A Year in First Lines

I’ve done one version of it in previous years (listing the first line of each month on my blog), but I’ve seen a number of bloggers like Annabel Gaskell and Eleanor Franzen do a different version of it: first lines of books that they read each month. So I will attempt a combination of the two, with the aim of recreating something akin to found poetry and giving a snapshot of my year.

By this year, the year ’45, the Germans had already lost command of the air-space over our little town. Scorching heat of a midsummer Sunday in Obor market…
The young woman runs burning along the side of the marketplace… I’ve stupidly invited the outside world in. Repeat after me: summertime, and the living is easy… And, if it is not, we like to pretend it is.

Jim closed the blinds, unplugged the telephone and put the tape in. Today’s programme is all about stomach ulcers… Aardvark primogeniture, he exudes all the confidence, but I avoid his eyes. My whole life seems to consist of being really happy in some wonderful places – and then having to tear myself away from them. GPS tells me it’s eleven minutes. I don’t think that’s right, it’s too short.

Last night I dreamt that I met up with an old friend of mine at her new house on the lake. Doorways into secret gardens bring the promise of forbidden delights. This had been a happy home once. The radiant afternoon sunlight of early September was so brilliant that it still seemed like summer. There’s no swell to speak of, just little lapping waves. The voice was quiet, smiling, ‘Is that Miss Clarvoe?’

Tomorrow I will sit demurely. Tomorrow is absolutely fine.

From The Secret Garden of Heligan

For a year which started with a lot of pain, anxiety and rejection, it has ended very well. I really like my full-time job and am doing the things I love in my spare time (reading, writing – in drabbles, reviewing for Crime Fiction Lover, promoting literature in translation for Asymptote Journal). My boys are becoming more independent, kinder and wiser every day, while my cat is ever more gentle and cuddly. And I am laughing, joking, feeling younger and freer every single day!

While the money worries have not been resolved, we still have a roof over our heads and can afford to heat the house. (I have been taking Christmas packages to those less fortunate in the area, and believe me, it’s not a small thing at all to be sheltered and warm). My income may be less than during my freelance life, but at least it’s regular (plus, the novelty of paid holidays has not worn off yet!)

Camus by Cecil Beaton

Au milieu de l’hiver, j’ai découvert en moi un invincible été. (Camus)

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

The Poetry of Blog Posts – 2nd Attempt

Last year I tried to take the first sentence of the first blog post of each month to give me a snapshot of the year – and realised, to my dismay, that the truly meaningful parts of the year had been left unsaid. So I thought I would give it another go this year, to see if 2015 has been any different. Here is the result (with a bit of creative boosting). Not quite sure what it says about the kind of year I’ve had, but it’s understated yet bubbling…


I start the year as I mean
to go on:
planning my move into a chateau
complete with delectable grounds.
Ah, the songs of my life…
Each poem only as good as its last incarnation.

No, it’s not
April Fools’ Day joke!
My TBR pile has augmented:
another 12 books.
Is there any writer out there who doesn’t

As a poet wedded
to social media, I
could not resist the premise of this
crime novel Blinde Vögel (Blind Birds)
for I’ve been blind, blind, blind.
No longer!

I don’t know how, I don’t know why
but one day
on the sly
and on the fly
my poems turned into surly teenagers.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd :
Petals on a wet, black bough.
The bare legs of English girls in winter minis
bring mottled blue bumps out on my flesh.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that
a beautiful house must be in need
of a perfect water feature,
so that
post-holidays, post-weekend,
when the party’s over, the curtains drawn,
the water gurgles on.