Back to School Poetry

Sharpened coloured pencils,

notebooks all in a row,

It’s the night before school and

I DON’T want to go.

Thank goodness it’s over, this summer a mess,
boring old grandma, my cousins all stress
over revisions, exams, they’re all older than me,
they’ve turned into a silly old goody-goody!

New teacher, new classmates,

Homework galore,

I’ll have to sit still

for two hours or more.

Finally be with my soulmates, those who understand,
together cut classes, or make a stand
against sarky teachers and all that brain freeze.
Put like that, ‘la rentrée’ is a breeze!

backtoschool

I imagined the thoughts going through the head of my two sons – one in primary school, one in secondary school – as the school year approaches. School doesn’t start until the 2nd of September here (and is known as ‘la rentrée’), but the shoe-shopping and hair-cutting dilemmas are starting already.

This is linked to Gabriella’s fun prompt at dVerse Poets tonight. Please visit us there for more reminiscing about the good old school days…

Echo Poetry

A really fun prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today: to write ‘echo poetry’. An Echo Verse is a poem where the last word or syllable in a line is repeated or echoed underneath to form a rhyming liner. My attempt below is just a quick sprint, inspired by conversations between my parents (and of course the first line of a poem by T.E. Brown). But there are some far more wonderful examples linked up to the site, both funny and thoughtful,  so I strongly urge you to check them out.

A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!
Hot?
Even in a heat wave, there’s bliss to be found.
Around?
Ferns, palm-shade, pool to cool us down…
You frown?
Flowers burst forth in coloured refrain.
Again?
Oh, you’re such a philistine and bore!
Once more.

Thoughts on L’Adversaire

adversaireA couple of months ago I mentioned that I discovered that we lived in the same village as a notorious mythomaniac and killer, who has been the subject of a book and a film. I recently succumbed to my morbid curiosity and read the book, which pretty much reiterated all the things I had found out from my neighbours. The author Emmanuel Carrère has been accused of romanticising Romand, but I don’t think he does that at all. In fact, he allows Romand to be condemned by his own words and actions (his coldness and lack of remorse are completely chilling), but also revealing the charm and intelligence of a man who managed to fool so many people for so long.  The author is a proponent of the Catholic idea of evil residing in all of us, and that perhaps this ‘adversary’ has been so cunning in this case that the perpetrator has started believing his own lies. 

Instead of a conventional book review, however, I just wanted to share a poem inspired by the whole story.

Village Blues on a Sunny Day

We lived nearby but
in the growth of tulgey wood and velvet moth
he went unnoticed.
A busy town, a hasty life.
We knew each other for hello,
discuss the weather, will it snow,
school events to plan for,
but no substance to the smiles.

I peer from my upper window now
with less envy at your hammock of ease
poolside limbs perfectly tanned
flower tubs pregnant with beauty.
For beneath the poised completeness
who knows what lies, ice fraud,
the curdling compromise of a heart fraught
with keeping up appearances.

Haibun: Fear of Sparrows

This is my first attempt at a haibun, a form that I have seen quite a few of my fellow poets attempt at the dVerse Poets Pub. So tonight, for Open Link Night with Grace, I thought I’d give it a whirl myself. Not quite right for the Dog Days of Summer prompt earlier this week, but moving in that direction…

You trill and chirp, flutter hither and thither with worms, blades of grass, twiglets in your beak. The tree branches shiver in anticipation of your landing. All hops and thrills, you sway and tilt your winsome head sideways with cheeky flourish.

I so want to make friends. But can you not feel the menace of our feline, belly crouched below the green line? Perhaps we should have fastened bells to her collar, or perhaps she’ll be too slow. I know we’ve let the grass grow too long: one swift spring and your family could be decimated.

Small but persistent
They play happy families –
Sparrows on my sill.

The Style of Emily Dickinson

Our lives are Swiss, so still, so cool –
Nothing ever happens –
‘Till Sun sets on our Afternoon,
And tree too far from apple.

‘Till frosts return to broken bones
We do not stop to wonder.
In heat of midday, flowered gaze,
We hear no Sign of Thunder.

This is my sad, sad attempt to channel Emily Dickinson and use the common meter and some of her other stylistic quirks in response to the dVerse Poets prompt tonight. The first line (the only good one here) is indeed from one of her poems, which you can read here. I think this proves that trying to imitate poets you admire is not the sincerest form of flattery but – in my case, at least – sheer insanity!

Stop waxing the stairs with the bird on the pillar!

Rooted and resigned
waiting at bus-stops
she flies off the handle
like a bird in a stairwell
a pillar of deepest longing
amidst tidy smell of wax.
Bird trapped in rust-cage
wax coating beak and wings
he comes to a glottal stop
watching her turn to pillar of salt.

This was written in response to a prompt after drawing five random words out of a hat. My words were: wax, bird, pillar, stairs, stop. The resulting poem fits in well with the books I am currently reading about love triangles: Therese Bohman’s ‘Drowned’ (for WIT Month) and Rosamond Lehmann’s ‘The Echoing Grove’.

She Walks into the Train Station

I am reposting a poem that I’ve written a few months back, as it was hidden in a long text about other books and other thoughts. It’s in response to the prompt on dVerse Poets to write about trains. I thought at once of Anna Karenina, but transposed to our present-day world.

She walks into the station as

if nothing could reach out or jostle

her intent; as

if the icy sheen on her forehead

gives her an armour of aloofness, invisible

to mortals.

Her foresight is complete, her pockets emptied of clues.

No noise to pierce her eardrums, she glides through crowds

erect and poised.

Her spine gains inches as if

the stone-weight of family has left her shoulders.

She drifts up the staircase, and crowds part

at the gauntness of her stare.

First up, then down,

directions cease to matter

if the journey’s end is one.

She’ll catch a moment when

they’re wrapped up in their small partings,

their music and emails,

their lives all about tasks, not noticing.

One breath

and she takes flight.

The screech of that train

branding scarlet letters on herds

trapped in search for romance.