Friday 10 September 2021

Poems, Summer 2021

On Grass

Tall, swampy routes

Into the night, and the after, 

Pleasant dawns

In the bones, in the troughs, 

Platitudes wrung out

Dripping on to grass, 

On the concrete, 

On to grass


*


The golden light

The early chill

Bites me

Into this heavy space

Of bones resting, pouring gaze, 

The soft ache

Of knowing 

On this grass: awake

 




_____________________________





A Serbian Woman


She is pure and authentic

In her artifice

Performative

As a church gathering 


She shaves her legs

Dyes any greys

Fills lips and breasts

To the painful side of bursting 


She must purr and gesture

At the table outside

With her cigarette and Nescafe

Filtering through afternoons 


She must hold herself

As an offering 

Of strength


She must work hard

For pennies

As nurse, midwife, 

Vase

She must cook and

Pickle in the summer

Store jars,

Dip bread in the juice

Leftover from sliced tomato 


She must drive through

Busy polluted streets

And care for her mother

Her father

Her relatives who emigrated


She must cry

When it is sad, when it is time, 

And rejoice

Always

In the milestones of others 


She must accept men’s attention 

Without encouraging it 

She must be a loyal friend 

And celebrate the appropriate Saint’s Days


She is scorched diamond

Woeful warrior

Ground-down mistress

Deep-set mound






_____________________________





Remember we are always beginning


Peaceful waiting 

Humble certainty

Ticking stillness

In all that has not yet unspooled


Benevolent forces

Draw strings and shapes

In heavenly sequences

And we are yet to know 

Their intricate patterns

And how they fit

On to our skin 

And nestle

In to our lives


Joy brings

A lightness of mist

In the morning 

Purging the night’s dreams

Of torture and clenched teeth

Some tension always

Made concrete on the pillow


A way with words

Stirs the right ones up 

In a bath of petals

And vine leaves 

In the fragrant mulch

Of all that has been 

We splash against the surface

Of our new beginnings


Light a candle

For those not present 

Let the tiny flame

Conjure life







_____________________________





Charm


My charm is that I’m genuine

My charm is that

My tongue is loose and free

Sometimes I act up 

Play the role

Of the disagreer

I enjoy arguing

It adds a fire

I like rubbing up against 

Hard surfaces

I like to spark 

To smell smoke

To let things die in ember





_____________________________






To smell a rose


Taut as the string 

Of a violin 


Skirting the edge:

Insect feet

Dew

Hexagonal cells


With tightrope precision

The scent rings out 

An orchestra

Of powder blossom eggshell apple 


An incantation,

Its rapture

Wraps us

In voluptuous 

Presence







_____________________________





It is not too late, it is never too late


Oh, humility

When you embody 

All that galls you 

Like the blackest tar 

Left bled in the ground

Sodden down and heavy 

Heavy with it 


Repelled by beauty:

Oh, turn me into a villain already

Easier that 

Than to change
















Thursday 27 May 2021

Poems, Spring 2021

Icing on the Cake

Nuzzle me in bed

Feed me lavender from your palms

As you ponder

My sugary spirit


I’ll tell you what is feminine:

