Archives for posts with tag: tea
"Midnight Harp" by Esmira, on DeviantArt

Midnight Harp” by Esmira, on DeviantArt

Bell-like, round and clear
Hopeful and transparent 
as a copper bauble,
it lifts the congregation.
From the sanctuary 
the maiden’s voice soars
and plunges
as she elongates the siren call.

 

I am not a groupie. I’d rather spend my days in a hermit’s hut on a mountainside with books, green tea and yoga for company instead of people. I find people politics and inane conversation immensely annoying. But I keep seeking out institutionalised assemblies. In these experiences I find vestiges of tribal inheritances, which seem to inspire my creative work. At least, this is my theory as to why I keep seeking out groups and gatherings which jar with my loner’s soul. Being part of a martial arts academy is one example. Volunteering in various organisations and an ongoing relationship with institutions of learning, such as schools and universities, are others. Then there’s church attendance, which has influenced a few recent poems (Just Punishment, Let them eat).

Attending church takes me back to my childhood and familiar language patterns. My father claimed a deep personal religiosity. When we were children, it was a weekly parental pleasure for him to walk me and my brother to Sunday School. After the morning’s service proceedings we would play outside. He would siphon egg sandwiches, Salticrax with cheese and little cakes from the adult’s tea-table for us. (The Anglican Church to this day offers an excellent post-service tea spread.) He would spend a long time explaining things to us like the flat stones in the graveyard, the gruesome Stations of the Cross and the purple covering-cloths at Lent.

Today’s poem is drawn from a recent church experience during which I was struck by the clear, enchanting voice of the young woman who lead the singing. Her voice was neither trained nor very brilliant, but it moved me. In that moment, a flood of young maidens singing swept over me. I saw maidens with harps in old villages. I imagined maidens next to seas and riverbanks singing as they worked with others or alone to keep themselves company. I saw maidens next to firesides singing with the transparency of youthful hope, watched by audiences of older women and men, who in that moment were reminded of their youthful expectancy. This memory suspends itself like a copper bauble, picks up the fire-light and lifts them in the moment. It was all this that propelled me to write the poem.

The title references the “Libera me” at the end of Verdi’s Requiem. Instead of an awe-inspiring chorus with trained soprano, the single lay voice of this poem rings out unaffected and haunting. The siren call in this context is not entirely destructive. It is hypnotic, but it re-directs its listeners towards hope. The catch is that for many of them this hope is a bauble of the past, but it still frees them.

It only occurred to me years later that our absence from the house on a Sunday meant that my hard-working, music teacher mother could have a morning of quiet respite. At the end of 1987 and in early 1988, my Mum was also pregnant with my sister. Now when I look back at those memories, I add this layer. While we were running around the grounds of Christ the King on Lower Milner Road, stuffing our kiddie faces with egg sandwiches (on white bread! With crusts cut off!) and staring at faux-granite gravestones, my Mum was at home with a growing belly which contained my little sister.

My sister is now big – a maiden herself in her later twenties. She plays the harp and occasionally sings, though not in church. Her siren work with words is in a different field. She is a journalist.

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

A letter is…

Today was the Friday
I ate only toast.
7 slices. 4 with honey; 3 with
peanut butter
a few broccoli florets raw
and an anchovy from the tin.
I drank green tea, black
tea and one cup of coffee
poured from the cafetiere.
I set out to typeset
a book – and now it’s
worse than eating nuts
fiddling with those boxes
on the screen.

When was this Friday? It was the 25/1/13. This time last year I was typesetting Shining in Brightness, my first book of poetry. I was intent on completing the book and had set myself a personal deadline. Toast and coffee are my fuel for deadlines. Consuming those seven slices and all the beverage stimulants brought back the hours of binge-typing 10,000 and 30,000 word university submissions.

You can preview some of the poems and one of the two essays on my creative process here.

I have a second book of poetry available for preview and purchase. It is Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys.
Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill

The ordinary class 
does not  object to plastic chairs
or utilitarian rooms used for
multiple utilitarian purposes:
pre-school, ballet lessons, Sunday School,
prayer groups, a soup kitchen, evening workshops in crafts.

The ordinary class bends over
catered tray-lasagne
seeping into paper plates 
balanced on knees and 
an insulation of paper serviettes.

The ordinary class 
is certain
that their salvation resides 

Wait! Someone said chocolate cake?

Oh, a small piece.
I really shouldn’t;
Not after such a dinner.
Some tea with that would be 
lovely.
The cake was leftover from
a meeting this afternoon?
It’s really good.
Chocolatey, but delicious.
Karen baked it?
Please send our thanks.

Certain salvation 
of the ordinary class,
leftover from a meeting this afternoon,
sits in plastic chairs
attentively
noting god and good
and education,
balanced as warm and sodden paper plates
on wads of serviettes.

Our ordinary lives really fascinate me. They seem so unpoetic. Often this ordinary life and its props often just seems brutish and ugly. Plastic chairs, for example, really upset me. On one level they offend my aesthetic sensibility. On another, I wonder why we continue to sit on them and sit on them in the proscriptive, often less than beautiful spaces in which they are to be found.

I often wonder similarly about the food we eat when we gather as groups in these spaces. This food is usually served on paper plates, which do not absorb heat too well and soggy up with the juices of the dish. It is therefore not unusual to find the catered for with knees padded up with the serviettes provided. It’s like a dance of hunched sea creatures, consuming in unison during the incoming tide.

Ordinary life and suburbia feature in my two books of poetry, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys and Shining in Brightness. They are both available for preview and purchase at BeadedQuill’s Blurb Bookstore

Twitter: @BeadedQuill

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Something for you –

reads these cards.
They’re blue this year
for the seasonal drop.

This something
can be an item
Special Delivery, Tracked, Recorded Signed For,
An International Item.
That one excites people.

Or the item could be
a letter, a packet, a catalogue,
a number of items
or,
though never in my time,
a perishable item.

Yet again, an item that could not be delivered.
No-one at home.

The card through the letterslot.
Last one for the shift.
Back to the depot.
Turn up my music.
I could do with some tea.

19/12/13

A companion piece to Monday’s poem, “Without realising it, the postman leaves a poem”.  As an exercise, this poem is written from the point of view of the postman.

I’m now wondering about a poem in which the postman is the poet.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill

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We hammered it in the sforzando bits,
chiselled it to master tempi,
phrased it gently where the lilt shone through.

While counting down the repeats
we tried to love
the symphony seldom played.

It was our oboist who noted
during the tea and smoke break:
the favourites remain the favourites
for a reason

In my twenties I often played in student orchestras, amateur orchestras and, on a few rare and special occasions, professional/semi-professional orchestras. It was hard work, but in the furnace we had great fun and often developed a wonderful sense of camaraderie.

Sadly, my musical memory is not good and I cannot remember which symphony might be the germ of this poem. This is probably just as well.

Preview my first volume of collated poetry here.

Follow me on Twitter as @BeadedQuill.

A letter is time past

scrawled on a tree

written in blue

with quiet tea and buttoned

as a coat holding inside

its red carnation.

2012

Another poem earmarked for my forthcoming second volume, provisionally titled “Under a Blue Dome.” The volume will also include the poems from the set “Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys,” some of which I have already featured on the blog. Have a glance at  “At Noon,” “The Old Cock and the Younger Hens,” and “A Fun Romance.”

To read more of my poetry, click here to see preview and purchase my first volume at Blurb Books. Shining in Brightnesss includes twenty original poems and two essays on my writing.

Follow me on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill.