Empire state building USA

By Guillaume Lussier-Dulude (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

After inserting the Gherkin at the end of “Now here is something to marvel at…“, I had a whim to write a poem for each season featuring an architectural icon. I have yet to follow through on this idea, but “The Character Building” (posted this time last year) re-engaged with landmark structures.

Like “Now here…“, the poem “The Character Building” is actually about the everyday and picayune that is often passed over for the dazzling and iconic.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
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Image courtesy of the Old Design Sop, a vintage image treasury.

Image courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

In preparation
          for life’s many little pageants

We brush out our hair,
cut the dry, split ends,
straighten out the frizz.
We lather up our legs
and smooth out the bristle.
We take concealer to those rings beneath our tired eyes
and layer over the unhappy spots.
We tint tiny rainbows on our eyelids
and add a flick of Cleopatra’s kohl.
Heeled, contoured, groomed, composed,
we stage a tincture of our most come-hither selves.

Emily, sister and sweetheart of the modern boy, returns. Here she offers some observations about her sisters at their pre-seduction toilette.

This time last year, I gathered together twenty-five poems inspired by Emily, an ego de plume who communicates with the Modern Boy. Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys covers the broad topics of life, work and love. Preview it here.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Kirchner 1913 Street, Berlin.jpg
Kirchner 1913 Street, Berlin“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

John Keats wrote his famous ode ‘To Autumn‘ on the 19th of September 1819. This partially inspired my poem posted this time last year. (This year, we are enjoying a generous bolt of extended warmth. The colder snap is still to come.)

Autumn’s ripened harvest store” offers up the autumn harvest of a modern Northern metropolis. The season is one of sneezes, the onset of black coats and umbrellas, nights that close in earlier and the rise of comfort eating as the cold sets in.

When I first started posting on this blog, I wrote about the autumn memories from my undergraduate days. Soon afterwards I posted an early (lovely) poem which was also born during autumn. Those “brown beacons” on a stark tree struck me as I trudged the streets of a Polish town (where I worked in my twenties). Those beacons have remained with me ever since.

It is the city in autumn, without the associated glow of golden leaves or scattering seedpods, that today’s archive poem captures. Much of my current writing draws on my experience of London – its suburbs and centre.  In looking for an illustration, I hoped to find a scene of men on grey pavements, in black coats, holding up black umbrellas against dreary drizzle. Kirchner’s street scene is in parts too vibrant to fulfill these requirements. However, the people (like others in his city depictions) capture the strident anonymity of urban existence. I decided against cropping the image because the composition is so striking – and who knows, perhaps the woman in purple is the observing poet.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

An illustration of a prawn salad from from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1907.courtesy of the Old Design Shop., a vintage image treasyury.

An illustration of a prawn salad from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1907.courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

 

The orange has been wrung of juice.
The garlic’s lost its tang.
The salad leaves have dropped their wings.
The kitchen now has closed.

 


I do like a good food-related poem. Sometimes it’s more or less simply about the food:

Most versatile
Salad with mackerel

Or the words:

Recipe
Kitchen Alchemy

On other occasions, food is a conduit through which the poem explores a theme:

Just right
Mouse Days
An overdose of summer
At the moment: £2
Let them eat
Supreme ultimate
Tightly Sealed
Packed Lunches
The currency of sugar
London. Is it worth it?
Tumbling After
To the Valleys
Today

These themes include provision, community, comfort through distraction, class/social identity. Perhaps you notice some others? Do leave your thoughts as a comment below.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Illustration courtesy of the Old Design Shop.

Illustration courtesy of the Old Design Shop.

Leo’s Entries” is one of two poems written last year in the format of journal entries by respected (male) authors. The other was “Philip’s Log“.

Both poems were part of a year long project which culminated in a book, In the Ocean: a year of poetry.

Blood letting.jpg
Blood letting“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

From a Stone” engages with the frustrations of bringing forth a poem when it feels like drawing blood from an inanimate source. Like “Glomurelonephritis” this is one of the rare instances where my personal health experiences feature in a poem. For 31 years I have lived with a chronic renal (kidney) condition. The blood drawing analogy in “From a Stone” touches on my real experiences of ‘having bloods done’ (as they say in some hospital lingo). Putting my arm out to have blood siphoned from a vein still feels easier than many pursuits: writing poetry, doing press-ups or following my dreams.

