Poem of the week : Aspirants


On Thursday we get a bill for the electric
I catch a new colour in the mirror, a greening of the eye
You’re tetchy about the intrusion of normal, all that aspiration.
I try to distract, light a small fire in the wardrobe
‘What happens if the whole place burns to a crisp?’
I don’t know if you said this or if I heard it in a dream.

My nights are a menagerie, your days a dream
Whetted only by the sharp edge of the electric
None of this makes sense to the naked eye
It’s just a chaos of words, many pretentious. My aspiration
Is always, however much I try to stuff it in the wardrobe
Among fur coats, lost worlds and forests, frozen crisp.

Salt and vinegar is my favourite flavour of crisp.
I love the sharpness; an acid potato dream
Forced into being by 10,000 volts of electric.
I grow a sodium crust over my days. All my eye
Needs is your insight, a pink wave of taut aspiration.
You laugh and stuff another designer suit into the wardrobe.

The lands of my nights don’t fit into wardrobes.
Wooden cabinets won’t hold them, they are crisp
Wastelands, concrete images only to be held in a dream.
I ride the frozen tundra, sending out arrows of electric
From my carriage made of ice. In the mist, your eyes
Appear between the trees, gleaming with aspiration.

Respiring is hard these days, it’s really something to aspire to,
Like making your own furniture instead of getting an Ikea wardrobe
Or a footstool or whatever item domesticity has reduced to a crisp.
Flat-packed challenges, craftsmanship now a forgotten dream
Of a bygone age – analog, handmade, pre-electric-
Before we believed we’d see only with plastic in our eyes.

There’s nothing like looking into your eyes
When we drop out of this world, when it’s all about aspiring
To touching something else, something we can’t find in this world of wardrobes
Bank statements, bills and scrabbling for crumbs of crisps,
Any nutrition we can find, when there’s a feast of dreams
In the night. I just need to turn the light off, blinded by the electric.

This moment is electric, it’s burning my eyes
I lock the white heat of aspiration in the wardrobe.
When the image crisps, how hard to hold the dream?



Michelle Madsen is an award-winning poet and investigative journalist. She founded the London branch of Hammer and Tongue, the UK’s largest slam poetry network and has featured on stages in four continents. In March 2014, she published her critically acclaimed debut collection of poetry, Alternative Beach Sports.

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