Plump,

Wide-open, 

Rawness

Lingering 

Ruthlessness

Quivering

Jaws


It is my birthday

So you bring me cake

On a dish, 

Glazed


Mother-of-pearl forgive me

For I have eaten twice my weight

And still 

I drizzle greed

On the sheets

- Taut as they are

Pulled-over and smooth 


You grind me down

And all that’s left 

Is gloopy pink

And shards coagulated 

Strung along 


De-boned,

I sliver off the palate 


Rescue me rescue me 

I am dainty I am dainty 

I am varnish, flaking, 

Windows, breaking, 

I am sheen I am gloss

I am wet chin I am moss 

I am snake gone to hide

I am fear I am tide

I am wading gull

Cracking skull 


Let me out, let me eat, 

Forever I beg at the foothills 


I dream of being a strong woman 

All those conversations

All that headspace 

Others would call me strong

They know not the weakness and the poison 


There is so much yet to happen 

I have weathered out storms 

Roaring great storms 


I am punctured and gleaming still 




_____________________________





Let's call it anxious


Nervous nervous so nervous everything is perfect everything is close to just right we fly across continents though none of us are content I harbour raging jealousy and feelings I’m ashamed of I feel alone and corrupted by my bitterness I do not feel that these are noble feelings I do not feel justified or right or true I feel faulty fallible and petty I feel faulty I have not acknowledged my true power my heart beats fast I am confused I see beauty everywhere it is just emotion it is just emotion when do I push myself when do I say no I don’t want to do this when do I stop when do I say when do I stop when do I say I don’t want to do this I don’t want to do this when do I stop when do I draw boundaries when do I when do I when do I lift them when do I let go when do I when do I in the spare room we lived there a long time in the spare room we lived there a long time yes I have cut I have severed I never did anything wrong yes I am frantic I am nervous I do not know how to communicate my feelings -


I feel stuck I feel battered I feel chained I feel dramatic I feel solid I feel liquid I feel tamed deranged conflicted I feel murder I feel bone I feel axle I feel stone I feel cowardly I feel sick I feel bled onto candlewick I feel treacherous I feel bold I feel every shade of mould I feel juicy I feel free I feel hung up on the tree I feel worthless I feel gnarled I feel bark I feel charred I feel flickered I feel clumsy I feel sexy I feel mumsy I feel all I feel none I feel forefinger on thumb I feel wisened I feel hag I feel every dream I’ve had I feel tiny I feel small I feel fates in crystal ball I feel proud I feel lean I feel all this in between I feel peppered I feel jewelled I feel stalked I feel ruled 


- by forces that are not a part of me and there is no way there is no way it is hard it is hard to face these and admit that they are me it all comes from me oh thank you thank you for the chafing





_____________________________





What happens outside of me?


Much of the same 

Much of not much

The thread that keeps it all together

Tangled in stasis

Trapped by own tail

In own mouth






_____________________________





Serpent (and round and round)


Here I am snake I am rising I am scaled I am writhing I am changing I am shedding I am emerging and embedding I can belittle I can belie I can cry and cry and cry I can howl and moan and shiver I can accept I can deliver I can wail and quiver and shout I am eel I am trout I am walrus I am faun I am sprinkle I am yawn I am autumn apple crisp I am thick hide I am mist I am rain on modest bud I am fat cow chewing cud I am saxophone I am priest I am stinking goatherd in Greece I am swallow I am nest I am bitter pulpy zest I am beak I am shoe I am everything and you and all of this all of this exists in a mad haven in the mind of a madman in the mad space in mad existence in the flow and the slurry and the blizzard and the flurry I do what I do and I love what I do I shall not falter I shall not break (I will break oh a thousand times I will break but let that breaking be marvellous let it be a shattering a tinkle a powder a song) oh yes the wonderful delightful shivering joy of being the serpent being the writhing force of nature being stuffed with pain and laughter being unequivocally imperfect being disgusting ugly blemished oh yes I dance and celebrate these thoughts like the ghosts that they are we make a party of it and strip off by the fire we dip into frozen water anew we gleam the forest floor sticking to our bare soles woodsmoke tangled in hair flask of hot chocolate and whisky fresh olive bread and the crackle between us the circle of stone 


