Back to the button box
Changing Voices

Changing voices is the working title for a commissioned piece of writing Vane Women are preparing for Cleveland Theatre Company. This well known youth theatre, based at Darlington Arts Centre, is developing our work, with actors, into a piece of theatre for children 13-16 years to be toured in schools in the Autumn of 2001.

The submissions below will not necessarily be included in the performance.






Nice Nike

I'm the Boss


Or else

What else




Never mind Lacoste

I'm the Boss

I'm Tommy


Who would decline

My Calvin Klein




Wendy Iliff




Mirror, tell me the story
I can't change, future grieving
like a widow. It's a burden
the future, I want to be old
and finished. Not this story,
this blank page aching

for my words. What happens
if I falter? I want the mirror
to be a friend who'll lie
convincingly, tell me
I'm a genius, not a failure.
Burn my lamp, keep the genie

talking. I'm really underage
and the plains are endless
but every step is rutted.
My eyebrows are too thick &
close together, my legs too thin.
I'm daughter, always daughter

but the voice within is learning
mother. I'm like her at my age.
Mirror, mirror, she's changing
already to grandmother.
I'm more afraid of scars
than pain. Pain is my experience,

scars you'll see in the mirror.
I'm outside more than inside,
carefully combing the way I want to be,
but life won't let me stay,
keeps rubbing me out,
I'm trying to write on a greasy page.

but there's no end to my story.
I'm so ready for it,
eternal & one of the Gods,
it's my mother and father who are mortals.
I'm capricious like the weather
and they try and stop me

and direct me, and even appease
with gifts or curses, but they're powerless.
We're treading on their lives,
and it can't be any other way.
Everything they've done, we'll tread
and tread upon, they'll leave

their best hopes embroidered with
gems of tears. But what can we do?
We're the future
and they have to make way.
Mirror, mirror, don't tell me
what I can't see. The horizon beyond

my vision. One step at a time, so
they say, one minute at a time
and I won't pause for fear
of looking back, or looking down,
or looking too far in front,
or into you, mirror.

S.J. Litherland




Daughter am I
Sister am I
I am the niece and
I am the grandchild
Woman am I
Witch am I
I am the saint and
I am the sinner.

Active am I
Passive am I
I am the silent one and
I am the vocal one
Fearful am I
Courageous am I
I am the crying one and
I am the laughing one.

The raging one am I
The peaceful one am I
I am the clever one
I am the subtle one
Deceiver am I
Truthful am I and
I am the wily one
I am the honest one.

Alluring am I
Dishonest am I
I am the loving one
I am the venal one
Charming am I
Bad mannered am I
I am the guest and
I am the hostess.

Learner am I
Critic am I
I am the teacher and
I am the preacher
Beauty am I
Ugly am I
I am this female and
I am this woman.

Anne Hine




Nobody wants me on their team. My ears
freeze. I'm thin and pale, a tiny waif
on the high field, shivering in my school
shorts. Not big enough, not good enough.

Nobody needs me on their team -
a light-weight wisp of a thing,
a puny skimp, a wimp, in the shadow
of bigger girls. In a stampede
they trample me, push me aside.

I'm always last to be picked, or second
or third last, or maybe fourth last. Fourth
last is best, but when there are four
teams, fourth last is still last. You're
the first of the last, but the last of the rest.

Nobody sees me on their team.
I'm a fill-in, a make-weight. I have nothing
they need. They need to hide me
on their team. I'm last, or fourth
last, because I'm too weak.
I don't know if they know me, but I know
they don't want me, because
nobody wants me on their team.

Vicki Thomas




Green were the valleys we played in
Unworldly children, unknowing and green
As the green grasses springing beneath our light feet.
Green was the livery of the swaying trains
Steaming daily to Green Ginger Land.
We gave no thought to our wondrous green world -
Soon to be turned over to man's envious green-greed.
To housing estates, expressways, green fields into concrete.
Only memories, green memory, storing the images,
Of territories, dens, safe green havens for play,
Morning skies greening, preparing for day.
And we, without inhibitions, each grass-greened child,
Losing forever our birthright, our untamed wild green terrain.

Irene Stacey




Turnips and pumpkins, amber and golden
blades a cutting edge, slicing the flesh to
grimace in darkness, glowing and floating
bright on night air, flickering
candles. Is anyone there?

A spectre appears out from the mist as
a slime green mask slithers in.
The joker, hideous with ash face and
big feet, laughs from his belly.
A sinister treat.

Pace is quickening,
howls from within
shivering cold sweat
in the damp of the night.
Street lights dim as mist blankets over.

