I was immediately taken in by the address to the "you" in the first few lines, and the way the writer turns understanding and laughter into something more ambiguous: that feeling we've all had that what outwardly appears harmless may have a hidden twist. A particular person seems to be in the writer's mind, but the effect at the beginning is that the reader is the "you" and therefore implicated in what is to follow. Some of the half rhymes may have at least started off being accidental, but the last full rhyme works naturally and effectively; it might have been interesting to further develop the idea of indenting some lines or playing around with stanza breaks. One other small point: in a poem about ambiguity, it is difficult to avoid ambiguity, and the line "If that is what you have" hangs somewhat frustratingly, neither explicating the line before or the one after. Although it seems to glance off various surfaces, this poem has what I call "voice", and so I was listening.
Maybe you understand me All my little ways Laugh at my stories expense?
Laughing at me Yet you know that if I cry Then it was your fault So why do you still laugh Your tears are so different from mine See, mine are real.
Not like the diamonds that don't just cut glass which seep from your eyes If that is what you have, I don't look at your face, your eyes Why should I need to?
Your voices are all the same.
Yet you know me Live inside me Breathe with me and steal my air So that it doesn't clear my head So that you can carry on staying there.
Karen Wenzel, 17, receives 'Sounds Good: 101 Poems to be Heard', edited by Christopher Reid (Faber). Sent in by Nick Patterson, head of English of The Bishop's Stortford High School, Hertfordshire, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes. Please send students' poems, preferably no longer than 20 lines, to 'TES' Young Poet, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY Eva Salzman is writer-in-residence at the Bromley-by-Bow Centre in east London. She has published two volumes of poetry: 'Bargain with the Watchman' (Oxford University Press) and 'The English Earthquake' (Bloodaxe) The TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, with an introduction by Sian Hughes, can be ordered by phoning 01454617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99. This is Eva Salzman's final choice, but please keep sending us your pupils' poems. Next term's guest poet will Cliff Yates.