Mandy Coe

Mandy Coe
Poems For Adults

Sometimes It Occurs To Me That I Am Dead

No and stop and stay are meaningless.
Clothes are not quick enough,
It is ridiculous
how I long for the rough wool collar of a coat,
the tight brim of a hat, the cold grip of shoes.

I was clumsy when I started;
a woman shrieked and dropped a plate,
a man dropped to his knees.
I hate the gritty suck of concrete
but have grown to love the slow swim of glass.
If I am tempted by floors I will be done for.

I try to remember what falling meant:
the explosion of breath,
a splintering of bone, the hammer
of earth swinging up.

If I lean forward and close my eyes
the world spins, passing through me like indigestion.
A tree x-rays my lungs, a blackbird sings
as it slides through my ribs.

Mandy Coe
Winning Poem of the Ilkley Literature Festival poetry prize 2006

Staring For Beginners

Drunks and dogs don't like it.
If you are caught staring, it is no good pretending
to check your watch or study the ceiling.
These are signs of a novice.

Simply shift your gaze
to a mid-distance point. Cultivating a light frown
will give the impression of deep thought.

For most sentient beings, a stare
carries voltage. The subject will sense
anything from a mild buzz to a jolt. Other symptoms
include increased heart-rate, chills
and hair becoming electro-statically charged.

Staring at a part of a person's body
leaves you open to a high wattage stare-back.
Hostile stare-volleys
are to be avoided in confined spaces.

Babies under the age of three
experience stares as noise.
They can be woken from a deep sleep by a stare
and will look around the room to identify its source.

Train windows are useful for bending stares
round corners. But only heavily misted glass
prevents them from being sensed.

Keep stares short.
Set a maximum distance between you and the subject.
Tip: gazing and staring are two different things.
It is vital to remember this in relationships, especially
when your partner is naked.

Mandy Coe
first published in The Weight of Cows
Shoestring Press 2004

The Weight of Cows

Cows are impossibly heavy,
they are the dark matter
that astrophysicists talk of.
All the weight of the universe
can be accounted for, if
you include cows.

It is this weight that splays
hooves deep into the mud,
draws milk down to bursting
udders, makes cow pats slap
the earth with uncanny force.

Even milked-out
they move heavily.
Arching knuckled backs
under the sting of the auctioneer's stick,
they buckle and stagger
as if their very bones
were recast from bedsteads,
rusted park railings

To see a cow hoisted
into the air by one hind leg
is to witness
the death of a planet.

Mandy Coe
first published in The Weight of Cows
Shoestring Press 2004

Go To Bed With a Cheese and Pickle Sandwich

It is life enhancing.
It doesn't chat you up.
You have to make it.

A cheese and pickle sandwich
is never disappointing.
You don't lie there thinking:
Am I too fat?
Too fertile?
Too insecure?

Your thoughts are clear,
your choices simple:
to cut it in half
or not to cut it in half,
how thin to slice the cheese
and where you should place the pickle.

From a cheese and pickle sandwich
you do not expect flowers,
poems and acts of adoration.
You expect what you get:
cheese... and pickle.

You want, you eat,
and afterwards you have eaten.
No lying awake resentful,
listening to it snore.

Safe snacks.
It comes recommended.

Mandy Coe, from Pinning the Tail on the Donkey (Spike)
and 101 Poems that Could Save Your Life
Edited by Daisy Goodwin, Harper Collins