This morning’s request

It’s a bright day,
just the right day
to expect you to fly home.
When you land, hey –
give me a call –
and we can let our banter roam.

A short and simple request on behalf of all who have ever endured the irritation of long-distance romance. This is also the final offering from my set of six love-themed poems posted across this Valentine’s week.

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

You can give a heart on any day

This handmade heart hangs from a nail above my desk. I don’t remember on which day it was given to me, yet it carries more sentimental meaning than any Valentine’s token I’ve ever received. This heart has shadowed many of my poetry journeys. It has travelled with me from Cape Town to San Diego, to South America, to Poland, to the UK the first time around for studies, to the Eastern Cape and has now settled a while here in London. It reminds me, we can give of our creativity in a heartfelt way on any day. 

Appropriate Recompense

I want an ugly pink carnation
with all those serrated
petals overlapping.
The flower must be slightly droopy
and the stem
a little slimy from waiting
in a bucket at the corner
convenience store for those
awkward evenings after
a morning fight when you
know, if you don’t bring home
a carnation as ungraceful as
your inarticulate apology
there will be more of the
same hell to pay.
I have plates.


This week sees the lead up to Valentine’s Day. Predictably the theme over the next six days will be love and romantic relationships. Amateur poets, before they have matured in style and (possibly) earn money/prestige from their work, are often criticized for being love and romance obsessed. The lyricists for the popular music industry, romcom scriptwriters and librettists of sweeping nineteenth-century operas are not called to account for their obsession with this topic. So, for the next few days, let us indulge.

Often as I traverse the platforms, elevators and turnstiles of London’s Underground, I explore poem topics. In an effort to elevate my craft, I have entertained opening lines about burning hatred, deep anger, annoyance, profound joy, a sense of belonging, listlessness, hopefulness. I’ve tried to court many an emotion other than luuurrrve.

Perhaps I am still a young, amateur poet, because it is love – often thwarted, unrequited and in anguish – that fuels my pen. This may also be a product of my life phase. Perhaps emotions of more interesting variety and more expansive human experiences will surface in my future writing. Perhaps I am yet to grow up in the literary sense.

Today’s poem outlines a call for a gesture of apology. The gender of the two characters, the narrator and the spoken to subject, is not made explicit. However, the conditioning of normative heterosexual coupling probably meant that you read the poetic voice as that of woman speaking to a man. (I’d be interested to know if you read the poem through a different frame.) While it is a poem about love and a relationship, there is underlying anger possibly paired with a degree of emotional blackmail. Bring a peace offering and I won’t throw the plates.

In case you’re wondering how much of the poem is autobiographical, because readers often do: I haven’t thrown plates and am not a great fan of carnations. I prefer flowers with a scent and less of a hot-house veneer about them.

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

A Handmade Heart

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.