Archives for the month of: February, 2014
Little robins cock their heads when 
I pass and stop.
“Hello.” 
I move.
They dart.
The forest birds know not to trust.


This is poem 96 in the lead up to the total of 104. The project is to write two poems a week across 52 weeks (i.e. a year). I reasoned, if I wrote that many poems, some might not be so good, some might be ok and a few might be really interesting. Please look back among the poems I have posted over the last ten months to get an idea of how this theory has panned out.

You’ll find BeadedQuill on Twitter and Facebook.
Preview the books Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys and Shining in Brightness.

If Turtles Listened to Jazz featured first as a post this time last year, and was later included in Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys.

The truth-teller
draws from a pocket
the laminated slide 
    of mm 85 x 55.
You read  
     – it turns pellucid.

Through the foramen you see
the blade that cuts 
a lover’s sup
and dulled lime drunk alone
in place of absinthe’s 
sleight of bliss.
Here life ferments
and the contact details 
for the artist sit
alongside his finest projects
parcelled on this stretch of linen.

24/02/2014

In preparation for my public reading on Wednesday, I have been mulling over marketing. Should I have business cards printed out, so that I could look “professional” and have something to hand over to people? In true mulling continuation, I started imagining poems about poets and artists with business cards. “Should poets have business cards?” began one draft. Then I started imagining business cards that became magic carpets; others became slices of floating simile (a floating host of spring blooms); still others morphed into glass laboratory slides, which then functioned like truth-revealing lenses.

While paging through an art book last week, I was reminded of Edgar Degas’s painting L’Absinthe (1876, oil on canvas, 92 cm × 68 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris). In English the work is sometimes referred to as The Absinthe Drinker or The Glass of Absinthe. In it sits a woman on her own, staring desolately into her own sad distance. In front of her is a glass with green liquid in it: the promised consolation of absinthe. Her slumped posture, the leached colours in the painting and the dulled green of what should be a fun, party drink are all cues that this is not a moment of merriment. It is a moment of doleful truth, captured by the painter.

In the painting she sits next to a bearded man, who also drinks alone. In my memory, I had instead inserted a pair of lovers to the woman’s left (viewer’s right). In creating a fictional world, where the painter’s business card reveals the undercutting truth of things seen, I must have inserted this additional motif of late nineteenth-century Parisian café-life. The lovers, the drinkers, the dancers, the fat-cat patrons and the glamorous Ladies of the Night were all alluring subject matter. They seduced artists such as Degas, Lautrec and Manet with the fantasies they offered. But peering through the bones of this society, these truth-tellers also captured an enduring fermentation of life.

The canvases of Parisian café life are the business cards of these artists past. In my poem, the small piece of card transforms, at the viewer/reader’s glance, into a transparent lens. This lens becomes the truth-revealing aperture. The aperture and canvas and business card all converge into one parcel.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
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Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness

I am excited (and a little nervous) to announce that next week on Wednesday, Feb. 26th I shall be reading at Lauderdale House, in Highgate. Tickets are £5 per person/ £3 concessions. There will be four poets reading. Proceeds from the evening will be donated to Lauderdale House’s renovation project.

In short: Poetry reading at Lauderdale House, Highgate (N6 5HG) to start 8pm. Cost: £5/£3 concessions. There will be refreshments for sale. More details here.

I try to revive a blue whale
with raw eggs from plastic bowls
in different colours
laid out in a wooden fishing boat.
To do this you must put two
or three eggs together in each bowl,
watch their yolks lilt to the tide, then
pour them through the whale’s sieve-like mouth.


This poem is a transcription of a dream I had. The notebook entry of 29/10/12 analyses the stress that probably elicited the scene, “Drowned out by my panic: income! job! career! Aaargh!” Such is the mundane reality that underpins some creative output. I am certain some English teacher in the future will invest the work with a more riveting subliminal meaning.

I have very vivid dreams. Since I was a child, I’ve had vivid dreams. “Afloat”  is another poem based on a nocturnal vision remembered and jotted down. Often my dreams are strong on action, filled with tactility and punctuated with memorable details. Only once I remember hearing music in a dream. When I stayed in South America briefly, I eventually started dreaming in very basic Spanish.

With this poem I conclude my official a Poem a Day for a Month. This bumper month of posts is part of my larger 2×52 project, during which I aim to produce a 104 poems across a year (52 weeks). The idea was to keep writing and producing. Out of 104 poems, some might not be as engaging, some might be readable and a few should, by the law of statistics, must surely be reasonably good. I shall continue to post according to my routine of two poems a week. Sign up to BeadedQuill (see tab in bottom right-hand corner) for these future poems, updates on the aimed for (e)book of the 2×52 project and other news.

