findingtimetowrite

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Archive for the category “Poems”

Jousting for Attention

Walk up, walk up, fair knights and ladies! Meeting in battle today for the first time ever are two poems of very different composure, manner and attire. The first, inspired by a verse from a ballad by that incomparable bard Sir Timothy of Br’ian, is serious and moody. A knight of darkness, riding to the rescue of damsels in distress. The second jumped fresh as a daisy from a line from Lady Claudia’s Book of Adventurous Deeds: sweet, rambunctious and all white fluffiness. They are competing here for your favours. Which one will get your vote?

From kidswindow.co.uk

From kidswindow.co.uk

 

1) One day you stop filling in cracks

with smiles, guts and vapour.

One day the paint becomes too heavy for the wall.

One night your eyes unblink in reddened wakefulness

and never come to rest again.

One morning your boots start walking all by themselves.

 

2)  Time is a thin line on a cat’s back.

When you most want to tickle it awake

and grab it by its fleeting softness,

it scampers away in offended silence.

Yet when you blissfully ignore,

pace forth in multitasking skullduggery,

reluctant to waste a drop…

it curls into a placid ball

and purrs contentment into your impatient lap.

 

These two poems are in response to our ‘medievally themed’ week at dVerse Poets Pub, where we are bidding fond farewell (but not adieu) to Claudia and Brian, our founding parents. Do come over and join the celebrations! [I have marked the lines from their poems in italics.]

Brian claudia

Letter from the Future

I wish I could tell you it’s all sunshine.

But you’d never believe or take joy in that.

You need cloud cover to hide the pockmarks on your path.

 

You should be here.

 

You should see

how all you feared came to pass

 

and you lived anyway.

 

How lessons took too long to be learnt

smarted with salt-rub on blistered skin

then washed in emulsion of sepia tints.

 

You should if you could…

but you wouldn’t and you won’t…

keep your eyes unfocused, looking beyond the prize,

capture all the slapdash details

which add up to a beautiful life.

P1020258

 

Over at dVerse Poets Pub tonight, we are imagining receiving a letter or poem from our future self. What will we know/have learnt/be willing to share? What does the future look like?

Snowed Under

PoeticsSnowedInMantle’s too obvious

and blanket reeks of cheap vodka and sweat stains.

Sheet refers to black ice, the treachery of slipping.

So what word should I use

for wintry timing of our springs?

Each fresh puff of indignation

frays the quilt that dampens ardour.

This cloak and dagger business

has quenched my refrain far too long.

Are there shoots beneath the freezing?

Stones left unsplit from jaw-biting cold?

One thing I do know:

it’s not a comforter.

 

Join us for some wintry poetry – as literal or as metaphorical as you like – at dVerse Poets Pub tonight!

 

 

Open Link Night: One Word Epitaph

It’s the end of the month and Open Link Night over at dVerse Poets Pub. Join us for fun, laughter and good vibes – as well as plenty of poetry from all around the globe.

 

One Word Epitaph

gravestoneBorn here, grew up there. Moved a lot, not sure where home is.

Done with town life, biz junk. Had my phase of punk.

First man too mean, next too green, third took the cream.

Tribes ran off, so did my book.

Got left on hook, no laugh, no shame.

All I want: my sons, my pen and friends.

A book to read in fruit tree.

Sweet cat on my lap.

Good meal with friends.

Stiff drink at end of day.

Walks on hills, rolls in hay.

Snow and skis, come what may.

New Poetry Form

Over at dVerse Poets Pub, the friendliest poetry hangout in town, Tony invites us to explore a new poetic form – as yet nameless. It is based on the American cinquain, but with a few additional syllables. The result is a five-line poem with lines of 3, 5, 7, 9 and 3 syllables in that order. A good way to get unstuck from the current poetic silence that seems to be governing my writing life! And the name I suggest for this poetic form? Topolino, because it reminds me of the original Fiat 500 – small, compact, economical.

