Only Dancing

I can’t add anything that hasn’t been said in the numerous tributes that have been posted today in response to news of the death of David Bowie. It all proves what a monumental influence he was on so many lives – definitely on mine – and the fact that we grew up with him in his many incarnations. He represented creative fluidity and imaginative possibility. I visited the Bowie exhibition at the V & A twice and stiull couldn’t take in the full immensity of his talent. I want to post my triubute so am posting versions of poems I wrote in partly in response to the exhibition but also significant Bowie moments in my life in connection with his various personae and musical inventions.

Versions of these poems are in my collection (Equinoctial) for my soon(!) to be submitted PhD. I am grateful for feedback from other poet friends along the way. I know I will continue to revise them. Poem 4. in particular has horrible resonance just now.

A sad day.

BOWIE1.gifAladdin Sane


Only Dancing


Pictures of the moon from Apollo 8:
as if someone was pulling it on invisible threads
through a slit in the universe

planet Earth was blue
and there was nothing we could
do about eyes that denoted ‘other’.

and, my God, he could have populated
constellations with his selves.

We watched, listened. Something had shifted.



She glittered his eyes in the night.

His imitation /adoration just went as far
as rooster razor-cut and platforms.

As far as the music went
because she’d kept up. Queen Bitch.

It could have been me. It was.
You could have done better than that.


Photo of David BOWIE
David Bowie live at Hammersmith Odeon on Ziggy Stardust tour.


Time takes a cigarette from the swishy
queen, the gorgeous boy,

camp as a row of tents, this sheer male
tart, hands it first to him, then her,

that summer,

he pulls on a finger, then another finger,
his joints crack, his back too,

whoah, whoah, whoah,

I hate that, I can hear it now.
See you posing.
Is this the mind’s eye, we’re talking about?
It’s sleepy as hell, anyway.

His cigarette goes out. Mine’s stubbed to dust.


Bowie 2



to the leather leotard
the lurex bodysuit
with rabbits and hands
to pointed black nails
to the moss-green leotard
the red plastic boots

the Pierrot costume


to blue flowers
to the capsule,
to the white cape,
to scarlet kanji characters


‘One who spits out words
in a fiery manner’




And so to to the eighties, cowboy president astride
a pile of white powder, aftershocks,
a whirring, then, crash-down

on a solarised beach New Romantic hinterland
between Hastings and Beachy Head.

We too had our Pierrot moments,
painted on opportune tears.

Scary Monsters. Hope
you’re happy too. Cue bulldozer,
it’s behind you, one
slip and you’re done for. Come away from the shoreline,
that breastless mermaid is life-support
useless, belly swelling,
step closer, those are wrinkles. Oldmaid.

Don’t say it’s true. This won’t take long,
then back to the fifties’ predictable kitchens .
It’s time to stop/start taking advice, to reassemble
the beach how it was, in proper colours also.



Comedic effect :
it could be a clapping audience in there
but today, you open a drawer
and a song starts up,
close it, trap the music inside,

open close, open close.

Stuffed in the bottom drawer
the gold maxi coat, purple trousers
and silver platforms. None
of them fitted. The song starts up.

You shut its mouth.

In the top drawer,
Berlin, cycling to the studios,
the come-down after LA,
sharing a flat with Iggy,

in love with Nietzsche
and on the wrong side
of fascism’s wall, maybe it’s
still the chemicals talking, cold
electric thin white duke
acting for all the world as if these were
the last days of Weimar,

‘ and the guns shot above our heads
and we kissed as if nothing can fall’

we can be heroes …

Worth leaving this one open.




After recording,

he wandered out of the blue

away from his shadow

and the window-frames leaned in

and the shadow stretched away

inside that hour where last notes quivered

above coffee in polystyrene cups

and all the other hours became indigo, violet

and you’d surely be rewarded

for your waiting in the not-dawn

of improbable light-beams,

when maybe he’d hold out his hand to you,

maybe not



Off to perform, she can never tell
what the audience will be like, even when
she’s honed her act,
sealed all the cracks in the delivery,
has the cues off pat

and even knows the songs by heart
without needing to rehearse,
but still has to rely on the rest of the band-
too much rock and roll behaviour
to her left and her right, she’ll be

eclipsed. In the end
she can only double-check in the mirror
that the eye make-up’s fixed,
skim a last glance how her backside
looks in black leather

and even if all this is just a metaphor
for how she is, earthling,

it’s okay for anyone
to wink at the moon before going out,
and not to wait
for its approving wink back.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. jaynestanton says:

    A sad day. I didn’t fully appreciate Bowie’s creativity and artistry until I visited the V & A exhibition in 2013. I also saw the artwork for Aladdin Sane at St Paul’s gallery in Birmingham around the same time. Thanks for sharing your poem sequence, Pam. I really enjoyed reading them.

  2. I didn’t either Jane. Thank you for reading and commenting on my poems.

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