*


I am not one I am seven let me while away the hours let me sever my own arm let me live creative let me dawdle and dawdle with glee let me taste let me see I am not one I am god I am goddess I am seed a nut a fruit a tangle a weave a cool breeze a wallowing elephant a mammoth a shark I am day after dark after day after dusk I am a husk I am the juicy flesh and entrails I am a slug I am a battered hen a grub I am a surefire way to success a bottleneck a buzzing tattered bumblebee searching for pollen I am a rune a forgotten song I am a finger puppet I am a doll I am a crucifix restored no more no more no take no more I am the words of my suffering I am crying in stillness I am a roar a shriek a bubble a tweak I am messy and bold and twenty eight years old I am a house laid in bricks I am an old bundle of sticks I am a hornets nest I am Sunday’s best I am a cackle and moan I am a latent gilded throne and woah woah woah what do you have to show - with Spring comes the new day we stand and straddle the new day here we are the new day the new day forcing in forcing a seat at the table undone undone bleeding gums bleeding hearts retribution finger mouth let everything out I want to heal I want to heal put the work in put the work in heal the pain heal the deep pain first accept it first accept its persistence it is deep oh yes it is deep - always I want rid of discomfort always I want to escape from my painful heart oh yes oh yes oh yes - forgotten bruised pathetic used - used to it all - used to the disappointment - no balm or ointment - intricate woven sticky webs I am not one I am seven 





_____________________________






Sustained


Something beyond us 

Has sustained 

Beyond all the upset

The baggage and the doubt

Lies a certainty 

Akin to a forest floor

With soft plants underfoot

River nearby

Roots emerging as trunks

All held up 

By the same force

That spits out 

Flower from seed

That bursts through 

With expansion

With loving

Surrender




















Saturday 13 February 2021

Poems, Winter 2021

Practical Magic

Six women meet 

One night late October

To eat potato curry and rice,

To drink an assortment 

Of wine,

Apple juice, 

Earl grey. 


There is only one man in the room:

The baby feeding from the hostess

Sat in the middle

Like an empress. 

The fire isn’t on but it’s warm 

Due to the recent luxury

Of central heating. 

Plants sprout from their macrame hangings 

Beat-metal pots and pictures

Adorn the walls

There is tasteful cream all around

And lamps that grow gold and warm.


These women sit 

Collecting now

Nestled in one place

By happy circumstance, 

And choice.


They are teachers, campaigners, 

writers, jewellers, 

herbalists, artists,

potion-makers, gardeners.

There are mothers, lovers, ragers,

organisers, soothers, 

seers, do-gooders, 

Tear-aparters, builder-uppers, 

Party-throwers and goers, 

Howl-at-the-mooners,

Rational thinkers,

dreamers.


Whose eyes of theirs had not witnessed

The beauty that Autumn, 

The damp leaves glowing

Their final sunset hours, 

Gnarled branches

Announcing

The bearing of teeth and bone 

The great return inwards,

To ceremony

Circle

And home. 





_____________________________





Birthday, 28


A rock of musk

Blue calcite

Flower essence for clear direction

St. John’s Wort tincture

A jar of magic mushrooms

Evening ease tea

Journals

Crystal glasses

Cups

Black Cat, White Cat posters in frames

Bottles of Prosecco

Chocolate and raspberry cake

Rose-scented candle

Hanging cactus

Pens

Treasure-chest

Cocktail making kit

Mohair socks

More chocolate

An abstract painting

Mother Earth print

Mary Oliver’s poetry

Scorpio perfume

Wood-handled knife 





_____________________________





To Have and To Hold


Every night we dream

Thick and eventful 

It’s a time of great change

You say

It’s our subconscious minds

Sorting through


This morning we kissed

Like two spoons in a cup

Stirring our way

To forgiveness


Our living room

Glows peach and pink

Your mother blesses us

From the window

The prayer beads 

Of another mother

Curled around the base

Of the large glass vase

My own mother gave me:

An outrageous bouquet 

On my birthday


It’s your birthday soon

Next week in fact:

