Archives for the month of: December, 2013
I learnt
not to throw a tennis ball
indoors.
That’s how you shatter a ginger jar.

I also learnt one should not
break a violin bow.
Did I snap it 
or cause the hairs to explode?

If your nose is running,
and your mother is pinning
your ballet costume
don’t move.
If she pins you,
don’t move.
Don’t move. If you do

she will hit you with the thing
closest to hand

which may be
a pair of scissors.


Originally the above was titled with the opening,

A Damn Good Hiding
will never go amiss.

Parenting is surely one of the most challenging tasks. This I acknowledge with deep sincerity and appreciate all my parents have done for me. But poetry will have its way.

For more poems about suburbia with its quiet battles and ambiguity, preview my two published books of poetry:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
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The ordinary class 
does not  object to plastic chairs
or utilitarian rooms used for
multiple utilitarian purposes:
pre-school, ballet lessons, Sunday School,
prayer groups, a soup kitchen, evening workshops in crafts.

The ordinary class bends over
catered tray-lasagne
seeping into paper plates 
balanced on knees and 
an insulation of paper serviettes.

The ordinary class 
is certain
that their salvation resides 

Wait! Someone said chocolate cake?

Oh, a small piece.
I really shouldn’t;
Not after such a dinner.
Some tea with that would be 
lovely.
The cake was leftover from
a meeting this afternoon?
It’s really good.
Chocolatey, but delicious.
Karen baked it?
Please send our thanks.

Certain salvation 
of the ordinary class,
leftover from a meeting this afternoon,
sits in plastic chairs
attentively
noting god and good
and education,
balanced as warm and sodden paper plates
on wads of serviettes.

Our ordinary lives really fascinate me. They seem so unpoetic. Often this ordinary life and its props often just seems brutish and ugly. Plastic chairs, for example, really upset me. On one level they offend my aesthetic sensibility. On another, I wonder why we continue to sit on them and sit on them in the proscriptive, often less than beautiful spaces in which they are to be found.

I often wonder similarly about the food we eat when we gather as groups in these spaces. This food is usually served on paper plates, which do not absorb heat too well and soggy up with the juices of the dish. It is therefore not unusual to find the catered for with knees padded up with the serviettes provided. It’s like a dance of hunched sea creatures, consuming in unison during the incoming tide.

Ordinary life and suburbia feature in my two books of poetry, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys and Shining in Brightness. They are both available for preview and purchase at BeadedQuill’s Blurb Bookstore

Twitter: @BeadedQuill

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‘Tis the night before
I head off to find Christmas.
with an inflatable bed
and homemade biscuits.

All through this lodging
there is hardly a clatter;
only Depeche Mode on my laptop
and my landlady’s patter.

To the front door she shuffles
and hooks up the chain.
Yesterday’s outside,
while we’re bolted in.

22/12/13

My paternal grandparents had a beautifully illustrated copy of The Night before Christmas published by Little Golden Books. To me those pages smelt of sweeter Christmases in the past where children ate candy-canes and hung up stockings over a fireplace. This was the same Christmas of The Nutcracker’s Sugar Plum Fairy, so it is not surprising that sweetness filled the nose and tempted the taste-buds. Magically, unlike the other books in the dust-coated shelves, it did not smell musty. The paper itself was sturdy and even in those days, to my childish eyes the illustrations had an old-fashioned look about them.

I’m sure my father read the long poem to us. It’s his voice, with a little added theatricality, that I hear when I recall the famous opening lines:

Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house
not a creature was stirring not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung from the chimney with care
in the hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The atmosphere of expectancy and magic built up at the poem’s opening inspired my musings on this quiet evening. With gifts wrapped, cards distributed, Christmas baking done, bags packed, and now even the front door bolted, it seems that all that there is left for me to do is board my train at Euston tomorrow.

The second part of The Night before Christmas bounds with abundance and jollity. With St Nick and the reindeer enters a quicker pace and the energy of the festival. It is that part of the holiday to which I’ll be travelling. However, here in the quiet before the fracas, here I write next week’s posts at my desk, muesli consumed and coffee at hand.

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

I’ll be quiet on Facebook and Twitter over this festive season, but I’d be delighted if you’d look me up:

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill

Something for you –

reads these cards.
They’re blue this year
for the seasonal drop.

This something
can be an item
Special Delivery, Tracked, Recorded Signed For,
An International Item.
That one excites people.

Or the item could be
a letter, a packet, a catalogue,
a number of items
or,
though never in my time,
a perishable item.

Yet again, an item that could not be delivered.
No-one at home.

The card through the letterslot.
Last one for the shift.
Back to the depot.
Turn up my music.
I could do with some tea.

19/12/13

A companion piece to Monday’s poem, “Without realising it, the postman leaves a poem”.  As an exercise, this poem is written from the point of view of the postman.

I’m now wondering about a poem in which the postman is the poet.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill

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Something for you –

 

heads the blue card

 

This something

is it a poem?

a sonnet,

a verse,

an enveloped ode?

 

Your item is

 

a parcel.

It could not be delivered.

