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Adrian Street, The Early Years

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.”

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Image Credits:

Martin SoulStealer