Archives for posts with tag: the ordinary life of a poet

Responsible. Spring cleaning. Light-bulb.

In mid-January 2013 I wrote about the ordinary routine of a quiet creative. I wrote about the things I accomplished during a week and the chores left undone. “The hooded empty eye-socket of the desk-lamp stares at me. A year since moving in, it still needs a light-bulb. ”

Since writing that post, the bulbless light has been in a cupboard. After nearly two years, I had finally felt I could spare the cash (all £2,29 for the two 60W bulbs) and make the commitment. Today was the day I bought a bulb! I screwed in this symbolic purchase.

And then – tada! – the light didn’t switch on.

This was meant to be a home-making triumph. How could I have erred in something as simple as putting in a light-bulb? I stared at the dead, bulb-eyed light in woe.

Things are always easier when you have knowledgeable friends. A friend versed in DIY had come come over today to fix two collapsed drawer-runners and a doorknob which had come unstuck.

“Oh, it’s probably the fuse.”

My friend was now excited, “While I’m here, I can have a look at that, too.”

He was  enthusiasm for the new found problem diffused my disappointment. He disappeared to the local hardware and knick-knacks haven to find a replacement.

This lamp still protrudes like some sort of space-eye on my desk.  Now it’s an eye that’s finally emitting light.

 

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Detail from Anton Melbye, "Lighthouse at Stora Bält" (1845) from image courtesy of www.wikipaintings.org/

Detail from Anton Melbye, “Lighthouse at Stora Bält” (1845) from image courtesy of http://www.wikipaintings.org/

The second-to-last exertion
is not the rainbow.
It is the to-and-fro flight 
of a raven clamped in darkness for 150 days.

Let there be
	beats the raven’s wings
Let there be
	beats the raven’s hope

No land, raven. No release.
Below yap choppy waves,
corpses float and catch 
on broken trees. No release, raven.
No land.

The raven’s wings beat
	there be no land
	there be no release
The raven’s wings beat 
above the choppy waves
and the rocking sucklings of the flood.

But the dove! 
This white-winged wonder bird
reaps the budding olive branch
and on the second flight, freedom.

The last exertion
is not a rainbow.
Although supposedly
one beamed for Noah
when the dove flew
away.


A link to Genesis 6-9 (NIV translation), which outlines the Bible story of Noah’s ark, the flood and the reconnaissance birds.

With four poems to go until the completion of the 104 project, there’s no denying that one may read in here an echo of art imitates life.

When I’m not posting on this blog, I tweet as @BeadedQuill. This Twitter account is linked to the BeadedQuill Facebook page.
If you prefer your reading in old-school format, perhaps you would consider adding one of my books to to your library? There are two from which to choose. Click on the titles below to preview.

Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys

Shining in Brightness

I try to revive a blue whale
with raw eggs from plastic bowls
in different colours
laid out in a wooden fishing boat.
To do this you must put two
or three eggs together in each bowl,
watch their yolks lilt to the tide, then
pour them through the whale’s sieve-like mouth.


This poem is a transcription of a dream I had. The notebook entry of 29/10/12 analyses the stress that probably elicited the scene, “Drowned out by my panic: income! job! career! Aaargh!” Such is the mundane reality that underpins some creative output. I am certain some English teacher in the future will invest the work with a more riveting subliminal meaning.

I have very vivid dreams. Since I was a child, I’ve had vivid dreams. “Afloat”  is another poem based on a nocturnal vision remembered and jotted down. Often my dreams are strong on action, filled with tactility and punctuated with memorable details. Only once I remember hearing music in a dream. When I stayed in South America briefly, I eventually started dreaming in very basic Spanish.

With this poem I conclude my official a Poem a Day for a Month. This bumper month of posts is part of my larger 2×52 project, during which I aim to produce a 104 poems across a year (52 weeks). The idea was to keep writing and producing. Out of 104 poems, some might not be as engaging, some might be readable and a few should, by the law of statistics, must surely be reasonably good. I shall continue to post according to my routine of two poems a week. Sign up to BeadedQuill (see tab in bottom right-hand corner) for these future poems, updates on the aimed for (e)book of the 2×52 project and other news.

Thank you for being part of this month.

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

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 

On and off for thirty years,
the lone glow of green on a square
rarely reaches a dark 2g a day
most of the time
its tenure is lime to yellow:
the tiniest trace of proteinuria

which is a fancy way of expressing
I basically piss out the good stuff
with regularity.
In body awareness circles they say
this indicates self-hatred
and fear.
Mostly it’s no big deal.


The poems to follow over the next few days may be difficult reads. That is, they draw on the tougher and more confusing experiences life throws at us such as health challenges, mortality, life’s disappointments and the indignities of ageing.

Glomerulonephritis refers to an inflammation of the glomeruli, which is responsible for filtration in the kidney. Inflammation results in an increase in excreted proteins. With decreased protein in the blood, the body swells with oedema. Dipsticks, with a small square of filter paper, are used to test how much protein might be present in the urine. Since the August after my second birthday, I have been on medication for glomerulonephritis. For decades I dismissed the presence of this circumstance. However over the last two years, I have become more vocal and self-indulgent about it.

Such extravagance, like the turn to self-embroiled subject matter in my verse, might be a passing phase of self-involvement. This is a fancy way of saying, perhaps I am inclined to self-created drama at present.

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

I know I said I’d bring a poem
but then I half forgot –
I’d agreed to go to Ladies’ Pond
to meet a friend and swim,
Down the road and to the right.
Oh dear, there’s something left behind;
Pavement Walker
Jacob’s Dream
Huckleberry Thing
and
Pizza, Thwack!
keywords from Ninja turtles strike
supreme and back.

Ooops. Sorry. I forgot them all.

I had said I would bring a poem to read at a friend’s dinner gathering and I forgot. I wrote this on the tube in lieu. It lists some of the work I composed in 2012.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill

Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys 
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012 

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 

Ah, this is a good one from the archives: Tied up in 8 Tentacles of a Goal Octopus.

As an update –

I don’t yet live in my wooden house with a deck overlooking a lake.

For travel in 2013, I took the train to Buckingham for Christmas. As a day trip I went out to Rye and Camber Sands in August. There was a little tango in London over the summer and in early November. Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Morocco and New York still await.

Yeah, well, the doctoral research…

2013 was a year of proactive companion searching which included internet dating, singles events, blind dates and being picked up outside my local  indie coffee shop. All in all, there were about 8 men across 10 months. Too much effort, though good fertilizer for poetry. I am taking a man sabbatical. Currently I am investigating oocyte cryopreservation (egg-freezing) plus fertilization and other options for the future. A different sort of proactive.

I’m still scratching on my much loved, old faithful tomato-box. Today I was focussing on a little Bach Courante. I’ve been working on my bow hold.

I certainly own more clothes than I did a year ago and have a had a few outfit compliments. I’m into wearing a bit of eyeliner. The old school pencil kind. I think it’s about an excuse to use a pencil, on my eyelid.

And as my grand finale, I note that I’m clocking up my tally of titles. I brought out a second book, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys, in November last year.

Hooray for the octopus!

 

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