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Flashcards in Phrase Book Deck (24):
1

Recall the first stanza ('i standing here in my own skin')

I’m standing here inside my skin,
which will do for a Human Remains Pouch
for the moment. Look down there (up here).
Quickly. Slowly. This is my front room

2

Recall the second stanza ('where I’m lost in the action, live from a war,')

where I’m lost in the action, live from a war,
on screen. I am Englishwoman. I don’t understand you.
What’s the matter? You are right. You are wrong.
Things are going well (badly). Am I disturbing you?

3

Recall the thrid ('TV is showing bliss as taught to pilots:')

TV is showing bliss as taught to pilots:
Blend, Low silhouette, Irregular shape, Small,
Secluded. (Please write it down. Please speak slowly.)
Bliss is how it was in this very room

4

Recall the fourth ('when I raised my body to his mouth,')

when I raised my body to his mouth,
when he even balanced me in the air,
or at least I thought so and yes the pilots say
yes they have caught it through the Side-Looking

5

Recall the fifth ('Airbone Radar, and through the J-Stars.')

Airbone Radar, and through the J-Stars.
I am expecting a gentleman (a young gentleman,
two gentlemen, some gentlemen). Please send him
(them) up at once. This is really beautiful.

6

Recall the sixth stanza ('Yes they have seen us, the pilots in the Kill Box')

Yes they have seen us, the pilots in the Kill Box
on their screens and played the routine for
getting us Stealthed, that is, Cleaned, to you and me,
Taken Out. They know how to move into a single room

7

Recall the seventh stanza ('like that, to send in with Pinpoint Accuracy, a hundred Harms.')

like that, to send in with Pinpoint Accuracy, a hundred Harms.
I have two cases and a cardboard box. There is another
bag there. I cannot open my case – look out,
the lock is broken. Have I done enough?

8

Recall the eighth stanza ('Bliss the pilots say is for evasion')

Bliss the pilots say is for evasion
and escape. What’s love in all this debris?
Just one person pounding another into dust,
into dust. I do not know the word for it yet.

9

Recall the ninth stanza ('Where is the British Consulate? Please explain.')

Where is the British Consulate? Please explain.
What does it mean? What must I do? Where
can I find? What have I done? I have done
nothing. Let me pass please. I am an Englishwoman.

10

When was the poem written?

The poem was written in response to Operation Desert
Storm during the First Gulf War (1990-1991). It is told from
the point of view of a woman watching the news in her front room. Many phrases are actually taken from an old 1960s phrase book, eg ‘Please write it down. Please speak slowly’. Other phrases are taken from the military.

11

How is the poem set?

It is written in a fragmented, broken manner to reflect the
confusion of war. The speaker is trying to work out what
events are true, which are false from all the different
information sources, eg TV. She is struggling to understand what is going on in the war and in her own life, particularly her love life. She questions if love is possible during a time of war, even if war is distant. She imagines herself as a refugee with luggage. Overall, she feels guilt and confusion about the chaotic events going on around her.

12

What does the title suggest?

Difference in language. Barrier. This links to a lot of the language/phrases in this poem.

13

What does the 'Human Remains Pouch' in the first stanza suggest?

Body bag – semantic field of war. She doesn’t ‘get’ the lingo. Not what you see – its what’s inside.

14

What could 'Look down there (up here). Quickly. Slowly.' in the first stanza suggest?

Camera shots being followed. Phrasebook terminology. Caesuras to show how quickly to cameras move. She can’t keep up. (camera angles/shots are language of the media)

15

What does 'where I’m lost in the action' in the second stanza mean?

Doesn’t understand what’s going on – demonstrates her distance from it. disconnected.

16

What does 'I am Englishwoman' in the second stanza mean?

Phrasebook language – wrongly uses it – demonstrates her inability to understand properly.

17

What does 'I don’t understand you. What’s the matter? You are right. You are wrong. Things are going well (badly). Am I disturbing you?' in the second stanza connote?

Ironically truisms – using typical phrases from phrasebook and giving the opposites as a phrasebook would. This shows the contradiction in what she sees and how she feels. (disparity)

18

What does 'TV is showing bliss' in the thrid stanza mean?

Using a name. She personifies it to show the role of the news reporter. TV is delivering the news

19

How does 'you and me' in the sixth stanza create an effect on the reader?

Involves the reader using personal pronouns. Relating it to us.

20

What technique of 'evasion and escape' is used in the eighth stanza?

Alliteration – makes it sound like a saying. Hear in training.

21

What does 'What’s love in all this debris?' in the eighth stanza show?

She can’t comprehend how the war is love.

22

What does 'Where is the British Consulate? Please explain. What does it mean? What must I do? Where
can I find? What have I done? ' from the ninth stanza mean?

A multitude of ‘phrasebook’ questions – suggests her ultimate confusion. Desire for understanding. How is she involved? The UK isn’t involved.

23

What does 'I have done nothing. Let me pass please. I am an Englishwoman.' in the ninth stanza mean?

Says it as it is. I have no part of this. NOT a lack of accountability. She is NOT being ignorant. As the English we sit here and watch and do nothing as we are not involved (USA/Iraq). But it doesn’t mean we should ignore.

24

What is the overall structure of the poem?

-Lots of questions denote confusion
-Caesuras denote awkward pauses – confusion
-Enjambment between stanzas – disparity between TV screen and reality of war.