These poems are from a series about parenting called 'Scenes from Childhood'.

Scenes From Childhood, part 1



After all the creditable presents
from our reliable friends
there’s one box left, unexpected;
like the one in the sci-fi movie
on the table at the end
in its horrifying halo of silence.
Opened, it’s a monster indeed,
A plastic oriental dream
of brute America, a cop-car,
with two cops craning outside
and gunning everything in sight
when batteries are provided.
Which he wants, now.
I read the box:
toy makes six separate sounds,
klaxon, bullet-fire, engine effect,
horn, radiophone, wail of victim.
I play for time: ‘No batteries,
pity’, trying to re-route interest
to his cork-mat stencilling kit,
his sowing cress indoors frame
which he hates, now.
I read the box:
toy takes eight 1.5v batteries,
enormous empowering of hate,
enough to run a small factory
and twice the cost of the car.

Later, sitting in the kitchen
safe from Chicago next door,
I catch his hysterical delight
as the law rams our furniture,
and putting away the presents
we’d only make a mess of,
him impatient, me bored,
I enjoy the afternoon rest
that snows all over the house
as homicide keeps him happy.

from West Pathway (Bloodaxe, 1993), © Steve Ellis 1993, used by permission of the author

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