Roxana Popelka- Make-up


Those two students,
the ones who are sitting in the back row,
scare me.
You can see so much aggression in their gaze.
They don’t look happy
and they are only 16.
Their faces are caked with make up.
They get up early,
sort themselves out carefully although there is no need to hide anything
at 16.
That’s why they wear a top and a mini-skirt.
Under they have black colour leggings (they’re in style).
They are my disadvantaged students,
they are Marta and Susana.

Now’s the time to laugh for no apparent reason;
they bend their heads over their covered books
full of photos of actors and fashionable singers;
exercise books scribbled over with biro
with the names of good-looking boys in the school,
telephone numbers,
They feel no shame
at 16.
I enjoy so much cheap Tesco slap.
There are days,
-like today,-
when they constantly get up to sharpen their pencil
whilst we are doing the exercises,
throw a piece of paper,
ask my permission to go to the bathroom;
they know it is not allowed,
even at 16,
they should wait until the break bell sounds
to go and piss
inspect their fringe.
With their slender bodies
in front of the bathroom mirror
at 16.
They are my favourites,
they are my girls straight out of Fucking Amal,
by Lukas Moddisson;
those complex adolescents who appear on page 54 of the psychology books.
Bleached blondes who live in an outer suburb,
with no options,
if it weren’t for the summer cinema.
From unstructured,families
with no hope.
There is no time to lose
at 16.
I feel I should offer something more than what is in the coursebook,
and I find it difficult to find a reason.
Who needs regulated learning at 16?

Roxana Popelka, Asturcones, Treinta y Un Poetas de Asturias (Canalla, 2012)

I was a teacher. I can see everything that Roxana Popelka writes about here and agree these students don’t need that regulated learning. Isn’t there a kind of cruelty in making sixteen year olds ask to go to the bathroom? It’s no wonder they behave the way they do.

I have translated “potinges déliplus” as “cheap Tesco slap”. Déliplus is a brand of cosmetics for children and youngsters at Mercadona, a mid-ranking supermarket in Spain: not as vulgar as Walmart; like Tesco in England. I have no idea what “nics” are. I’ve asked our teenagers and they don’t know either, and we had a good look around on the internet with no result. If you know, please pass it on!

Here is another poem to finish, from the same poet:

The Shower

At times,
like today,
I confuse
Birmingham with Madrid,
Birmingham and London,
London with Madrid,
Madrid and Istanbul.

There are days,
at times,
when I would like
to ignore my past.
Nothing indecent, nothing.
A smear on the wall, if anything,
and dancing on the bed
like Tracey Emin,
the Young British Artist
who says in an interview:

“I’m an alcoholic,
neurotic, psychotic,
I’m a whiner obsessed
with myself,
but I’m an artist.”

Meanwhile Tracey holds
a good fistful
of notes between her legs
and entitles the work
I’ve Got It All.

About Jason Preater

Working on Projects
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