Thursday, 29 April 2010

Do What You Love

I've decided I don't love writing poems to order, it's beginning to feel like flogging myself with a birch branch. So, although the finishing line is so close, I can't be arsed to carry on. Neither can I see the point, I've already missed a few days anyway, and I'm still here. That's not to say I don't think I've learnt some useful stuff during this time, I'm just not quite sure what it is yet. So why not move onto something I do love?

What do I love?

I love dancing. I love philosophy. I love writing prose. And I love getting so into a project that I lose myself in it to the extent I forget what day it is, and to eat, and even wash. And it feels the time is right for my next project, it's been simmering away for a couple of years, I've even done the first two chapters, but now I really want to immerse myself in it. So I may be around here a little less frequently for a while. Time to get back to real life.

Another thing I love is an ebullient boy, and thanks to Meri reminding me about TED by posting a marvellous (if unrelated) video on her blog, I found this one today:

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Twentyseven

Today’s RWP prompt is to think of a word that applies to your life – it can be anything from your name to a guiding principle – and make an acrostic poem out of it. That this prompt came on this day makes life much easier, on any other day I'd probably have tried using a word like 'existenz' or 'vacuum' or something.

But today is a fun day. A particularly über fun day, because my dissertation supervisor phoned me with news, and it was good. It seems they have given me an A for my final potfolio which means in July, if I remember to send the paperwork off in time, I will graduate with a distinction. I don’t know why that matters but it does. Perhaps it matters because I gave my life to the work for over two years and at more than one stage thought I was going to have to give it up. During that time my mother-in-law took ill and died; my husband was made redundant, couldn’t get another job, and used all the money we had to start a paintball business, and (as most of you know) I took ill, collapsed, and had to have an operation. But mostly it matters, I think, because I need to be told that my work is good enough, and a good grade feels like it does that.

So, back to the prompt: as it’s a fun day a few words that don’t normally apply to my life do, one of which is:

Cheeky little vintage this, Tesco’s finest
how d’you find it
more pear and
pencil shavings than buttered toast
and is there a hint of
granite in it
no, not granite, is it

Monday, 26 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Twentysix

Panic! I got waylaid today, business problems: our material means of production is under threat and we don’t produce much to begin with. Still, can’t let material existence affect art.
Today’s RWP prompt is:

It’s getting late in the month, and finishing NaPoWriMo is going to take every bit of resourcefulness you have. Jill Crammond Wickham reminds us about the bits and pieces of poems we may be carrying around.
Today, before you start writing, you need to do some digging. Dig through your backpack, purse or desk drawer and find a scrap of poem written on an old envelope or bank deposit slip. Unearth an old journal or notebook.
Find a poem that you started, or perhaps one you abandoned. Read it through. Highlight the lines or phrases that please you. Do not cross anything out (yet)! You now have two choices: finish the poem or take the parts you like and begin a brand new piece.
If NaPoWriMo has you a little crazy, there is a third option: take the parts you don’t like and use them to inspire a new poem.

Portrait of the Lady as a Pea-Bug Husk

as a promise
gained under duress:
a solemn vow;
a blown out plover’s egg
in a dainty centerpiece
Easter nest.

as a dirt road
in a heatwave
that wavers from the crow’s route
driving you on in the burning sun
unable to see your destination.

as a tart crust
that must be tackled
with care, lest it crack
as he adds his aromatic custards.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Twentyfive

RWP says today"

It’s Day #25, and you may be getting tired. In Joseph Harker’s prompt today, let others do the heavy lifting of inspiration.
Keep an ear out for the first sentence (or even word) that is said to you after you read this prompt. (Poetic license: If the first few words are exceptionally boring, wait for the first uncommon or peculiar one.) Take that word/sentence — it could be “mango” or “exemplar” or “have you ever been to this Ethiopian restaurant?” — and build a poem around it. Maybe you have deep thoughts on mangoes or a narrative of heartbreak and spicy injera from the restaurant mentioned. Trust in fate.


after last night’s curry with the bass players my husband tossed and turned all night in self induced agony, so I was kept awake until he got up. I reckon I got no more than two hours sleep the whole night and I dragged myself out of bed this morning feeling murderous. I used the first sentence I actually took notice of today as the title of this poem. It was uttered by a chap called Lawrence Blackadder who was giving a lecture on playing acoustic jazz. I don’t know anything about music but the lecture was fascinating. It was enough to wake me up for an hour or so and I frantically jotted down some of his sentences. Such things as: ‘you’re playing anticipations;’ ‘the hierarchy of intervals,’ and ‘don’t voice the roots’. I thought of writing a villanelle, but am too tired to think so this is what arrived in my too knackered state.

