Thursday 25 July 2019

Pockets of Prose

Baba Yaga Wisdom

She says, in a snarl, with a flick of a bug from her eyeline – Child, you are so young in your dance on this Earth. You are not yet a mother, you are pre-mother, you are dying the death of youth. These things must die. All those airy notions of Spring and pastel flowers, set them down. It is not a time for romance. It is time for death.
Become accustomed to these hot searing coals, for you will meet them again. It may feel like Hell, for they are demons, although, they are yours and yours alone, they do not exist outside of you. Meet them. It will feel confusing. Listen to them. Ask their names.
You will grow from the ashes when it is time. There will be bulbs and shoots of plants you can not even imagine. The soil, the muck, the ashes – this is your place for now. The earth needs fertilising with high-stinking shit. Things are not pretty down here, but truth is, this is where the magic happens. This is where magic grows.
It's OK to go down. It's OK to feel the weight of hopelessness. We all have our time. Be grateful that you have the space to sink and the awareness to know what it is.


The man you meet will love you wholly – you will not be the compromise or afterthought. It is possible to love and be loved when you surrender to the unpredictable flow of life. The currents are confusing, the rivers murky and dirty, but the riverbed is solid, warm, compact.
The path stays – do you understand?
Let your heart be the bed, let your love be the river.
You were never made to stay still, you were never made to settle. Be patient, be strong in your worth. He will know how special you are, you need not beg for crumbs. Wait for the whole loaf.
Be a wolf, not a dog.
You are a Child of the universe, a magic woman in the making, utterly sacred and made of the Earth. You need a warrior – kind, benevolent, sturdy. There will be no second-guessing. He is the one who can feed your creative life, who can give you stability, who can set your mind to rest.
The jungle does not go on forever, my sweet Child. It's overgrown with thickets and thorns and you will be bitten and scratched many times – but! Persevere. Follow magic trails. In your heart you will know - when it's time, when the clearing is to be found, when it is not a mirage.


So, my Child, you have met the miners.
They do not often wish to be seen, and are very good at keeping themselves hidden. But if you are curious and still and use the senses just-so, you will find them in the conscious dark, in the ocean, the dream theatre, and realise why you are so tired.
Mining takes a lot of energy. They are working day and night, and do you know why? They are under your command. They do not start their work until you are ready. They must wait for the gong-call deep in the soul, the call that says I am ready to look down now, I am ready to dive.
There are treasures buried deep in the seabed. Treasures left over from shipwrecks. It takes a brave diver to swim amongst corpses, to peer into hollowed-out decks and skeletal masts.
Death is close at the bottom.
The bottom is death, or so we think.


Kill the darlings, those feathery earthlings! Kill the illusions, the intoxicating promises of tomorrow, of next week, of next year, next life! It is hard to challenge these empty clouds. In the mirror they look so real.
Dance your furious dance to the edge of the sky. Look down and face unfathomable heights. Step off and die with me, I will hold your hand. You know Death is just the leap off the edge. The fall is something else, the fall is Life itself.
Do not get caught up with thinking your body is wrong. Just love it, for what it does. Exist and express. Things will come together in new, unimaginable ways. You are a torn dress being stitched and sewn anew. It is not painless, no no no. It is a mistake to avoid pain, in fact. Pain is puncture. Pain is the meeting of two opposing forces. Pain is the crash of the wave, the collapse of stone walls.
The more you know this, the more Death is invited, the more you can dance in a sweet swirl with Life.


