A few favourite quotes

No world is too hard,

If you summon up enough heat.

You can do it.

The fire is there in your fingertips…

(Jerome Rothenberg)

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Poetry is what we make of disparity—an effort to bridge the gap between the raggedness of daily life and our deeper intuition of (or yearning for) coherence, if only with a flying leap. Life is accidental. A poem is a foothold, a stepping stone, a space probe. A whole is what we leave in our wake.  (Kevin Craft)

 

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Das Gedicht ist einsam. Es ist einsam und unterwegs… das Gedicht zeigt eine starke Neigung zum Verstummen.

The poem is lonely. It is lonely and on its way… the poem shows a strong tendency to fall silent.

(Paul Celan)

jardin9

Poem: Love of Music

Music-Note-Coloring-Pages-For-KidsAnthony at dVerse Poets Pub has us talking about music being the food of love,  and urging us to play on. Who am I to disagree? Musicality, rhythm, sound is all-important to me in poetry – when I read the poetry of others or when I write my own.

 

 

 

When you were mine I took you for granted.

I lost you and never noticed you had gone.

My desk, my car, my home bathed in silence –

I believed them calm. I thought I relished the peace.

Then one day I wandered by chance to a small room

cloudy with sweat, bulging with smoke, but a space

where you were revered

uttered with honey-dripped tongue

encased in love-laden arms.

No more passing by in deafness.

You unleashed yourself against my ears

entered my pulse

forged new pathways in my limited world.

Travel Poetry: The Secret Gardens of Vaulx

20140830_154618An assault on the senses: so much to catch the eye.

We wander in a daze, through minarets of clay,

alabaster arches of thousand one more dreams.

We get lost in mazes, guided only by

children’s laughter and gasps of enchantment.

Round-mopped flowerheads beckon us to stroke them.

Birdsong fills the cool shade under the chestnut tree.

Water in every form bustles, trickles, dribbles, laps –

Each fountain a family member,

each square of cement path a pebble-enscribed love-letter.

20140830_154332It shouldn’t work: it’s madness,

disparate elements reclaimed from Morocco, Java, Spain,

brought together with nothing but bare hands and humour.

It started out as child’s play and became a family’s history,

hands in soil for decades, shared sighs, always a surprise,

glimmer of a pool around the corner, where

copper filigree meets bulbous earthen pumpkins.

Day after day they built one more terrace,

seeded another flowerbed,

unhurried, unforced,

mosaics of azure tinged with moss, gold shredded with scarlet.

 

20140830_154442We walked in smarting with petty quarrels.

Thirst quenched, a little silenced,

we leave here hand in hand.

 

These magnificent gardens that I discovered earlier this year  just outside Annecy in France – a source of inspiration and delight. For Gabriella’s brilliant initial hosting prompt about travel writing over at dVerse Poets Pub.

Observing the Details

For dVerse Poets today we have the delightful opportunity to share the watercolour sketches of one of the founding members, Claudia Schönfeld, and use them as an inspiration for our poetry. I can really relate to what Claudia has to say about slowing down and really observing things carefully:

I tend to be unfocused and unconcentrated at times and I’m not very good with details. Sometimes I just don’t see the things around me. Sketching (and also poetry) forces me to focus and really look at things.

Sketch by Claudia Schoenfeld.
Sketch by Claudia Schoenfeld.

So, I’ve used Claudia’s sketch of her favourite bag as a reminder to myself to really notice the details. And to do a better job of describing them in my poetry. Except that I chose to describe a pair of scissors below rather than a bag.

Scissors

 

Despite my name I seldom rustle

nor susurrate with soothing ease…

Instead I syncopate with my right arm,

terminate with my stronger left.

You think me lop-sided, a cripple, but

I’m the master of Swiss efficiency.

No rust, no weakness,

I’m black and grey,

Grown-up and perfectly sober.

Yet in the pivot point I turn crimson,

a drop of blood

in a lifetime of running with scissors.

I cut and clip,

core of action

Hair, ties, rope – it’s all the same to me,

Trenchant with wire, swift with threads.

Do I repel you with my sharpness?

When I come out, there’s no going back,

quick-fire clack of job well done.

Just one flaw:

gratuitous green plastic handle

touched by so many children that I now

give off marshmallow sweetness.

For more colourful sketches and witty poems, please go and visit the Pub. It’s a wonderful respite in the middle of your week!

Poem Inspired by Photography: Butterfly Skims

Over at the dVerse Poets Pub, Grace invites us to succumb to the whimsical charm of Joel Robison’s photography and write a poem either inspired by his imagery or else to create a world which doesn’t quite play by the rules we know. I think my Poetic Muse would agree whole-heartedly with that! Thank you very much, Joel, for letting us use your images for our poetry and be sure to visit Joel’s blog and gallery for lots more inspiration.

www.joelrobison.com
http://www.joelrobison.com

It should have been something more substantial

but no, my Muse chose butterfly wings for itself!

It alights for a flicker of eyelids,

then skims across ponds encircled in rushes.

It sets each flower afire with its quiver.

All eyes follow in strange enchantment:

A shimmering trance of something not quite glimpsed.

Far too short it tarries with me.

Presto, presto, at times some allegretto,

it flashes its mottled colour onto the next bloom.

Will there be butterflies next season?

I’m growing old and my trousers are still unrolled,

as I set out with fine mesh netting

to capture, to sample, to add to my butterfly collection.

 

Happenstance Is the Result of Hard Work and Talent

We’re starting to get a little bit infected with Football World Cup fever here in our household (although normally we are not huge football fans). On the radio, we hear more and more music from previous World Cups. One of my favourite football-related pieces of music is the Nike advert for the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. Shot in studios in Rome, the advert was directed by Terry Gilliam and featured some of the best footballers in the world (at the time). You may remember it for its gritty backdrop (a cargo ship with cages) a ruthless ‘first goal wins’ rule overseen by Eric Cantona, something of a prison atmosphere and yet an explosive, exuberant joy, and, above all, the glorious remix of the Elvis song ‘A Little Less Conversation’.

It’s one of those rare examples when everything about the advertising campaign works: it’s catchy, memorable, uplifting. Happenstance? Or careful years of planning by Nike and the Wieden & Kennedy agency (Amsterdam)? Spontaneous burst of genius or a patient accumulation of talent and experience? Or perhaps both?

So what I’m trying to say is that when things seem to come together effortlessly, in a practically perfect product (or book or film or stage production), there is usually a huge amount of work and talent peeking out a barely visible head just above the horizon.

I think I know this. And still I wait at times for inspiration to strike. But I’ve learnt to treat my blog posts and book reviews as additional writing practice, my poetry as a legitimate form of expression instead of just procrastination and my reading… well, I read like a writer. Or so I tell myself.

Those Words Again

Words have rusted in fingers and mouth

I rub their red roughness, they crumble and cling

to print-whorls

but lustre eludes and taste sharpens to metallic.

www.pipegripes.com
http://www.pipegripes.com

How can I restart the alchemical process?

Where can I find new words, fresh fords,

currencies not yet devalued?

Coins not rub-worn by collective wonder or greed?

I linger in surface,

afraid to leave skimming.

But dive you must to dig out pained treasure

in all its green-gold mottling

the metal out of its element now dried out to brittle snapping.

I’ve played too long with rhymes and prefixes

supped and sipped                   fêted and fated

but still I fail to breathe them back to life.

Then              when I forget to look

words ripen

thumb-grown, tendrils tumbling

from mouths in cascade of green.

Shoots spring forth

and I gape in amazement

surprise caught and filled

the wonder           the shame.