The Gut has a Real Organic Earthy Sound

Because tonight you ate your weight
in king prawn korma
I must lay awake with a stuck
warthog trapped
in a net
but it’s our bed
but it’s our bed
and I can’t help wishing
or I
were dead.

Stevie and I have already joked about this so hopefully he won't be offended. Now I must get some sleep.

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Twentyfour

It's well after midnight on day twenty-four, which means it's really day twenty-five and I haven't actually written a poem.

I woke up very late: 13.48 (I know!), read the prompt while still in my pit, got up and had a cup of tea, went for a run, had a cup of coffee, went for a shower and then it was time to go out for a curry with the bass players. By the time I got home it was after 12 and I still had no idea what stock phrase or cliché* to base a poem on, and anyway it was too late.

All of which means you have a break from that wtf feeling, enjoy!

*I toyed with 'acid test' for a while but nothing poem like materialized.

Friday, 23 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Twentythree

Read Write Poem member Sage Cohen has a terrific suggestion for today’s poems: Write a poem in which you combine a speaker and an event that normally don’t go together (such as sports broadcasters and poetry writing), as Jay Leeming does in his poem, “Man Writes Poem.

Is today’s RWP prompt. But I can’t think of anything. I did, briefly consider trying to write from the perspective of St Thomas Aquinas at a Swingers club but images of flabby, heaving bodies, not to mention fluids of an unsavoury nature crusting on the upholstery, made me feel nauseous, so I gave that up.

But I must do something, so I thought I’d take a radical departure from the norms of poetry and try and create a poem not from words but from photographs. So here is my first attempt at a wordless poem:

No. 23

Public Service Announcement

This is for JoAnne aka Titus who today has posted that her main computer has died and taken with it all her work, including the poems she's been working on for a new pamphlet: arrgh!

How guilty do I feel? A few weeks ago when I was pulling my portfolio together my computer went blank as it was rendering the cover image. It was about 4am and I nearly threw myself out of the window, I thought I'd lost everything.

I'd been muttering about getting an external hard drive to back up my work for some time but hadn't got round to it, now it looked like it was too late and two years work, and more really, had been thrown away by omission. Luckily my son, Bob who knows about these things was still here – he's in Hawaii now working on a fruit farm – and he came to the rescue. Everything popped back up and I saved my portfolio onto a memory stick.

The next day he searched the internet for a way to back up my work on line and found Sugar Sync. After a few clicks of the mouse I had, for free, enough storage space to contain every document I ever created.

The real joy of Sugar Sync, as opposed to other online storage facilities of which it turns out there are many, is that you can set it up to automatically save redrafts and new work (you can also use it for photographs and music but I'm not fussed about those just yet) and, there is an iPod application so you can access everything on your pod or phone too. And, being online, you can access your work from any computer in the whole world! So if your computer crashes any work you have saved to your hard drive will still exist.

The guilt comes from not having shared this with you before. I meant to do so at the time, it was so exciting for a start, and it felt life-saving. But I didn't get round to it, just like I didn't get round to backing up my stuff until catastrophe appeared to have struck. Sorry JoAnne, I hope your work can be saved, and once it is click on this* to get your own Sugar Sync account.

* the link I've provided is a refer a friend link, if you use it to set up your own account it will automatically give me, and you, a little extra storage. If you'd prefer, though, you can go to the Sugar Sync home page and leave me out of the equation, or if you have another friend who uses it ask them to provide the link so they can get more storage.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Twentytwo

The RWP prompt for the day is:

from Read Write Poem member Catherine who provided the contents for today’s prompt, a Wordle.

Use one, or use them all, in the poem you write today.

I thought I’d use them all, just for the heck of it.

Holiday Snap

A dizzy tendril of saffron flies
from its container on the emporium
stall: his baby hair as a squall
blows up out of nowhere: fierce. Rust,

like bloodied skin flakes, falls
in this mini-break home from
home. I flinch, and a crow
sees all. He knows.

