findingtimetowrite

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Archive for the category “Poems”

Errant Fathers, Stupid Women

I came across an article on the internet recently which made me very angry. The author was talking about how it’s the women’s fault if they are left holding the baby, that maybe fathers didn’t want them from the start. The tenor of the work can be summarised as follows:

Don’t come to complain to me about how harsh your life is. It’s self-inflicted: you wanted children, so deal with it. I do not blame errant fathers at all. Especially my errant father. He never wanted children. 

This was written in response to that, as well as to the fact that many of my friends have divorced in recent years because of ‘errant husbands’,  and is linked to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night. It’s also an exercise in the use of myths in poetry, which was my latest module for the poetry course I am doing.

Maria Callas as Medea. indafondazione.org

Maria Callas as Medea. indafondazione.org

Don’t expect us to be grateful, Medea.

Nobody asked for your sacrifice.

Jason would have coped fine without the scattering of body parts.

That’s when he should have realized you’re mental,

only thinking of yourself

under the disguise of undying love.

No wonder he found somebody new,

more easy-going,

without the grandiloquent gestures.

He needed rest after his journey, bless him,

and all you can offer is barbaric revenge…

Agamemnon returned from Troy a hero,

having left me to struggle for so many years

alone yet not free

mourning the daughter he’d sacrificed for his mission, his ego.

It’s all about ego in the end, you see.

His spoils of war in the shape of a nubile wench:

his embarrassed smile barely veiling

the testosterone pride of middle-aged conquest.

‘You’d grown a little stale.

I’d forgotten how to let fun into my life.’

Was I really the only one to see the feet sodden with clay

on this former giant of a man?

How did he turn my children against me,

using absence to tenderise their flesh so willing

to choose his account over mine?

In all discarded, bitter women

there’s a Jocasta lying in wait:

jewellery poised to maim errant fathers,

secretly rooting for the son to take over,

unable to bear mistaken loss.

Ode to My Fellow Pub Poets

After a short summer break, the dVerse Poets Pub reopens its doors and celebrates its third anniversary. This is no small matter in a world where blogs come and go at lightning speed, especially community-based blogs, where we share our poetic thoughts and feel free to experiment. The poem below is based on Catullus and his famous Ode to Lesbia, and it’s dedicated to all of the talented poets (and moments of fun and serious talk) that we’ve had here at the Pub.

Let’s live and love then, my dear friends,

another glass of champagne? …don’t mind if I do..

and give old naggers’ disapproving frowns short shrift.

The sun rises and sets on repeat.

[Over and over and over and over...

//the joy of repetition really is in you.]

But we? Once our sun’s snuffed out, it’s the graveyard shift.

So cover me in poems, a thousand,

then a hundred more, then let’s start over again.

Oh… is that taking it too far? / No, wait!// Don’t turn away…

A million poems later, let’s fudge the score

so no cold calculating eye can quell our enthusiasm!

And

if in doubt for entertainment

dancing on tables

is also great                  and would suffice.

The River

From the BBC website.

From the BBC website.

Now those memories come back to haunt me 
they haunt me like a curse 
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true 
Or is it something worse 
that sends me down to the river 
though I know the river is dry 
That sends me down to the river tonight (Bruce Springsteen) 

 

I said river and I meant river

I walked to the river in my dreams

searched for it when sleeping

when keeping watch

when whistling the night

 

I whistled the river but found no river – I now know

that whether I conjure it or fear it

it’s never outside

when I struggle, when I scream,

that’s when it comes

the river

in narrow trickles down my back – it glistens…

in the river I’ll be taken

in the river I’ll breathe my last

one untamed gulp

Foam

Crushed

 

So what can I do – chewed, spat out

So what can I do – gnawed to flotsam

 

I said river but I meant no river

All I craved was

A lagoon

 

NW3 – A Sonnet to a Postcode

keats_free

Keats’ house, Hampstead.

For a brief while during my student days in London I lived at a very desirable address in NW3 – on the Hampstead/Belsize Park borders. Not far from Keats’ beautiful home. Of course my accommodation was a typical student hole with shared facilities, but for a while there I felt I could soar. Here’s another sonnet – I told you I’ve been working hard on poetic form – but some rules are made to be broken…

You called it precarious and spindly, so I stopped

inviting you up dusty stairs,

my isolated bubble-nest at the top

of the world. Forget shared kitchen, bathtub hairs.

