring (such bliss as this: 'playing a game/of tennis serving/or returning his heart'), the adrenalin, the bloody marvellous ending.

By the end I am breathless and renewed, and in awe of Michele's audacity with both our language and our hearts.

You can find the Caselberg Poetry Prize results, poems and judge's report here.

Do check out Michele's Daughter - chosen for the Best NZ Poems website and now in the 'Best of the Best NZ Poems' (the book) out now. And Orphans posted on my blog last year.

Michele has an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters (2005), she won the Adam Prize that year for the manuscript of her collection After the Dance which, published by VUP, was nominated for the Jessie McKay Best First Book of Poetry Award and the Prize in Modern Letters. Michele also won the Wellington sonnet award 2008 and is an award-winning actor.

'home to you' is posted on Tuesday Poem with permission from the poet. Do check out the poems written and selected by our team of Tuesday Poets in the right-hand sidebar. If a post says 'Tuesday Poem' click to read.

Mary McCallum is co-curator of the Tuesday Poem, a poet and novelist. She completed an MA in Creative Writing at the IIML the same year as Michele Amas (2005), lives in Wellington with her family, and when she's not writing, she's teaching creative writing at Massey University and working as a bookseller. Her blog is here


Kathleen Jones said...

Oh, wonderful!! I too felt that breathless rush - heart pounding. And it' such a beautiful rendering of how lucky (and also a bit guilty) you feel sometimes in the face of others adversity.
Thanks also Mary for the judge's quotes. It's a beautiful account of what a good poem can do.
And, once again, congratulations to both of you!

T. said...

Thank you for this.

Saradha Koirala said...

Wow! Love this poem. Thanks for posting it.

Claire Beynon said...

I love this, Mary - Michele's audacity and yours, so splendidly, lovingly matched here! (Your commentaries on TP are always a special delight.) Thank you both, L, C x

susan t. landry said...