Wednesday, 10 November 2010
A bit like room 101, I have faced the worst of myself today to write this. It had to be done and it is honest as it can be seeing as I am a vain fool.
It's about the last few days before we left my dying grandmother to head west to Canada. It's not cheery, I'll promise you that!
The betrayal smelled like
the boiled cabbage in that
crusty-cornered room. For the
first time in weeks as lucid as
lime she smiled her love through
dentured jaws. And I thought
there and then - if she could
she would return, such was the strength
of that love.
The boys, blond as the
sun, bursting with the promise
of this new life scrambled up
her frail form to kiss her, as she
held tight to life like
a full-bloomed rose clings
to its petals. The mantra of
my own justification issuing from
her lying lips.
"You must live your own lives" caught
in the swirl of the fan and spat back into
that stifling space - to hang in the
air like a plastic halloween
spectre. Gruesome in its plain
simple truth. The silent words "you need
to stay" rebounding off my
selfish spirit as she reassured me
she was okay.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
I thought I would try my hand at a bit of romantic poetry today and use a technique that I'm sure is not called the 'repeat the first line again and again' technique, but here it is anyway.
We Are Not Romantic
We are not romantic but when
I fall you carry me; putting
your life on hold to
lift me higher.
We are not romantic but you
laid your velvet traveling cloak posh-side
down in the mire so I would not get
my best shoes wet.
We are not romantic but you
come to my bed with
a ready embrace and a smile
meant only for me.
We are not romantic but when
I hear a love song
on the radio
I think of you.
And on the day we married
you shone brighter to me
than the sun.
Monday, 18 October 2010
I am a fantasist - no doubt. Aren't all writers? And I love to pretend to be other people when I'm walking, or driving, or well, anything really. Today I pretended I was a Jane Austen heroine - nothing unusual in that is there? ;-)
Three miles to Netherfield
I was Elizabeth Bennet today except
I crouched to pee in a bush - and
I'm pretty sure she
never did that. And I
had a short skirt on and
my new pair of jeans and my hair hadn't
been coiffured by a maid.
Or maybe Lizzy did and dear Jane
omitted to say how she
bloomers and squatted in an
unladylike sprawl. It was after all
three miles at least to
But I was still her as I traipsed
ancient paths and
jumped age-old streams.
across fields half smothered by
cloud. And the pheasants
were making a hell of a row.
Saturday, 16 October 2010
It's been an amazingly busy couple of weeks and poetry has had to take a back seat. I've not enjoyed not writing. It's been awful having lines and fragments of phrases launch themselves into my mind and not be able to do anything about it. I suppose I should have been taking notes; or freewriting; or at least writing something down, but my head space being in moving house mode has been in another world. So there you go - my excuse!
On the night we actually moved in to our new house. I won't say home because at that point it didn't feel like one. Both Matt and I had a similar feeling and this poem is an attempt to catch it.
Arriving alive in that space
between worlds. Primordial,
Such was that place - that gap
on a big empty page.
It was cold - crammed
into that airless hole. So we lit
a fear-melting fire.
And the blackness outside
felt further away.
And the warmth in our bones held it at bay.
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Okay, the title is kind of misleading because I'm not sure it exists -maybe so far I'm been lucky. But the last couple of days I've hit, if not a wall, then a stuck door. Just haven't felt like writing. But like most things just getting on and doing it usually works. I freewrote tonight with no theme in mind and when writing this poem I still know what it is. I'm going to call it ambiguous.
Cold. Blackened feet
burned. You sit in your
ice house - your
past held frozen in the
walls. Rippling reflections behind
your back. But hugging your knees
you just don't see.
Shiver. Because even as you bemoan
this cold, you know that greedily you
gorge it whole. To eat your fill - purge, and then
binge again. Wretchedly wringing out
every drop of bile - you spasm. Until
you feel alive- skin burning and
the past is just another
fossil. 20,000 years in
Friday, 24 September 2010
My first creative writing teacher used to say that if you are not prepared to have fun with words then don't bother writing poetry and in that spirit I think I'll have a change tonight. So I've decided to copy and paste my facebook status updates for the last week and just place them in chronological order. A few line breaks here and there and voila - something that looks like a poem even if it doesn't read like one. And it doesn't. It isn't successful, but was interesting to do and kind of fun.
Actually when I posted and published it then - even the line breaks disappeared so her it is in all it's raw ugliness.
