Archives for posts with tag: children
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
Facebook: 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

People start to ask questions

they really have no right

to pose

 

At a point, they expect you to be

studying.

Let it be known: a non-graduate works shifts

and packs plastic bags.

 

Since 2008, so do graduates with four degrees.

But people will still ask,

What do you do? They mean are you in a Proper Job:

doctor, lawyer, finance something, accountant,

teacher still makes the mark

 

the arts are hobbies

 

Now, have you bought a house? Or looked at a fifth degree?

MBA’s or the property ladder move

aspirations rung for rung

 

Children are also acceptable. But know,

They are a Lifestyle Choice until you are

Settled and wish no longer to do things for yourself.

 

People will narrow their eyes

if you have never travelled,

or are divorced by 32

or have parented children, now nearing the age of ten.

Then you can see them counting back the years.

 

At the considered right age

you should be doing the proper thing,

so people will ask.

 

I am told it is called making conversation.

If you enjoyed the above you may also enjoy the following poems:

The Character Building

A Definition, Notably for the Cloud-Dwelling Artists

Impatience

They also touch on the themes of life choices, the current changing social strata-education-work climate and the frustrations of being a young person in the contemporary post-Industrial world.

My first volume, Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012, presents twenty poems that trace the study, travel and life experiences of my twenties. The book is available for preview and purchase here.

A second volume, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys, is forthcoming. Please follow the blog (see sign-up in right-hand corner of the screen) for updates on the content, release date and special subscriber offers.

I tweet as @BeadedQuill. Please follow me.

Evening, 31 August 1822

Above, the ungraspable in grey or white 
or sometimes black, I read now
is wrought of Forms,
this water overhead.

What Science seeks to calibrate
quickens my palette, hand and knife
and revives my boyish eyes to see 
pictures in the sky.

The series of cloud studies painted by John Constable during the summers of 1821 and 1822 inspired this poem. Thank-you to Laura for alerting me to these and other images by Constable in the Your Paintings online archive.

Follow my Twitter comments art, visual culture, music and martial arts. I tweet as @BeadedQuill

My first volume of poetry, SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS, is available for preview and purchase. Please do have a look.

Success is speaking to the people who matter,
In networking when due. Waste no time on a satyr.
Success is doing what you should
for Work, for Security, for Good.

It’s silence when your speech would rattle,
And indifference to a pointless battle.
Success is deafness to all that’s ugly,
But sympathy if your deed’s seen widely.

It’s loyalty as the price dictates; 
Courage when others might judge, “Flake.” 
It’s patience when the drudge seems worth it,
But for laughter, song or frivolity – surfeit.

Success is found in application, 
financial stability and securing one’s station.
In all of life and nothing less
Is this almighty guidepost that’s called Success.

--

Sometime between the ages of eight and ten, when I had already learnt to read and was in the habit of memorising written material (mostly bible verses for Sunday School and gedigte (poems) for Afrikaans lessons), my paternal Granny gave me a palm-sized laminated card. On the card was printed the motivational poem “Success.” In sing-song iambic quadrameter and neat AA, BB, CC end rhyme the poem sets forth fourteen guidelines that should assist one in living the worthy life. My earnest pre-adolescent self set about memorising these words of wisdom.
In trying to write out the poem, I was certain I had forgotten part of it. So I turned to Google, and found the full piece.

Success
author unknown

Success is speaking words of praise,
In cheering other people’s ways.
In doing just the best you can,
With every task and every plan.
It’s silence when your speech would hurt,

Politeness when your neighbour’s curt.
It’s deafness when the scandal flows,

And sympathy with others’ woes.
It’s loyalty when duty calls,
It’s courage when disaster falls.
It’s patience when the hours are long,

It’s found in laughter and in song.
It’s in the silent time of prayer,

In happiness and in despair.
In all of life and nothing less,
We find the thing we call success

Interestingly, it is the verse about loyalty, courage and patience and the third to last line that I had not recalled. This was my reconstruction of what I thought to be my favourite part of the verse: “It’s found in laughter and in song,/ And in the silent time of prayer,/In all of life and nothing less,/ We find the thing we call Success.” I had erased, “In happiness and in despair.” Or, rather, whenever I have thought of the line, “In all of life and nothing less,” I simultaneously imagine the line in church marriage vows, “In sickness and health,” which serves to encompass all joys, hardships and eventualities of life.

This ennobling little verse, if a verse can ever imbue such upon its reader, resonates with Max Ehrmann’s (1872–1945) poem “Desiderata” (1927), which also lists actions and mindsets through which one could foster a good and worthwhile life. My earnest adolescent self also went through a phase of trying to memorise this work. The favourite line, besides the famous opening (“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”), is “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.”

Yes, a poet would cling to such a line.

Shining in Brightness,” a book of my poems and essays was compiled earlier this year. Preview this first volume at blurb.co.uk
Follow my Twitter musings about the artist’s life, the successful life and the wonder of dried figs. I tweet as @BeadedQuill

Summer_Vintage_Woman_by_CherishedMemories

This image, ‘Summer Vintage Woman,’ is courtesy of CherishedMemories.