Is this a door where a treat is not bought?
Dare to knock
with a loud thud
in muffled orange
fingerless gloves.

The door creaks open and in the dim light
a black witch cackles in her delight.
The children have come, all dressed for the night
of witches and spells.
Come in, come in, come in, alright?

Pat Maycroft




Back from the post-SATs French trip
sporting it. The first, his name's Matthew.
Blooming blue and yellow on her tanned
neck, she's sticking every stretch limb out,
designed to trip us up, especially her mum.

After mock 'A's toothpaste worked quite well,
finger-blended with neutral spot stick.
For three days I let my hair down, conspired
to conceal the blemish, the first boyfriend,
almost made it past my hawk-eyed mum.

I envy my niece her nonchalance,
her feisty friends who pull boys with openers
like Hi, wanna give me a lovebite?
though what I guess we share is bearing bruises
long weeks after the fumbling boys have faded.

Annie Wright




When I was ten,
my broken, buck-toothed grin
was capped in white plastic,
two together top front teeth
with a little groove
modelled to look like a gap.

When I was ten
I wore round pink-framed glasses.
Clagged across one lens
a piece of pink elastoplast
gently greyed
between visits to the eye hospital.

When I was twelve
I knew a girl with cream skin
and white blonde hair
springing from a smooth forehead.

When we went to Guide camp
she had glossy black wellies.
Mine were dull and grey
even when they were wet.

She was really nice.
So was my Dad
even when he called me 'One Lamp Louie'
because of my 'lazy eye'.

But it still made me cry.

Dorothy Long




(This is a number poem.
One word on the first line,
two on the second etc.
up to fourteen lines.)

We're hairy!
Our fabulous follicles
erupt in sebaceous extravaganzas,
expressing a joyous furry statement.
Every pore bursting in ecstatic release.
Underarms are picnic parks for canopy dwellers.
Look at that back! It's a Persian rug!
My thighs are prairies ready for buffalo grazing season.
My cheeky bits are as muffled as Victorian piano legs.
Hennaed hairballs have wild orifice parties in every nook and cranny,
combs are brushed aside as tangles take control of each hairy situation.
Mange and alopecia are dirty words, consigned to the realm of nylon toupees.
Soft snuggling is in, nesting is encouraged, wrapping is a must. Long live Rapunzel!

Diane Cockburn




What thoughts puffed her up
so high above herself?
Some dream of power -
a Sow for NOW
in clover not a poke
they can't keep her down
she's one on her own
and no-one's piggybacking her.

Swollen so plump and smooth
she's a pink harvest festival marrow
a barrage balloon
a pillow in a tight pink slip
pregnant with possibility

and suddenly she's lifting

nothing tethers her to ground
it's as if a sudden snap
has cut her loose
and curled her tail around
to spring up tight behind.

Pillowing, billowing
rolling and wallowing
she drifts on air
oh what pleasure
so high up there
her trotters dabbling
in cool, cool air.

Round as a rosy cumulus cloud
she heralds sunset
and the evening's chill.

Where can she roost?

Phone wires are too fragile
won't bear her weight
she blunders into trees
cracks off their twigs
she scrabbles on roofs
nudges aerials
She's getting tired.

The church steeple glints
in the last gleams of sunset.
Golden cock's the farmyard king,
now she knows where she is
now she's come home.

Brass beak and spurs
slice -
a flash
a crash like thunder -

and suddenly her pride is trimmed
she's slimmed and skimmed.

Ribbons of raggy pink balloon
float back to earth -
not enough for a silk purse
just a sow's ear.

Joanna Boulter




I've lost it. I've left my book at home
Cat chewed it. Baby spewed on it
Forgot it. Left it in my locker
My little brother drew on it
Ripped the page out, screwed it up into a ball

You didn't give it back to me last time
I gave it in. I put it on the pile
Sheet must have fallen out of my file
There wasn't any information in that useless book you lent us.
My pen ran out. You didn't give me any paper

My granny died. The budgie snuffed it
I had to mind the twins. My parents had a row
I had to go out shopping. I had to make the tea
I had to clean the house. Do a double paper round
The tatties needed lifting. Beasts needed shifting

I thought we had biology tomorrow
You said we had two weeks. I didn't hear.
You never said. Dad threw it in the fire
I finished it in class. It's all crap anyway
My Dad says we should do it all in school

Dad lit his fag with it, put it in his pipe and smoked it
Our Dean wiped his arse with it
I've got a job. Don't need this shit
So what do you think you're going to do about it . . .

Marilyn Longstaff


Back to the button boxHOME PAGE Web site design by Roger Cornwell.
Last updated on 9 March 2002.