Move all booked - I guess it's really happening then... I've seen this before but his use of logic can't be beat.
Ode to Autumn - sort of! BTW Mr Pope, Hitler was a Roman Catholic. Do your research.
Snotty, but thankfully not spotty.Tidy house... tidy mind. Supposedly.
Wondering whether to tackle the jungle that is our garden first, or start painting walls, or another cup of coffee.
We skip, we trip and we find a space to rest. And in that place we may find another; riding the same self-styled regrets.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Started my freewrite today by thinking about Autumn and then is transformed into something else altogether. Now I love Autumn personally but I got to thinking how other people react to this time of year and the natural closing of the growing year into the darkest days to come. And this was my response to that.
The birds feel it -
Hitchcockian they circle calling
all to their cause. Responding to that
pull to leave the decay of the
growing year. And
go - Following the sun.
But what of us -
the earth consumes us whole
and we slide deep inside.
Inch by inch - flesh, fat and
hair all sink into
her belly - our dissolving bodies polluting
her virgin bed like an
Regardless she holds us still -
a stillborn at its
mother's breast. She will
we are blood
and bones and
Thursday, 16 September 2010
We're on the move again and although this is fantastic news because the house we're moving to is a better fit for us, we will be leaving behind our sea view. We have lived with the privilege of that daily sight for 3 years and to say goodbye will be sad. Even if we are only moving 10 minutes up the road! So this is in response to a tiny moment of regret.
We left on the out-breath of
an Autumn day. Swept away by
the surging Equinox tide.
Its twice daily scourge over
shingled sand echoes in ears and
roars against rocks.
This magical crackling air alive with
our lives - suspends us in a
The moment we left - left dangling
like the scent of roses at
Sunday, 12 September 2010
Sometimes ideas come in the form of a single line. I had this one pop into my head today:' She left on the out breath of an Autumn day' And although I loved the line, it didn't really go anywhere in the time allowed.
But I got to thinking about style and voice and how writing is often expressed as finding your voice. I find that exciting (I know - I'm sad!) and then I realized that that way of writing that we writers are all searching for is like a unique tag that when we have it, it is next to impossible to change.
So this is what came up from that...
You can't escape your style.
It has wrought iron railings around your
house. Pulls you in with
sweet nothings in your ear;
evolved smash proof glass in
its elegant sash windows.
It suffers no deviants -
You make for the hills while
it eats its lunch -
Til a hunch brings it to your
side. And you're sipping
darjeeling at a flowered table cloth
and forcing down another
scone. But at least you're not alone.
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Well it isn't but the shadow will be upon me again!
Darkening, bruising skies hang
heavy in my head. Binding up my
in my belly. And
then the panic comes. She
sidles through the back door and
quickens up my heart.
She promises me
She watches while
she looks away. And
then she rages red and ragged -
persuades me that
I hate myself. Makes me
hold that hate up
high. And then
with one relieving,
she slides away.
Monday, 6 September 2010
Middle class squall
Move up, move on,
stamp on heads,
pull all else to shreds.
It is our right, after all,
to eat organic veg.
The right to drive our volvo
up a driveway lined with hedge.
If the school nearby's not good enough,
we'll move or lie or cheat.
If the council estate is deemed too rough,
if they all have three piece suites...
How can we let our kids go there?
What will they learn in a place like that?
Mix with kids with scruffy hair?
We demand outstanding and that is that.
Merely exercising our parental right.
Merely wanting what's best for our kids.
Hunter-wellied hero gunning for a fight -
Cultural diversity? God forbid!
Thursday, 2 September 2010
The first line of this poem came to me today as I was driving home from a lovely library visit with my little girl. I have kept it as a simple clear poem on purpose. Because the moment seemed to reflect it.
Beyond the Grave
My mother spoke to me today -
it was but the tiniest brush of
love. But it echoed in my bones.
It was the nudging nod of pride that
humbled me and made me gulp
the air. A guppy fish - a landed catch
breathing out its last.
She said, she'd been there all
the while. And held me in her arms.
She smiled and laughed - a ringing
bell that sounded all around.
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Need to cheat a bit tonight because I need a break so here's an oldie from a couple of years ago that it the beginning poem of a set of three.
My mother dressed me in her
dreams. Plaited self esteem into
my hair. Each layer: vest, dress, tights
and shoes pregnant with her prayer.