Today I gather gifts to wrap 

And thoughts to set down 

Once again

On paper

To hold






_____________________________





Odd


I was born 

Against the odds

And though we know two odds

Make an even 

And though we know an even 

Can be loved

It can also be split in two

And be at odds

Even at home





_____________________________






Destiny Lies Deep


Always

The inability 

To shake the longing 

For something else 

Wondering 

If you were in fact destined 

For some other life entirely

Not realising 

That destiny lies deep 

In the bones

It is not some ethereal path 

Painted in cloud 

: it is right here 

In the bricks and forest 

In the complication 

Of nerves

And wires in the cupboard

In the segments 

And parcels 

Of each new day 

And you are wrapped up 

So wrapped up already 

In its shroud







_____________________________






We Walk Through Snow


The snow around us glittered 

A flat sugar finish

At points we knew

Beneath was swamp 


Above us a raven circled

And the higher we got 

The more the light changed 

The more blank the sky 

Became


I cannot tell it in sequence

Only that 

I felt fear

As the edges became white

Encased with snow 

There was no view to speak of 


We walked in grey cloud 

My fingers felt 

As if they’d fall off 

So cold 

And worried

I felt transported to a child

Being dragged up mountains 

By my father 

Feeling lazy 

Indignant 

Hard-done-by 

And with those feelings 

The guilt and the shame 

That I was not the daughter 

He would have wanted

I did not display 

Spritely enthusiasm 

A can-do attitude 

Physical fitness and flair

A slim athletic body 

A sunny disposition 

- no 

I was the antithesis 

Of this 

Or so I thought 

And right there in the snow 

I experienced all of this 

Again 

I could feel that childlike despair 


But also 

The wonder


Before reaching the peak  

We stopped at the plateau 

I cried, exhausted, 

As you peed into white snow 

We shared a peanut-butter cup 

The salty sweet plastic crunch 

Feeling ever so nutritious 

In the cold 

With a weary, worked body 

In tow 


We sipped rakija 

From a pesto jar 

‘Delicious’ I say 

My tears fast drying 

With the journey 

Of that hot, faintly bitter, 

Spirit of plum 

Made by my uncle 

In ńĆortanovci 


There on the mountain 

Which serves us both

As guardian 

Which I hadn’t climbed 

In years 

You poured two thimble-fulls 

Out on the ground 

For those that have passed

And it struck me as a mingling 

Of ancestors 

- Not for the first time -

There have been many signs

Of our rivers merging 


I enjoyed watching you 

Stride ahead

Your confident wide shoulders 

And proud chest

Feeling safe 

In your good judgement 

Appreciating

Your sense of adventure 

More concrete than mine

More striving 

And physical 


There hung a strange light

Over the sea

As we descended

From the dusty sky

Glowed an earthy sunset 

A chemical fire:

Ominous mist 

Like ash 


Behind us 

Iced peaks 

Bobbing 

Amongst pink 

Cherubic clouds


Down on the road

We were met

By the liquid gold

Of late afternoon, 

Moss-covered rocks,

And the presence 

Of centuries 

And tales 







_____________________________






Imbolc


The first gateway

The first glimmer of Spring

Of lengthening days

Of snowdrop hope

Pushing through

Cold coagulated earth

Green shoots waiting 

All that was planted

Striving

From the undergrowth


To place on my altar

In a crystal vase

I collect water

A magical sight

Going up so close

To the waterfall 

As it rains incessantly 

Everything so alive 

So good and affirming

To be in a place

Where I feel so at home

So real and so true

Surroundings where you think

This is me, this is real beauty

Old tree roots and moss

And sharp rock faces

The ornate fountain

And mysterious lake


I pick two snowdrops 

Outside our front door

To place in the vase

Having thrown the previous bunch 

Into the lake

Making a wish

For our love’s longevity


I place four candles

Around the vase

And a cup 

With warm milk and honey


I light incense

And play Irish songs

About St. Brigid and witches


I sit with eyes closed 

Contemplating

The essence

And the meaning

Of this day 

Feeling connected

To my sisters

All around the world 

Lighting fires

Circling wells

Crossing head and heart

Singing prayers

Setting intentions

Writing poems

And planting seeds


A stirring yes

Rises

In the belly

Having rested

Having fattened itself

In time for birth 




_____________________________






Our Long Soak


What to grasp in these times?

We are living

Bathed in question