Now

Photo by Dieter K on Unsplash

In a week, everything has changed.

Now the sun is out, the sky is blue.

The seasons have made a turn.

Today I am reminded of a much loved poem look – really look that was inspired by an evocative interview with an elderly gentleman about his balcony garden in the Barbican (London). The return of bees, butterflies, pansies in different hues, fuchsias, columbine and trees re-leafed in green have made me look again, really look, at the gardens and green spaces in my neighbourhood.

With the bank holiday weekend, the good weather and the stirrings of nature, it feels as though summer has arrived.

Jangle between Jangle is BeadedQuill’s latest collection of verse. The poems date from 2018 while the poet found inspiration in the to-and-fro jangling across London of commuting when it was still a part of the work-life routine.

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The good news is

Photo by Anjana Menon on Unsplash
The wet streets
open for
    furtive foxes
alleys for cats
      swaying branches 
for turtledoves
coo-cooing in the rain.

Fewer people will be out.
03/05/2020

An apt poem from the back catalogue to follow a wet, May weekend. It felt like it rained for two days solid, but that is not true. I went out twice to walk and during that time the rain let up.

“It’s raining.
I’ve got a window open.”

say the intro lines in my notebook of last year.

It is not advisable to open any of the skylights or French doors of my loft room when it rains. This means that the only window I can have ajar is the window on the teeny-tiny ‘landing’ of the winding stairs. If I keep my room-door open, and the window open, then a breeze can come through. This is the window that stays open when it rains. And the raindrops fall down its slanted pane onto the rooftiles below, and into the gutter. Sometimes I’ll stop and watch the raindrops; think about clearing away the spider and his web.

Jangle between Jangle is BeadedQuill’s latest collection of verse. The poems date from 2018 while the poet found inspiration in the to-and-fro jangling across London of commuting when it was still a part of the work-life routine.

Follow BQ on the gram (@beadedquillwrites) and Facebook.
Find BQ’s books for sale via Blurb.

It is May, and livelihood is not a golden beast

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

I do wonder how one of my ancestors, who lived a life centred around tending her cattle, may see my screen-filled days. It would probably baffle her as to how what I do is work.*

It was from such a wondering that I imagined the scene in Listen to me, you golden beauty. This poem evokes a Beltane tradition:

“One of the practices during Beltane was to usher cattle, beasts that provided the livelihood for the people of the settlement, between two large bonfires. The beasts were sometimes garlanded in yellow May flowers. Ash from the bonfires was considered sacred, so it was swept up and used to mark the cattle. In some instances, it was cooked into food (such as oatcakes).”

I say to myself that I am grateful I do not have to rely on the vagaries of nature for my livelihood as my potato farming ancestors may have done. 2020 reminded me that the job market has its vagaries, too. There are lean seasons and workers must scratch in the earth until the rains return. Our late capitalist world is in many ways, for many of us, a world of prosperity. In the cosmic world, change is the only constant. As such, even in 2021 let this be the petition to the Beltane beauty: may it be a year of abundance, sustenance and providence.

With my hands to the muzzle
I lead the prosperity of my summer yield,
garlanded in cowslips, buttercups and wild daffodils,
through the Beltane flames.

Read the full poem and more about May Day and Beltane here.

*Whenever I hear the word “work” my brain immediately plays Mrs Honeychurch from A Room with a View reciting her immortal line, “To mess about with latch-keys and call it work?”

They’re purple but blue better rhymes

Background photo created by Dragana_Gordic – www.freepik.com

They’re purple
but blue better rhymes

The hyacinths nosing us
with their blooming scent.
Us – the other houseplants,
the fridge, the drying linen
on the clotheshorse,
the competing scented candles.
The bold blue hyacinths
exude regardless
and bloom out of their pot.

01/04/2018

The fridge is humming this morning as I sit at my table and prepare this post. I woke before my alarm set for 06:45. Today is Friday and from my table, a small dining table with black hairpin legs, in the upper reaches of my loft room I see the neighbours’ garden yards. The blossoming trees at the far end have ended their week-long display. The petals fell in confetti piles on the flat garage roofs and collected on the pitched roof of my neighbour’s garden photography studio.

