In the poem “Summermelon” two characters – the super-hero of pre-used words and Watermelon Boy – spit pips.
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
At the moment in London, it is exceedingly warm during the day. Not that it doesn’t get hotter in other places, but here nothing is equipped for the heat. Flowers wilt, flies buzz themselves out, food perspires and no sooner have you laid it in the bowl, the fruit ripens. Even the broadband at the house has conked out.
So I shall have to venture to the library to post this poem and a few scheduled archive items. It was my plan to do so early, when the day was still cool from the night rains and the school holiday crowds hadn’t descended. But I went dancing last night… I too am not quite sure what to do with myself. This is not so much because of the heat. I am a born-and-bred Cape Town girl, after all. (In truth though, I – and my Medea hair – do struggle with the humidity.) My muse seems to be awol once again.
Perhaps my muse has also surrendered to this overdose of summer.
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012
Can you believe two years have passed since the London Olympics? I was fortunate enough to attend an evening of paralympic events. It feels as though it was only last year that I was sitting in the massive stadium, with an enormous lion emblazoned across my t-shirt and yelling encouragement at the athletes. Clearly, it wasn’t. That moment was in 2012.
This time last year I posted a loose Pindaric ode to a golden mango.
In the spirit of archives – looking at the back catalogue in the present, possibly to inform the future – I encourage you to read this post about progress. Joanna Penn recommends measuring achievement across the span of four years by asking oneself, where was I during the last olympics? Equally, you can plot your goals by projecting, where would I like to be by the next games?
Where will you be in 2016?
In the meantime, I’m still waiting for this summer’s golden mangoes to appear on the local grocers’ tiers.
Find me on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill.
The 2×52 project developed in April 2013 when I committed to posting two poems a week for a year. I completed my self-made creative challenge this April when I revealed the 104th poem. Next month (June 2014), all the poems will be available in a book at my Blurb bookstore. In the meantime, here are the 104=2×52 poems listed in all their glory! And for your convenience, so that you can click on the titles that pique your interest. Enjoy!
- On a rock amongst rocks
- Things of the Heart, Told in Quiet #1
- £299 from Strand
- A Thousand Scientific Facts about the Sea
- Nice Words #1
- Benefactor of the Blind
- On the Way to Westminster
- Solutrean Hypothesis
- I don’t work for you (or Modern Frustrations)
- red herring
- Tarantella (two versions)
- Pakistan’s Gold
- An arrangement of strangers
- Packed Lunches
- Tightly Sealed
- Another Summer’s Day
- Look At
- Hairpin (a short poem)
- A definition, notably for the cloud-dwelling artists
- Scherzo: Allegro before the Finale
- Leo’s Entries
- From a Stone
- Autumn’s ripened harvest store
- The Character Building
- An autumn evening in
- Preceding seafaring that was not to transpire
- The Home Commute
- On the declaration of the first day of the Year of Our Light
- What we were all thinking
- An address from a lectern
- Her magical box
- Sun Doves
- At the right age
- Just Punishment
- Every morning, because it’s wonderful
- Is it worth it?
- A Bequest of Wonder
- The Benefits of 320 Kicks
- I do. Do you?
- Five Consequences of Repeated Actions
- To the Valleys
- supreme ultimate
- Operations Meeting, El Dorado
- Without realising it, the postman leaves a poem
- Another drop in this week before Christmas
- A quiet night preludes
- Let them eat
- I learnt
- A New Room
- Philip’s Log: Entries about my moonlit sylph
- Bursting Art
- Would you ever live in Heather Green?
- London’s Molten Hour
- Two poems about grey
- My friend Ellen
- Nice words of the moment (from autumn)
- She’d read it in books
- Tube sketch (one of a few)
- St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
- Near Liverpool Street, under scaffolding
- On the occasion of a dinner party in Kennington
- Tunnel Days
- London. Is it worth it?
- At the moment: £2
- the currency of sugar
- High-end Liquids
- Dying is probably easier than this
- The Age Show
- Nice words #2
- How do you make a dream come true?
- Do engineers dream?
- Appropriate Recompense
- It’s complicated
- Every Sign of the Zodiac
- Saying it plainly
- The Brothers Three
- This morning’s request
- Kindly exit
- In the ocean one night
- Degas’s Business Card
- A small heart panics
- Interior holdings
- Reviewing the pursuit
- Nearing the End
- Different Rides
- Spring Wants
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.)
Preview my two published books, available as print-on-demand editions:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness
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
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