Sally Draper

It had been a long night and she never had liked whisky, with all its connotations of sophistication and class – the little that could be salvaged from her father's heyday.
Up there in his office all those years ago, he had assumed the power of a King tucked up tight in his castle. Surveying the populace from his bay window, scurrying through traffic and conducting – to his mind – such futile tasks. What he didn't know at the time was that there were far greater powers looking down at him, thinking, What a dutiful man. How well-behaved. How charmingly obedient and predictable.
We had a dog then. He came to us as a puppy and left in a cardboard box. The neighbour shot him because he kept sniffing their flowerbeds. I remember the sound of the gun and its cold ripple to my stomach. Pepper, was his name. I hated flowers from that day on. They seemed to be nature's temptresses, luring innocent creatures with their symmetry and colour and scent.
It's what my father was doing, in a more masculine way. He was trying – and succeeding – the puppy-like layman to look at the shiny poster, the gaudy TV ad, to hum the jingle as natural as a recurring neurosis, and in that hypnotic state of lust and wonder to empty their wallets clean.
This is my more recent view, of course. I grew up with Dad as Hero. Which I'm grateful for, even if it was misguided. A little girl needs a hero after all, a protector. Otherwise she grows up with simultaneous distrust and obsession towards men, unsure whether they should be worshipped or trampled upon. I have plenty of friends with divorced parents. I know the type.
It was only when I started college that I really saw through my father's facade.
It was in a Psychology class – 'The Psychology of Desire'. I was surprised to walk into the lecture and see a picture of the Lucky Strike '62 campaign – one of Pop's most successful runs. The image showed a canyon at sunset, a cowboy with his back turned towards us, a trail of smoke rising up past his stetson. 'Because I'm free' in proud red script. I remember Dad speaking vehemently about this ad in particular. It was a big 'fuck you' to the health scares at the time.
The professor went on to explain the manipulation employed, the use of persuasion tactics, frankly, the exploitation, behind this ad, and all ads to some degree.
With a detached sadness I felt my pride fade, like an ember being stubbed out against glass.


Morning After

The harbour lay still even after the dream. She expected carnage and rubble, a world overturned, an open casket, a shit-storm – but no. Flat, calm water. From downstairs came the sound of her brother coughing and blowing his nose – comic and pitiful. And now, footsteps, soft and padded through carpet and sock. The dog running to keep up.
She caught sight of the mirror and prematurely scanned her face for signs of ageing. She felt so old already. So many lives lay behind her, like a trail of dead trees burnt by fire. Carcasses of relationships, abandoned, hollow (sometimes she liked to think she'd set them free, but didn't know if this was true or not). Jobs. Dreams. Phases. She'd come to a standstill – exhausted by the constant motion, the changes, the whirlwinds and disappointments. She remembered feeling invincible. That feeling clearly had a cost.
The tiredness was always there now. Sleep or rest did not remedy it. Instead it was a case of deciding when she could override it, when was appropriate to just get up.
She a saw a skinny guy outside the window. He seemed good-looking, at least from a distance. He scanned around suddenly to see if anyone was watching, then reached down to adjust his boxers. How she wished he'd reach down and stay there, get himself out, commit some heinous act of exposition. No – he walked onwards into the grey morning. To where, she had no clue. The fact it was so early could mean two things – either he was an early bird tourist on his way to a mountain-top, or he'd been up all night on a bender (which would explain his shiftiness).
She wondered how many times people had seen her off-guard. Rarely, she imagined. Even when alone she tried to see herself from the outside. Reflective surfaces would always command her attention. It was one of her least attractive qualities, or so she thought. Like a budgie, she was compulsively drawn to shop windows. She banked on the fact that it would seem as if she was idly perusing the displays of shoes, fine china, washing machines.
An old woman passed now, stiff hair the colour of slate, a shopping bag half that was half her size.
The air inside was stale. She didn't leave the house yesterday. The blinds, unopened.
Her dream lurked like trauma.
When would the details spill out, as they should?


An Open Letter to Whom it May Concern

You are loved,
because you are alive in this world.
You have your own special ingredient
to offer your surroundings.
All this pain, injustice, frustration you feel
will one day blossom
into wisdom, compassion, and the capacity to look deep inwards -
a brave, invaluable talent.
You are beautiful and striking.
You are intelligent and creative and admired by many.
Your parents love you very much.
They have their own pain which may act as an obstacle, sometimes.
If they could, they would give you what they need.
It's not your fault.
It's not your fault.
You are meant to be here, just as you are.
There's nothing wrong with you.
You are wonderful and strong.
This will all blossom exponentially -
into flowers and fruit and terrains.
Be calm,
be still.
You are loved. 

