Something completely different today. Over at dVerse Poets we have been celebrating all week: it’s three years since the opening of our virtual Pub, where we meet weekly to discuss poetry and display our poems. Instead of a poem dedicated to the Pub (or to any pub), I thought I would share with you some pictures of pubs which look like libraries. Sounds like an irresistible combination!
My only question is: are the books just for decoration, or can you read them? And what sort of books are they?
My sons were not impressed with the poem I wrote about our cat for dVerse Poets Pub. They suggested (insisted) I should post their ‘Song for Zoe’ instead. They’ve composed it themselves, written the lyrics and regularly perform it as a lullaby for our bemused cat. So here goes: the much better cat poem which perfectly captures her quintessential nature (and it rhymes!).
I am very honoured and pleased to be hosting my first session behind the bar at the dVerse Poets Pub today. Feel free to join me there for an animal-themed poetry session (and link your own animal poetry if you feel inspired).
There are two reasons for this animal theme: first, it is Poisson d’Avril (the fish which the French use to trick you on April Fools’ Day). Secondly and more selfishly, I cannot get enough of singing the praises of my lovely recently-adopted cat. Today is her (approximate) birthday: we think she is roughly two years old. It has been my lifelong desire to have a cat, always thwarted by parents, landlords, spouses, travel and international moves. But my patience has been rewarded with the sweetest, most affectionate cat in the world. Even though she does bring in an occasional lizard or bird…
At night a cat purrs me to oblivion
with rhythmic chant she kneads my mind
wet nose nestled in my blanket
she slows my needs and wants right down
mistress of silent companionship
she asks nothing, no rush to judge or refute
listens with pupils like pools of ancient knowledge.
I live scarcely aware of the encroachment of loneliness
I’ve got an issue with privacy. I’ve never liked open plan offices, I don’t like people coming into my study at home, I don’t like showing my work in progress. Psychologists may see a link there with the fact that my mother read my diaries and opened my letters when I was a teenager. I just call it personal space: I’m happy for those around me to have theirs, and hope they will allow me mine. So it’s unusual for me to show you a first draft, but I thought it would be interesting (for a later version of me too, perhaps) to see how my poetic mind works. This is still too explicit, personal and verbose. It leaves nothing to the imagination. It was written after a rather frantic weekend alone with the children. I will come back with an edited, perhaps even a final version and would welcome any suggestions for improvement.
It’s been a day of shouting
Coffee-ad family picture frayed and curled,
burnt up in blood-hot temper.
Sullen moods, sulk and whine, heave and lift
of bone-breaker words:
careless second of uttering,
then a lifetime of regret.
It’s been another day of failing…
my children, my ideal, myself
and all the compensatory cakes I bake
turn to sand in our mouths.
I’m left chasing words on empty beaches,
finding other people’s discarded treasures
more plentiful than shells.
I pick up a conch and pour my anguish in its ear.
I pour all my inadequacy into a jar,
screw on the jam-stained lid so tight
then fling it back into a sea just lukewarm.
So my poems are merely turgid,
my thoughts piddling, my family average.
We muddle on and on,
imperfect and random
victims of illusions
drunk on lost words.
I’m linking this to dVerse Poets Pub, a friendly community of poets who support and help each other.