Archives for posts with tag: poem
In the window is 
from Senegal, 
and beautifully put together:
the bird.

The artist, with the help of sticks
and other flotsam,
beautifully put together
the bird.

The artist has been washed ashore 
with other birds 
beautifully put together 
with the help of sticks.

They make beautifully put together
birds from the window, 
these sticks and other flotsam
and the artist, who is 

beautifully put together
washed ashore with birds
in the window of flotsam
in the window of helpful sticks


Since the earliest days of summer, before the heatwave descended and when a further bout of snow probably still threatened, I’ve had a torn page from a catalogue against my table mirror. It has long been a habit of mine to pull pages of beautiful interiors from magazines, newspaper supplements and catalogues. (For the astrologically minded, I am Cancerian after all.) I have made dozens of scrapbooks of such images. At one stage, when my life was more sedentary, I had an elaborate filing hierarchy of general shoebox for the scrappy ones, small envelopes for alone images, larger A3 sized envelopes for pages and files for full articles of beautiful homes.

In the last ten years, as my life has been more transient and nomadic and my views about a life filled with objects have changed, I have become more restrained in such collecting. After my time in the USA, I did gift my sister a stapled book of glossy San Diego estate agent advertisements and Pottery Barn pull-outs in an imaginary décored version of My Californian Life. In my ever-growing collection of notebooks, you will find the occasional image of quiet studies, verdant gardens and cool kitchens drawn from Polish, German, Austrian, English and South African publications. On the most occasional of occasional pages you may come across a hurried line-drawing of a hotel room in Istanbul or a tin of pens against a window-view in Grahamstown.

In the torn page propped against my mirror these last few months, this is the scene: there’s an empty, but inviting cabin dining-room. Set around the wooden table are worn, painted chairs. The wool rug against the wall is a burst of folksy flowers. Silhouetted in on the windowsill are a hurricane lamp and a bird sculpture.

Alongside this scene is a quieter, more tantalising shot. Below the window is a blue-seated bench. On the windowsill a geranium flowers pink blooms in a tin bucket. Squint and peer, and alongside the leaves and wooden window frame you’ll spy a long-legged bird sculpture.

Accompanying the images is the usual informational catalogue blurb. It reads:

The bird in the window is
beautifully put together
with the help of sticks
and other flotsam that
has been washed ashore.
The artist in Assane Déme
from Senegal, who makes
birds from recycled

I’m drawn to the visual arts and beautiful spaces. Like the creative work of writing or composing, working with objects, colours, textures and light piques my exploration of creative process. In a more academic capacity, I’m also interested in the politics, patterns and trends of artistic and creative consumption. Overlay the consumption with North-South dynamics – as in this example, a Northern European interior clothing/décor/lifestyle store highlights a Senegalese artist’s work. Now some of the post-colonial cultural theory I once studied stirs.

Stanza by stanza “Recycled” explores both creative process and creative politics. In the first stanza the artist as (named) person is suspended for exotic creator from Senegal, who not merely makes art but is resourceful enough to do so from flotsam and other recycled materials. Invoked are hints of the myth that artistic Africa is resourceful, but not quite of the materials or rigour of the Western European Academy sculpture. (I am also conscious that I have not mentioned Assane Déme by name in the poem, which is interesting. I’d like to argue it opens the poem to be more of general circumstances. ) The second stanza continues a similar idea, with the “beautiful, helpful” materials taking on a creative role in which the artist is almost subservient.

The subservience of artist to material is sometimes noted by creatives, who point out that often their media works itself. So, it is apt that stanzas three and four shift from politics to creative process. In the sea of sticks, flotsam, birds and beauty, we read an ebb and flow of the creative tides. The final stanza incorporates the ambiguous politics of the original catalogue blub and the mystery of a creative wave. It refers to the role of materials both in the creative process and the myth of creative production from Africa.

And all this from a page torn from a catalogue. Such is creative recycling.

Preview more poems and essays on my writing in my recently published volume SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS.

I am on Twitter as @BeadedQuill.

