I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

21 January 2018

How Do You Like Your Blue-Eyed Boy, Mister Death?

Thank you, I like him fine.
Buffalo Bill will never 
not be handsome now,
and his prowess won’t deteriorate.

And when I give him back
to the cradling earth again
– for I don’t get to keep them, you know –
dressed in a new body and sporting a new name

perhaps you’ll meet him once more, in a different dream 
… unless it is you I am holding then. 
Unless it is you I lead by the hand
to your new, true awakening….

At "imaginary garden with real toads" Brendan asks us to "dance with a ghost", i.e. to respond to another poem. (Well no, it was to play tennis, but I prefer to dance.) The original e. e. cummings poem is one of my favourites – and hey, if someone's "defunct", they're really a ghost! (I have read the cummings poem bitterly in the past, identifying with the questioner. So in a way I am here talking to myself, using Death's voice to persuade myself of a different, kinder perspective.)

The "different dream" is an allusion to the final passage of Kahlil Gibran's
The Prophet, and in Death leading one by the hand I was recalling Sir Terry Pratchett's lovely posthumous tweet (involving his fictional character, Death).

20 January 2018

Summer Evening

The heat cools to comfortably mild.
I look out the front door
and see, on the top step,
my dear man taking the air
in his chair on the landing.

Our pantherish old black cat, Levi,
sprawls near him on the mat.
Tortoiseshell Freya is curled up neatly 
close by on the second step.

And there's me. I'm sitting on 
the top step, leaning my back
against the rails, positioned to see,
talk to and touch all three....

It's five years ago and more. 
All of them are dead now.
Even on such a pleasant evening
I never sit, these days, on 
the front steps, enjoying the air.

4 January 2018

The Opening of Doors

I usually barge right on through, and usually
there is some light on the other side, even
when one might think I’d have done better
to leave that door shut. Sooner or later 
there is always light – some – and  often
a late burst of unexpected brilliance … and
sometimes the door opens onto sustained
sunlight, and I need only enter and bask.

And there are times when I’m just here, 
and a door opens to let someone else 
come through, towards me, and that 
can be sweet or exciting or possibly
nothing at all – but nothing demands nothing, 
which is restful; and so, one way or another,
I tend to like it when doors open: I tend to see it 
as a good thing … for the most part, anyway.

Best of all is when doors become irrelevant:
when, instead of traversing some boundary or
entry, some turning-point or edge, we rise
skyward, unfettered, on waves of pure thought:
lifting into flight, cavorting on clouds, floating
and dancing in long arabesques, ethereal
pirouettes … which pleasure is encompassed
even better together, and so let our minds 
entwine. Meet me in the middle of the air!

The final sentence is stolen from a Paul Kelly song based on the 23rd Psalm. This particular line, which he inserts into it, is by Kelly himself and not the psalmist – and has different connotations from those I give it here.

This poem was inspired by the Doorway(s) prompt at Poets United this week.

2 January 2018

A Manifesto for the New Year

I have not got the music
but I have the words.
I have not got the dance steps
but I have the words.
I have not got the numbers
but I have the words.
I have not got the science
but I have the words.
I do not have the lovers (any more)
but I (still) have the words.

I call out loudly with the words.
I throw my arms up and my head back,
shouting the words triumphantly.
I whisper softly with the words,
bending close to your secret ear
and breathing them, 
exhaling so lightly you can hardly feel –
but listen hard and you'll hear.
Sometimes I shout them in rage. And outrage. 
Sometimes, I wish to whisper venom.

The words are mine
to do with as I will.
(God said so, 
who gave them to me at my birth.)
I can make them sing, 
I can make them dance.
I can make them count.
I can make them explain – if you will follow –
the secrets of the Universe.
I can make them bring back my lovers.

Yesterday is breaking up, falling away.
Yesterday is getting thrown out with the garbage.
But the old words live on,
unable to be entirely discarded.
Words have power. I call up the power
from deep inside. I call up the words
from where they too are anchored within.
I set them free. I let them loose.
Now I make them new, like seedlings, like cubs.
They will play. They will grow. They will climb all over you.