Across the hall Ariel made yoghurts live,

while Tosh wrote cleaning rota lists.

I draped white billows over furniture

mouldy, mismatched and grim. I felt the bliss

of my first double bed.  Alone.

This attic is forever summer, on the brink

of endless choice, dreams all my own.

A room of pleasing no one but myself and Keats,

the desk where I write Chapter One again,

again, ‘cos time is endless and I’m at peace…

Once in my life I had a posh abode:

an empty shell in the correct postcode.

 

Absurdist Poetry for a Summer Day

How to cheer yourself up on a day when you are listless, fluey and bed-ridden? Especially when it is lovely and sunny outside and you can’t take advantage of it? Why, with a cat picture and some absurdist poetry, of course…

What My Cat Thinks

P1020292

Birds of a feather flock on the lawn for my benefit.

The early bird catches my eye but it takes two to tango.

I personally always look before I leap,

But I don’t look them in the mouth.

Given the choice, I prefer chicken before the eggs, even if they’re all in one basket.

Count the chicks? Not likely – any number will do.

What Smashes Me Will Make Me Strong

Tonight I’m hosting the wonderfully talented poets over at the dVerse Pub. No big-screen sporting events there, but instead a drink, a shared joke, mutual support and a poetic prompt. This week I’m asking everyone to write about what shatters their world to pieces, or else what helps them to rebuild their fragmented world. Here is my response, a simple list poem.

Sculpture made from Sheffield cutlery.

Sculpture made from Sheffield cutlery.

It’s the little, the minuscule, the itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny

they always catch me out.

For the big disasters I can prepare, shut up my stall,

batten those flimsy hatches, but what defence do I have against

the thoughtless word in the midst of safe harbours?

Everyday forgetfulness,

the cups of tea never offered, iced cocktails never mixed,

the thoughts unshared or opinions unasked.

Banter with a core of heartless

mission with a sense of flight

running on lonely past a destination so wrong.

 

What patches me together? Small things as well.

Playing with words is helpful,

a smile sometimes more.

Smell of rain, the first bird in the morning.

Often the silence, a lull in wild thoughts.

And… always… amnesia of things past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden Shed of Passion

germination

Wikipedia.org

Plant pots upended, half-germinated seeds tumble,

in a rush to find an edge, an inkling of solid ground.

Putrid soil tingles after winter’s long repose.

It spills out of gutted bags,

covers fingers, boots and staining

trousers, nails, knotted hair.

The watering can leaks, remembering days

when they preferred it to the hose.

Hot/ cold/ on/ off

I don’t know where are whose limbs.

Bulbs clutched closely in sweaty palms,

cold the shiver and tremble in air so thick

you can cut it in chunky slices

if your knife would just stop shaking.

Crunch of snail-shell, trodden and discarded -

Quick, no time to bend down and recover!

Just tidy those dusty scissors, ravel the twine, drop gloves in slurry piles,

anything to stop the hurrying of time’s wingless spider legs.

Those seedlings need mulching, you know, to turn into flower.

When the fire’s petered out

we remember in the corner

a rusty wheelbarrow.

 

Wheelbarrow on Ebay.

Wheelbarrow on Ebay.

A rather literal interpretation of the ‘seeding’ prompt that Shanyn has given us over at dVerse Poets. I was thinking today of how each of my actions, even more than my words, seeds thoughts and reactions in my own two children. I only hope they turn out to be flowers, not weeds… And from raising children, it seemed only a little jump to the making of children… Not that I ever had a garden shed, you understand…

Haikus for a Crazy Spring

DSCN6606We’re having such changeable weather lately, with perhaps 3 seasons in a day (several times over). Here are some haikus about this crazy month of May.

Last snow streak on rock

wind-chased clouds take shelter there

-would I had my own!

 

Now clear now cloud drift

we linger on in wonder

at the constant change.

 

rainstormFogging up windows

like withered petals we crouch

in entrails of Tube

 

 

This day sleeves are short.

Still fresh before the swelter -

our sun-starved ghost arms.

Is It Time for Castles Yet?

Not for me a timid manor-house, a larger-than-average barn:

Towers, sculptures, crenellations are things I yearn.

A place where my imagination and I can gallop unfettered,

where no one has tethered my quiver so impatient.

Castles in Spain? Pah! I scorn!