Thank you for being part of this month.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness 

at the door
or retire through the window.
That will suffice.
Better yet, via my ears
make your retreat as swiftly
and in neat compactness
as a ready ball of orange wax
or next time I spit,
roll out over my tongue.
Or next when through my eyeball
I aim a withering look,
consider that the cue
for you to take your leave.

I’ve tried re-working this strange little poem. I wanted to develop the idea of exiting from physical space through architectural entities (doors, windows) and then exiting from internality through bodily orifices. Yes, yes, possibly all very Freudian; Lacanian too, if I had added a mirror in there. Perhaps the window can posit the ramble in a liminal, almost-Lacanian zone.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys 
Shining in Brightness

Since this time last year, my first volume of poems has been available for purchase. You can preview both Shining in Brightness and my second book, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys, at my Blurb Bookshop. Both books are available in hardcover and softcover. I’m sure you’d like to fill that gap in your bookshelf.

Using washed hands
soft in the palm, 
scoop 
voluptuous, ivory nibs
since stripped of their brown seedcoat.
Blitz briefly
those gently ridged amygdalae
thrown by the precious palmful.
Blitz briefly those sweet, curved kernels.
Using floured hands 
sit finished dumplings on top.

Ah, almonds: sweetmeat
	of the fruit.


I love gathering words, sentences, phrases, formulations and expressions that take my fancy. Two chance readings contributed to this poem – recipe instructions and a definition of almonds as “the sweetmeat of the fruit”.

As I worked on this poem, I remembered that I had written about previously about almonds. The preparation of this fruit features in an earlier poem, “Van Riebeeck’s Hedge” (2008). This poem considers the mythical ‘hedge’ of wild almonds that acted as a boundary for the early Colony at the Cape. An entry in Governor Jan van Riebeeck’s diary dates the construction of the fortification to 1660. (“Van Riebeeck’s Hedge” is one of the selected poems in my first book, Shining in Brightness.) The wild almonds were bitter (apparently an indicator of the cyanide content of the fruit) and had to be “soak’d then peel’d before consum’d”. The poem sets the Dutch colonial settlers, planters of the hedge who dine off ‘fine’ plates, in contrast with the unnamed resident local Khoikhoi population at the Cape who eat these bitter fruits that have to be prepared.

Sweet almonds, either blanched or with their skins, are one of my favourite foods. In times when I was a more flush, they were a welcome snack. Now they are much more precious – sweet, ivory-coloured opals. I like to imagine this is a value more akin to that accorded to them in societies where almonds were more difficult to obtain. Almonds are not opal-shaped. More correctly, they are amygdala; their form rests somewhere between a triangle and an ellipse. It is also from amygdala that the name almond is derived.

(Note the recurrence of palm, which in the poem refers to the cupped, underside of the hand, but of course triggers the homophonic link to palm tree, and the imaginative landscape of such association.)

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Preview my two published books, available as print-on-demand editions:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness

It’s a bright day,
just the right day
to expect you to fly home.
When you land, hey –
give me a call –
and we can let our banter roam.

A short and simple request on behalf of all who have ever endured the irritation of long-distance romance. This is also the final offering from my set of six love-themed poems posted across this Valentine’s week.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness 

Younger is a funny, joy-filled beast
whose appetite seeks charms 
and luscious treats,
yet he knows there is wide, wide world.
So, off he bleets 
once supped and full.

The older – add scores two, a half, minus ten –
knows this landscape of plenty
shifts by hurt and over time 
lithe limb and limber they pass, too.
So, his grasp, though no less fleeting,
strikes quick and fast, then dulled.
He’s done the nest 
and picket fence, or not. Older he
knows best how to feather his bed.

Younger and older have a brother
close to “just right”. He is 
the most wary and sniffs out 
the approach. He weighs options, 
juggles plates, sows oats 
and waits while life does
some marinating of wings, legs, 
thighs and breasts. Just right
can measure and asses. Take his pick
and then exit the marketplace.


There are the younger lads, the older men and the ones within a single woman’s own age-bracket. In the wake of Valentine’s Day, I present these brothers three who were, no doubt, out on the prowl last night.

I tweet as @BeadedQuill about my writing life, my interest in soft martial arts, dancing and the pleasures of arts and culture. Sometimes I share about my dating life on Twitter, but more often the experiences inspire poetry.

If you’re not on Twitter, perhaps you’d like to find BeadedQuill on Facebook instead.

In 2013 I brought out two books of collected poems. They are available through the print-on-demand site blurb.co.uk. Click on the titles below to preview each:

Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys – Twenty-five poems offering insights on life, love and work for the Modern Boy.
Shining in Brightness – Twenty poems and two essays on creative process charting a ‘mystical decade’ of writing. The author documents her experiences in four continents and across three life phases – as student, traveller and young adult.