Archives for posts with tag: London poetry
Street gutter in Old Town Stockholm

By Bengt Nyman (originally posted to Flickr as IMG_2356-1) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Tight red-green leaves sprout on
the curbside trees. Drizzle taps the
flattened Strongbow cans
stomped down with an empty pizza box

American hot
pepperoni and chilli.
Baronsmere’s pink petals
line the gutters;

blown down in April rains.
I even spied a spider.

12 and 13/4/2015

In rhythm and feel, this poem bears a resemblance to ‘Ninja Turtles Strike Again!’. They both hint at melancholy and contain a tone of nostalgia for things past. In each, things of the gutter and underground animal world are referenced. Plus there’s mention of pizza.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Edouard Manet, The Masked Ball at the Opera (c.1873), oil on canvas, 59.1 x 72.5 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA. Image courtesy of Wikiart.org

Edouard Manet, The Masked Ball at the Opera (c.1873), oil on canvas, 59.1 x 72.5 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA. Image courtesy of Wikiart.org

All the beautiful people, darling,
are at the opera house tonight.
They’re wearing their tasteful sparkles, darling.
At interval their drinks order’s laid out.

Atop the bar, an isle in the crowd,
a row of champagne bottles direct their corks:
To a man with an eye-patch who conducts
with a dress ring of diamanté.

At a prom pouffe black dress
brought to taste in a cinch, by a double C.
For the camp contrapposto at ease with a
whisper at the silver ice-bucket.

Mon cherie, you should have been here
on opening night when everyone…
He leant over into the gold drops
dingling and weighing from her ears.

All the beautiful people, darling,
are at the opera house tonight.
They’re wearing their tasteful sparkles, darling.
See at interval their drinks order’s laid out?

They’re terribly civilised at the opera, darling,
as beautiful people are.
Only beautiful people, darling,
populate this muse’s arena.

An elderly one strolls out on the terrace, wears a skullcap
to keep warm where one there was hair.

Inside champagne corks from the glittering bar
aim at the gossip and theatrical flares.
For in Covent Garden, darling, even the Christmas lights declare
All the beautiful people, darling, are this side of the square.


Last Thursday I attended a triple bill of contemporary ballet at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. This little verse unfolded as I indulged in some people watching during the two intervals.

Yes, there really was a man wearing an eye-patch waving his diamanté dress ring. In fact, at one point I thought there was more theatricality in the audience than on the stage.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Image with thanks to the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

Trump such sultry sunshine
with a screen? That will not stem creation.
The words set out for basting in the warmth; 
crossed the bridge at Embankment station. 

The Thames and sequins on its skirt, 
scintilled in summer brio. 
The words, now on the move, 
snacked on radishes a frio.


Thursday, 3rd July was such a balmy day in London that it seemed a pity to spend it spent at a screen attempting to rearrange words. Plus I had a number of engagements to follow up: from N2 to WC2 to N1 to SE16. The words certainly ended up traversing London town. These lines above are an account of their wanderings.

A little linguistic poetic license is requested for the ending. A chilled radish in Spanish should rather be “los rábanos refrigerados” (if my basic abilities in the language and a bit of Googling are close). However, a poem’s needs call for adjusted forms. Kindly indulge.

(Oh yes, and I sort of invented that word scintilled. Such word creation is considered a no-no in some creative writing circles, but I’ve gone and done it anyway.)

(Ah yes, and that isn’t an error: it’s meant to be ‘basting’.)


Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Colias croceus – the Clouded Yellow Butterfly. Image courtesy of Zeynel Cebeci via Wikimedia Commons.

I will be 80 this year
here in my flat
only a mile and a half
from where I was born.
I have tried 
to lead by example, by
plunging my narrow balcony
into the principality of hanging gardens.

Concrete is brutal.
It needs softening.
Plants should have dominion.

We breakfast amidst the crisp verdure
and watch a nesting bird,
fledgling wrens, butterflies 
and such wild visitors.
The flat faces of the 
daisies, pansies and geraniums 
accrue the afternoon and evening sun.
Most years –
A wren nests somewhere
blanketed by the ivy leaves.
Her fledglings zing past 
while we’re eating.
They’ll even call 
on us at table.
In warm summers,
the clouded yellow butterfly 
may join us from abroad.


Sometimes some quirky combination of words and images will capture my imagination. This time last year it was a comment in a Gudrun Sjödén catalogue about a Senegalese artist who sculpted birds from flotsam-and-jetsam.