The spring burst now is a young tree flowering in pink, balls of blossoms clustered on its twiggy branches. There’s more going on: striking red photinia and the new greens; birds returning to my rooftop. I have to remember it was only a few weeks ago that the trees were still bare, the world desaturated.

Now I tell myself, “But something was waiting.”

Today’s poem, like many of my vignettes, is a daily scene captured. It dates from 2018, but it could have been a spring scene last year or today. The clotheshorse, the scented candles, the linen drying and the humming fridge, they all remain.

That is no bad thing.

This poem is included in Jangle between Jangle, a collection of verse written while jangling to-and-fro across London during the commute in 2018, when commuting was still a part of work-life jangling. Follow BQ on the gram (@beadedquillwrites) and Facebook.
Find BQ’s books for sale via Blurb.

With

Image by Dibs and from pexels.com

With is not a word
to end a sentence,
or so they taught us
at school.

With is not correct
when it is used
come with
went with
came with
was with,
this withering word
that without
cannot exist.
Let’s go with
within, wherewithal,
forthwith, notwithstanding.


‘Creative writing rules’ from my school days still to echo in my head. The teachers’ warnings against starting a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’, both of which I now use deliberately. I write a great deal for my day job and colleagues often proof this work. I had a colleague who would edit out my defiance. And I would counter-edit my rebellion back in.

Then there was the teachers’ wisdom that one should not end sentences with ‘with,’ a wonderful word that at the end of a sentence is like a small call into the great winds that circulate our earth.

Would you go with?
Come with?
Stay with…?

This poem comes from Necessary Work, a collection of BeadedQuill’s more recent poems that are still in draft form. Also have a look at Jangle between Jangle, a recent mini-book of verse written while jangling to-and-fro across London during the commute.

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Find BQ’s books for sale via Blurb.

Airtime will be of little use

Image courtesy of Alison Christine via https://unsplash.com/photos/qVeJ3eyvnZc

What is it even all for?

When the End Times come

the airtime

and savings

will be of little use.

Every day we lived

cost someone something.

At some times it was

money that cost us.

We paid our rent,

our food, our taxes,

clothes.

The leasehold of

our lives runs by

not to be renewed.

28/09/2020

This was a poem written in autumn, as the nights closed in earlier, the leaves piled up and, on one damp lunchtime walk, I stopped to look at a yellow dandelion flower in the pot-holed alleyway at the bottom of my road. “Is this all there is?” I asked the flower.

The practicalities of rent, National Insurance, pension, groceries, saving for a house deposit, the acceptance that perhaps this is all there is. This props up our ability to love those closest to us, to recall memories and make new ones, to explore the world when we can and perhaps that is also all there is.

This poem is included Necessary Work, a draft collection that BeadedQuill has in the wings. In the meantime have a look at Jangle between Jangle, a collection of verse written while jangling to-and-fro across London during the commute.

Follow BQ on the gram (@beadedquillwrites) and Facebook.
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RNINGTON Way Out

Stairs in metro station
Picture by igorovsyannykov via pixabay

For your own safety

Change here.

The next station

Will be exit only.

You have a vital role

to play,

beds, sofas and furniture

loafers.

The station is Kentish Town.

A Northern Line train terminating at

High Barnet.

18/05/2018

It feels like a lifetime ago that many of us who jostled through the London commute have done so. Instead of being restricted by movement in crowded carriages and crowded, interlinking corridors, we’ve been restricted to our homes and localities. Uncannily, in the continuing circumstances,

You have a vital role

beds, sofas and furniture

loafers.

In the times of commuting, these were the siren images of posters advertising comfort and respite to our underslept selves.

This poem is from Jangle between Jangle, a collection of verse written while jangling to-and-fro across London during the commute.

Follow BQ on the gram (@beadedquillwrites) and Facebook.
Find BQ’s books for sale via Blurb.

