Emma Lee

22 Reasons to be like Ariana

22 May 2017 a successful gig, singer leaves
the stage elated, exhausted. Hugs her mother.

22 year old Salman Abedi, former member
of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, walked to the arena.

£22 was what his rucksack cost.
He phoned his mum in Tripoli just before

22:31 hours he detonated a homemade bomb
amongst young fans being picked up by parents.

22 of them died. The singer visited the hospital
to help the victims feel like rock stars, heroes for a day.

2 multiplied by 4, the age of the youngest whose funeral
was marked by the singer’s tweet and the party Saffie deserves.

2 plus 2, 4 June 2017 One Love Manchester, over £2 million
raised in a place to celebrate, to escape, to heal.

2 parallel lives disrupted by one action.
One caused devastation. One support and compassion.

© Emma Lee

He walked in through the exit
(Prince Rogers Nelson 1958-2016)

He sang that she entered through the exit
and he knew how it felt to be forever out of place.
A father doesn’t normally start with “Chopsticks”
when teaching a child to play piano
and then tell him the piano’s not a toy.
The grown son developed a punishing
self-schedule for rehearsals, using musicians
in shifts and could outplay any one of them.
He refused interviews, refused the lack
of control recreational drugs or drink brought.
The unreality of stage was real, not performance.
In the safety of sound, his guard dropped.
Lyrics gave structure to exploration
religious-strict parents denied him.
Dance gave him freedom of movement.
But, when the music stopped, loneliness
returned, as if he’d left the stage through
the entrance with the band still playing,
the tattoo of childhood scars ever present.
His exit the only thing he ever mistimed.

© Emma Lee

I’m suspicious of anyone who’s cheerful in January

In certain moods, you could bounce out of bed
and rattle off eight impossible ideas before breakfast
while I needed a second coffee and hold of your credit card.

On others, you saw the sky as the colour
and weight of steel while I balanced on a knife
edge around you and your mood turned miserly.

Today the alarm goes while it’s still dark,
your side of the bed is still empty
and it’s the start of another year without you.

You would have had plans and resolutions,
a scheme to get you up and looking forward
to Spring and I pour myself that second coffee.

© Emma Lee

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