Tuesday Poem: When You’re Not Here, by Janis Freegard

When you’re not here, I paint my nails and my lips black and
wear clothes you’ve never seen me in. I walk to the bar on the 
corner in high-heeled black boots and a fake leopard-skin coat
and drink tequila sunrises until it rains.
When you’re not here, I go to bed in the middle of the afternoon
and read books about love. I listen to music I’m too old for,
smoke cigars and dye my hair Scandinavian blonde. I talk to
strange cats in strange streets.
When you’re not here, I stay out all night playing pool with
women I don’t know. I wear earrings that glow in the dark and
take taxis everywhere.  I climb to the top of a hill just to pretend
I’m somewhere else.
When you’re not here, I watch old Bela Lugosi movies on video. 
I don’t do the dishes for days.
When you’re not here, I go to parties in a silver lurex miniskirt.
I carry a bottle of schnapps in my coat pocket and talk to men
whose boyfriends don’t understand them. I play pinball for
hours at a stretch.
When you’re not here, I sit in coffee shops reading Marie Claire
magazines and drinking mochaccinos. I tie a bright red scarf

around my wrist just because it feels good. I buy cooked chicken
from the supermarket and share it with the cat.

I move the furniture and paint the cupboards purple.
I plant lobelias outside my window.
I sing along to the Sex Pistols at 2 o’clock in the morning,
     bugger the neighbours.
I dance with queens and take speed with car converters.
I wait for you to come home.

Credit note: “When You’re Not Here” is published in Janis Freegard’s new poetry collection The Glass Rooster and is reproduced by permission of the author and of the publisher, Auckland University Press.

About Janis Freegard: Janis lives in Wellington, with an historian and a cat, and works in the public service. Her first full-length poetry collection, Kingdom Animalia: The Escapades of Linnaeus, was published by Auckland University Press in 2011. She is also the author of a chapbook, The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider (Anomalous Press, 2013), and co-author of AUP New Poets 3 (AUP, 2008).

Janis’s poetry has appeared in a wide range of journals and anthologies in New Zealand and overseas, including Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page (Random House, 2014), Best NZ Poems 2012 and Landfall. In 2014 she held the inaugural Ema Saikō Poetry Fellowship at New Pacific Studio in the Wairarapa.

She also writes fiction, is a past winner of the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award, and has just published her first novel, The Year of Falling (Mākaro Press, 2015). She blogs at http://janisfreegard.com.

More on The Year of Falling: As well as its print publication through Mākaro Press, The Year of Falling has just been published as an ebook by Rosa Mira Books, and you can read Rosa Mira Books’ Q&A with Janis.

Tim says: I recently finished reading The Glass Rooster – and very much enjoyed it. “When You’re Not Here”, with its lovely mix of yearning and bristling independence, is one of my favourite poems in this excellent collection.

The Tuesday Poem: This week’s Tuesday Poem is A Letter To Jim Harrison, by Lindsay Pope.

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