The flame is a scale held to the light.
It flickers in petition. It bids us to reignite
some salacity already gutted from our life.

red herring

Yes, that last line is akin to a title. I remembered that Debussy does likewise in his Préludes.

At the moment I am swimming with the red herrings. There’s perhaps another poem in that, though I have been imagining a fantastical puppet show. “Swimming with Red Herrings” would involve fire-eaters and tea-lights. There would have to be a pond on stage.

My grocery list of current cravings includes asparagus, scrambled eggs, real sheep and goat’s milk feta and the freshest pita bread from my local Greek-Cypriot grocer (Tony’s, incidentally). For some reason, I can’t get these items off my mind.

Preview my first volume of poetry, Shining in Brightness here. Follow me as @BeadedQuill on Twitter. Find BeadedQuill on Facebook.

Image credit:

Image credit:

On scribbling a postcard to…

next to the postbox
in the wall of the
sorting depot
The last collection’s at 5.30pm
though emptying happens
throughout the day
for your convenience.

Another possible addition to “Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys,” my forthcoming bundle of poems. This project follows the recent publication of my first volume, Shining in Brightness, which you can preview here.

Follow me on Twitter where I comment on postcards, boys, muesli and martial arts. I’m @BeadedQuill

A blast! A work of genius!
Was the killer whale that hit sharp at Leicester Square.
It swam in from Morden
via Bank
trawling on the High Street
with all the hours in the world
daffodils at 80p/bunch
and such sensational warming relief.


A poem for you on this sunny Thursday morning. It was inspired by my early morning book signing in Westminster. You too can own a copy of my first volume of poetry, Shining in Brightness. It is available via

Follow me on Twitter, where I tweet about poetry, my London ambles and other adventures. I am @BeadedQuill


Deep Water

Green weed coats the pond.

Catkins tiptoe past the curtain leaves

here in the conservation area near the tennis courts.

“Should you see

anything particularly exciting

please tell us about it.,“

requests the London Borough of Camden, Nature Conservation Section.

“Well, I didn’t notice much


he turns,


delightful  thing.”

(he bent down to kiss her)

Ah! Water deep

(she kissed him back)


Many readers really enjoy this poem, primarily because they believe it provides some insight about the poet (i.e. me). I suppose they make this leap because – at 1,47m  – I am quite small, like a little human huckleberry. As readers, we also like to overlay the narrator’s voice with that of the creator. I shall leave the fact to fiction ratio up to your imagination. At the end of the day, it is my hope that the poem works in capturing a moment in poetic form.

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. The beautifully formatted book is available through

I am on Twitter as @BeadedQuill. I tweet about poetry, my ambles in London’s green spaces and at the moment, my online dating experiences. (I also tweet quite a bit about martial arts.)

Saturday 14th Jan.             Yesterday I met

a friendly piebald cat and ladders.

So today I took the plunge:

£299 on Strand. Friday the 13th


passed unscathed.          If I don’t spend

the money now, it won’t be anymore.

A dinky 11.6” this HP Pavilion (dm1-4020sa):

£299 on Strand. Sunday morning, 00:05


15th Jan. one two.            I’ll get the job

and find the flat. This is that year!

My laptop will bring all of this at

£299 from Strand.


Reminiscent in tone and spirit of “Now here is something to marvel at…,” the poem above (which comes from the same time period) echoes a recurring personal obsession with the cost of things. It’s a very middle class trait, which has provided me with poetic material on prices and bank balances.

At the moment my local chain grocery store is offering 2 for £1 on boxes of green tea (20 bags; usually priced at 80p, which is up from the 60p they used to cost). At the risk of providing free advertising, it’s that giant with the orange logo. But then last week I spent £3,99 – the equivalent of two plus bus fares, a tube journey into town, three weeks’ worth of soya milk – at the local florist on a pot of bluebells for myself.  At the moment I would balk at spending £3,99 on cosmetics. But after a couple of days planning and sleeping on it, if I just plunge and don’t think, I’ll spend it on a pot of bluebells or (as I did recently) a ticket to a Xu Bing exhibition.   