You can turn off the drill
but you cannot compensate,
it will reverberate,
pepper tomorrow and well
past the mourning date.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Twentyone

On RWP today they say:

Today’s prompt is from Read Write Poem member Kristen McHenry: “In ancient times, Persian rug makers were deeply religious and believed that only God could make something perfect. They would deliberately drop in a small faulty stitch, a flaw, into each Persian rug. In doing so, a ‘Persian Flaw’ revealed the rug maker’s devotion to God.” — Karel Weijand Like many of us, I often struggle with the gremlin of perfectionism. The above quote reminds me that achieving perfection is not my prime directive in life, and that in fact, striving for perfection can be a form of hubris. Write a poem about flaws and perfection in yourself or in nature or write about how you feel about being imperfect or perfect. Here are some things you may want to reflect on as you write: Do flaws add beauty to the world? What does it feel like to experience perfection? What is it like to encounter flaws — in our selves, in others, in systems or in objects? As imperfect beings, are we able to adequately judge perfection? If you’d like, you can try contrasting both these concepts in one poem or just choose the one that you feel most drawn to. There is potential for both perfection and flaws in everything on earth, so there’s no limit to the subject you use to frame your poems.

Interesting: I’m not sure that I agree that striving for perfection is a form of hubris (hubris being excessive pride or self-confidence, and/or arrogance, according to my dictionary). I think it’s the very opposite, in fact: striving for perfection surely comes from fear of not being good enough. It seems pretty arrogant to deliberately insert a flaw in one’s work: ‘my work is so perfect it looks like the work of God, better fuck it up a little.’ If it were true that only God can make something perfect human’s wouldn’t need to deliberately insert flaws, would they?

I certainly don’t need to, I have to strive and strive and strive to make something good enough, and even then I never know if I’ve achieved that. The problem of course is that these terms: perfect, good, good enough, are all abstract and therefore different for each of us. So, what would perfect entail, and for whom?

Anyway, here’s the poem. It’s a narrative poem with a weak ending, just to prove how ungod-like I am.

Perfect Wife: Cover Version

She wove herself a shroud
in your image, with finest silk.
Inserted herself into it
from the head down
and wore it like a skin.

She fooled everyone
including herself, grew
more like you by the second
until it appeared you
and she were as one.
A perfect coupling.

Movement made the silk
wear thin and fray,
but she kept up a vigil,
remained as still
as possible, and patched
with ever growing ease.

But noticing a loose thread
one day, you couldn’t help
but tug. She winced
at your game and tucked
the end away.

The sport went on:
you pulled
she patched
until you found the master
thread and pulling it
undid the whole conceit.

She stood before you then
nakedly herself. Cold,
and feeble. Clearly
not like you at all:
you felt yourself a fool.

You pressed the pickled web
of threads upon her:
cover yourself up.
Inch by inch she tried
to separate each loop
but hadn’t even managed
half before she died.

Image found at: http://www.marlamallett.com/w-7395.htm where you can buy the rug for about $2,000 should you wish.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Twenty

Today's RWP prompt is:

As a child, Jessica GC says she had two heroes: Wonder Woman and her mother. “To me, they were one and the same,” says Jessica. “Both had long dark hair. Both were strikingly beautiful, and both had incredible strength.”

Write a poem in which you to pay tribute to your hero, past or present.
Here are few possibilities for inspiration:

What made your childhood hero so special? What traits did you envy? Are super powers involved?

Do you have more than one hero? Consider drawing a comparison between them.
Honor the everyday heroes among us — the policemen, the fire fighters, the troops — risking their lives everyday.

Did your hero ever fall from the pedestal you put him or her on?

Maybe you’re the hero you want to write about! Have you ever had a moment when someone has made you feel like a hero? Did you ever save a cat from a burning building? Or maybe it was something as simple as staying up all night with a friend who needed you.

In any case, share with us in your poem what made or makes your hero so deserving of admiration.

Demon Slayer

Like Gremolata you revitalize
my dull staples, a life-spice,
zesty with a hint of bite.
Comforting as a glass
of dark red wine, you ease
out my truths and make
them feel fine.

I'll get back to visiting everyone soon, I promise.

Monday, 19 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Nineteen

Today's RWP prompt is:

For today’s NaPoWriMo prompt, Read Write Poem member rRallentanda introduces a word that’s new to many of us: éclat. Online dictionaries (like this one) list several definitions, but it is the etymology that inspires the meaning chosen for today’s prompt. The word éclat is French, and we’re paying attention to its root éclater, “to burst (out), shine.”

