spring

Leaves

What will I do

with the view from my window

my own slice of building-behinds

and trees, the Catholic church spire

in the distance like a giant watch

on a pin

and the way the air shakes

every quarter-hour

vibrates

from the Reformation church nextdoor, out of shot

my white room

my tower, not ivory but

maybe sometimes I feel like

I’m in a precious high-up spot,

far from the world

like the empress in Neverending story

flying through space

with warm lights on and

Give me a name, Bastian!

so my domain is remade

I’m really here with dusty piles

of books that may be read

notepads filled with ink

spilled through with words,

lists, oh they just keep flowing

no matter how afraid or sad I get

I have built my life anew

and when I look out at

those trees and backs of flats

the kindergarten playground

where the foxes live

must remember that

it’s all mine, all mine, not owned

just like I carry the Pool of London

turbulent, tea-coloured Thames

strong, with still a whiff

of Elizabethan sweat and

Dickensian toil

the thriving grime of unwashed success

grit of an ancestor locked in

a prison hulk perhaps

so too, this Swiss scene is kept

inside

and yesterday, the trees so green

the fresh young leaves of spring

and did my heart ache with sadness

desolate, or was it merely glad to see

that once again

 

Photo: Claire Doble

Bright Daze

The blue days
The bright daze
How will
You fulfill
A promise made?
Shadows sharp
Cookie-cutter heart
Could still
Bode ill
For the next part
Can’t contemplate
The relocate
Will kill
Summer’s spill
Rather desolate

 

This poem was for yesterday’s prompt, a poem that is specific to a season and includes a rhetorical question (like Keats’ “where are the songs of spring?”). It also fits OK for today’s prompt: a poem that uses repetition. Not sure if it’s an official form but by repetition, I mean the rhyme structure is AABBA, CCBBC, DDBBD. Hmmm, or maybe it’s just an off-prompt poem after all! 😉

 

Photo: Claire Doble

 

Like Summer

Spring arrives

warm and

sudden

like new love-

the excitement

inside

like the way I felt

about Newtown

in the 90s

that fizz of desire

almost-anxious butterfly fire

Spring arrives

like lust,

like an ardent paramour

Spring writhes and

turns

hot

like Summer

Medieval manuscripts

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I saw the little figures
looking cute and medieval
elaborate costumes, so delightful
an ancient ritual
marginalia in excelsis
hello summer!

I wasn’t too sure about today’s GloPoWriMo prompt: “to write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art. But I’d also like to challenge you to base your poem on a very particular kind of art – the marginalia of medieval manuscripts.” But then I went into town to see the preparations for Sechseläuten and realised I was looking at this stuff IRL pretty much. 

Rain

Roses in Zurich

Last time it rained like this

Rain, rain, rain

It was spring? autumn? In…

my share house in Newtown

the same rain, same, same

Some days it would stop

Then it’d start up

again, again, again

Uni textbooks damp and curling

lank hanks of velvet curtain

on my sliding bedroom door

over my barred window, hiding

the pane, pane, pane

Blocking out my hangovers, oh

the pain, the pain, the bane

Of my existence.

A lover called my room “the pit”

But I had a red rose

outside on the covered balcony

A little flame, flame, flame

One night another suitor

Left a small china dog on my doorstep

Racked returning from the pub–

a tender campaign, campaign, campaign.

I’d go to my beautiful friend’s house

Try to ease her sadness

with pizza, throwdowns, hairdye–

We’d laugh, tho her heart was

in twain, twain, twain.

I did my work, I felt sad and happy

I got drunk all the time.

It rained and rained and rained

Sometimes wonder how much has

changed, changed, changed

Zurich Almanac

Have I written a poem about Zurich yet?

Has the place sunk far enough into my subconscious?

The poetry strata: down where the dinosaur fossils lie

a Jurassic stanza, incorporating the city’s ancient guilds

 

The dull colours of conservative cool

Sitting in roccoco shop windows and on the shoulders of locals

While Ganymed begs the eagle to mount him “in a Swiss way”

Take him to the mountains, Hubacher must mean…

 

ALL ZÜRI, ALL CHRANK: Schweizerdeutsch I can read

Maybe the church spires inject some with cruel medicine.

I’m vaccinated, indoctrinated, the hot needles of last summer’s heat

Tattooed this city across the skin of hometown memories

 

Nothing in nature can kill you here – mammals, reptiles, fish

Just don’t get caught beneath an avalanche

or those blossoms, heavy with spring, before

they fall to the ground like confetti, like ashes, like tiny pieces of my heart

overflowing.

 

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I’m doing National/Global Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo) – write one poem, per day throughout April. Today’s prompt/challenge was interesting in that it was one I initially did not like the sound of. But, as is often the way, it turned out to be quite inspiring as it wasn’t how I’d normally think to construct a poem.

It was as follows: fill out, in no more than five minutes, the following “Almanac Questionnaire,” which solicits concrete details about a specific place (real or imagined). Then write a poem incorporating or based on one or more of your answers. 

Almanac Questionnaire (I’ve included my answers too)

Weather: wet, usually dry
Flora: heavy with spring blossoms
Architecture: cool modern and roccoco
Customs: polite and on time, can be brusque
Mammals/reptiles/fish: nothing can kill you
Childhood dream: Heidi
Found on the Street: sticks
Export: watches and choc
Graffiti: all zuri, all chrank
Lover: Berlin?
Conspiracy: old zuri guilds
Dress: dull colours of conservative cool
Hometown memory: flooded back in last summer’s heat
Notable person: Jung
Outside your window, you find: church spires and spring
Today’s news headline:
Scrap from a letter:
Animal from a myth: dinosaurs?
Story read to children at night: Schellen Ursli
You walk three minutes down an alley and you find: nature
You walk to the border and hear: italian, french, german
What you fear: the lights going out
Picture on your city’s postcard: Ganymede

Morning song

Beardsley-inspired ink poster by Steven Huntington from www.behance.net/gallery/7198651/Aubrey-Beardsley-Poster

 

Soft, stilldark early morning

birds’ small, individual rounds

chirping, tweeting, calling

create a wall of nature-sound

 

The trams surging up Schaffhauserstrasse

juddering scrape, metal wheels on rails

a sibilant symphony: electric power

near-majestic, benign strength prevails

 

Church bells bong quarterly

soundwaves hanging in the air

on the hour a vortex: echo-vibration, stereolocation

you almost see it shimmering there

 

The planes: further away, their churn

high-up, unmistakable

as toward tarmac or clouds they kern

ripping the sky, rippling by

 

My baby lets out a cry: 5am

down the hall in his room

he snuffles, goes quiet again

I don’t get up… but soon

 

Traffic noise, a distant soundtrack

underpins cities like cement

no one drives up our street yet

Still: the neverending improvement

 

The soft crunch of my duvet

as I stretch my legs in the warm bed

can’t sleep now should I choose it

I think about Sydney instead

 

I’m doing National/Global Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo) – write one poem, per day throughout April. Today’s prompt/challenge was to write a poem in which you closely describe an object or place, and then end with a much more abstract line that doesn’t seemingly have anything to do with that object or place, but which, of course, really does.

Food for flight

image

Snails and worms abound today
Spring rain has brought them out to play
If I were a bird I’d find
The seasonal menu just divine

I’m giving National/Global Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo) a go – write one poem, per day throughout April. Today’s prompt/challenge was to write about food.

Kleidung

Frühling in Zürich

 

Ich habe meine Kleidung vertauscht

Es hat mir etwas traurig gemacht

So viele Kleidung, so viele Jahren alt

Und auch neu

Denn ist es Frühling

Ich bin krank mit ihnen

Sind sie krank mit mir?

 

I’m giving National/Global Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo) a go – write one poem, per day throughout April. Today’s prompt didn’t work for me so I thought I’d try writing a poem in German because, fuck it.

The Spring Thing

Springtime in Zurich

I wanted to write a more cheerful post, as promised. This is not so easy for me – as anyone who has read more than two entries on here will know, I tend to go for cynicism over sentiment, self-deprecation over life affirmation. But hey, it’s springtime! Let’s bring the happy.

So I’m going to talk about parenting again. Funny story, actually. Last week I spent Mon-Weds working quite a bit, and doing my German. Then I took “time off” Thurs-Friday and spent it with my kids without working (ahem-much-except when they were asleep-ahem). And it was SO NICE. It made me realise two things. 1. I tend to think of myself as a Stay At Home Mum but I guess I’m really not. (I actually read a nice blog on this very thing – the Stay At Home Mum (or parent) Who Works) and 2. It’s soo fucking hard to get the balance right.

