It’s time once more for that most joyous of occasions – linking up and joining the discussions at the dVerse Poets Pub. This time I have a dreamy love poem inspired by Greek poet Kavafis (known as Cavafy). Don’t they say we should never talk about the moon in poetry, that it’s too commonplace? In celebration of World Poetry Day (which was yesterday), I will break such rules.
Thin sliver all that’s left of the moon
over Alexandria’s port tonight.
We map out each other’s body
on scented sheets in shuttered rooms
your heartbeat in my palm
then slink into the shadows
complicit in their deepening
to journey so far from our generous beginning.
Sole guide and friend when I am
lost on country lanes. It’s night
and the loss is sometimes straightforward,
the strands of complication get plaited in
colouring warmth in where none was scheduled.
I imagine torches on scenes of small disasters.
Someone we love is always the shape of the missing
the gap unfilled
a careful step on the cracks in the pavement –
it never hurt anyone
to be doubly sure but
who’s to say superstition hasn’t cursed the world?
There can’t be one heart for hatred
and one for love. We only have one…
and it stains easily.
I want to be once more on the land
when April brings a frosty surprise,
where even August can powder with snow.
September smiles indolent and clement, umbrellas are pointless.
Lime trees put on a show as they fall in our hair,
as we hide in their tunnels, as we skip class at school.
I want indigestion with memories both false and true.
I want clothes for all seasons,
and not just babies with fuzz-ripened skin.
Sharp-clawed darkness, the wolves howling from forests
that linger primordial near clean-ploughed fields.
I want you and I to be younger,
not necessarily a happy end.
I am linking this to Open Link Night at the dVerse Poets Pub, where the living is easy, the drinks are plentiful and the poetry is magnificent!
You are the colour of slate, you smoke in husky float, you describe a butterknife arc. I pluck you out of obscurity from under a bush in my old hometown. Supple-smooth, tripartite with frazzled edges, worn white with grief, you lie supine in both of my hands.
You were once the pinnacle of aviation engineering, now less purposeful than you appear. November, surplus to requirements, your bird doesn’t want you no more. Just like this town doesn’t care if I come or I go.
All I can do: comfort you.
Always knew this day would come.
Soothe through boxing-gloves.
Linking this to Haibun Monday over at dVerse Poets, where we are talking about hometowns. I feel sadly out-of-place in my ‘official’ hometown and am not necessarily welcome in the hometowns of my heart. Like a feather, I’ve been transported across many countries and towns, and I’ve left a little bit of me everywhere.
A joyous prompt today over at dVerse Poets Pub: it’s all about the bounce! I apologise to Sinatra for mangling his original lyrics with my bouncier version.
Be my bouncy Valentine!
Come bounce with me, let’s jump down to the Strand-
A walk along the river, then off to dizzy Theatreland.
The audience will cheer when we stand so near.
‘Kiss, kiss!’ they will cry.
Who’s to disappoint them? Not I!
Didn’t I promise that I would write more poetry this year, whether it gets published or not? Here is a wonderful warming up exercise – participating in the Quadrille challenge over at dVerse Poets Pub. A Quadrille is a poem or flash of precisely 44 words and this time it has to include the word ‘leap’, as we bound unfettered into the New Year.
Each year I fall-
blunder blind through cold
air vents, no second
sight, no wasteful bite.
Each year the marvels glimpsed on the way down
string peacock feathers and black pearls around my skull,
unexpected bonus, befriending hearts given
too often short shrift.
Shameful to admit, but I have to do it: although I read a lot of poetry, I seldom review it on my blog. Why is that? Because I often read 1-2 poems here, 2-3 there, without a methodical approach. If I do read a whole collection by a single author or an anthology by multiple poets, I do it over a longer period of time (because I need to reread and think about it) and forget to add it to Goodreads. Besides, reviewing an entire collection is much harder than looking at a single poem. So many different themes, styles, details to consider!
So I apologise for being remiss about reviewing what is probably even more important to me than crime fiction and literature in translation. I intend to do a lot better in the coming year. Meanwhile, here are some poets I discovered or rediscovered this year, with a short quote which will hopefully intrigue you enough to want to explore them in more detail.
Rebecca Goss: Her Birth
Very moving collection of poems portraying the birth, short life, death and aftermath of the poet’s daughter Ella, who was born with a rare and incurable heart condition.
Assure me I will be ripe
and stretching, my belly full
but still have space
for her first days, last days.
Assure me I will keep her toes
accurate as maths, her smell
precise, her voice heard above the birds.
Assure me that I will not howl her name
during birth, that I will place
newborn fingers in my mouth,
taste only newness.
Then, I will consider another.
Polly Atkin: Basic Nest Architecture
Beautifully observed details of nature, parallels drawn to human life, and to those concepts of home, belonging, nesting, which have always preoccupied me.
I am not a tree, my roots
blanketed by rock, my roots tunnelled under
the weight of the lake bed, my roots knotted rock
in the puzzle of a dry stone wall. Unthink
that sinking. Unthink that tether. Take
this light – that sweet, that loving yellow,
the mist erasing the horizon as though
there is nothing beyond the lip of the valley,
its kiss – could anyone turn from it now?
Gillian Allnutt: Blackthorn
Feminist Christian poetry might seem like an unexpected combination, but wonderful in Allnutt’s capable hands.
My father came home from the burning of Belsen
with bits of it under his skin and the bowl of his heart in his hands
that would never be the same again, not ever his own again.
Because of that burning down.
And, in his pocket, proudly, the souvenir spoon.
Of light tin, slowly, the bowl of it has worn down.
Barely is it a spoon.
The best of my life has been stirring the Bisto in.
And was Jerusalem.
Of my father in me there has been no burning down.
Andrew McMillan: Physical
Both lustful and tender, a paean to physical love in all its vulnerability, simplicity and complexity.
I had forgotten that loving could feel so calming
telling you that your body was beautiful sighing out
the brittle disappointments from the bones
having no judgement of what the body
may want to be doing where the breath may fall
My father had four children
and three sugars in his coffee
and every birthday he bought me
a dictionary which got thicker
and thicker and because his word
is not dead, I carry it like sugar
on a silver spoon
up the Mobay hills in Jamaica […]
I looked at my hand
holding this ivory knife
and thought about how hard it was
to accept my father
for who he was
and where he came from
how easy it is now to spill
sugar on the table before
it is poured into my cup.
Immanuel Mifsud (from a collection of Poems from Malta)
Go, my son, follow your open eyes.
Go seek that country you’ll never find.
Go unite shores, parted by vast expanses of water.
You’ll go on walking hurt, wounded by love,
and many will seduce you but none will love you […]
Because you’re nothing but a whiff of sad wind;
You only need to spread your arms out,
Open your eyes wide, take a breath… and fly.
Deryn Rees-Jones: Burying the Wren
These poems spoke to me a lot this year: about trying to escape the confines – and seduction – of grief, about finding joy in small things.
It was the only blessing that I asked you for,
of leaving me unnoticed –
like the earth might tree seeds or a rouged leaf
in its fall.
Instead, you give me nothing,
catch me inside your coat
to see if you can catch my breath,