For Rallentanda, and us, this means a flash or light bulb moment. Everyone has had one. Things suddenly fall into place (a realization of the truth of the matter).

Often the situation is too painful to address, so you hide it. For example, you suspect your husband is having an affair with your best friend or you suddenly realize where the missing cash went from your wallet all those years ago.

It can even be humorous. You usually wear your best under garments for a visit to the gynecologist, but as you’re ready to strip off you suddenly realize you are wearing your old gardening knickers with all the broken elastic. Try to describe the ensuing feelings of embarrassment and desperate attempts to rectify this situation.

I actually know of someone who tripped and fell on stage at a gala performance. She was so humiliated that she pretended she was having a heart attack (which seemed, to her at the time, the better option).

Your poem should express the emotions that grip you as you experience your ’shock’ moment.

After a break of three days I feel really rusty and haven't been able to do much with this prompt at all. But needs must, so here is my sorry offering. I have a vague idea for two more verses but can't seem to write the bastards.


Hauled to the surface
by a fish-hook pierce
to the clitoris I tried
to shade my lidless eyes
but pinned, I had no defense
against the nail sharp rays.

Friday, 16 April 2010


No poem from me today because I am going out. Not just out of the house but out of this town and out of my own head into this:

with my über friend. It will make a nice change.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Fifteen

Today's RWP prompt:

Do you have the courage to attempt today’s prompt, written by RWP member Dale? If you haven’t practiced being silly in a while, this is the perfect assignment for you:
In a nice private place, pick out a stanza, or a few lines, that you like from a poem that you don’t otherwise feel was very successful. Say them over to yourself.
Now hum them. See if you can find the tune.
And now sing them aloud. (Who cares if you can sing? You’re in private. And this is poetry!)
Throwing away the rest of the poem, write two more stanzas (stand-alone or connected) that go to the same tune.

No fair doing it silently!

Missing the Beat

It’s sub-prime time
for this aging
poet’s mind.
I ain’t got no music
cos my ears are going blind.

It’s four before
and I’m running out
of time,
but I ain’t got no music
must’ve left it all behind.

I’m so close to losing
that I’m burning
in the heat,
but I ain’t got no music
cos I ain’t got no beat.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Fourteen

Today’s RWP prompt:

Nicole Nicholson has a big challenge for us on Day 14: Write a cleave poem. What’s a cleave poem, you ask? It’s three poems in one.

The whole idea works something like this (quoting the creator of the form, Dr. Phuoc-Tan Diep): “In its most basic form it is three poems: two parallel ‘vertical’ poems (left and right)…[with] a third ‘horizontal’ poem being the fusion of the vertical poems read together.” He goes on to say, “One of my aims was to examine how something can be more than the sum of its parts and can be 3 in 1: synergy, fusion, co-operation, dialectics, marriage, interdependence, teamwork and The Trinity.”

More info can be found at The Cleave (including samples) and at the “cleave” entry at Writing.com.
Happy writing!

Holly cow, I’d never heard of a cleave poem before, and I could make absolutely no sense whatsoever of it, so once I’d looked at a few examples I went for a run, then to the dentist. As I lay there with my mouth jacked open I began to understand. Sort of. When I got home our very new neighbours were decorating. It really sounded like they’d given up trying to strip off the old wallpaper and decided to take radical action. All I could do was retire to the kitchen and make a vat of Chili, my kind of therapy. Once that was done, and I had eaten, the noise abated so I was able to get on with the cleavage.

I've put the first 'vertical' poem in bold so you can see what I'm trying to do. Thus the bold is supposed to be one poem and the non bold another, but they should be able to be read together as one poem as well. Anyway, whether this works as a cleave poem, or a poem of any sort I’ll leave you to decide.