I found a red and white chequered tablecloth that evokes a laid table from a sunny Bonnard painting. With my bluebells in the corner, I catch a glimpse of an imaginary Provence in spring bloom and my inner bohemian’s budgeting priorities. 

I’ve been writing poetry since 1999. You can read selected poems in my volume “Shining in Brightness,” which is available for preview at Blurb Books.

Follow me on Twitter as @BeadedQuill. I tweet regularly about chasing my bohemian dream while trying to live a middle class, suburban existence.


Do not stop for


they are a

waste of time.




Bury in


Hurry in a grey

coat. See not

the fallen gate-

post, a thread

of quiet small-

leafed ivy.

16/02/2012 19:20

First thoughts for this poem were drafted on a little black Alcatel. I had been given the ‘phone as a freebie on opening an Orange account when I first arrived in the UK. On the evening of these first draft thoughts, I think I was on my way to see the friends whose household features in another of my poems, 118A Creighton Avenue.

“Pavement Walker” reflects a typical weekday evening in a North London suburb when it is repopulated after the workday exodus. The commuters spill onto the pavements from the tube and buses, still bent over their ‘phones and cares.

The original draft mentioned “Consult/ the insufficient Blackberry,” but I removed the brand reference in respect of their copyright. This allowed for a smarter poetic turn, as I could then insert an inter-textual reference to a line from TS Eliot’s “Four Quartets.” See if you can spot the allusion.

“Pavement Walker” serves as the opening poem of my first volume, Shining in Brightness. Positioned as such, it was intended to be both a poetic and thematic entry point into the (sub)urban landscape, which is the setting for much of the work. It also introduces the tone of quiet meditation that qualifies many of the selected poems.

“Pavement Walker” appears in the 94th issue of the South African poetry journal Carapace. You can order copies of Carapace or read more about the journal here.

To preview my first volume of poetry SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012, visit the online bookstore at

Follow my regular tweets on poetry, pavement walking and suburban life. I’m @BeadedQuill.

Quiet or quick off the mark,

it’s your draw now, cowboy!

At the trough

a whinnow mane

shakes desert dust.

A shutter creaks and midday wanes.

Brass badges rust out here.

This is a poem I wrote in mid-2012. It will be one of about a dozen poems in a set I’m compiling entitled “Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys.”

The poem that is now “At noon” was spontaneously formulated during, of all things, a Facebook correspondence. On its first public reading, comments on the poem included:

“You do know, sheriff’s badges didn’t rust in the desert? So that’s incorrect.”

“There’s a spelling mistake. That’s not how you spell ‘whinnow.’ Anyway, what’s a ‘whinnow mane’? Such a thing doesn’t exist.”

“I like the sense of desert dust and Spaghetti Westerns that the poem evokes.”

Well, ok.

Blog readers, perhaps you have some thoughts?

If you enjoyed “At noon” visit my first volume of selected poems here.  Follow my comments on modern boys and the wild west of laziness (usually my Saturday mornings) on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill.

Wire Heart

Handmade Heart


I never got

a heart kitsched out of plump red silk

or fluffy between grinning paws


My heart was curved out of wire.

Two little hands threaded rows of beads

terracotta to brown






in bedside light my wire-heart hangs

glinting only for me.



I have done a great deal of childminding and babysitting in my time. It was a pocket-money making staple during my adolescence. More than ten years ago, I used to look after a little boy. He was incredibly creative and sometimes we would be up at late hours constructing his ‘projects,’ which usually involved hanging things down the stairwell. While he instructed my draping technique, I would be worrying myself about getting him to sleep before his parents came home. One night he and I sat on the floor and devoured a juicy mango, there and then, next to the kitchen cupboards. (We seldom had mangos in my childhood home.)

One evening, when I arrived for my usual duties, he handed over a palm-sized, tissue-paper wrapped gift. I opened it and it was this – a handmade heart shaped out of wire and strung with a rainbow of beads. This heart has lived on bedside tables and hung on my bedposts in three continents and about a dozen countries. It’s one of those objects I would grab if I had to flee from a fire.

I doubt this child, now all grownup, even remembers giving this special gift to me.