Sunset

Sunset glow

on weary snow peaks:

the further we go, the more

depth to fall, shores to conquer, tremble…

Just now: glow.

 

Breaking the Rules

Over at dVerse Poets, Brian has transformed us all into rebels, cat burglars and revolutionaries. What does he want us to do? Nothing less than break all the rules, say goodbye to convention and ‘improve’ poetic forms. So, since I haven’t had much sleep over the past few days, I will stick to a brief form, an old favourite of mine: the haiku. See what I’ve done below? Snow melts so quickly that my last verse only has 3 syllables instead of 5. Describing the frustration of this snowless, skiless winter, which only brings on blizzardy snow when I have a five-hour drive ahead of me.

 

Because we’ve waited

Till every last snow cloud passed.

Now melting…

 

 

 

Poetry Review: Jacqueline Saphra – The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions

SaphraJacqueline Saphra packs a lot into this slender debut collection of poetry (published in 2011). Deceptively domestic and personal, the poems take on a life of their own, dance with absurdity and shimmering wit, and leave an aftertaste of profound inquietude.There are three strands to the work, and they are neatly divided into Parts I, II and III in the volume.

The first describes a fairly typical British childhood in the late 1960s – early 1970s, with plenty of humorous detail: memories of the moon landing, watching news clips about the Vietnam War, half-forgotten family history from the East European shtetls, giggly gossip about sunbathing in the nude with a classmate, struggling to come to grips with the decimal system.

The precocious observations of a child are tinged with a grown-up’s wry remembrance of childhood fears and mistakes. Some are poignant (Target Practice), some nearly surreal and full of wistfulness (about her incompatible parents), while others are just funny and fiery.

The Art of Diplomacy

At three I learned to listen, not to chat.

At eight I counselled friends and sorted spats.

By twelve I was a bloody diplomat.

 

At forty I began to smell a rat

at last. I said to hell with that.

Hand me that baseball bat.

The second strand is about love and lust, the battle of the sexes and the pang of breaking up. The start of a relationship and these poems are sensuous, sexy, drunk on love, beguiling and ready to be fooled again:

so come on, loosen me

with daquiris, your mouth

 

against my ear and tell me again

that you and I are composed

 

of the same elements, that

there’s a sea inside me,

 

and you, too, are salt and water.

I’ll make up the rest.

But most of the poems in this section are about disappointment and animosity betwen the sexes. Small acts of daily warfare in a couple, as well as more dramatic acts of betrayal. In ‘Penelope’ (a poem inspired by Cavafy’s wonderful poem ‘Ithaka’),  Odysseus’ wife hurls the loom against the wall in an act of rebellion and leaves Ithaka to search for her errant husband but realises, upon finding him, that he is no longer her destiny. The poetic imagination hits the wall of prosaic negligence in ‘After a Long Sleep’. Women’s subservience and desire to please are mocked and ultimately undermined in ‘Last Harvest’. This is a poet unafraid to voice righteous anger, confusion, pain – in a way which is all too often described as ‘feminine’, but is in fact universal. A jilted lover muses about her successor:

If she had the eye she would touch my mind, she would read

my scrawls, she would balk at my famished word, circling.

But she doesn’t have the eye. I have the eye and I have the greed

and she has my red wrap and she has caught you inside it.

jacqueline.saphra.net

jacqueline.saphra.net

The third part is about death and making peace with one’s loved ones. I suspect this is at least partly autobiographical, as the poet describes a mother who was once thin and glamorous, fun, but was abandoned for a newer, more demanding sylph-like model and never quite recovered from the shock. Over the years she seeks refuge in a string of boyfriends, which the now grown poet is disposed to think of more kindly at several decades’ removal.

I met these men sometimes. They weren’t unkind.

We’d nod, then part like co-conspirators

in some veiled plot to save her from the truth.