Red Wine and Pills

Layer over solid layer, charting the decades,
wood-chip wallpaper, hiding the cracks,
the singular solution, nothing for it,
tear the walls down, don’t look back.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Thirteen

RWP today says:

Today is Day 13, also known as your lucky day. Sarah J. Sloat has a wonderful prompt for you; it’s bound to get you going! She says,
I’m partial to the tried-and-true prompt that calls for starting a poem with a line written by another poet. For this go-round, it would be interesting to see what poets can launch using a line from Norman Dubie.
In his poems, Norman Dubie tells stories, sets scenes and paints landscape, sometimes lush and sometimes wretched. His writing is sure and vivid, and his language is beautiful. As you’ll see below, his similes are incomparable. If forced to compare him with anyone, I’d be more likely to pick a painter than another writer.
For this prompt, take a Dubie line to jumpstart a poem of your own. Your poem should be titled “Poem Starting with a Line from Norman Dubie.”
I offer a menu of possible first lines below:

The lights of the galaxies are strung out over a dipper of gin.

His chapel fell into flowers long ago.

A kiss is like a dress falling off a tall building.

Two houseflies are like two fiddles drying.

My favorite pastime has become the imaginary destruction of flowers.

In triplicate, he’s sent an application, listing grievances, to the stars.

You wondered about skin wrinkled by looking at jewels.

Her breasts filled the windows like a mouth.

In the near field an idle, stylish horse raised one leg.

Worlds are being told like beads.

The pearl slapdash of the moon is on the water.

Be sure to use the title suggested and credit Norman Dubie in your post!

Interested to find out more about a poet whose name was new to me I rushed off to the Poetry Foundation’s website and found tons of his stuff. After a little light reading I alighted on the line ‘his head is in / a brace like a white egg in a silver teaspoon.’ from the poem ‘Grand Illusion’ and decided that was the line for me. It was only after spending several hours doing nothing with it that I decided to chop the beginning off and leave myself with the egg and spoon. I may not be a goddess but I am undoubtedly domestic.

Poem Starting with a Line from Norman Dubie

A white egg in a silver teaspoon
is presented for your delectation.
You are at liberty, of course, to
merely eat it, but you might like to know
its shell may be peeled away
from its hard-boiled flesh and ground
to powder with a pestle and mortar. Mixed
with a little water you can, then, use it
to skim over the cracks that abuse
the luminous of your otherwise
fine skin, madame.

This is prose, really, I know. So I will call it a prose poem, even though I’m not quite sure what that is.

Monday, 12 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Twelve

It's nearly eleven thirty and I've been doing everything but trying to write a poem, oh no! I considered not bothering when I realised it was so late, but think I'll probably regret it so the RWP prompt is:

Make up a secret code. Begin by writing a few nonsense sentences, like “The raindrops tap out a cry for help” or “The dandelions are saying all at once, ‘You are overwhelmed.’” The formula is easy: come up with a message and assign it to something unlikely. Remember, of course, that inanimate objects can speak and that signs and symbols may be nonverbal.
Once you have a few sentences, select the one that is most intriguing to you and use it to start a poem.

And I am now just going to dash something off and be damned.

The Regal has branded,
and it will be a slow
day in hell, I can tell
you, when I will let
a cigarette do that and get
away with it. Justice
must be done! The trust
of this great nation depends
upon it. We will round
up every last one and burn
them all. Only then
will our lungs be free to breath.
Do you hear me?

I apologise in advance, but needs must and I've only got seven minutes left.

Update: I changed 'fag' to 'cigarette' because I suddenly remembered that this blog is read by people who are not English and that 'fag' means something quite different in other parts of the world.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Eleven

RWP member Angie Werren invites us to write about the choice we didn’t make:
Everyday we make choices. Some are small: English breakfast or Lipton? the highway or back roads? Some are more significant: convertible or mini-van? farmhouse or condo?
Some choices lead us straight into the life we’re living, but for this poem, think about one of the things in your life you didn’t choose.
Be concrete. Pick an object — something tangible* — and write your poem directly to it, as if you were writing it a personal letter. Explain why you didn’t choose it. What could things have been like if you had? Talk about what your life has become without it. See where the “confession” takes you.

That is today's prompt and you will see I have followed it to the letter, each verse covers each one of the guidelines/instructions. Someone once told me I was very good at doing as I am told, and even though I hate being told what to do, most of the time, I have to agree they were right. I think this could well be because at times I'm too lazy to reinterpret.

The Bar

I still remember your stories:
Union Carbide, Human Rights Act,
and who was that ship-yard lady who fought
for equal pay and pooh poohed pink toilet
paper? I’m glad I know about her.

But you know I couldn’t stay:
my family needed me,
and I could hardly justify
my Rumpole fantasy in the face
of a tangible wage increase
and our very own house.