An update

Image by Judy Macdonald from Pixabay

I’ll get ‘round to sending you word
about this dream
I had again
about the house
that’s under renovation.
When it’s finished
I know you’ll love the surprise.
The bathroom’s to be
re-tiled.
The kitchen redone.
A loft floor inserted
in the roof.
With all the interconnected doors
there are so many
people moving in and
out of the rooms.
Builders, the people
we loved and lost,
a strange swaddled baby I
can’t keep from
shrinking and dissolving.
But the renovations,
I know you’ll love.
Find me in the
newly done-up
house.

09/10/2018

This poem derives from a dream I had. The construction work on a house and the shrinking, dissolving baby are both recurring dream motifs, though they don’t usually feature together. On this occasion they did.

This poem is from Jangle between Jangle, a collection of verse written while jangling to-and-fro across London during the commute.

Follow BQ on the gram (@beadedquillwrites) and Facebook.
Find BQ’s books for sale via Blurb.

Expectations, agitations

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

You want it and you think you want it.
You say to yourself you are
making strides towards it and
you plan and scribble little plans
and more plans, goals and more
goals, why power and visualizing the
outcome. What else?
Porridge in a bowl, waiting
and seeds.

26 or 27/11/2018

I’ve started consuming a lot of YouTube content. Days’ worth. I’ll watch while I’m cooking, lolling in bed, over my coffee/ tea. Sometimes I treat it more like talk radio – just having it on in the background.

Yesterday, while washing my dishes, I watched/ listened to an interview between Ellie Lee and K-pop artist Jackson Wang. When asked what he would do if he had three days off, Jackson said he would use the time to produce songs. Because when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. This from a man who juggles two careers.

When I realized that 2020 would be a different sort of year, devoid of many of the distractions I usually schedule into my life (exhibitions, theatre and music, wild swimming), I decided that this would be the perfect time to focus on some substantial goals: making strides with the part-time studies, improve my language skills and practise the viola.

This last weekend, I didn’t listen to the German podcast episode I’d put on my to do list. Not because I didn’t have time – I had loads of that, and solely in my own company. But because somehow the lus for it escaped me.

There has been very little progress on the language front. I have to will myself to take out my viola, which I did for 40 minutes on Sunday, wondering – what is the point, I’ve been playing for years and second position still sounds atrocious.

I can (and did) find close to 13 hours, most late-night Saturday and early morning Sunday, to watch a full K-drama series.

I woke up this morning, poured out a bowl of muesli and sat down to an hour’s study work with my Zoom group. Then I prepared and scheduled this post before the workday began.

You think you want to accomplish things, but truly – how much do you give to making them happen.

The Ancient

The oak tree stands,

its trunk heavily burred,

still growing vigorously.

28/10/2018

A beautiful exhibition of drawings of Britain’s ancient oak trees at Kew Gardens inspired this poem. The images were in black and white and the trees stark, shorn of their home landscapes and without leaves. I was struck by how despite the long years – centuries – these majestic, broad-trunked wise ones continued to grow. Some trunks had split, some were heavily burred, they have all seen so many seasons, weathered the wind and rain. Despite their solidity from eons of exposure, they had a vigour to them, which you too may notice in the reproductions of the images.

Adverbs, like adjectives, are considered a stylistic ear-sore in writing and a crutch for lazy poets. I have kept “vigorously” nonetheless. The trees sprout their bare branches this way and that without consideration for polite symmetry or topiary style.

In my notebook I wrote that on that Sunday morning I felt, “Rested and clear-headed in a way I don’t think I’ve felt for ages. A good feeling.”

The next morning, Monday 29th October 2018, I was back in the thick of the London commute.

“I had a terrifying thought on my walk from Bank station – the tall, concrete buildings around and up ahead, the bright blue sky, everyone charging to where they were supposed to be, still meant to be and at that moment I thought to myself – actually stopped on the pavement – looked up and thought: This could be it. This could be my life until the end of my days. And so it could be, though, unlikely because the only constant is change.”

Here we are in 2020.

Read other BQ poems inspired by art

“The Ancient” is a poem from Jangle between Jangle, a slim collection of verse written while jangling to-and-fro across London.

Follow BQ on the gram (@beadedquillwrites), Facebook and, when out and about (so unlikely in 2020), Twitter.

BQ’s books are for sale via Blurb.