I was fighting for my life even before I was born,
nearly strangled at birth by my umbilical cord.
By four I was re-enacting Little Bighorn,
hunting Custer through the hills of Gwent, while Dad
was hunted through Singapore by the Japanese.
I gathered pieces of downed German bombers
to build my own plane and scour the Valleys
for the Sioux tribe that’d make me a brave, while my father
prayed the days away in Changi Jail. Our air-raid
shelter was the heavy kitchen table we’d squat
under – me, Mam, and big brother, Ter, who’d
beat me senseless when Mam went to her cleaning job.
I never found Crazy Horse or got made a brave
but I learned how to live as nobody’s slave.
Benjamin Palmer is a Poetry School student.
“This sonnet forms part of a sequence about Adrian Street, the coalminer’s son from Brynmawr who quit the colliery to become a flamboyant, androgynous international wrestling star, helping inspire glam rock in the process. Some of the incidents described in this poem were inspired by Adrian Street’s autobiographical book My Pink Gas Mask.”