We could have been good together
though, I know. You with your
impeccable establishment
connections, me in proper
tailoring and heels. Wielding
the weight of Goodfellow v
Stevens in hands with painted nails.

However, on the face of it
I can’t say I have regrets. I
may not have a corner office
or a smart Mercedes Benz. But
I get to mooch around in jeans
and call myself a poet.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Ten

I did a very stupid thing. Today's Read Write Poem prompt is to write a poem about a celebration recently attended with friends and/or family. After reading it this morning I stripped the bed and began to form a notion for the poem. Sheets in the machine, I sat down at my computer and scratched out a list of detail, and as the day progressed I came back to it and added bits as I remembered them. While the spuds were cooking I made an attempt at organising these details into something less list-like. Then after supper I had a good go at trying to make it more like a poem. Bleeding from the eyes I decided to let things settle for a bit and stopped to watch the first episode of some war drama with S.

Then the bulb went in the lamp on my desk and for some reason I switched off the socket. I never do that! And, unfortunately, the same socket feeds my computer. And I hadn't been saving as I went along, so I lost my lovely sunny, family party poem. Probably for the best. Here is mark 2, no title as yet:

Oxfordshire. Three aunts
two uncles, and a gaggle
of cousins. A table sagging
in the shade, laid with vast bowls
of Burmese Chicken Noodle,
saffron rice, lady's fingers laced
with spice. We’re all here: sisters
children, husbands, brother.
But suddenly this summer,
no mother.

There, not quite the epic I had in mind, but something.

Friday, 9 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Nine

I'm in a strop today. I feel like I'm wasting my time doing this poem a day thing. I should really be getting on with the book. And although I like to read it, as a leisure activity, poetry's never been my thing. So, I'm thinking, I'll give it another five days, and if I still feel I'm wasting my time, and not achieving anything worthwhile, I'll give it up and get on with the bread and butter stuff. It's not that I haven't been enjoying this exercise it's just that it takes up so much energy, even when I'm trying to ignore it!

Anyway, today on the Read Write Poem site they say:

RWP member Robert Peake has shared with us a prompt he used recently with one of his established writing groups:
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to:
Use at least twelve words from this list: flap, winter, torch, pail, jug, strum, lever, massage, octopus, marionette, stow, pumice, rug, jam, limp, campfire, startle, wattle, bruise, chimney, tome, talon, fringe, walker;
Include something that tastes terrible;
Include some part (from a few words to several lines) of a previous poem that didn’t quite pan out; and
Include a sound that makes you happy.
Write a poem.

I haven't actually written a poem, but an infantile foot stomp and whine.

Kid A

I think I’m not a poet.
I can’t lever meaning from a bruise
of stow, tome, octopus;
and produce verse like a short order chef
with a burger press. I have nothing to strum.
Pressured I flap like the fringe of a marionette
in hair and make-up. I'm in a jam.

I feel like a walker in a cycle race.
This push to rush hits my guts
like sour milk. I limp to the finish,
neither hare nor tortoise.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Eight

I am very late today, but the Read Write Poem prompt was:

Valentine’s Day is long past, says RWP member Jill Crammond Wickham, but we poets must keep up our reputation as the world’s foremost experts on writing about love!
Today, think of your current love, your current obsession or the one who got away. Now come up with five or more unusual metaphors for the object of your affection/obsession: wool scarf, cough drop, puddle, half-empty bottle of red wine… Choose your favorite of the bunch and write a poem celebrating (or trashing) your love
And this is what I managed:

Power Shower

Electrically pumped and heated
to just bearable.
A daily fix to which I bring
soap, shampoo, and loofah
to scrub away the debris
the world throws at me.

And it works: for a while,
in your flow I am clean
as a newborn child.


It's my birthday today, so I thought I'd do a quick non-poem post. I have the dentist later this afternoon, but I'm not yet 50, and I have these

on my table.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Seven

Today's Read Write Poem prompt is:

Write and capture humorous incidents related to love in a 5-line love poem called a tanka. (You may even decide to create your own tanka journal for love poems!) Here’s how to write one:
Describe in concrete terms one or two simple images (two or three lines) from your humorous love encounter, not just what you saw but also what you tasted, touched, smelled or heard.
What were you were thinking at the time this love encounter happened? Write that down, too, as two or three lines, so you have five lines in total for the poem.
Think about making the third line of your poem into a pivot line, so that it links to both the previous two lines and to the final two lines.
Test the tanka by dividing it into two parts so the third line acts both as the last line of the first part and as the first line of the second part. Does each section make sense separately, and then together?
Think about reducing — and even avoiding — capitalization and punctuation because a tanka needn’t be like a sentence or merely a flat statement.