Sunday last, the Guardian Weekend’s column “How does your garden grow?” hooked me. William Howard’s evocative interview about his balcony garden in the Barbican (London) – and the fantastic photograph of him in from of his verdant kingdom – had me enthralled. (Read the interview from the 28th June 2014 Guardian Weekend here.). “This garden,” explains Howard, “is about memories, sharing and reminding people to look – really look.”

Perhaps being a poet is in some respects like being a gardener.

(P.S. One of the most affecting books I read during my young adolescence was Rumer Godden’s An Episode of Sparrows, in which a scrabble of children try to grow a garden and learn how to look – really look.)

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Contributor: David Cane.

37 of us shuttled along as we sit or stand
with our regular doors.
They are the ones with which we enter
Thursday morning in Zone 1.
They are the ones where we could
change here for
Victoria Line.
Too late to exit for Morden via Bank.

Your regular doors
can be dangerous.
You could change after Euston.
Make the next start
a stop.

Follow BeadedQuill on Twitter (@BeadedQuill) and Facebook. Preview the poet’s latest book, “In the Ocean“.

The image used is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years. 

 

Seen from the bench

In our lifetimes, most of us will never preside over a court on a throne. Yet in death, some have been commemorated at a special spot with a dedicated bench. In the woods, gardens and parks I visit, I often stop to read the plaques and imagine the lives of the loved ones described. This poem, “Benefactor of the Blind“, follows from one such moment.

© Copyright David Lally and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Image courtesy of Norfolk-based artist, Nicola Slattery. View her enchanting work at www.nicolaslattery.com

“Taken Care Of” courtesy of Norfolk-based artist, Nicola Slattery. View her enchanting work at www.nicolaslattery.com

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!

  1. On a rock amongst rocks
  2. Things of the Heart, Told in Quiet #1
  3. £299 from Strand
  4. A Thousand Scientific Facts about the Sea
  5. Nice Words #1
  6. Benefactor of the Blind
  7. On the Way to Westminster
  8. Solutrean Hypothesis
  9. I don’t work for you (or Modern Frustrations)
  10. red herring
  11. Tarantella (two versions)
  12. Conversation
  13. Pakistan’s Gold
  14. 29oC
  15. An arrangement of strangers
  16. Recycled
  17. Packed Lunches
  18. Tightly Sealed
  19. Another Summer’s Day
  20. Look At
  21. Hairpin (a short poem)
  22. A definition, notably for the cloud-dwelling artists
  23. Instructions
  24. Scherzo: Allegro before the Finale
  25. Impatience
  26. Screens
  27. Leo’s Entries
  28. From a Stone
  29. Autumn’s ripened harvest store
  30. The Character Building
  31. An autumn evening in
  32. Preceding seafaring that was not to transpire
  33. The Home Commute
  34. On the declaration of the first day of the Year of Our Light
  35. What we were all thinking
  36. Emulation
  37. Genuine
  38. Stuck
  39. An address from a lectern
  40. Her magical box
  41. Sun Doves
  42. At the right age
  43. Just Punishment
  44. Every morning, because it’s wonderful
  45. Is it worth it?
  46. A Bequest of Wonder
  47. The Benefits of 320 Kicks
  48. I do. Do you?
  49. Five Consequences of Repeated Actions
  50. To the Valleys
  51. supreme ultimate
  52. Operations Meeting, El Dorado
  53. Without realising it, the postman leaves a poem
  54. Another drop in this week before Christmas
  55. A quiet night preludes
  56. Let them eat
  57. I learnt
  58. A New Room
  59. Philip’s Log: Entries about my moonlit sylph
  60. Pairings
  61. Conscripted
  62. Bursting Art
  63. Afloat
  64. Would you ever live in Heather Green?
  65. London’s Molten Hour
  66. Two poems about grey
  67. My friend Ellen
  68. Nice words of the moment (from autumn)
  69. Today
  70. Outpourings
  71. She’d read it in books
  72. Tube sketch (one of a few)
  73. St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
  74. Near Liverpool Street, under scaffolding
  75. On the occasion of a dinner party in Kennington
  76. Tunnel Days
  77. London. Is it worth it?
  78. At the moment: £2
  79. the currency of sugar
  80. High-end Liquids
  81. Glomerulonephritis
  82. Dying is probably easier than this
  83. The Age Show
  84. Nice words #2
  85. How do you make a dream come true?
  86. Do engineers dream?
  87. Appropriate Recompense
  88. It’s complicated
  89. Every Sign of the Zodiac
  90. Saying it plainly
  91. The Brothers Three
  92. This morning’s request
  93. Recipe
  94. Kindly exit
  95. In the ocean one night
  96. Degas’s Business Card
  97. A small heart panics
  98. Interior holdings
  99. Reviewing the pursuit
  100. Absorbed
  101. Nearing the End
  102. Different Rides
  103. Spring Wants
  104. Escucha
Evening issues an amber skein. 
It trails a flock in departure.
In tumblers, it reflects as liquid.
From the road 
into one’s ear, whorls the skein.

