kicking pine cones down the street
climbing the backyard cherry tree
lying in new sheets
waking in darkness waking to snow
how your chest thickens when you’re scared
how your voice bubbles when you’re pleased
be the first to like
view of wind turbines from the train
golden tint on a glass of wine
gliding on rollerblades by the sea
waking so warm waking on the beach
how your eyes flood when you’re tired
how you laugh when you’re relieved
like bridges creeks Frisbees
silly cat videos and Instagram photos
like strolling with a friend
between folds of trees
and your heart rolls out a big pink wave
and your lips recall something sweet
like skiing and ice-skating
zip-lining above trees at seventy clicks
blood thudding in your ears
like every new experience because it was new
to you pocketed in your memory
like the first time you fed the ducks
at Stanley Park
and they stormed like villagers
to your feet
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2013. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2013 was David Robinson.
At last, a Facebook poem – and one that would work brilliantly in performance. Anyone who has ever been ill for a long time knows the seeming impenetrability between the world of ill-health and of the bubbling vitality and joie de vivre captured here. It’s more than just a list, especially when, half way down the poem ‘like’ becomes an instruction, amplified in successive lines, and the new memories of happiness reach back to the very oldest, when there wasn’t a Facebook at all and no way of sharing memories of all the things that make life worth living.
I am intrigued by phrases from social media that have become commonplace in daily language. This poem is an interpretation of the phrase ‘Be the first to like this’ which is an option after reading friends’ statuses on the social network Facebook. Updating one’s status is a personal activity, and having people digitally ‘like’ your status implies seeking others’ approval. I thought I would subvert the understanding of the phrase by taking it out of others’ control and focusing on the experiences of individuals, especially when trying out new things.
I grew up on Canada’s west coast and many of these images are nostalgic gestures towards my suburban upbringing. This poem is from a longer sequence that explores phrases and phenomenon in social media and makes them more personal and individual.