Archives for posts with tag: Suburbia
OldDesignShop_StorybookFairiesBees

A Round Robin, by M. A. Hoyer and Robert Ellice Mack, illustrated by Harriett M. Bennett, c. 1891. Image sourced from The Old Design Shop

Watching the bees

Here are the words of the blazing day
and the once beautiful arrangements.
It was heady, was it not?
The arrival of this brightest of days.

Outside the day was perfection.
Here a few few bees in the garden
hid under clumps of cut grass.
Why are they tucking themselves away?
Or are they burrowing for pollen,
heady on word from the other bees?

Our day of blazing perfection was heady,
was it not?
Was it not?


It has been a wildly warm day by London standards. I tried to write in the garden first thing this morning. The bees and butterflies and a single large-bodied horsefly were my ground company.

Image via PixGood. With thanks.

Image via PixGood. With thanks.

For some, the endpoint comes.
For those, it expresses as a deed.
For some, how to paint a Mason jar.
For those, it is possible to attach a stencil with a seasonal theme:

there could be a star for Christmas
or a pumpkin outline for Halloween.
Overhead hums a carrier on the flightpath.
For some freedom comes as the endpoint.

A painted Mason jar for flower arrangements,
home-baked cookies and forgetting this is not
how you imagined it would be.
For some the endpoint is a gun.

I have been ill for the last week or so, the world is going down on all sides and in the sidebar of advertisements on my Facebook account I’ve been targeted by craft videos.

Painted Mason jars, perfect in their new incarnation for displaying flowers on one’s kitchen table, must be the perfect salve to my ailment and the world’s disquiet.

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 the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

Image courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

An old poem about a new room.

To The Valleys‘ offers a similar opening and thwarted journey to domestic encasement.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books

It must be the time of year for food thoughts, because ‘Tightly Sealed‘ from this time last year took fridge leftovers as its starting point.

 

Image courtesy of The Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury and one of my favourite image sources.

Image courtesy of The Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury and one of my favourite image sources.*

When baby bear had left home
and then had had a pot,
it would’ve been, I like to think,
like the silver one I did adopt

from outside someone’s wooden gate
in the back roads of North London.
Either the owners had to relocate 
or make space for Christmas plunder.

Into my little pot, thrice daily go all things:
breakfast oats, reheated soup or split red lentil dhal, 
popping corn, or frozen veg like spinach, broccoli,
then pasta and basmati, in their single servings.

My just right pot has no lid,
a single handle, straight.
Burnt raisins catch in crevices,
but generally it’s great.


The first winter I was in London, I picked up the most ‘just right’ sized cooking pot for a single diner outside someone’s gate. In all these London suburbs there are certain times of the month and year when residents chuck stuff. Someone once told me that they would regularly go skip hunting on the last Saturday of the month, and even took a guy on ‘skip hunting’ as a cheap date.

I have not taken anyone skip hunting as a cheap date (I’d rather visit an art exhibition in someone’s company), but I do have my own skip hunting-buddy experience. Through my volunteering at a local soup kitchen I befriended a guy who knew (probably still does) the best back alleys for skip treasures in affluent middle-class, North London suburbia. There are a couple of finds from that evening that I still put to good use today.

My little silver pot was not a skip find, though. It was simply there on the pavement, sparkling in the blue winter sunlight, simply inviting me to take it home. We have seen many breakfasts, soup lunches and reheated rice and bean/lentil or pasts dinners together. When those raisins or sultanas from my morning porridge catch, I have to scour out the burnt bits, which I do with love for my just right pot.

* Visit the original image at The Old Design Shop here.

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

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.

With appreciation to Val Ghose for use of the photograph. Original image to view on Wikimedia Commons.

With appreciation to Val Ghose for the image. Original on Wikimedia Commons.

They are tall
and have green eye-lids.
See how they blink 
at the sun.

trees


Being amongst trees makes my soul so happy. There are a number of woods where I live in London and I consider it my commute to work to walk through them when I have time set aside for writing. Below the Cape Town’s world renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, is a piece of land known as the Arboretum. As the name suggests, it is filled with trees. In the periods when I had my own transport and was a working gal in Cape Town, I took up tramping through the incline of the Arboretum as a Sunday ritual. For a long time I have turned to trees for solace.

The trees that really call me out of myself are the tall, old ones. They are such majestic beings.

When my father wasn’t well, one of my aunts sent me a postcard with a two wonderful lines about trees from a poem by an Irish poet. I propped the postcard up on my makeshift nature table/ altar amongst my treasured stones, pinecones and loved leaves. I tracked down the whole poem online and wrote it out. As it goes with such meanders, in the years that have passed and all my moves, I have mislaid the scrap of paper. But I often repeat the two remembered lines, “Those tall truths that tap and trap the sun”.

At this difficult time, I started to carry a call around with me, “May the peace of the tall, wise trees be with you.” Every time I saw a tree, I asked for perspective and wisdom. After all, some trees in our cities and suburbs have seen many more decades than we have. Many people have walked under their branches. They have shaded many incarnations of the road and pavement. Those tall truths have seen storms, sunshine, rain, troubles and peace.

Trees are incredible.

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

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
Our eyes cannot see
through the polished cufflinks 
and clean underwear put on that morning;
over the same legs that walk past you
and sway in the train when it breaks;

the same arms that hold groceries 
and hand them over at the till;
the usual pleasantries made with the cashier
whose body is later found in the field.


After reading this article written by the husband of a woman who had been murdered, I have been thinking about the topic of ordinary killers. I’m not beyond imagining that we’re all capable of extremes of harm and violence. However, I wonder how it is that there are ordinary men who walk among us, who put on their clean clothes, take transport, buy groceries and – at some point in their existence – take someone else’s life.

It’s gendered manifestations of such ordinary violence that bothers me. And that in many instances the perpetrator is often known by the victim. And, indeed, by a wider community in which they both exist.

This is not a cheerful topic, and not one on which I wish to dwell – least of all write poetry. But it’s a situation in the world that’s really on my mind.

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

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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