I make point #2 because it seems like the obvious answer to More Happy should be – well, just work less and spend more time with the kids. But I know that wouldn’t work either. I’d get bored, frustrated, and feel like I was losing myself, losing my edge in the workplace. Or do I protest too much? Hmm maybe I should try it. Unlikely. And, to be honest, I don’t think many Stay at Home Parents (SAHPs – waitasec – Saps? Really?! yikes) are “just” that anyway. Whether you’re doing the muffin tin meals I talked about last week, or not, or whatever else, there’s loads of stuff to get through when you’re fulltime on “home duties”: from grocery shopping, bill paying and, yes, fun crafternoons as well (which, I’ve since been informed that dads do do with their kids, although that wasn’t quite how I meant it… but I digress). I guess what I did last week for a couple of rare, early-Spring days was push all the other stuff aside and just hang out with my kids and my mum friends (I’m afraid I don’t know any local SAHDs – ooh, another unfortunate acronym!) and it was lovely and it made me happy.

As kids will do, both of mine seem to have moved into a new stage lately. The baby started walking a week or so ago, he sleeps better at night and is generally a pretty happy chap. It’s lovely although not unexpected – poor old second child is not breaking any new ground! I find I’m far more content to sit back and enjoy each stage with him, as opposed to chivvying for the next development. The downside is, we’re full-on into that Clash of Schedules time, which I also remember from my first kid. This seems to happen in the months around their first birthday… you’ve got yourself into a nice little groove with doing stuff with the baby, seeing your mates, maybe a bit of daycare in place… then suddenly: everyone’s schedules change! The kids are no longer napping. Well, not at the same times. Some are still doing 2 per day. Some have a longy in the morning, others have to be home by 11.45am for lunch and arvo nap or the whole day is shot. Some kids are walking and need to run around outside a lot now. Others are just observing life so their parents are still keen on the cafe. Some parents are starting to get back to work, so there’s a juggle around that too. It’s an awkward time. In a weird way, almost lonelier than the early days of motherhood when at least you’re in a sleepless babylove daze most of the time. Now things start to feel a bit more serious, a bit more this-is-how-it’s-gonna-be.  A new normal.

At the other end of my parenting spectrum, my big boy is nearly five. He’s been at Kindergarten / school for six months now and he’s just started some swimming lessons too. I don’t really see him in action at school but I took him to his second swim class last week and Oh, my heart. In half a year, he’s gone from being a toddler who wanted to carry his bunny everywhere to a proper schoolboy. There he was, bobbing about in the water, with a bunch of other kids his size, following the instructor, doing the stuff, occasionally getting distracted. So normal. Until I became a parent, I never wanted to be normal. But from my pregnancy onwards, I have started to appreciate the comfort of normality. “Everything’s normal” is mostly what you want to hear when it comes to child development from the womb onwards. OK maybe eventually you want to be told they’re super-special-whizzbang-genius at something… maybe… I dunno. But for now, normal is good. I never thought I’d say that.

Cars and a book about WWI

Cars and a book about WWI

Another interesting factor of my kids growing up, particularly the older one, is he’s starting to reach an stage when I can clearly remember myself at that age. I have some memories of Kindergarten (which you attend for a few hours per week from 3- and 4-years-old in Australia) but I recall a lot more of early primary school (from ~5yo). I’m remembering the toys and stationery I had, going to friends’ houses to play, the games we had at playlunch, lunch and afternoon recess… I hate to say it, but it’s given me another pang about not having a girl. All the stuff with dolls and hairstyles and glitter pens and dressing up and whatever else. I loved that shit. And it’s not that boys can’t or won’t do that but at the moment mine seem pretty content to play with cars, trains, weapons (we try to discourage this but what can you do, it’s the reality) and read books on animals and World War 1 (again – eesh. I don’t mind him knowing real history but I guess I wish he’d turned his attention to this a bit later). And it’s not to say that a daughter would necessarily be into “girl” stuff either. But still… a small sigh.

Anyway, my kids are generally awesome. And they really made me feel good last week. I even managed to channel some of the fight-play into a heavy metal battle dance off to Soundgarden with my eldest so I shall not complain. Plus, it’s springtime after what suddenly feels like it was a looong winter. The blossoms are coming out in Zurich and there’s lots to look forward to.

So that’s my cheerful post. Happy Easter.