Now a mother herself, the poet shifts between the past and the present, the joys of breastfeeding, the almost overnight transformation from baby to adolescent, the anxiety about one’s child obtaining the driving licence. Her own experience of motherhood has both strengthened and softened her, has made her more understanding and forgiving of her mother. The poem about her mother’s last moments ‘Last Call’ is incredibly poignant: full of tenderness and the guilt of not being there.

The last you knew, you heard her swear

she loved you more than I: who knows?

Perhaps that’s fair enough: it was Death,

not I, who said a prayer,

who dropped the final silence in your ear,

your dark head cradled in her lap, not mine,

her bloodied fingers in your hair.

This is poetry of the interstices – simple, clear words, with so much breathing space between them that the readers can fill in with their own experiences, emotions, unformed words. If this is the poetry of ‘domestic preoccupations’ and ‘everyday life’, then give me more of it, for it touches us all!

 

 

 

Breaking Bread

Let me help you break the bread

with my family this holiday.

You step over the threshold, ignore the salt,

admire the braided beauty on the plate.

Chew it and savour,

linger on the aftertaste of generations’ toil.

Your family has a Domesday entry.

Mine is self-sufficient.

Grains are the pride of every house: maize and wheat,

we pat our mămăligă,

we mould our bread with tears and laughter,

age plum brandy in lop-sided barrels,

magic forth the salt from deep mines.

For what more do you need

for your gut to be satiated

for merriment to bubble up

and your face to flush with our endless questions?

Welcoming guests with bread, salt and drink. From doxologia.ro

Welcoming guests with bread, salt and drink. From doxologia.ro

Over at dVerse Poets we are talking bread in all its forms, getting ready for the holidays.

Winners and Losers in Literature

Ion Luca Caragiale, from Wikipedia.

Ion Luca Caragiale, from Wikipedia.

People love those great romantics

with their self-absorbed delirium

especially if they die of tuberculosis or worse or alone.

But garrets are passé, starving is forever,

and audiences matter.

As long as you don’t let it show.

 

Unnecessary, it seems to me,

your sighing, your plaintive distress.

We know, we’ve been there, no need to tarry.

Mere hint and then whisk over.

Sunlight lingering on a teardrop

Is more effective by far than a November soaking.

 

Madam, if I may… tell you that you whinge

and use a hundred words

where a spatter of six will do.

Your ears so waxed with self-pity and doubts,

your voice so coarsened by years of neglect,

that you forget to listen and render with fidelity,

you lose the joy of using a microscope.

Cut smaller still your canvas,

till you can stitch it to perfection.

Be precious, not so greedy to spit out the half-digested…

Polish your gemstones for years.

Mock, but with purpose,

yourself before all others.

 

And then perhaps some decades hence

you’ll learn to make it look

effortless, spontaneous.

 

Perhaps not quite the right response to the prompt about winning and losing for dVerse Poets, but I am having an internal dialogue with my writing hero, Caragiale, Romanian playwright, journalist and short story writer. Every word perfectly chosen and placed. Unlike my gushing, spouting self. I know I will be a winner when I finally learn to control the rawness and shape the internal world more gracefully.

Open Link Night: Fragmented Poetry

I’ve not been feeling very inspired to write poetry lately, so it’s been just the odd line or fragment which I’ve jotted down. So, with apologies for the very rough nature of this poetry, here is my contribution to Open Link Night over at dVerse Poets Pub. For far better poetry than this, please check out the other contributions there.

There’s a reason to this rhyming

and a pattern to my longing

if only I could uncover it.

* * *

I don’t want you to be as you were at the start.

I want you to be like you never were

the spark I thought I caught in you.

* * *

20140824_114824In the midst of this scorched landscape

infected pools simmer.

There are rare pockets of days that have not

had sunlight drained out,

days when I can sit on a terrace

with a coffee made by someone else

and think of ceramic exhibitions

without using cracked glaze as a metaphor.

* * *

Can this be the end

if it’s of something which never was?

You never promised me a rose garden but

I thought all that scrabbling around in dirt

would lead to some flowerful weeds along the way.

 

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