Seashell unknown 3.jpg
Seashell unknown 3” by WilfredorOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Time and tide, a mermaid’s song

The tides go out.
Can you hear me?
The waves roll back –
Did you know? –
with the shells discarded that morning:
reclaimed nonpareils for below.


Mermaids and singing maidens have featured before in my poems, as have the sea’s tides and waves. When I use the sea as a setting, sometimes it is simply a fantastical location – a kingdom for the imagination. On other occasions it is based closely or loosely on a real place, such as Betty’s Bay. In the case of this poem, I was thinking about Shelly Beach at Betty’s. At this rocky shoreline inlet, the tides bring in tiny shells in pinks, reds and browns. The shells arrive varnished by the wet waves and glisten like nonpareils (or 100s and 1000s, as we knew them as kids). When the tide comes up, the waves reclaim these pretty treasures. Like decisive hands, the powerful backwash drags the shells into the water.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Earthworm 1 (PSF)

“Earthworm” courtesy of Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I posted “Impatience” this time last year. It’s a poem about seeking goals. The first lines follow the hard work involved in aiming towards goals. The later lines move towards how things seem not to be working out. The Astro Turf suffocates the earthworms.

Earlier this year I revisited the earthworm motif. In this poem I list how we dismiss the seemingly insignificant earthworm. The poem pirouettes to end with a different conclusion. The earthworm has its part to play.

If these lines seem too downhearted, I recommend “Dante’s Barmaids” to cheer you.

Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

T: @BeadedQuill
F: BeadedQuill

Image with thanks to "Homes and Garden Journa"l. See http://bit.ly/13ACooj

Image with thanks to “Homes and Garden Journal“.

I suspect that “Screens” is one of those atmospheric poems that evokes interesting images, but by the end of it the reader isn’t quite sure what it was all about.

Here’s how I see it:

The poem sets forward how our days are filled with noise and rushing. Simultaneously we seek escape in parallel realms and our imagination. We seek retreat in our dark and quite moments, in artists’ creations or in times past. In these kingdoms exist magical creatures (green-scaled dragons), conduits to the other side (golden bridges) and crafted beauty (tilted bonsai trunks).

There is a screen that separates these realms. Once one transcends it, one may see the province of imagination – “the far off poem”. The viewing platform, which in sensible understanding should be a stable structure, should ideally be positioned on the super moon. Not only are these lunar occurrences rare, but it is also difficult for most of us ordinary earth dwellers to make our way to the moon.

Screens is a poem about seeking poetry beyond the daily. At the same time, it is a poem about daily things: screens, commuting, traffic, viewing platforms and super moons.

Screens was one of the 104 poems I wrote over a year for my 2×52 project. These poems are collected in the book “In the Ocean: a year of poetry.”

T: @BeadedQuill.
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books available for preview and purchase.

Zoological Illustrations Volume III Plate 120.jpg

Its last pulse was the echo
of an interior draught.
Some time ago the sluggish monopod
had taken its leave.
Beached on the concrete path
the brown shell has no way of putting itself
at safety.
The unseeing crunch
the barren passageways
underfoot.


The above poem is about an abandoned snail shell like the ones might find in a suburban garden. The poem uses a cryptic sequence to unveil a scene, which reminds me of 118A Creighton Avenue, a poem which dates from a few years back.

I’ll leave it up to you to transpose your own metaphorical loading onto the scene, i.e. if you wish to read something analogous and ‘deep’ into the sequence by all means. If not, that’s okay, too.

I’ve posted recently  about other garden creatures in “The Visit” (a short story) and “Do Not Slight the Earthworm” (another poem).

If you’ve enjoyed reading my poems, please have a look at my books available via Blurb:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

I also tweet my observations about the minutiae of life as @BeadedQuill.
And BeadedQuill is on Facebook.


Illustration courtesy of “Zoological Illustrations Volume III Plate 120” by William Swainson, F.R.S., F.L.S. – Zoological Illustrations, Volume III.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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