She liked to kiss each toe in turn, a wish for
all the years to come. She’d hold
my fate and with her mantra
would have me fizzing.
She would heat up wild with anger and rail
against the world. Then white hot she would
unfurl spells and peel off
her bubbling skin.
And with each juicy strip she’d
lay on me, she’d calmly charm
self worth. I was (and am) a
cantrip shielded little girl.
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Just had the most glorious weekend camping with dear old friends and my own dear family. Not much time for writing - but plenty for drinking, singing, fire sitting, eating, laughing and loving. It signified in a symbolic way the end of the summer for me and the return to school. There is a change a foot for my 11 year old son as he is off to big school and this one is for him.
The map on my belly
tells me he's here. Relief lines
of our ordnance
ribbon I wove round
family made loose
this night by
my growing boy.
Stood tall on
the eve of his
gentile bar mitzvah.
No Torah for him just a
stripey new shirt and
black nylon trousers
But this is holy, of that
there can be little doubt.
No fear, no rabbi
to bless him -
For blessed he is
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Going straight into metaphor tonight because I've been writing a feature all day and need to work with shadows for a while. Prizes if you tell me what it's about?!
Shadows and Fog
Sometimes I want to catch
it - that butterfly behind the glass.
Too fragile to really grasp it but
too frightened to let it pass.
That train that travels in the
night. That sound that
comforts while I sleep.
Sometimes I can't stand that wail - that slices
through the night. The whistle, ghosts and
shadows seem to taunt and tease - foresee.
But I am blind to other,
wet behind the ears.
And then I remind myself - I don't need
to hold on tight. If I let go, go with it - the
day can kill the night.
Then it washes like the surf on
a sunny August day. And nothing can
stop the feeling of swelling in
my chest. The fog clears, shadows
fly and here I am - cut open and
brazen to my bones.
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
Spent a wonderful day at the beach today. A beautiful unspoiled beach in Devon, Gara Rock - and one that we haven't been to for a while. Can't think why because it really is the best one around here.
As I was watching the children playing in the waves a freewrite came upon me and even though I'm not sure what was happening and even what a lot of it was about - it was very interesting nonetheless.
This ancient sand -
crushed bones of ancient rock that
sneak between your toes and
hide a thousand ship wrecks.
This thrusting sea -
that frightens me and shells out
souls that underestimate its
These boys of mine -
that push their bodies into surf and
ride the terror waves. They go
where others dared and lost -
but even if they bleed, it's from
stigmata wounds. For men are
made in this eternal view.
The sun reflects on glassy blue.
Sunday, 22 August 2010
So I found out last time that I needed the freewrite stage to get any semblance of ideas at all. It was an interesting experiment for me especially doing this form of speed writing that is my challenge. Usually of course, if I wasn't on a time schedule with this blog I would be writing a poem and taking several weeks getting it right. So although I am not producing perfect poetry I am keeping the lines to that part of my brain connected - if that makes sense. Not sure it does really!
Still here's the conclusion to Sisters.
Our childhood surrounds us still
soaks into our skin and gilds
our hair. This shared time when
company careered loneliness
away and all it took to cheer us
was monopoly. Even if I
I was always the bank.
You chased me rollerskating down
the road - that car behind us like a
hungry bear. Your neon boots
alive in the dusk.
When daddy died - you didn't
cry. Held firm in your strength for
days. Your tears tied up inside
as tight as piano strings.
But when you sing the
Soon we'll rollerskate round the
rooms of our old home and
it will be -
The perfect cadence at
the end of our song.
Friday, 20 August 2010
Our childhood surrounds us still
soaked into our skin and gilds
our hair. This shared time when
company careered loneliness
away and all it took to make us
happy was monopoly. Even if I
cheated. But I didn't cheat you -
When daddy died - you didn't
cry. Held firm in your strength for days
and days. Your tears tied up inside
as tight as piano strings.
When you released them, they flowed like
(Okay I can't do it! I've found out that the freewrite is essential to the process. I'm going to wait until tomorrow and do another rewrite...see what happens. Hey, this is interesting!)
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
The Twin Tub
This one is inspired by one of my abiding memories that I have of my mum from my childhood. She was obsessed by cleanliness - very often to the detriment of time with her daughters - and my memories, as a result, revolve around her doing housework. Maybe that's why I try to play with my kids before I do housework and probably why I don't have the cleanest house on the block...ahem. Time with them is precious and fleeting and because my mum died in her 50th year, time with me and my sister was even more so.