When Friday dusk descends, 
often you will hear sirens.


“Lots of sirens. People have been drinking,” noted a friend of mine one balmy summer’s afternoon in sleepy North London. The observation stuck and I often recall it when I hear a siren’s wail on a Friday or Saturday evening, at the end of the month or during periods of celebration that will involve imbibing.

In other news, today – March 21st – was World Poetry Day. Should you wish to enjoy more of a poetry fix, have a look at some of my other posts. There are over 130 poems on the blog for you to enjoy.

Perhaps you prefer your poetry on paper? Selected poems have been published in book form. Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys presents 25 poems of solace for the world weary modern boy. The 20 poems of Shining in Brightness chronicle a formative decade of travel, loss and growing up.

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1.
Wake up.
Work hard.
Plan and strategise.
Talk to someone who
     has done it before.
Find a mentor.

2. 
Protect its pollen from the wind.
Blow on the quills when they
   erupt.
Wrap it in this moment
and suspend it from but what if?

It might rest its weary hope 
in a chest of velvet lined

for the unsplit bean alone 
is the treasure


During a very happy and productive year of my professional life, I used to spend Sunday evenings assessing the week that had passed, plan the week ahead and review my life, especially in terms of where I was in achieving my goals. I felt so wonderfully smug and on top of things. Yes! I was making things happen in my life. Yes! Through strategy, persistence and application I was helping my dreams to come true.

Life, they say, is what happens when you make other plans. I left that particular field, moved from the town and no longer pursue many activities with which I was then involved. Half a decade later there are only three outputs that I hold dear from that organised and hyper-functional period of my life: 1. a couple of special, enduring friendships; 2. a few poems and some essays of interest; 3. that I wrote regular letters to my Dad, who was ill at the time.

I mull much over society’s sanctioned notions of success and achievement. The product-driven pressure that a dream must be brought to fruition follows me like a shadow. If I dream of being A Writer then I must schedule writing time, move towards products and a business plan, target a definable readership, join one of the professional writers’ associations and ideally land a contract or an agent, and if not claim a stake in the indie market. This is The Way to Make a Dream Come True.

See how easily I can write about that? I have been avoiding the business plan for nearly a year. Instead, I have been writing poems, drinking coffee at my laptop and watching Bachata videos on YouTube. (Bachata is a style of dance from the Dominican Republic in which one steps to beats 1, 2 and 3 and adds a tap on beat 4.)

So now I have these additional, distracting dreams. One is of simply writing and writing and writing. The result may be endless waffle. Another is to spend time in my local indie coffee shop up the road, as an out-of-jail option when I’m feeling cabin fever. And then there is the dream of dancing like this – so much happiness on such a small square of stage above the earth. That would be treasure indeed.

Follow me @BeadedQuill on Twitter where I get carried away with YouTube forays into Argentine tango, Systema, Krav Maga and, most recently, Bachata.
Or, if you prefer, follow BeadedQuill on Facebook.
My two creative ‘babies’, my published books, are my successes of 2013. Preview them at Blurb.co.uk by clicking on the links:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys 
Shining in Brightness 

It’s been a whole year since the first draft of my first published book arrived in the post for my perusal. It was thrilling to see a long-held goal manifested. My Facebook profile was plastered with gratuitous proud mum pics of me holding up my copy of “Shining in Brightness”. I had hoped my first book ‘baby’ would be a novel, but as all parents know, each (creative) child is precious simply because they have come into existence.

“Shining in Brightness” is available for preview and purchase at blurb.co.uk.

Curious about the origins of this work? Read more about these “poems from a mystical decade” here.