Archives for posts with tag: Life/Death

Zoological Illustrations Volume III Plate 120.jpg

Its last pulse was the echo
of an interior draught.
Some time ago the sluggish monopod
had taken its leave.
Beached on the concrete path
the brown shell has no way of putting itself
at safety.
The unseeing crunch
the barren passageways
underfoot.


The above poem is about an abandoned snail shell like the ones might find in a suburban garden. The poem uses a cryptic sequence to unveil a scene, which reminds me of 118A Creighton Avenue, a poem which dates from a few years back.

I’ll leave it up to you to transpose your own metaphorical loading onto the scene, i.e. if you wish to read something analogous and ‘deep’ into the sequence by all means. If not, that’s okay, too.

I’ve posted recently  about other garden creatures in “The Visit” (a short story) and “Do Not Slight the Earthworm” (another poem).

If you’ve enjoyed reading my poems, please have a look at my books available via Blurb:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

I also tweet my observations about the minutiae of life as @BeadedQuill.
And BeadedQuill is on Facebook.


Illustration courtesy of “Zoological Illustrations Volume III Plate 120” by William Swainson, F.R.S., F.L.S. – Zoological Illustrations, Volume III.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Roll up! Roll up! To see
the hairy Caucasian lady
with her mandible chin hairs
protruding since she long gave up
plucking or pulling
or waxing them off. And
nobody else cares to do it for her.
Hairs and cavernous wrinkles! Roll up!
It’s not a wig. That’s naturally grey.
Under the chin? A wattle of flesh.
Stare on at those mandible chin hairs
sprout afresh.

For Doris, 1911 – 1998

My London-born granny, my maternal granny, was considered a handsome woman. She told me as much herself, proudly holding up a 1940s studio photograph as evidence. She remained a strikingly attractive. In these early memories, she was a formidable, confident and vital woman.

In the darkness of her bedroom, she had once shown me how she pinned her long, white hair into the trademark chignon she wore. After twirling her mane into a pony and tucking it under itself, one by one, she picked up and inserted the hairpins laid out on the white windowsill.

Gan Gan had impeccable style and a polished fashion sense. Her home in Newlands was furnished with complimentary imbuia furniture, always gleaming. She did not believe in wearing trousers, but was fond of a jacket and skirt suit. Perhaps this was an influence of her youth in London of the 1920s and 30s.

In my early teens she fell and broke her hip. Over the next five years, as she was shunted from one smelly, dismal old age home room to another, she grew more and more frail. Sensible elasticised tracksuit trousers became part of her wardrobe. Her once well-fed, upright frame crumpled. Her sturdy voice became a wobble.

“Nurse, nurse, don’t hurt me,” she’d plead.
“Gan Gan, for the zillionth time, I am not the nurse!”

Even her magnificent hair became “too much to manage” and it was chopped into a practical bob.

Then there were the chin hairs. We gave up plucking them; too fiddly for us, too painful for her. We tried waxing; also too painful for her. For a period we used depilatory creams. In the end, we simply left them for longer and longer periods of time.

As the plumpness of life left her body and face, she developed this jowly flap of skin under chin, like a turkey’s mandible.

Gone was my beautiful, fiery grandmother who terrified us all a little and would merrily sing “Knees up Mother Brown” or “Pack up Your Troubles”. Instead there was the woman with the mandible chin hairs.

My granny passed away in 1998 when I was 17.

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

It’s Thursday, 06:15
You wake up to the alarm
knowing you will never 
  win an Olympic medal
  publish a novel
  that would win the Man Booker,
  finish your degree
  or even pay the last R150 you owe
Woolworths.
Your first grandchild will die before 
you and each of those candles you lit
in the cave of the chapel
might have been for your lost
dreams.
	But those little flames did not save you
from the canker fire in your gut and liver
that burned lost dreams and life
in slower motion than every workday Thursday.


This is the second in a set of ‘difficult’ poems.

Woolworths is a South African department store akin to the UK’s Marks and Spencer (rather than the now defunct UK Woolworths).

The described persona of this poem is based on my Dad.

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

What do you believe?
I believe	
	to see truth lived quietly and consistently 
	is powerful. My father died like that.
In trees we find tall truths
	deeper rooted than human folly.
I believe in stakes
	that make us choose a path
right, or left or denial.
	Denial comes back to 
	haunt us in choice, again.
I believe in money and class
and opportunity because we pretend
these things don’t matter.
	I must be Marxist. In part they do.
At sunrise, I believe in God.
Under stars, I breathe an awesome Universe.
In front of a computer’s glare, as I click the news,
	I believe there is no benevolence, no God.
What you sow, you reap. I like this as a concept.
Also Qi.
In the end, I believe I’m just little me.

9/12/12


A friend posed the question – and of course, I couldn’t resist fiddling some thoughts into poem.

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

Lento con agitato, for 10 minutes

to to to

tomorrow

tomorrow

tomorrow

too morrow

to

to morrow

tomorrow

row tomorrow

morrow

tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow

After the stroke

Aunt Edie struggled with tomorrow

and words. We performed patience

with wrapped chrysanthemums

for twenty minutes

each week.

She lay tied up in tubes.

In much printed Western music, there are performance instructions in the top left-hand corner. These instructions guide character and tempo. The poem above adopts this idea.

If you enjoyed “Stuck,” have a glance at my first published volume – SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS.

I tweet about my observations on life, my current practise and this abiding interest in writing. Please follow me. I’m @BeadedQuill