I write formal poems because I'm a little weird in the brain, somewhere off the median on the neurodivergence spectrum. A formal poem is a place where I can express or test ideas or feelings or aesthetics without the profound exposure of a public article. Usually what happens when I write a sonnet is a phrase will occur to me that echoes in that meter and I will think about it. Sometimes that phrase is within the first line, and sometimes it is buried deep within the poem. Each of my poems has started with such a seed, uttered by a friend or within my own thoughts.
Somehow in poems or in any sort of art some parts of society find it acceptable to express feelings or beliefs that one cannot express elsewhere. And that is what I do in my poems. Many of them are political and there are ideas in there that I note down and crystallise for myself, and I will come back to them later perhaps and write a work of theory or journalism. Sometimes I exhort or warn or counsel in the poems. I have written many that I do not publish here that I hope will appear later in a book, and I also am writing private poems to capture expressions I want to make to a particular person. Sometimes I give them as gifts, and I have not always understood how far a poem can go, when I have given them. Sometimes they have made a change and sometimes they are just a warm expression of regard.
I think of Masque of Anarchy and know that if something I write does something or changes something in this world, in its political progress, it is very likely to be a poem.
* * *
The supermoon draws timeless cords towards earth,
not timeless? close enough, and earth pulls towards
the moon, and lifts a hundred leaping boards,
a million fish, all sparkled diamonds worth
a lightyear ship dismantled by the cloud
and built again when strands of mist disperse.
Fifty years back it did the same and worse:
your girlish neck drawn taut and shoulders proud
through smoke and sirens, marching towards the moon,
as yellow as a shining golden plate,
no? Close enough. The hunt departs in state
and will not scourge again anytime soon,
you said. The titan and his young play rough,
hate basking in the light, no? Close enough.
My dear, you read the Guardian and weep.
You pace, eyes lit, coal faces in the fire.
I'd talk the news out, long as you desire,
but darling, it won't help you fall asleep.
Some arse shat his opinion on the screen,
said Trump's no fascist, he's the millions' champ,
their bard of jackboots, flags fly, and they stamp.
And, oh, you're filled entirely with the scene.
Tomorrow we will fight among the crowds.
Tomorrow we will plan, and build our bridge.
Chance found us, each a tiny wandering midge,
And now two dragonflies soar, sleek and loud,
but first we settle as the tree frogs peep,
and twitch our wings, and slowly fall asleep.
We learn it's not our fault that we're afraid.
We learn our terrors burst from every breast
and nurse our wounds, pare rot with wicked blades.
The monsters walk the earth in human flesh,
and build machines, bureaucracy and war
to spare their ears from all the piercing screams,
to spare their hands from plunging in the gore.
We learn to watch, to spot the hidden seams,
the flesh lines, stitching skin to stolen skin,
each demon muscle swathed in baby fat.
We learn we're raised for slaughter, that to win
is our dead faces, flayed off and stretched flat
and cured, and honoured, hung on castle walls,
mouths stuffed with praise: we never lived at all.
Margaret Corvid is a writer, activist and professional dominatrix based in the South West of the UK. She is a contributing editor of Salvage. She is a New Statesman blogger, and her writing has also appeared in the Guardian, and Cosmopolitan. She writes on sex work, sexuality, gender, and many other labour issues.