Some days a poem just writes itself. This was one such. From a few notes jotted while I was visiting my gran in her “retirement home”, the tone quickly established itself & made me laugh out loud as the various descriptions presented themselves.
in the quiet blue of my gran’s tiny
room a photo of a long-haired kiss-
curled cow-licked feminine-faced lout;
smug in a purple-striped shirt under
neath an all-white knitted jumper
(as was, I hope, vaguely fashionable
in the Miami Vice trashed late 80’s);
set off with a heart-shaped silver bolo-
tie for fuck’s sake
although i recognise
his confident cock-eyed grin, his too-
smooth clean-cut chin, & once-pride&joy
full-but-already-thinning head of fine
wavy hair, my stomach double knots
in grief & pity — for he does not yet
know all he has, nor all he will lose
Been partaking in much thought (as I do this time every year); as well as a Firefly marathon, so themes of home & family have been percolating round for days. (The pome itself took about an hour; finding the right picture, close to five.)
Somewhere there is a house
whether facing a storm on a cliff ;
lost in a forest ; birdhigh in a tree ;
or underground browntangled among
ancient roots ; atop an old stone tower ;
even above an ocean where mountains
once used to be, before being washed away
But somewhere there is a house ;
where when i walk in, i have always been
where i know and am known ;
where there is no need to play roles ;
no need to keep pretending all is well ;
where those long lost are as they were
i know there is a such a house, somewhere
Last night, dear friend & wonderful poet, Louise Nicholas, launched her first, very beautiful, full-length collection of poems, The List of Last Remaining through 5 Islands Press. It was a fabulous warm funny (mildly drunken) night.
Today, after dipping my way in & out of the collection, I have taken the last line of her poem, “How to scale a fish” & tweaked it to use as the title of today’s poem.
& so it’s come : to that time : of life : to once again : take out the tools of excavation : to dust off : my brooms & tiny brushes : sharpen my trowels : put pads on my ageing knees : & get down in the pit : in the dirt : dig down through the layers : the strata of my happiness : & my grief : to uncover the bones : & broken pottery : & terracotta floors : of true love : lost : of childhood : lost : of embryos : washed down drains : blood on thighs, over tiles, over everything : & to keep digging : until all that’s left to see : is an empty grave : a soul shaped hole : a silver wash : of moon : light : & salt
Last line: “as if unearthed in moonlight”
What with tomorrow being tomorrow, & plenty of work to do to get ready for it, today’s poem & Game are both going to be as brief as poossible. I’ll be using a variation of one of the Word Games I’ve played before, Last Line (Gone) – except this time it’s First Line (Gone; to be the last line of my poem) :).
The line is taken from The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. A truly glorious wonderful book that made me laugh, made me cry, made me weep buckets. Told by Enzo, who is a dog, this is a book that is a delight to read & one which will no doubt linger for days.
the art of not facing the truth
it’s easy to pretend
i’m waiting for you
easy to say
easy to argue
next time will be better
easy to acknowledge
now you are gone
are all i have
First line of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. “Gestures all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature.”
This began as a draft in January. I have redrafted, edited & posted it today for obvious reasons. It is the first poem this month not generated via Word Games.
we live in a world, where, when a beloved famousity
dies, social media bloodbaths into a whirlpool : wailing
wallowing, teethgnashing, pedastooling, & deifying —
alongside attacks, assassinations & ruthless debunking.
since we have capacity to celebrate celebrity demises
en masse, it has become de rigueur to do so : vehemently
& publicly with status updates & changed profile pics
alerting the indifferent world of your immense loss.
trolls rumble from caves, dragging into the light
their democratic right to demonise — reminding us :
fame isn’t bestowed solely on saints & that as much
darkness lurks under the skins of those we idolise.
meanwhile, the day-to-day tragedies go ever on, untweeted
— as do the friends, daughters, grandsons of those left …
Today was always going to be about this topic, given it is 4 months since one of my best mates died. I’ve tried half a dozen times to write about this loss (as well as other recent & ongoing ones) without much success. This comes closest so far …
& so . in a way . we all die young .
younger than we’d like . even if
we live to a hundred and twenty .
younger than our loved ones want
too . too long lost . in that aching
chasm . that distance between
stars that is all that’s left . when
there is nothing of you . left . except
a wisp . a tear . an echo of laughter .
a hair . a sigh . a gasp . a stifled
sob . an aimless wandering from
room to room . trying to remember
where you are . where you went . & why
NOTE: cover is from Tracy K. Smith’s lovely collection, Life on Mars. It is imaginatively titled: ‘Cone Nebula Close Up’ (I think in part because it is a Close Up of the Cone Nebula).
NOTE 2: I know ‘technically’ this poem may not really Ekphrastic in the strictest sense of the word, but is definitely an emotional response to the image.
Last one. Today is D-Day.
we were never a five – not properly – not all
together – not ever – yet in my head – we always
were – still are – forever will be – nothing can change
that – even though everything has changed — every thing
except the great empty