I've used the rhyming couplets to try and emulate a sing song rhythm. Tell me what you think...
DJ in the house
She stands in the kitchen facing the door,
a great hulk of twin tub, cuboid on the floor.
The chequerboard lino, gleaming, pristine -
And me in my pink socks, a disco dancing dream.
She spins out on her decks, the rhythmic chug, chug, chug,
laundry in and sudded, rinsed, water down the plug.
Arthritic fingers feeding the gaping, churning hole
with snowwashed jeans and legwarmers - next the spinning bowl.
With precision and satisfaction, she watches til it's dry
Sunday, 15 August 2010
Okay, so a poem a day has turned out to be a tad ambitious! But having said that, whenever I aim high I am happy to get as close as possible. 'Shoot for the moon, and you'll land amongst the stars': Springs to mind.
I am happy to get to 300 this year - I mean, bloody hell, 300 poems in a year. That ain't bad, is it...is it....
So anyway I'm talking my way out nicely of the guilt that I feel for missing days - but hey, I have a life too!
Here's an unashamedly over-sentimental one that made me cry as I wrote it. I don't normally go in for this type of verse, but I'm allowing myself one... ;-)
John Denver schmaltz
Whisking yorkshire pudding
batter smooth. The roast chicken waiting
hot on a plate.
Your daughter's butterfly
kiss on your tear stained cheek. Your
half grown, shy son standing tall in
the footlights. Your hungry for success
son scoring a goal.
The sound of your car in the
driveway at the end of the
working day. And the sound of your
guitar in the evening strumming,
the children to sleep.
Thursday, 12 August 2010
Hello there, this one is 14 years in the brewing and it has taken me 2 days to formulate it into what I consider worthy of a very unspecial man that I am forced to have a relationship with.
It is also inspired in part of a favourite poem of mine by Sylvia Plath called Daddy. I admire Plath greatly because she is not afraid to inject a bit of venom into her poetry and although I am naturally a fairly easy going type personality sometimes I am overcome by a little bit of venom. Who isn't?! So here's a bit of my spleen...
Like rain on rhubarb you sourly
extract every bit of goodness from
the world. And give bollocks-all back.
A ton of sugar would not get
close to sweetening you.
You threw the memory of mum out with
her clothes. Taking dad's house as
if you'd earned the right to
slime up the rooms with your greed.
Your conscience rebuffed by:
It is your right.
It is your right.
It is your right.
And you gorge yourself on the
fruits of daddy's death - a
dirty, cowardly bear hiding in
your winter cave.
Shoo, shoo -
One day you will have to leave,
there is no other way.
And the hate you feel for me will
flower in the fuchsia bush that
mummy planted me.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
I came across a half written poem from a little while ago that I thought I would revamp and rewrite. Body hatred is something that I feel strongly about and especially as I have a daughter I want to not give her the legacy my mother gave me.
I dress my daughter in
her skin. Perfection in
each chubby limb. Satsuma
juice runs down her chin.
She will not have a
with the scales. At five my
mother deemed me
dieting fodder and
still I am espoused.
I rewrite the old story, each word
vibrates in my eyes - for
in her I see perfection
wiser than before.
Monday, 9 August 2010
Back to the poem this morning, I may even write another later if I get so inspired. This one is about a topic we have been discussing all weekend - the existence of magic and manifesting what we desire. Hope you enjoy!
Your wish is my command
It is always there tingling
Woven spells from
wish sublime. Magic
manifest in life,
a chance to
Your mind conceives and you
receive the result of every
Rub the lamp, the
'Your wish is my command.'
Friday, 6 August 2010
A small bit of whimsy today. I survived a 4 hour long game of monopoly with the children and then tonight sat down to write and all that came forth was the muscle relaxant extraordinare. Fancy a toke?
The long sixties gave birth
to you. But all along you lay in hallowed
places, growing all the time.
Windows opened by
The Doors let you in to
sample life. Puffed in, puffed
out and always sweeter than
a glass of wine.
Thursday, 5 August 2010
She came up in my freewrite tonight and I'm not surprised she was a wonderful, loving certainty in my life all through my childhood and beyond. She survived her daughter (my mum), her son-in-law (my dad) and her much beloved husband. And she always called me her favourite...this poem is about her unending will.
It has evolved in rewriting as a sonnet, which I think mirrors her strength in its form except I've added an extra 2 lines because she was more than the average! Call me a poetry renegade, if you will.