No-one was at home

on this date 14. Dec

at this time 1pm

 

for the verse? No

the item

You’ll have to collect

(Now, this is the poem?)

the something for you

at our depot.

 

I have produced two books of poetry.  The poems of my first volume draw on experiences of my youth.  Shining in Brightness includes poems that explore young love and infatuation, trying to forge a creative path and remember the father I lost to cancer.

The second volume is dedicated to contemporary men, aka ‘the Modern Boy’. The poems filter advice and insights through the voice of a character called Emily. Preview Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys here.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill

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This project allows us
a ruler
with a bit more flexibility.

We are looking for
a firm footing
with a ruler, fully naked.

This will provide
a clear way forward – stripped of all
his clothing.

From January this year,
thanks to Johnathan,
the ruler has been on a raft.

We have been able to
cover him – our ruler – in gold dust
and send him into
the middle of the lake.

We send him out with mounds of jewels
to tip into the depths
while on the banks
the people sing and dance.

We also have operations in Cambridge, Bristol and Brazil.

We believe this expression of micro-cosmos
is a good policy tool.

Another poem in part inspired by an exhibition currently on in London – Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Columbia at the British Museum.  The museum hosts accompanying free lunch-time lectures presented by curators and experts in the field, a few of which I have attended recently.

When the lectures open, I sit up attentively relishing every new piece of information. I must remember this, remember that. But the open notebook on my lap fills with doodles and interesting snatches, not of content, but of expression that comes out of the lecture.

In part this poem consists of jottings from the BM lunch-time lecture on El Dorado that I attended. The other bits are derived from the sort of meeting jargon anybody who has worked an office job may well recognize.

Preview my books of poetry:  Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys and  Shining in Brightness

Follow me on Twitter: @BeadedQuill

Visit my Facebook page: BeadedQuill

Image

 

This last weekend I did lots of kicks. Yesterday, I did enough repetitions of cloud hands to wake up with aching arms. 

Are you ready for Christmas? I am far from, but did issue my second book of 2013 in time for its November deadline. Preview Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys here.

Shining in Brightness, my first book of poetry came out in February. The verses draw on 12 years of travels, study and growing up experiences between the ages of 18 and 30. Peruse some of the poems and accompanying essays here.

Both Emily’s Poems and Shining in Brightness (pictured above) are available as old school, cover-and-paper volumes via my blurb bookstore

I continue to pen poems towards my 2×52 project. The aim is to write two poems a week for 52 weeks, to total 104 poems across a year. The most recent four poems use the subject matter of martial arts, eating a boiled eggs and wedding celebrations to explore the themes of relationships, directing one’s action towards a goal and dissolved projections/dreams. 

I do. Do you?

Five Consequences of Repeated Actions

To the Valleys 

supreme ultimate

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Over the hills 
in this fulsome of seasons,
the rains trigger migration
of hartebeests in cravats.

With dress suits and readings
of love  patient, love kind,
they sniff over the morning 
for griddle-pan scones,

white-veiled receptions, 
soft hands at their temples. Ah, 
all those summers a-toiling 
they bring back to the valleys

as rings in their pockets
in snapped shut hinged boxes
to find all brides
have left for the sea.

As hinted at last week, here is the poem about grooms flocking to the valleys.  It was spurred by a dictionary explanation of fiancée that read “He went back to the valley to marry his fiancée.” In my accompanying essay to last Thursday’s post, “I do. Do you?”, I explain my wonder at such a contextualising mini-narrative. I also predicted a sprouting poem.

As a companion read, I recommend Liz Berry’s wonderful poem “The Year We Married Birds”. Hereunder my favourite line, no less because of the colon.

“My own groom was a kingfisher:
enigmatic, bright.”

It’s a busy marriage market out there with hartebeests in the valleys and magpies, Trafalgar pigeons and snow buntings in the cities. Too bad the brides have left for the sea.

P.S. The hartebeest is species of antelope.

Still looking for a completely original Christmas gift for a bibliophile? Preview my books of poetry.

Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys – Fresh off the press! 25 poems on life, love and work derived from the field-notes of an observant poetess.

Shining in Brightness – 20 selected poems chronicle twelve years of travel, relationships and growing up. Praised as “jewel-like droplets in a grey, urban landscape”.

Find Beaded Quill on Twitter (as @BeadedQuill) and Facebook.

This month I once again
neglect to pay into a pension,
fertilize a good egg at ovulation
or further my career. Untoward

outcomes will result! In twenty years
it will not matter 
that I didn’t 
write this poem today.

Not to fear. Come the end of next week, I plan to be on a waiting-list to freeze some of my good eggs. Plus the poetry writing continues.

I now have two volumes for sale. The latest book, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys, offers insights on life, work and love for the youthful gentlemen of our contemporary times. Shining in Brightness chronicles a twelve-year journey set across three continents and explores the themes of connection, loss and growing up.

Both titles are available for preview and purchase at blurb.co.uk

Please follow me on Twitter as @BeadedQuill. I tweet about writing and whatever else is happening in my life. At the moment this is a cold and listening to Chopin Ballades.