He Says She Says They Say

From nownovel.com
From nownovel.com

I don’t know how, I don’t know why
but one day
on the sly
and on the fly
my poems turned into surly teenagers.
No more tender night cuddles
no tear-smirched cheeks to smooth
seldom around for longer than it takes
to grunt and disapprove
of my repetitive attempts
to ask them
how
they feel.
***
Sometimes she constrains our flow
in dismally low fixed forms, barriers and the like…
Oh, pu-leee-ze, lady, make up your mind!
She twirls us endlessly,
frets, crosses out
the best among us.
Then, too late,
she introduces us to new words
still stiff from their dictionary plaid.
So why should we be easy, pleasant and obedient?
Stop trying to make us fit in!

And that’s about all you’re going to hear from me for the rest of the week, which will be dedicated, alas, not to writing, but to amusing and feeding the children, and going through an immense To Do list.

Poetry and Politics

Poet Anthony Desmond raised an important topic recently over at dVerse Poets Pub: that most people would rather keep quiet about the matters that trouble the world and the people living in it. Should and could it be the poet’s role to talk about these things? If we believe in the power of words, shouldn’t we be using them to raise awareness, to start a debate? And can words really bring about change? Such a tricky topic, one that I often debate internally. The poem below was inspired by the online discussions.

Picture from The Guardian.
Picture from The Guardian.

I am an angry poet but

Can my words astonish, shame or fly

out into the world to cry

at the injustice or bring about change?

Give voice or succor,

placate when hatred piles on higher and higher?

Too much is shrieking

hurting

maiming

dying

And all I can think of to do is

shriek

fall

describe

weep

All I have are puny words

drowning in babble.

So I am an angry poet but

often

an all too quiet poet.

 

Erasure Poetry – Yummy Mummy

For every inspiration
there is a yanked deception
all for your good, your own good, your very own good
Old Dobbin work horse, clothes horse,
fit in, fit in, or back to the bargain bin.
Black and white world views:
all men cheat, all women punish.
Snide remarks, alimony payments, guilt oh guilt.
Children? A boast, a blackmail,
nothing too tangly.
Oh, princess, princess, you’re too old,
your pink trousers far too rolled…
Life is to be endured
remembered with regret.
Jump in, drown, in perfect pool
of emoting gushingness – so like a woman!
Seductive but not a slut,
mother in bloom, household goddess with Cath Kidston apron,
organic, fragrant, don’t pop the balloon!
Stay average, stay you, stay submissive,
woo hoo,
how happy we are in our 4X4 car!

The School Run, from moneymagpie.com
The School Run, from moneymagpie.com

I’m linking this to Open Link Night over at dVerse Poets (doors open later tonight) – always a great opportunity to experiment and share. Admittedly, I cheated slightly and added a few bits, but relied mainly on the prose text I’d posted here. I chose a childish beat and repetition, to further emphasise the infantilisation of yummy mummies. Which version do you like best? I always tend to choose the more succinct and ambiguous, but am I right?

Point of clarification: I am neither for nor against Yummy Mummies. But I don’t envy them. Life circumstances have made me feel their pain – or what I imagine to be their pain. Luckily, I’m not yummy enough to quite enter their ranks. 

I Pretend to Go to Tango Classes

I’d love to dance a proper tango

with flicks and slicks, quick and slow,

in sensuous syncopation,

perfection clinging to my limbs

like the smell of danger.

 

I still dream of a partner to explore

the musical vibration in every pore.

Connect with eyes closed,

be guided yet seduce to influence,

push back when needed,

make our music last beyond the final note.

 

But I fear the slide and bite

of feet so restless across the sprung floor.

I distrust the closeness of the hold, refuse to lean in…

Because I’m tired of looking clumsy

and trying too hard,

being old-dog-new-tricks kind of odd.

Because I no longer know how to walk in heels backwards.

Because nowhere do I feel as alone

as in the arms of all those others,

reassessing, readjusting, taking measure every dance.

 

So I pretend to go to weekly tango classes

and sit in my car in the woods, scribbling poems.