At 'imaginary garden with real toads', Bjorn invited us to write a manifesto for 2018. I am not much for such things ... but then I watched Patti Smith on YouTube (who does have the music and the dance as well as the words) and – in the mysterious way it happens – suddenly became inspired.

Also sharing this at Poets United's Poetry Pantry #386

31 December 2017

Discovering Three Pratchetts Not Yet Read

I'm sitting up in bed last thing at night
reading Terry Pratchett – one of my grand-
daughter's books, which I seized on with delight
when I discovered it so near at hand.
I’m visiting for Christmas. It's all right 
that I'm in her space; she’s a good girl, and
is young enough to like the blow-up bed
she gets to use in the front room instead.

Or else she sleeps on a trundle mattress
in the study, but anyway I get 
her room and her bed and – what happiness –
three books of hers by dear Terry Pratchett:
Sir Terry, whose name I shall always bless
for Discworld and its inhabitants – yet
this is tinged with some grief. Though they live on,
their gently humorous author has gone.

They are ‘young adult’ books, a genre I
often choose for its own sake anyway.
I may be regressed, but I don’t know why
I need worry about that. Reading’s play
in my book (ha ha ha!) and I’m not shy
of admitting this. Could there be a day
without a book in it? No, not for me –
glad I’m still here, in bed with Terry P. 

Winding up the month (and year) with a final offering for the Poetic Asides Ottava Rima Challenge.

I'm also sharing this with Poets United's Poetry Pantry #384, the first after our 2017 Christmas break.

Happy New Year, dear readers!

30 December 2017

The Roses I Post on Facebook

My hobby is to photograph roses.
I like to find them growing in gardens.
The good God, whom we are told disposes
all things, knows how a heart sometimes hardens,
therefore is using me (one supposes)
to remind others of love and pardons.
Each comes with a message, unique each day –
yet all the same really. 'Be Love,' they say.

When I visit my family down south
in the temperate climes, I thrill to see
gardens full of roses. They spill and froth
and crowd and dance, and almost sing for me.
(Or is it that songs burst from my own mouth
in my joy that so much beauty can be?)
At home I photograph roses for sale
in hot-housed bunches … but still beautiful.

The words I add to these posts are simple
wishes for peace, for love, for happiness,
for a bright day – nothing original.
Yet people cherish them, feel that they bless.
I do go into my heart for them all –
risking banality, seeking sweetness.
Whether they come from within or above,
each message is really the same one: ‘Love!’

And again, an ottava rima for the form challenge at Poetic Asides.

Also shared with The Tuesday Platform for 9 Jan. 2018 at "imaginary garden with real toads".

29 December 2017

There's Nothing Now

There’s nothing now that I can do for you,
and how it hurts my heart that this is so.

My sky has darkened from its sunny blue
as I discern that yours is thick with snow.

I always held to what I knew was true –
only to wonder now if I did know.

We were each other’s shelters once; that’s gone.
Like swords: the cutting rain, the piercing sun.

A combined ottava rima / ghazal, for the Poetic Asides ottava rima challenge.

28 December 2017

That Sentimental Place, the Past

She dreams of roses. Her father grew them
when she was a child, in all the colours
roses came in then. She remembers him
tending them closely. He would be outdoors
morning and evening, flexing his green thumb
(he hoped) outside his daily working hours,
and longer on weekends. The hues and scents
he revelled in, she treasures … and laments.

Yet another ottava rima for the Poetic Asides form challenge

Also shared with Poets United's Poetry Pantry #387

On Going Within

I speak into a void. He, Hermit, goes
so far into his cave, no-one can see
his lone attempts to heal his current woes.
I don’t know if he’s even hearing me;
he’s possibly so deep he never knows
that messages are sent at all. Will he
restore himself by hiding as in womb –
or does he pull around himself a tomb?

Another ottava rima for the Poetic Asides form challenge