It’s the chateaux in France that I adore!

 

It’s Friday, it’s been a crazy week, so I felt like having a silly little ditty to accompany the pictures below. I am also responding to the prompt over at dVerse Poets, where we are asked to experiment with slant rhymes: the ones that sound nearly but not quite right, and are so much more interesting than perfection!

Chateau in Angouleme, avendrealouer.fr

Chateau in Angouleme, avendrealouer.fr

Chateau near Limousin, bellesdemeures.com

Chateau near Limousin, bellesdemeures.com

They probably have libraries already, but just in case you are looking for the perfect one… (I may have posted this picture before, but it’s just the most romantic chateau library I have ever seen).

Chateau de Groussay, from bookmania.me

Chateau de Groussay, from bookmania.me

 

Poetry Review: Father Dirt by Mihaela Moscaliuc

FatherDirtThe poet Mihaela Moscaliuc was born and raised in Romania, but came to the United States in 1996 to do her graduate work in American literature. She is now married to an American poet and lectures in world literature, poetry and translation in New England. She was recommended to me by another poet, because in her first poetry collection ‘Father Dirt’ she captures perfectly the ambiguity of living a-straddle between two worlds, two languages and cultures.

Like any immigrant, she has come across the ocean with ‘a saddlebag of ghosts’ from her homeland:

We carry cemeteries on our heads,

in our bellies, round our ankles.

She used to be:

the girl who dreamt her escape…

who now fuels homesickness with immigrant tales.

And what tales she has to tell! She remembers with sensuous delight the rich tastes, images, sounds of a Romanian childhood: the odd astringent friendship of quince, cutting the corn porridge with butter-combed strings, spitting out cherry stones in the graveyard, the wary pleasure of having blood oranges for Easter (an uncommon delicacy in those days), good-natured banter and gossip during the home-waxing sessions among women. There are also aspects of her cultural heritage that she struggles to come to terms with: the old-fashioned beliefs in potions and tinctures, the healing powers of nettle and marigold tea, rituals for the dead, whispered curses and protection against evil. There is both a luminous and an ominous quality to her remembered life.

Yet the shadows hanging over these childhood memories are much deeper than that, for these were the years of deprivation and dictatorship, when abortion was illegal and even young girls were subjected to forced fertility checks. Moscaliuc remembers denouncements of classmates in school assemblies, the arrest of midwives who performed abortions, the suicide of a high-school classmate, the forced sterilisation of Roma women. She remembers fear and innuendo, when a careless word could send you to labour camp.

In the most heart-rending section of the book, there are a series of poems about children in orphanages and on the streets, youngsters who died far too young, for whom Father Dirt was a comforting figure, opposed to the bleached soul of the poet who was trying to help them on a voluntary basis. These are angry, fierce, immensely sad poems, individual stories almost too grim to contemplate. Moscaliuc piles on detail after sordid detail, until they sound almost banal, in a condemnation of society’s collective blindness to the problem.

My orphans grew up and disappeared below the earth.

Twice a day they ascend, cross the boulevard,

Sniffing auroleac, flapping plastic bottles…

Sometimes they’re electrocuted. Come dawn,

they’re carted to common burial…

Come spring, the survivors will honeycomb the town,

each crater strategically placed to absorb warmth and mercy.

Portrait of Mihaela Moscaliuc, from internationalpscyhonanalysis.net

Portrait of Mihaela Moscaliuc, from internationalpscyhonanalysis.net

These poems come from a harsh, unforgiving place and they brought up painful memories for me.  The poet admits that they may not be to everyone’s taste or understanding, but she almost performs an act of exorcism by writing them down.

You ask me where these poems come from.

You traveled my country enough to know…

But this is the skin she wants to shed, the waters of yesterday that she no longer wants to wade through, although she will never completely forget them. She wants to fit in with her new world, with the sweet tomato aroma of her new home, and this is where she truly speaks to that yearning and sense of never quite belonging which every immigrant knows.

I want dreams in the American idiom -

[...] dreams with popcorn plots and slick endings,

dreams with heirloom seedlings, dreams

never in need of translation

An unforgettable volume of poetry (even given my biased reading, being of similar age and background as the poet). I was fascinated, absorbed, dragged into deep pockets of pain and back again. Above all, it has given me the permission to be bolder, more honest, more open about my own past and my cultural influences.

 

 

 

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