I know you better
with my eyes closed:

the blindfold’s bluff.

(c) Dec. 2016

fragonard_-_blind_mans_bluff_game

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1809), “Le collin maillard” (The Blind Man’s Buff) (1751/ c. 1760, oil on canvas, 117 x 91 cm, Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Fragonard’s painting above and its partner, “The See-Saw” are discussed in this short clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGLpQDFOfZM

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At the elm spring
five birds sat in the trees
hoping that the
coming year is filled
with All is well.

31/12/16

Other poems about the shift to the New Year
A New Room
in the glow of celebration
Clementi Brings in 2013

By Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Fruit ice lollies (8588758339)

By Lablascovegmenu from London (Fruit ice lollies) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Warm mayhem

It was a scorcher today.
We ate ice-lollies in the office
and called it quits at five
only to find
the District Line had melted.

24/08/2016

It really is too hot for any more words about this very warm day in London. Some say it has been the hottest day of the year. The weather forecast suggests there may be another day or two of similar intensity.

A couple of years ago I happened to write another poem about a warm summer’s Wednesday and being confined to an office.

And along with the District Line melting, my internet connection has been on a go-slow while preparing and uploading this post. Perhaps the heat has jammed its way into all the day’s component parts.

Delacroix Unmade Bed

“Le lit défait” (1828) by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), watercolour held by Musée National Eugène Delacroix. Image sourced from gurneyjourney.blogspot.co.uk (with appreciation).*

Passing

The pillowcases and sheets
scalped from the bed.
The mattress turned over
your last impression

levelled out
sucked by the earth
through to its core.

c. 21/10/2015


Beds are such intimate spaces and bed linen is the shroud to these secrets of sadness, joy and contentment. When the moment has passed, the residue is washed out by soap and dried away, perhaps by the sun if pegged up on a washing line.

And then it is time for a new start with clean sheets.

* If your image appears on this blog and is not credited to your liking, or if you would prefer to have it removed, please do not hesitate in contacting BeadedQuill.

I spent an evening last week swatting down mosquitoes and moths. The moths are the vicious sort that will eat holes in fabric between one blink of the eye and another. It has been known for me to put a knitted item down on my chair, and then pick it up two hours later with three moth-holes chewed into it. In my room there is such a selection of moths in incremental stages of growth that I am convinced they are breeding somewhere in the cupboard or behind a bookshelf. The mosquitoes, I know, are breeding in the buckets and pots of stagnant water under my window in the yard below.

At this time of the summer, when the tiny flying and crawling messengers make their way into the house to eat up the last of the season’s succulence (my blood, the summer fruit, a cardigan), the closing hours are near. So near that there are already mushrooms in their colonies among the tree-roots in the wood (find a mention in my previous poem, ‘He could not pause too long‘). The nights are a little colder and only a week ago, we were expiring in the sunshine.

From this height to what feels like the season’s shift (although we may still be in for a second warmth) and during my battle with the flying fiends, I was reminded of a poem I had written about summer’s excess turning to rot. To my surprise I discover that it is two years old, yet it still speaks of current things.

An overdose of summer

Soft to the thumb,
the pear I sliced
was gone.
It was rotten inside.

In a wither of ruffles
the rose-heads have browned
dry in the heat.
They sodden after it’s stormed.

Even the blowflies ferocious
have stopped their wings,
landed their green torpedoes
for the last time.

Something from lunch
churns in my stomach –

the rice, three days old?
the dhal, two days defrosted?
the sliver of cheese, too sweaty?
the coffee, a cup too many?

Now I, too, struggle
to hold down this summer.

25/7/2014

Cherry Hill Nature Preserve walking path

By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Along a back road

He set off from the village
when the blossoms dropped
their petal tears
and the green buds bid
to escape from the branches.

While walking along a
back road,
he was stopped

First by an old woman
who bent over a stick.
The stick gave way on the path.
The old woman fell
and struck her knee on a stone.
She said there was no need to worry anyone.

He could not pause too long
and, as she had said, there was not much he could do.
Along the back road
he continued walking
under trees now shadowing
with their leaves
and he was stopped

By a young man with hard arms
who implored and
would not let go.
This circling did not hurt
until the man dropped his embrace
and dissolved into the darkened roadside.

The journeying man
could not pause too long. There
was not much he could do
along the back road.
He continued walking.

He continued walking
and after some time
in the summer sunshine
he took off his shoes
and drank at a waterspout.
He was stopped

by a sweet-talking salesman
in a clean shirt, buttoned down
with a solution.
This opportunity would surpass the roaming.
Here, if the journeying man would
step off the back road.

He put on his shoes, washed his face
at the waterspout. He should not pause
too long. There was not much he could do
on the back road if he should keep walking.

The trees were dropping their leaves
and mushrooms clustered at their roots.


Given the contemporary climate of gender pronoun fluidity, it occurs to me that this may be in an antiquated voice. I had in mind those old fairy tales (such as “The Tinderbox”) and in particular those where the traveller – often a soldier or humble village man – is confronted by three companions on the trail.

For interest, you could try changing the ‘he’ for ‘she’, or your choice of gender neutral pronoun.

