Category Archives: Poetry

Back to earth (and beneath)

I’ve been pot-holing this week.  Exploring the cracks, crevices, fissures and trenches where glaciers, rivers and oceans pulse, slowly.

If I’ve been spinning with my head in infinity for the last while,  this is the week where I came back to reality with both a bump and then, for one alarming dreamsleep moment, a slipslide beneath the tide encased in a sealed train carriage.

Dreams tell me things.  How I am doing now.  How I did in the past.  What I need to watch for in the future.

Trouble is, I don’t often know what they were telling me, except in the thin shadow of a very long and highly blurry hindsight.

window shadow

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Summer proper

Leads to poetry. As does life. Here’s one I wrote earlier, about both.

The website that published the piece is the simple but wonderfully executed Visual Verse – one image, one hour and write.

BedHead

Would you ever wonder
Why you bothered to
Get out of bed
From a safe embrace
Into the cold world
Where everything that was done before
Needs doing over
And nothing has changed overnight
Until it does
But not in the way that you hoped for.

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London I

The city holds my heart
Seated at the right hand
Of a lead-grained and calloused
Well-thumbed Mount of Venus.

The fingers
Close
Squeeze

Until the city

Breathes us

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Spring: The Ungive of Snow Bones

I have blogged about spring before – it happens every year after all. I have walked plenty this week, and seen much that is new after the dank, dour months of a brown winter: tight-budded pinpricks studding the hawthorn, a lone bee and butterfly brushing against cream walls, both discombobulated by the sun. A battalion of birdsong firing over the rooftops and this unnamed tactile splendour: a catkin that’s been down the gym.

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And yet, as the snowdrops bloom with all their puny might, with the blowsy crocuses and uniform daffodils following hard on their delicate white heels, I  always think of the Fran Landesman lyric, that spring can really hang you up the most. The Landesman lyrical sentiment is taken from the opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

I. The Burial of the Dead

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

The words speak of change, which many of us are hardwired to resist although we generally seem to do worse, psychologically speaking, with external circumstantial changes, not directly within our control. Every year we are aware that spring, a change, is coming about this time – and we might feel, for the most part, that the seasonal change is welcome after months of short, dark days. So what of Eliot’s Waste Land?

For me, it is stark reality of bright light on the ‘dead land’ that unsettles. The sunscald in what once passed for a garden, the illumination of winter dust suddenly strewn everywhere… the fear that spring will, this time, undo us. These tensions provoke action. Spring cleaning and gardening for some, artistic productivity in others. Busyness will save us from the memory and desire, stirring, we hope.

Yes, April is the cruellest month. Be sure to enjoy March whichever way you can.

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The title of this post is inspired by a new book about language and nature titled ‘Landmarks‘ by Robert MacFarlane and published in hardback this week.

N.b. This post has given me terrible trouble what with dodgy punctuation and big ideas gone astray. Apologies if it does not quite cohere.

To vape or not to vape

Vaping through the rain

Makes me think; we really

Need an umbrella

A Poetry Prescription to Myself (and anyone else who needs it)

Not Intrigued With Evening
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What the material world values
does not shine the same
in the truth of the soul.

You have been interested
in your shadow.

Look instead
directly at the sun.

What can we know
by just watching
the time-and-space shapes
of each other?

Someone half awake
in the night
sees imaginary dangers;

the morning star rises;

the horizon grows defined;

people become friends
in a moving caravan

Night birds
may think daybreak
a kind of darkness,
because that’s all they know.

It’s a fortunate bird
who’s not intrigued
with evening,

who flies in the sun
we call Shams.

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Jelal'uddin Rumi - 13th century Sufi mystic and poet
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From The Soul of Rumi. Translated by Coleman Barks.

Symbiosis

 

 

The thorn tree throws sticks

For an imaginary dog

One woman does tai chi

Wearing sand-soled feet

Whilst the sky slopes off

Into the sea’s arms

And the sun bleeds out.

 

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From Southend to Tilbury

crowstone

On the promenade
Palm fronds, cling on
In the wind,
Whilst car doors
And waves slam
In my ears.
Tide’s up
Shuttered down
The moon and sun
Shine bemusement
Women leave the casino
At dusk
Tapping their watches…
And the men walk dogs
Over the cliffs
Off lead.
One ketch argues with itself
On a wet mooring
Tearing its heart out.
My unblind mind’s eye
Conjures up dolphins
And seals in the rush hour
Of a stirred-up estuary
As I try to keep pace
With some cruise ship
Heading to the docks
For winter.

Cuba Libre

Standing out on the street
For a cigarette with you
In the blunt night air
You’ve given up
& I don’t smoke

Working elbows
Sticky with tequila
Contradicting interdictions
That step on the toes of fairy tales
Before they can rhumba