Birmingham City Council

Poems by India Miller

Young Poet Laureate Birmingham

India Miller was the Young Poet Laureate for Birmingham 2009-2010.

Here are the fantastic poems she submitted as part of her application for the post.


Retired Hero

A hero I was
And strong as steel;
But look at me now
Eating meals on wheels.


My muscles were toned,
My hair a blonde quiff
Now my head’s a desert,
My joints weak and stiff.


I long for the days
When crowds would cheer
I’d wave an automatic wave
Behind a false, well... sneer.

Now I hobble through streets,
Ignored – unseen
Though it’s only after years
Of life experience I’ve gleaned


Knowledge – if masses
Still flocked to me for helpful advice
Retired, I’d have faith in my replies –
They’d possibly suffice.


The definition of a hero
Cannot be the one supposed –
For heroism’s defined by thought
Not, as some still think, by clothes.


Only now am I a hero – internally – in mind.




The Exam


“You may start.”
phwip
and my fingers slip
as I turn the page
and I grip
the pen like the
lifeline it is.
my mind seems
blank but explodes
all at once and
the clock ticks as I filter
my thoughts
into parallel lines.


58 minutes to go.


tick tock
and the incessant ticks
are counting my
wasted minutes,
and I think my
hand has been frozen,
paralysed,
by some undetectable force.


32 minutes left.


ahem
somebody clears their throat
(for the 6th time)
and I am finally ready.
I have been waiting for this:
my thoughts pour out and
the words are fluid and malleable and
I am their creator and destroyer;
a river floods from my fingertips
and the blood
pulses
through my brain.


4 minutes.


my hand pleads to give up
but my brain has got carried away
(again)
and I cannot stop, for sentences
spill over clumsily,
begging for attention.
I cannot control them; I can
only hope that they will
appear chronologically.
just one more paragraph...
one more sentence...
one more word...


“Please put down your pens.”





Blue-tinted memories


It is spring, and we dawdle
down the path, through the silent shadows.
We have no fear,
for our route is set
and a well-travelled one it is.


A bucket
dangles
from my finger,
as you heave the tired fishing rod,
eager to greet again the great
dusk-darkened pool that you know so well.


You tell me stories,
stories that I should listen to
more closely, because they are so alien
to me.
(I wish I had remembered them)
You reminisce of the times
when this water, this same sea, was your home.
It still is.


Moonlit expanses of the mighty sea
welcomed you; though it was cold,
cold as the bitter, biting winds of the Arctic,
you splashed and turned and dived
until the Sun unfolded her golden blanket
bathing your requisite waters
with a succulently smooth shimmer.
You can dive no longer
but you can still dream.


I do not know it
yet, but a year from now,
I will walk this same walk,
see this same sky,
sit on the edge of this same pier,
and I will remember you.


Resting my toes in this water,
the water that you hold so dear,
and to which you have now
returned,
I shall think of you,
hold you deep within the chambers of my heart,
and you will brush the tips of my toes
(for you will never forget me)
with the delicate crests of your waves
as the tide goes out.




Finding harmony


The trail meanders down to the shore;
It was not built, rather created for
Gentle exploration, not the hoards of tourists
You usually see here.


We heave the hamper (fraying; used well)
Down through the nettles, to the bluebells,
Those splashes of colour in an emerald expanse.
Then, finally, we can see it.


Barely visible, a line of brilliant azure
Penetrating the horizon of pale blue walls.
Faint, yes, and almost completely
Obscured by the interfering creepers and climbers,


But still there. Faster and faster, fairy-footed we skirt
Gliding over the old, fatigued dirt,
Until we arrive.
And we are not disappointed.


Shimmering stones prod our dirty bare feet;
Their demands for attention we cannot meet,
For we have one purpose, one mission:
It’s the ocean we seek


And after such anticipation we’re there;
We cartwheel - there’s utter delight in the air
Then that moment of bliss as
Into the clear, gentle water we


Slide, and though the cold’s an electric shock,
We don’t notice, with the smooth, smooth rocks
Under foot, worn after hundreds of thousands of years
Companionship with the ever-stirring sea.


Now, here, we’re together, complete once again
A triad of contentment, this must be true Zen;
For the sea, the cerulean sky, and us, we will never part.
At least, in my mind.


About the Young Poet Laureate