poetry

Mangrove

There is a heart-place

Of mangroves and oyster rocks

Sei Shonagon, Megan Willcox

Soft, quiet hollows of sand, like the scoops of a hip

A headland, like Scotland

All green and black

Where the sea rushes in

And sucks right back

Is a Beowulf Boudicca

Lurking deep

Below slimy kelp

dry salt smell in the heat

I’m afraid

If I go…

It might…

Disappear

Will it flip, mind twisting, turning, running, burning

Tunnel clear

Back here?

A forest path

Gravel and soft brown

Pineneedles where a

Russian scarf

Drapes, disintegrating down

A secret house

Forest sprites,

Where?

Do they come out at night?

Another heart-place for me

On the other side, through the trees

Today’s prompt/challenge was to write a Sei Shonagon-style list of “things.” What things? Well, that’s for you to decide! I remembered a work colleague and how we were so into Sei Shonagon for a while. Then I thought of faraway places in the heart that make it beat faster. The place I often thought of as a refuge/ happy place is where I’m soon going to be moving to. So I’m wondering if I’ll have to invert that once I get there, and imagine myself back in Switzerland instead!

Photo: Claire Doble

Look ahead

I am giving myself this gift

every day,

think back

sit in memories

as a child

bright dreamer with

quick perceptions

different ideas

the girl who held

secret worlds

in her head

rich and strange

anticipate

could not explain

or share

only a mother would

tamp them down with care

fear

from love,

to protect

a small one’s delicate

intellect

in a bigbadwolf, uncaring world

just

realised

one day

do not have

to listen

to all they say

some things are merely

manifestations

of their afraid

and not for ears

to hear

oh

I should reach for the stars

Anyway

so maybe

a soothing

a rebellion

a way to live apart

became

a river, turned to flood

when it’s gone, and drained away

left varnish cracked

after years of wear

and hot breath

stripped back

raw

dead skin, was thick with dread

protect / pierce

to show

the gleam instead

of all those forgotten worlds

revealed

thoughts, light, streams,

ahead

 

This is a long, rambly poem that is a casualty of not enough time and too much in my head today! The prompt was: to write a poem of gifts and joy. What would you give yourself, if you could have anything? What would you give someone else? Oddly, this is quite appropriate to most of my activities today. Too busy “doing” not enough time for “poeming” – that is probably a good thing sometimes though.

I loved this photo I took this morning. By me!

Possibilities

 

See all those windows

I’ll never look out of

the way the rain stains

concrete like a tidemark

dispersed landocean

of sweetwater

a heartbeat, monitored

spikes and stalactites

mountains in the distance

that won’t be climbed again

if ever they once were

and fat fulsome blossoms

like cheeks stuffed with popcorn

springtime possibility,

impossibly lush

too wonderful to last

 

Today’s prompt: to write a poem of the possible. A a poem that emphasizes the power of “if,” of the woulds and coulds and shoulds of the world.

Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

Wired silence

 

I’m wired for sound

reading books from a supplier named for the rainforest we’re destroying, a queasy joke like

enjoy the silence

 

these days I read mostly e-books (same supplier, same quease) and my music is stored

elsewhere, while shelves sit full of dusting jewel cases, oh! that sounds more precious than MP3s

I’m wired for sound

 

can’t listen when I’m writing, so many hours of

words falling quiet through my fingers, thudding soft into keyboard squares; sometimes my thoughts pause –

enjoy the silence

 

composing lines in my head on the morning tram, smells aggressively of RedBull and cigarettes

produced by twitchy men I protect myself from with cheap headphones, thank goodness

I’m wired for sound

 

sometimes when I can’t fall asleep from stress, I try the meditation app,

she says soothingly ‘simply notice sounds around you’ but it’s 22.47 in Zurich, Oerlikon

enjoy the silence

 

I run away from my life, I run into my life, I run into the forest

and there is my life waiting for me underneath my legs my two feet keep going, one in front of the other, and it’s music I’ve found

I’m wired for sound

to enjoy the silence

 

 

 

Today’s GloPoWriMo Day 5 challenge was a difficult one. But I love the challenges! To write a poem that incorporates at least one of the following: (1) the villanelle form, (2) lines taken from an outside text, and/or (3) phrases that oppose each other in some way. If you can use two elements, great – and if you can do all three, wow!

I managed this using “Wired for Sound” (originally Cliff Richard but I’m thinking of the Bi(f)tek version) and “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode.

I have to give an extra shout-out to Napowrimo for putting me on to this incredible mashup by poet Kyle Dargan of the Lord’s Prayer with Grandmaster Flash’s “the Message” – wow!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjzaGqGqkMY

Photo by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash

 

sad little sonnet

eyelashes plucked
and the orange-peel breath
of Town Hall viaduct
smells like time left
behind, it’s not strange
to weep when tired
or look to rearrange
everything, rewired
and I wonder, lonely
if a fraud?
what if I only,
always, did what I adored?
Who cares, who cries
in empty offices full of sighs

 

Today’s challenge: write your own sad poem, but one that, like Teicher’s “Son“, achieves sadness through simplicity. Playing with the sonnet form may help you. Not sure this is a real sonnet. I followed the rhyme structure but I feel like it isn’t ‘right’

Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

Snowclouds in April

 

A lifetime in one day

clouds toss the sun about

and the wind bats the sail

how oppressed you feel

 

As a ribbon stretches

across my page

shiversilver in afternoon light

shafting through tinted glass

of tramstop topwindow

and the whole patchwork years

unfurl in a breezy

meadow like a picnic blanket

or a dancing plastic bag

pick the spots

glinting rivers and

sequin puddles shining

moments, vignettes, entire novels

maybe mundane but it never felt that way

the sky up there so grey

full of snow and rage

 

Today’s GloPoWriMo prompt: write something that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time.

