Archives for posts with tag: winter
Aster yomena yomena02

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. by No machine-readable author provided. Keisotyo assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons. No endorsement of BeadedQuill’s work by this author should be implied.

Plant asters by autumn

When all else fades,
semi-trailing heath comes
into its own. In banks and borders

snow-petalled asters make a
brilliant ground cover. Shimmering
their heads: a butterfly magnet
in the wildlife garden’s

banks and borders. Plant this by autumn,
plant this great choice in height and spread
before the winter turns.


I spend the occasional sunny, bright afternoons sitting on a plastic chair in the backyard staring at the hanging roses, pink hydrangeas and purple foxgloves. I am no gardener at present, and do nothing in this patch of yard in the house where I lodge. When I was a child, I first had a corner bed in which grew a pink hibiscus bush. Later I had a patch of soil next to my wendyhouse in the back garden and as a pre-teen I changed the flowering contents of a box outside my bedroom window. Since living the rented room life, I have dabbled with the usual supermarket herbs in pots and seasonal indoor bulbs. Currently, I am nursing an Ikea spathiphyllum that moves from the chest of drawers next to my bed to the sun-catching shelf on the other side of my room. It really needs a dose of plant food and would probably benefit from re-potting.

I love spending time in green spaces, surrounded by plants, and sometimes I find myself drawn to glossy, coffee-table garden books in bookshops or the gardening pages of home magazines. Yesterday I was leafing through the Guardian Weekend and stumbled across the gardening pages and started reading the “What to do the week” section. The advice covered Thin this, Read this, Plant this; reduce clusters of fruit on your trees, read up about 101 chillies and consider planting asters in time for autumn.

Today’s resulting poem is drawn from the column and echoes another poem, “look – really look”. This poem of two years ago (and uncannily this very time of year) was also inspired by the Guardian Weekend’s gardening pages. The relationship between gardening, seasons and plants holds a deep mystery for me. Birds, and especially butterflies, are for me symbolic messengers from another realm. My paternal grandmother was a botanist and her interest in the flowering world seemed to be the science and beauty. My interest is the beauty and lessons it offers about our human flurries.

It is no coincidence that garden banks and border feature in today’s poem during these times when both national and economic security are under pressure in many parts of the world. There is something of ‘the lilies of the valley in all their beauty’ about the delicate snow-petalled asters. Yet, as they trail like other determined ground-covers, they may prove the surviving, life-continuing film when the monuments of mankind have faltered. There are seasons of all kinds, both in the natural world and in our rhythm as humanity. Perhaps planting star-like flowers is not such a bad task to consider before autumn. As three of my favourite lines from “look – really look” remind us:

Concrete is brutal.
It needs softening.
Plants should have dominion.

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Ursus arctos - Norway

Image courtesy of  Taral Jansen/Soldatnytt [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

January brought with it a blizzard.
Icy darts aimed for our knees
and the testing froze our sense
of belonging to that land.

The old bears sunk deeper in their caves,
groaned and turned their backs
on winter’s sluice
trusting that in time from it
would flow all the blooms of spring.

31/12/14

I wish to take this moment to applaud myself. Here, and in time for the end of 2014, I present my 200th poem for public consumption. (If you’d like to read them, there are 180+ poems available on this blog and another 20 poems in my book, Shining in Brightness.)

The threads of inspiration in today’s poem include a line about spring flowers in The Diary of Anne Frank, a childhood conversation about sluices with my Dad and watching Paddington (the movie) yesterday. There’s probably also a trace of my recent read, Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!

I shall make no secret of the fact that over these last few weeks I have found myself in a writer’s fug – and questioning my overall productivity. This surely stems from the seasonal tendency to review the year. Where is the novel I planned to write in 2014? What about all the poems I was going to submit to Proper Poetry Journals? When would I ever start earning any money from my writing (Indeed, when would I again start earning some Proper Grownup Money in general)? I am so, so, so tired. And it feels like I have been in this place (this winter?) for a very long time. It sometimes feels like this is the place people identify as ‘being an adult.’