OldDesignShop_StorybookFairiesBees

A Round Robin, by M. A. Hoyer and Robert Ellice Mack, illustrated by Harriett M. Bennett, c. 1891. Image sourced from The Old Design Shop

Watching the bees

Here are the words of the blazing day
and the once beautiful arrangements.
It was heady, was it not?
The arrival of this brightest of days.

Outside the day was perfection.
Here a few few bees in the garden
hid under clumps of cut grass.
Why are they tucking themselves away?
Or are they burrowing for pollen,
heady on word from the other bees?

Our day of blazing perfection was heady,
was it not?
Was it not?


It has been a wildly warm day by London standards. I tried to write in the garden first thing this morning. The bees and butterflies and a single large-bodied horsefly were my ground company.

Aster yomena yomena02

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. by No machine-readable author provided. Keisotyo assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons. No endorsement of BeadedQuill’s work by this author should be implied.

Plant asters by autumn

When all else fades,
semi-trailing heath comes
into its own. In banks and borders

snow-petalled asters make a
brilliant ground cover. Shimmering
their heads: a butterfly magnet
in the wildlife garden’s

banks and borders. Plant this by autumn,
plant this great choice in height and spread
before the winter turns.


I spend the occasional sunny, bright afternoons sitting on a plastic chair in the backyard staring at the hanging roses, pink hydrangeas and purple foxgloves. I am no gardener at present, and do nothing in this patch of yard in the house where I lodge. When I was a child, I first had a corner bed in which grew a pink hibiscus bush. Later I had a patch of soil next to my wendyhouse in the back garden and as a pre-teen I changed the flowering contents of a box outside my bedroom window. Since living the rented room life, I have dabbled with the usual supermarket herbs in pots and seasonal indoor bulbs. Currently, I am nursing an Ikea spathiphyllum that moves from the chest of drawers next to my bed to the sun-catching shelf on the other side of my room. It really needs a dose of plant food and would probably benefit from re-potting.

I love spending time in green spaces, surrounded by plants, and sometimes I find myself drawn to glossy, coffee-table garden books in bookshops or the gardening pages of home magazines. Yesterday I was leafing through the Guardian Weekend and stumbled across the gardening pages and started reading the “What to do the week” section. The advice covered Thin this, Read this, Plant this; reduce clusters of fruit on your trees, read up about 101 chillies and consider planting asters in time for autumn.

Today’s resulting poem is drawn from the column and echoes another poem, “look – really look”. This poem of two years ago (and uncannily this very time of year) was also inspired by the Guardian Weekend’s gardening pages. The relationship between gardening, seasons and plants holds a deep mystery for me. Birds, and especially butterflies, are for me symbolic messengers from another realm. My paternal grandmother was a botanist and her interest in the flowering world seemed to be the science and beauty. My interest is the beauty and lessons it offers about our human flurries.

It is no coincidence that garden banks and border feature in today’s poem during these times when both national and economic security are under pressure in many parts of the world. There is something of ‘the lilies of the valley in all their beauty’ about the delicate snow-petalled asters. Yet, as they trail like other determined ground-covers, they may prove the surviving, life-continuing film when the monuments of mankind have faltered. There are seasons of all kinds, both in the natural world and in our rhythm as humanity. Perhaps planting star-like flowers is not such a bad task to consider before autumn. As three of my favourite lines from “look – really look” remind us:

Concrete is brutal.
It needs softening.
Plants should have dominion.

Opera House Haymarket edited

By Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and Augustus Charles Pugin (1762–1832) (after) John Bluck (fl. 1791–1819), Joseph Constantine Stadler (fl. 1780–1812), Thomas Sutherland (1785–1838), J. Hill, and Harraden (aquatint engravers) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

And music

again. A new tip for setting limits
plenty, more besides. It’s all
there you hear the benefit
after a couple the other
way would be to try
put it back. Cue
the lights


I hope you enjoy today’s verse distilled from sentences off the interweb. No, I’m not quite sure what it is all about.

Cue the lights and the music, for sure.

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Image courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury. This image of bicycle and bicycling outfits is from a page in The Delineator magazine, April 1895 issue.

Image courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury. This image of bicycles and bicycling outfits is from a page in the April 1895 issue of The Delineator magazine.

How’s the poetry going?
Is a giveaway question
on the pavement.
It signals you
have not read
anything much
the poet
might have
written recently.
Or otherwise you have,
and now on meeting
the poet
on the pavement
you wonder, this
that the poet
has written recently,
is any of it about me?


There is a post often shared on social media among the writing community that reads something to the effect of, “Do not upset a writer or they will kill you off.” Whenever I re-read it, I chuckle a little.

Of course, writers are not without fault and many (of greater wisdom than I possess) certainly look to their own foibles to create villains or draw inspiration for their work’s darkness. However, inspiration also comes from circumstances and experiences lived. Yes, for me there are some people’s comments and actions that have spurred particular imaginative turns. This works best when the initial situation proves a spark for an augmented parallel vista, such as in my recent series of short stories (see
Gone are the cars
Running in the wood
Hand-tie
Fenstone’s Flower).

I don’t expect most of the people who engage in daily small talk with me to be avid followers of these blog updates, though I do suspect (and can attest, from being asked) that when they do read my work, there is curiosity as to whom or what it might reference.

So here’s a clue: there just might be something I’ve written ‘about’ you.

I have also written about small talk before.

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