Waiting for Fireworks in Windy Chill

Image courtesy of srboom.com
Image courtesy of srboom.com

Much ado about nothing.

Let the wind find an occasion, any will do.

It’s bitter: we draw close to escape the freezing bite.
But then, the magic. Each time the lights are flung upwards, we revert to child’s stares, gasps of pleasure, chorus of ‘Aaaahs’. The last two minutes impossible to fathom in gathering of smoke-clouds.

I’ve never been without them.

At first they were empty ritual, a sweetener to parades. Post-prandial cognac to stadium choreography to mark the soporific afternoon of a people so inured to bread and circuses they could gasp no longer.

So I suppose resistance would best describe me – indifference… until…

A chill descends on the city one night in December.
Machine gun rhythms in streets howling with wind, with sirens, with rage.
Walls came tumbling down, words recaptured meaning, crying for happiness seemed normal and fear disappeared for a while. Crowds gathering, kissing strangers.

Then more popping sounds. Not fireworks these: snipers. Each sound could bring you to your knees.

I shiver in my nest of contentment.
So now I put those darker fireworks most firmly in a box. And go out with my children to mimic their awe.

I’m posting this as a response to the prompt over at dVerse Poets, where Kathleen Everett has us writing wind-inspired stories. In my memory, fireworks are not summery displays of gaiety, but hanging around waiting for something to happen, wind-chill factor rising and rising.

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?

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…

 

 

 

Positives of the Year 2014

No matter how horribilis an annus horribilis is, there is always a mirabilis aspect to it as well. Translation: no year is so bad that it doesn’t have its golden moments. Readers of one of my more self-pitying previous posts will know that 2014 was not that great for me. But what are some of the things that I will remember with pleasure?

BookPile21) Reading: quantity and quality. 189 books, roughly 56200 pages, exploring new horizons, huge diversity in terms of languages, themes and genres. 14 of those got 5 star reads on my Goodreads ticker tape (mostly poetry and non-fiction, oddly enough). Only 1 got one star (Katherine Pancol, in case you’re wondering. Not that my modest opinion will affect her outstanding sales figures!). And although quite a large chunk of the books I read were published after 2000, there was quite a good spread of decades, going back to 1908. I’m not sure how they count the classics published before the 20th century!

2) Poetry: I’ve not only started reading more poetry this year in printed format (full collections rather than the odd poem here and there online), but I’ve also completed a poetry course via Fish Publishing, from which I learnt so much (even if it has temporarily paralysed me a little with self-censorship). I’ve also been much braver about submitting poetry, even if it has tailed off in the last few months of the year. I submitted to 17 literary journals and anthologies (multiple poems in each submission, I hasten to add) and have had a total of 9 poems published. (I’m still awaiting a couple of responses.) One of my poems was also longlisted for a poetry prize, which was an additional boost to morale.

3) Community: It may seem sad, but the online community of writers, readers and bloggers has become more real to me than the people who physically surround me. Call it expat isolation, arrogance or depression, but I choose to put a more positive spin on it. It’s easier to establish common ground and become friends with people who share your passions, even if they are scattered all over the globe, rather than try to pretend common passions with the people with whom you just happen to be living in close proximity. As a global nomad, I’ve become used to the fact that most of my best friends are an email or telephone call away in another country, rather than within easy visiting distance. It simply makes the times we spend together even more precious!

Having said all of the above, I should add that the Geneva Writers’ Group has been a wonderful ‘real’ community of people passionate about literature. Even if I haven’t been able to attend all of their workshops, it is a wonderfully diverse, supportive and inspiring group of people.

Zozo54) My Cat: This year in February, a cat finally came into my life, after about 4 decades of hoping and wishing for one. I say ‘my’ because she is most certainly ‘my girl’, rather than the family cat. She ignores my husband, tolerates my sons and even sometimes plays with them… and adores me. She follows me around everywhere, and is happiest when she is cuddling up to me, kneading the blanket and sucking onto it – I must remind her of her mother. She may be a bit of a wuss when it comes to other cats and dogs in the neighbourhood, but she’s a good climber and outdoorsy type. She is the most gentle, affectionate, obedient cat you can imagine. She has taught me so much about patience, unconditional love, quiet support (with a purr and a rub) and just generally being calm and relaxed.

5) My Boys: Well, you didn’t think I was going to forget about them, did you? They’ve been one of the greatest sources of stress and anxiety this year, but also one of the biggest joys. Intelligent, opinionated, argumentative, droll and completely unsentimental, they make me laugh and cry many, many times… each day! I just hope I won’t mess them up too much on their way to adulthood.

DrawMama

 

Hope you’ve all found plenty of positives in your year, and here’s to wishing you all a very good 2015! Thank you very much for your wonderful company and see you in the New Year.