When I was a child, my animal guide (or familiar) was undoubtedly the bear. In addition to my beloved teddy Edwina, who went to hospital with me and for years was carried all over the world as a security blanket, I collected figurines, books and anything teddy bear related. It was through this interest that I channeled my early writing. For over five years I compiled a monthly teddy-themed magazine.

It doesn’t surprise me, as I do a little cursory reading, that to call on the bear totem invokes grounding and strength. Since bears live a solitary life, they are examples of balance and comfort in one’s solitude. As expert survivors of harsh winters, theirs is an example of a wise animal-guide teacher. They are also associated with women of shamanic power who are able to communicate with other dimensions and pursue healing of self or others. The teddy bears of my past in no small way are the bears in this verse.

Finally, I must add that this poem was born of a prompt to “write about a heart that wouldn’t quit”.

2015, here we come
with our hearts that haven’t yet quit (even though they are a little tired).

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

View of the Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica

By Ben Holt – National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (NASA (Image galleries)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


From night’s horizon
sweep in yowls and howls
across the polar plain.
Glacial blue dims.
The sharpest window opens above:
stars minted by the chill.


Today’s prompt for A Poem A Day October was, “Write a poem incorporating the concept of being ‘frozen,’ whether literal or not.”

All day I have been mulling over the idea of ‘frozen’ as a transition state of water, rather than a state of matters set. In preparation for my idea doodling, I found a recording of Sinfonia Antarctica (Vaughan Williams) on Spotify. An image search online yielded this Guardian photo-essay about spending 9 winter months in Antarctica at the Concordia Station. In the article, the clear view of the stars above earth is mentioned.


Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books

A turn to the inside,
draws out liquorice laces,
long and sweet to suck and chew;
This turn to the inside
locates in other corners 
of the paper-layered drawer
small tacks 
of past stings


Scheduling a poem every day for a month (from 18 Jan. to 19 Feb.) made me feel impressively productive. Now I’m suffering for it. I have been writing long form copy for another project, but the poems seem to have stalled to less than a trickle. With this faint drip I’ve approached my notebook. I’ve tackled lines with my ballpoint on the tube and at my desk. In hopefulness, I’ve carried notepaper and pen with me on my wood walks.

Blossoms, crocuses, narcissi and daffodils announce the onset of spring. Why can’t my creative output bloom similarly?

A friend echoes my sentiments. It may soon be time for a fallow season. A poet who writes in the winter, might benefit from some respite in the spring. Let me see what happens come Thursday. Perhaps by then the tap will flow once again.

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Missing your BeadedQuill fix? Make sure you’ve got a dose on your bookshelf. There are two published books from which to choose:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness

The soda needs fountain; 
the lolli needs pop. 
Pink milk goes for shake;
red counters seek top.

On jukeboxes rave
and motors rev bike.
Heat moves towards wave,
while cream swirls for ice.

Young leather struts jackets,
then shy ankles flash socks.
The point brings us to make-out
where our lips search for lock.


Clearly winter charges in me thoughts of a fantasy ’50s summer. Daily lunchtime bowls of vegetable soup bring me to pink milkshakes and red counter-top diners.

Thank goodness for the yields of internet research. My googling provided insights into everything from 1950’s teen fashion trends to the song hit ‘Rave On’, from retro diner-menus to make-out habits of the day.

The internet and imaginative nostalgia seems to be an apt pairing, too.

In my books, you will find more poems tinged with nostalgia. Click on each title for a preview:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill

Black coats, black pavements, black umbrellas, the rain
Nights black by 20:00. Achoos in the office.
Splutters on the train. Time to switch on the heating and
buy doughnuts in the morning. There has sprung the winter hunger
and it will only grow

On the 19th September 1819, John Keats wrote this lilting ode ‘To Autumn.‘ Images of his autumn’s fruitful harvest jarred with my Thursday of cold snap, rain and ubiquitous black umbrellas.

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Preview my first volume, SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS, here, It includes poems selected from twelve years’ worth of writing in South America, the USA, South Africa and Europe.