A few recent poems have orbited around summer. 29°C captures some moments from the July heatwave. Another Summer’s Day explores more delights of the warmer season. Summer food and outdoor eating, which we enjoy at such times with childlike relish, are enacted by the child characters who feature in Packed Lunches and Summermelon. Tightly Sealed and Look At draw on observations of ordinary days as they continue to unfold during a suburban summer. Leftovers accumulate in the ‘fridgeResidents must still go to work and pick up groceries on the High Street.

An Arrangement of Strangers, a poem about some childhood fears, proved the wildcard.

I consider Recycled the most beautifully put together of them all.

Image courtesy of http://vintagefeedsacks.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/free-vintage-clip-art-vintage_27.html

Image courtesy of vintagefeedsacks.blogspot.co.uk

In which the superhero of pre-used words makes a re-appearance

The superhero of pre-used words 
met watermelon boy.
It was summer.
They had pips to spit
But also fruit to eat and

The superhero of pre-used words 
and watermelon boy
arrived at the driveway, 3 quite sharp.
Between them half a shell of watery sweet
	summer joy
“You first!"	

The superhero of pre-used words 
has met with Watermelon Boy.
They spit pips
at the wall
A noun; a verb;
	too many adjectives

The adverbs sweetly steep the fruit.
They ingest those.
It’s how it’s done,
not what, that counts.

The superhero of pre-used words 
and melon boy
spit pips –

the champion is melon boy
      his best is 2m .03
(quite impressive!)

On a sunny Sunday
the watermelon pips
hit
leftover rinds – green happy smiles

Follow me on Twitter. I tweet as @BeadedQuill.

My first volume of poetry, SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS, explores the quiet pleasures and experiences of suburban life and travel. Preview it at blurb.co.uk

Waitrose produced
                 a cheese-stick

from Morrison’s
                ham and cheese

Banana Republic
                eats chippings of biltong

Tesco cries
    “I got Twix” and holds up
     a packet of Walkers

H+M
       forks leftover chicken (à la King)
       from a Tupperware

M & S
         is eating pre-sliced apples from a palm-sized packet

Tesco
         is now eating a carrot stick

Waitrose
             has finished off two fairy cakes
             (from a blue Tupperware)

Banana Republic
                        is eating Waitrose kettle-fried crisps

Waitrose
             is now on to a nectarine   

M & S and H+M pass between themselves a
                        foil-lined packet of prawn cocktail crisps

School children have been out in full force on end-of-term outings over the last week or so. One sunny midday, while sitting in my local park hoping for inspiration in tranquillity and sunshine, I was joined by a chatter of youngsters who sat down with their packed lunches. The identifying names in the poem are derived from the packets out of which some of the children drew their sandwiches, fruit and other morsels.


You can read more of my poetry in my first published volume, SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS.
Follow me on Twitter. I tweet as @BeadedQuill.

With light that is
     brown
     between the toes
and shines on
    the river banks,
it twinkles in the sunlight.
Star of Sirius,
   lapping
Star of Sirius,
    life star,
        watery star
           carrying children over
your tide
swaying rushes
embracing fish
holding frogs
Star of Sirius.
    Night-star of Sirius
    twinkling in the sunlight,
carrying promise.

Grahamstown, 2008

This poem is drawn from the “Journeys and Experiences, 2003 – 2008” section of my volume, SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS.

During 2007 – 8, I lectured in art history at a South African university, but spent much time pretending to be a musician. I played the viola in the university orchestra and attended many of the wonderful concerts hosted by the music department. This poem was written in loose, free-form while listening to a jazz piece about the annual flooding of the Nile and the mythological Night-star of Sirius. The location markers, “Eastern Cape” and “2008, Grahamstown,” set an ancient, abstract myth about Africa’s seasonal regeneration in a real geographical realm and time. Of course, the location was the recital room on the second floor of the music department, far away from any riverbank mud.

You can own this poem – and 19 others – when you purchase a copy of my first volume of selected work: SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS. Two explanatory essays accompany the poems and the volume boasts beautiful cover artwork by UK artist, Nicola Slattery. Copies are available via blurb.co.uk.

I am on Twitter as @BeadedQuill. I tweet about poetry, art and culture and martial arts.

Betty's Bay

A Thousand Scientific Facts

about the sea

Watch the mist-spray drift

towards the dunes:

A mother is out with

her children.

The daughter plays with

the dog breaking foam

And the little boy sits beside on a rock.

There are bluebottles along the shore today;

many cuttlefish shells;

a dead penguin, his flippers

laid out on the sand.

A few thoughts which originated during time at Silver Sands, Betty’s Bay circa April 2012.

For more of my poetry, see my first volume of published work: SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS, SELECTED POEMS, 1999 – 2012.

Follow me on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill.