Archives for category: Creative Process

i

8:58PM
write poems
x1
x1
x1

I wrote on my week’s to-dos.
It’s 8:58PM on SUNDAY.
The radiator’s cranking up;
Counting down to the bedtime
routine. This isn’t a poem: it’s
a snapshot.

ii.
write poems
x1
x1

The idea was to help me
See each output as a ‘1’;
As a single entity achievable;
As a level in a game. To produce
this isn’t a poem: it’s
an item done.

iii.
write poem
x1


SATURDAY
All the things I had to do before I
could write a poem

Rise from bed by leaving warm duvet.
Eat breakfast, take meds.
Clean plug, thoroughly. Pull out
the hairs.
Dress for gym; catch bus; get there.
Take a class; do some more; stretch. Energy flags.
Buy almonds from Poundland and
have a coffee, write some notes.
Feel ready to do part two:

Groceries.
Buy lots of food. Have heavy bags. Wait for bus
to take them home. Carry the bags,
unpack, cook and eat.
Feel tired; have a shower and wash
hair; juggle doing laundry between – two
loads.

Now late. Make tea with mint
and give up to the day, now
Too late to start a poem.


Back in September I set myself the goal, which at that point seemed achievable, of writing 6 poems drawn from inspiration in my daily life. Since then I’ve written endless notes to myself in my weekly to-do lists in a quest to ‘optimize starting’, as they say in the productivity lingo. Some prompts included:

write – commute, 10 mins
poem = just 5 lines!
write just 5 mins!

My procrastination side-stepped all of these suggestions.

This last Sunday evening, I sat on my bed and decided – right, now, write.

Goal accomplished and just in time. The fireworks are going off outside my windows as I type this up on New Year’s Eve.

Thank you, dear reader, for another year of verse.
Wishing you a wonderful start to 2019.


Image courtesy of the Old Design Shop and is a detail is from from a small advertising booklet titled Franklin Sugar Candy Book.

“Oh dear, G_d…”
You want it and it and you think you want it.
“Now what?”
You say to yourself, you’re making

“I was having a panic.”
strides towards it.
“My whole stomach’s turning over.”
You plan and scribble little plans,

and bigger plans, goals and more
“I was just having a complete
panic attack.”
goals, why power and visualizing the outcome.

“Just about wiped me out.” More.
Plan more goals.


For another poem about goals see Highest Priority and for resolutions Reviewing the Pursuit.

Image is courtesy of the Old Design Shop and is “a vintage magazine advertisement for The Brainerd & Armstrong Co.’s annual Embroidery Book for the year 1900. The ad features an image of a well-dressed lady, seated in a beautiful wooden chair, doing embroidery work. The advertisement is from the November 1899 issue of The Designer magazine.”

layer cake image, cake printable, vintage food clipart, old fashioned cake, desserts sweets graphics.

What I Ate Today

Porridge for breakfast, again at three.
Stirfry for lunch; in the evening aubergine.

Brown rice with lentils, bulgur stirred in,
With the stirfry and at supper again.

A pear, peanut butter, boiled egg for a snack;
To finish it all a piece of chocolate.

I’ve been finding myself down YouTube wormholes recently. Favourite defaults include meal prep videos which loop into the auto plays of ‘What I Eat In A Day.’ After watching other people prepare and present their day’s meals, I decided to document my own version. This was a sampling from Tuesday last week.

Some other poems I’ve written about food:
I can tell a half bowl of you about leftover Friday rice
Making soup again
all breakfast?

Image above courtesy of The Old Design Shop from the Ryzon Baking Book by Marion Harris Neil, 1917

Muse, come to this blankness
and take my unrequited offer
to hold and stroke your shape to form.

Rest here where fingertips may take
their pleasured time with you. Today
we have all day

until 6pm when I’m due out.
Muse, come in and be
a while. My page is yours.


The poem above started with a warm-up line, “Making letters on a notepad making a swish and swirl that satisfies.” I simply love the action of writing. I live for picking up a pen and pressing it against a cushion of paper, whether in a notebook, or a notepad or just stacked up on my desk. My jotting time is consistently the best moment of my day.

It has been an absolute age since I have posted. Sometimes, offline, during this absence I have scribbled creative bits in fits and jerks. Yet almost every workday I write and write and write: emails, content, copy. The muse is not amused. Perfunctory craft is not an aphrodisiac. Or I haven’t yet found a way to tempt the muse with a subject line or ‘in 150 words outline your planned project’.

When I prepared to log in to the blog (like holding aside the overgrown vines to a long-forgotten treasure cave), an odd click-bait ‘ad’ confronted me:

After Seeing Why He Places
An Ice Cube On His Burger
When Grilling, I’ll Never
Make One Any Other Way

Below was a photo of an uncooked burger patty with a melting ice-cube in its centre. Is this what is supporting the online existence of the visits of my muse? It does not surprise me, this strange poetry.

I have been so self-conscious about returning on my rusty sea-legs and what was waiting for me were uncooked burger patties and melting ice-blocks in the virtual jungle. These were the psychological and virtual landscapes. While I prepared this post and poem, this was the atmosphere outside:

Afternoon.
The grating of
a saw, a far off
siren cries over
the arrival of a breaking train.

And from there I implored, “Muse, come to this my blankness.”

The muse and I started where we were.

Thank you for being here, too. Hope to see you back here soon.

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

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.

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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Corridors

By Fielsvd (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the corridor

Along the walls,
a green of mint ice-cream,
are plastic chairs
moulded grey for sitting
in the moment before
the cold night coming.

Not wanting contact,
she slips a piece of paper
through the door.


I had an appointment with the renal specialist today. In the hospital corridor I sat with the bulky gel pen and budget A4 writing pad I bought last week in Poundland.

The corridor was painted in the mint green described. The chairs were moulded in grey plastic. I was waiting and also watching and scribbling. Patients and nurses passed down the corridor with pieces of A4 paper, probably print-outs of requests for particular blood tests. Even though these are routine check-up clinics, many people wait with anxiety in those hospital chairs or the consulting rooms. A nurse opened the door of a consulting room and slipped through a printed sheet.

Back at home, to one of Spotify’s Grime soundtracks,  I have been fiddling with my notes. The poem above is a neat example of moments observed now morphed into fiction.