Ten minutes gone and I'm on question six,
Solar systems - Earth, Saturn, Neptune and Pluto.
Short hand answers.
Battery fluid and washing soda.
Heat, always remember heat.
Food systems, no- solar chains, no -
Vessels and lungs.
Ahh, Mars can best be seen when the crops of
cabbages decrease so the number of Jupiters
decrease as a consequence.
There are no wasted words in this poem;Elise Baker gives the thoughts of the narrator, and leaves the reader to construct their context. It is like listening to one side of a conversation and the effect is to draw us in. We have to be attentive, just as the narrator has to be attenitve in trying to puzzle out the examination questions. The direction and impetus of the poem are dictated by the coive cna dits changes in tone, reflecting changes in mood as narrator struggles to marshal thoughts and ideas. Form is also well controlled, such as in the sudden abandoning of line breaks after "Order! Order!" which emphasises the ironic and rebellious shift into fantasy.
Elise Baker, age 15, receives 'Emergency Kit', edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Submitted by J Secombe and B Smith, Bishop Luffa School, Chichester, West Sussex. Cliff Yates is deputy head of Maharishi School, Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Poetry Society poet-in-residence for secondary education. He has published 'Jumpstart:Poetry in the Secondary School' (Poetry Society) and a collection of his own poems, 'Henry's Clock' (SmithDoorstop). Please send poems, preferably not more that 20 lines long, to The Times Educational Supplement, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX , including the poet's name and age, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. 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.