Photo:  Devon Rogers on Unsplash

Anima / Animus

 

what could have been

an invisible line

between our eyes

never enough time

 

no private spaces

or empty lands

our dance in plain view

never touch hands

 

in our minds

that curl of yearning,

keening, never knowing

what were we learning?

 

I’m late today with posting. I wrote it this morning but forgot my notebook and it’s been such a busy day. Argh. This is not good, feel like I’m falling behind already!!  The prompt was: to write a poem that resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

The runner

Just when you get started

is

have I got a tissue?

did I bring lip balm

or forget keys

the good socks! Ah

better not

go back

the message is

not the medium

but

things’ll be dire

if I turn, must

run this track

so go, go go,

and put those

fickle-fuckle thoughts aside

of props

all you really need

is two feet, running

and

the vital missive

survive!

bright and clear

like wings, like hope

held fast (so fast, don’t stop) and

carried safe, in mind

 

 

It’s poetry month again! Yay!! I am so excited to participate again this year. Lots of changes afoot for me, which I’m sure you’ll hear about through the month, so it’s nice to do something familiar. Today I followed the early-bird prompt:  write a poetic self-portrait. And specifically, we’d like you to write a poem in which you portray yourself in the guise of a historical or mythical figure. Does that sound a bit strange? Well, take a look at this poem by Mary-Kim Arnold, “Self Portrait as Semiramis,” or Tarfia Farzullah’s, “Self-Portrait as Artemis,” and perhaps you’ll get a sense of the possibilities. I started looking up cool goddesses, like Hel and Hathor, but nothing quite clicked. In the end I went for that nameless first “Marathon” runner who saved his people with an heroic effort. I guess I’m feeling pretty noble about my quest! Also a good ‘beginning’ poem, I feel. Plus, as I may have mentioned, I have become a runner and it’s helped me survive some difficult times. OK, enough about me!

Photo: https://unsplash.com/@we_are_rising

Slip

I will slip in under your radar

to a room bathed blue in TV-light

where pictures haunt and flicker

empty, and the sound turned quiet

edges of my teeth touch, catch

weak magnet unsticks

clings

I will slip in like the noise

of soft rain wakes you up

next morning wonder

how a bright wall

gets impossible to see

in slabs of summer sun

when shadeblooms shock the eyes

I will slip in, I will slip in to your pocket

finger me like a half-forgotten coin

smooth from use, warm

savouring the many chances and

ways to spend

 

Recording (poem changed a bit and have updated it above) https://soundcloud.com/user-808707280/slip

 

Photo: https://unsplash.com/@aajanita

The Winehouse Years

winehouse

We moved into a flat in Camden, London in February 2007. The springtime arrived as I walked the canals. Tried to make me go to rehab I said no, no, no was the soundtrack not just to our lives but everyone’s. As the tendrils of blossom in the air led to open windows and summer started to take hold, you heard it everywhere. From cars, in department stores, late at night in Woodys kebab. Her voice, her pain, her darkness. The poetry in those words seemed to echo my own scribbles from an earlier time. Like everyone’s early-20s angst. She captured something. Meet you downstairs in the bar and hurt, your rolled up sleeves in your skull t-shirt…

We hit the pub. We hit the pub, we hit the pub. When we didn’t go to the pub, we drank at home. You could buy a bottle of O Gallo wine for less than a fiver. I sometimes felt embarrassed how many we bought and how often we’d be over there in the dusty corner store. Camden in the mid noughties. And I worked in Primrose Hill. Worst fulltime job of my life. But it was living like a rockstar goth. My boss was from Gang of Four and I’d see Liam Gallagher in the local pub. Actually you heard him before you saw him. No one else talked quite like that, that accent, in London. Ran into Led Zeppelin in the local off-licence. Slim and still got the hair. What a fox. Whispering excited at spying Grohl in TopMan, racing home to match his tattoos online.

We were all chucking it down every night. And I’d tread a troubled track… so many times I’d walk home with a skinful, mournful but delighted. My music, the sky and me. We drank all the time. On the weekends. Hanging out in the horrible toilets at Big Red and dancing to 20s swing with trannies. Oh, what a mess we made. And now the final frame…

We saw her once in the Hawley Arms. The tottering beehive, black-crayon eyes. She was so tiny and she held us all in her throat with those songs. Her carcrash life. It’s never safe for us. Not even in the evening, because I’hhvve been drinking…

Daydrinking in the beergarden of The Lock Tavern, where you’d ascend a teetering outdoor fire-escape staircase to reach the ladies’ loo. Look out from three-stories high over Camden and London and the pink sky and feel like you could die with the beauty of the world and a table full of friends and being in your 20s and so much wine and it’s Sunday tomorrow. A whole day for recovery. The poignancy of those moments when everything was. Just. Right. I will not forget. I would not change a thing. She walks away, the sun goes down, she takes the day, but I’m grown…

Vale Amy the artist on International Womens’ Day, soundtrack to some of my best-worst years x

Pic: https://www.undergroundarts.org/event/1542691-back-black-philly-tribute-philadelphia/

Some context: I quit drinking in January, so I’ve been thinking and blogging a bit about this stuff. It’s a fascinating journey, life. Thanks for indulging me.