 

 

Everyday Happiness

Happiness Is…

ParisSpring

A sunny day early in the Paris spring.

Happiness is sun-dappled apple in its freshness

but lingering smooth like chocolate almonds melting on your tongue.

Hearing flowers grow or each blade of grass unfurl,

or gentling out of fluff lining the nests.

Happiness is hearing the bustle elsewhere

oneself in no hurry

quick only to smile at passers-by.

Sweet hesitations of nothings to fill a day.

A perch somewhere astray, to pontificate and contemplate

glimpses of famous monuments,

but no need to tick them off your list.

You admire the sleek and chick Parisian parents, their control

of pushchairs…  breathe relief they’re not your own…

It’s the little everyday things we celebrate today on dVerse Poets Pub. Join us there for a drink, a chat and plenty of good poems!

Expat Bubble (A Poem)

For Open Link Night over at dVerse Poets Pub, I thought I’d attempt a spoken word poem. I’m not going to torture you with my recorded voice (or display my lack of technical ability) but you have to imagine quite a jaunty, jarring, hectic note to this one.
Get out, get out from the suffocating glass bell, I want to yell,
but we’re protected so safe within, we survey the scene
with composure, without compunction, with complacency…
And do we even have the decency
to try and learn the language? Do we, hell! And when
people say ‘Non’ we puff, ‘Well, well…what a country, what a system, how do they survive?’

But to me, they feel alive.
Oh, sure, they moan and cuss, groan and fuss,
there’s no British exclusivity or prior claim, you know…
But, on the whole, they let us be, in our inane inability
to pronounce ‘pain’ properly.
When we gather with high-pitched gazelle squeals at watering holes,
descend from our Landies to gather our children under squawking wings
from rugby and ballet, theatre and tennis, piano and gym,
pointing their little toes, pouting their objections…
When we sigh how our lives are filled way past the brim
yet each day another piece of meaning drops off into emptiness…
I want to take that first person plural pronoun
and smash it in resounding, resolute, smithereenish crashings.
I want to proclaim no allegiance, no herding, not me,
I’m not one of them!
But my passport tells another story.

Layers in Poetry

She sits in laundry like a queen,

opinion keen on every scene.

Trois petits mois – allez hop, cancer de sein!

The jolt of the lymph node.

Drama teen of bilious skein

unraveled, stitch of strawberry roan

as playful as her foal still unweaned,

eyes aquiver, tears unshed,

jinks unsatiated.

 

Oh, dearie, don’t let the critter

fill you with jitter, nor meander

down the dreary pits.

She knelt down and sewed

a star of hope.

 

Claudia is asking us about multi-layered poetry over at dVerse Poets Pub. How do we build up the colour, texture, meaning of a poem? Poetry is all about allowing multiple truths, multiple meanings to coexist, to shimmer in uncertainty and marvel, but how do we craft that?

baumkuchen 1
German Baumkuchen, the original multilayered poem…

 

Here’s how I set about it in the example above. I started off with a simple word cloud prompt. I borrowed the first line from a previous poem of mine and formed sound associations for the main wordsor syllables in that line ‘sits’, ‘laun-dry’, ‘queen’. I came up with ‘seeds/fits/situation/jinks/snitch/pit/lit/critter’ and ‘dreary/meander/moan/roan/foal’ and ‘ream/seen/beam/skein/weaning/scene’. I picked the words that most appealed to me and continued to build on them with more conceptual associations this time, but I still had no idea what my ‘poem’ would be about. If there even was a poem lurking somewhere in all this.

A few hours later, I was waiting to board my flight at the airport and I heard three ladies behind me talking about a friend of theirs who had recently died of cancer. That planted the real seed of the poem in my mind and I played around with the words that would fit in with that idea. The first draft was quickly written, but it lacked that conversational tone that had sparked my inspiration. So from sound to content to tone, I hope that finally the poem is a little closer to the confusion, uncertainty, wish for hope that is always present around the C word.

It will need a few more iterations and layers before it’s halfway finished, though…