Encircled in her arms, rice paper skin
pulling tight, taut over strong, hardy bones.
Whist drive on a Sunday, she let me win,
everytime, without fail, no groans, no moans.
Over-feeding my soul with cream cake love -
soothing me, stronger than her will to live.
Her daughter dead, her husband in awe of -
couldn't stay longer, nothing left to give.
But I was still here. I watched her that day;
when they lowered him cold into the ground.
Her face was a mask, remembering him.
But I saw the love that oozed as she prayed -
Saw her almost buckle under the mound
of grief that threatened her with sink or swim.
She swam that day, I believe, for me-
Her favourite grandchild, as strong as the sea.
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Haiku - a cop out?
Nah! I love them and I want to invite you all to write one too in the comments. Go on - you know you want to!
Also I was inspired by Rosy Retro's fabulous japanese stitch markers that she tweeted today.
As a reminder - this is how Wikipedia describes them and my offering below:
Haiku is a form of Japanese Poetry, consisting of 17 moras, in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 moras respectively. Haiku typically contain a kigo (seasonal reference), and a kireji (cutting word). In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English often appear in three lines, to parallel the three phrases of Japanese haiku. Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.
Wheat sheaves on Lammas
golden in the August sun
turn towards Winter.
I felt inspired by the time of year as a Haiku should be seasonal. Lammas is the first of August tradionally the first day of the harvest.
I'm looking forward to reading your Japanese offerings - don't be shy!
Tuesday, 3 August 2010
I've been having random thoughts today. So nothing different there. But something did come out of my freewrite and it felt random in the extreme! I had a falling out with a facebook friend a little while ago because I called her on her prejudiced status and she didn't like it. For some reason and not at all sure why, it popped up in my freewrite and and became a free style poem.
It's been a lazy day here in Devon, cloudy one minute, then raining, then sunny again. A truly random day. Perfect for some random writing!
She handles her prejudice like
a treasured gift passed down from
mother to daughter.
An heirloom shiny with
ill-thought out ideas,
hostile fears and
a mingling of emerald envy.
It's proudly displayed on a polished
shelf - dusted daily,
friends come round. The
dinner table talk turns again
and again to the hard, grey
hatred in the inlaid box.
Sometimes kind words can
tarnish the tin. Or a well-travelled guest
stains the surface facade.
And this facebooker, posh dinner
cooker packs it away again. High
on its shelf until she's asked once more:
'What's on your mind?'
Kate Sermon (2010)
That was a quick one in the end and needs polishing but according to my rules I must stop there. Quite pleased with it actually!
Monday, 2 August 2010
Today has been full of my life and writing has not happened ...yet. It will. After dinner, I'll get back to it. A poem about distractions.....?
This project is for me as much about focusing on what comes up for me each day, as it is about developing my poetry skills. The two work hand in hand after all.
I'm going to do my 15 mins of freewrite now while the chicken cooks in the oven! Okay that's done. Bit saucy this one. I apologise in advance for you sensitive souls out there.
The love affair strokes your hair,
frees your mind but then you find -
An illusion born on crumpled sheets -
A mirage built by compressed heat.
The webcam whirls seeking motion.
The young girl silky, stroking lotion,
acting out your fantasy,
pulled in, pants down, for a fee.
You ride it out, pulled in deeper -
Make believe you can defeat her.
Wedded, bedded, beaded promise -
The 'I do' lie precedes the kiss.
Eat your meal of humble pie,
she makes you, takes you between her thighs.
This humid bliss -you rise, you fall -
You catch her eye - to despise is all.
Sunday, 1 August 2010
I need this. I need the challenge.
A very special man and teacher brought me back to writing after a long absence and I want to acknowledge him first. Jim Hall. He died far too soon in his fifties, in 2008, after teaching me to stop analysing my writing before it even hits the paper. His favourite saying at the time was: "Writing is what happens when your pen and paper meet not in your head."
He believed in the magic of the self conscious to lead us to the best phrase, the best metaphor as if it were already full formed ready to be picked out.
He reinforced freewriting in me as the first essential step in any writing project and so I will freewrite for 15 minutes every day and from there see what happens. What comes up. And take it from there.
So here goes...
recycled in the metal can.
Detach the key,
unwind the top,
ride the corners - don't let it stop.
Let them out,
those words that stick
between cerebral cortex and