Poems, Summer 2019

Garden, Alone

I am here, in the garden, the only one that matters.

With insects as company –
flies, and the red-and-black spider
hanging from my sunglasses.

Cuckoo. Swarms.
Bleats. Swallows.
Buzz. Barks.
Whines. Calls.

The smell of nothing at all.

A confetti of magnolia petals – all stages from virgin to crone.

Bracken reaches out in plumes.

I want to lie naked in a field full of women.
And lunch on benches, chatter on rungs.

People have died.
Sheep walk the tracks.
Bluebells wash over in slices.

I have no money, no job, no children, no husband.
It is now and only now.

I dive in deep for the sword at the bottom.


Unbeknownst to Me

Blades of grass do somersaults
and bend to the rules of the afternoon.
My head spins in a dance with the earth,
one of which I am unaware, blind to, or not listening.

They waltz and flurry unbeknownst to me
- as I lie down hankered, tempted, 
to throw everything into the harbour,
let the wild water transport it offshore,
somewhere sunken, laden with treasure.

Branches glimmer - and again -
the breeze is peripheral,
there seem to be whole laws and kingdoms
rejoicing in secret.

The ribcage splatters
as it would
when made aware of its liquidity.

How the breath travels
is a mystery -
I suspect on ancient railways
draped in velvet,
reedy as thread.


You Could Call Me Lazy

Driftwood on the carpet.
Ghost of an incision.
Dreaming dog.
a sticky teat.
White walls
smoother than arrow.
I bathe in broth,
my bones,
to the pallet.



In my mouth I hold the absence of taste.
In my throat, a whole clearing
of white eggs and blue crystal.
The colony of ants that live in my stomach
feast on long-dead days and colour.
Gooseberries glisten somewhere in an orchard
surrounded by mountains.
My love assembles tents in the clouded sun.
Protection serves as layer upon layer
of breath, whimsy, rogue dandelion seeds.
The house where I was born
looks down from its cradle.
A stream in the shape of a graveyard
carries with it yellow poppies.
The petal rustles
as it drops.



Memories dripping like stalagmites
- I'd like to eat them
  but fear dissolve.

a branch falls in silence.

The coffee sits
obedient as cream
between us,
and the puzzle.

The lake leaves
green freckles
on the skin
of grandmothers.

I catch myself
- in mirrors, 
  in strangers, 

as the day bows.



A breathless walk
through unfamiliar trees.
A bouquet of flowers,
bright yellow,
A cookie
in the place
I predicted my future
that one time.
So heavy with tides.
You say. 


Baba Rosa

become steeped
with the smell of Turkish coffee
and Baba's cherry slatko
becomes an emblem
of oversaturated sentiments
like the final blossoms
of a hot
and arduous



She walked up the hill
holding yellow flowers.
She wore the pattern
of tropical leaves.
He dressed all in blue, exiting a van
the candy version of ocean.
She imagined him saying,
Are those for me?


Walk in a Field

Rattling crickets and
tides of traffic
weaving in, weaving out,
the landscape.
Mountains sit
heavy as fact.

A surprise of heat.
The breeze, less so.

Brown castle.
Titillating strip
of sea.

It is enough to be a witness,
employed full-time
by the senses
- arrest me as they do -
to the moment
that lies just inches
beyond my nose.
And yet my mind runs miles
to escape
the anchor
of presence.

It is simple
and delightful
to notice
a stack of black hay-bales
twinkling like onyx
and above,
in a distant village,
a reflection
like a lighthouse
(though it is afternoon
and July).

that must have seemed abhorrent
at the time
now look quaint as windmills;
electricity poles
as organic
as washing lines.

Contours of space
spelt out by birds
in their flights
so full of meaning,
while a butterfly dances,
and ignorant
to the finite summer.