I’d heard of Tanka before but never tried to write one so I checked Wikipedia where I found it usually consists of five units (often treated as separate lines in English) with the pattern: 5-7-5-7-7. OK then. I'm not sure how humorous this is, I've never been terribly good at being funny intentionally, but I do think the word 'goujon' is hilarious.

Golden buttered toast
honeyed crumbs fall saltily
I am a goujon
between our breakfast bed-sheets
and beg you not to fry me.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Six

Today's Read Write Poem prompt is:

'Many people collect favourite images, whether as memories or posters, sketches or computer files. Pick one such collection of yours – a stamp collection, a postcard book, a file of photos – and rifle through it until something catches your eye. (If you don’t have such a collection, try putting a word – any word – into Google image search or flick through the website of an art gallery.) Once you have an image, begin to interrogate it for poems. Ask: Who or what in this picture could speak? What would they say? Why is this image meaningful to me? When I look at it, what am I remembering? How does this image make me feel? Which of my moods is easiest to find in it? Where would I want to display picture? Who do I want to see it? Collect the answers to your questions as a hoard of words or phrases. Scatter them across a blank sheet of paper, then check for patterns. What rhymes? Where is there alliteration? Is any rhythm apparent? Patterns might suggest a form for the poem.'

I first saw this in the Tate last year for the Turner Prize show and was completely mesmerized. But have been staring at this image*

on and off for hours and all I've managed to come up with it this:

Black Alphabet by Lucy Skaer

A pen and ink army sent
to take down every word
of history.

Feel our smooth weight
between your fingers,
they say.

Put us to your paper
and we will do the work,
leave us to it.

We were made for the job
so you don’t have to
do it.

Relax, have a beer,
we’ll take over now,

*Image found at http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/women-at-work-as-the-older-generation-of-ybas-grows-up-a-new-set-of-female-creators-is-taking-over-1777991.html?action=Popup&ino=3

Monday, 5 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Five

Today’s Read Write Poetry prompt is:

‘Give poetry — how you view poetry, what poetry means to you, your poetry — a name. Now write a poem [that] suits your view or vision.’


Strong as a crow bar and braver still,
winged like an eagle and torch eyed.
You dive into the abyss curious
to poke your fingers into crevices.
Illuminate fissures and tear them open,
leaving them to heal in their own time.

Sharp as a flint and feather-bed soft.
Closer than skin. My anti-aging super cream.
Itchy as a bug in the trouser of a politician.
Over-turner of rocks, of furniture, of my self
appointed kitchen. Compost and bone-meal,
you soil my hands but feed my garden.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Four

Today’s Read Write Poem prompt is:

... writing inside out (or outside in) means setting your physical or metaphorical inner bits out of doors, to be walked around and looked at from odd angles, as if they were monuments or mailboxes (as an example). Or it could be transforming your internal organs into flowers or letting a pack of four-year-old’s (human or otherwise) loose in your attic.
Write a poem today that illustrates your idea of what is inside-out.

On Readying Your Bird for the Oven

Once the incision is made
the guts will come away quite
easily. A little tug is all that’s needed.
But it gets harder: the stomach sticks,
you must use force to pull it out, and the heart,
to get at the heart you must force
your hand in and feel for it, curl
your fingers up and round it, all the while
grasping the neck with a firm hand
and pull, pull, pull. it will, if you set
your mind to it, come out quite whole.

It hardly needs to be mentioned
that for the whole of this action
you should, of course, wear an apron
or, at least, your very oldest clothes.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Three

Write about something that scares you. It could be tarantulas or your significant other cheating on you or an existential fear of the unknown so long as it unsettles you. Describe it in the most vivid language possible!


Knocked down at the counter, a shining fish.

Fried with shop bought garam masala,
onions, garlic, tomatoes from the bottom
of the fridge. Eaten with or without relish,
it festers in the lower intestine.
Works its way into the bloodstream, and breeds.

Tiny curried fish babies breach your boundaries,
flow with your body fluids like larva
and surface with such force you comedy reel
at your own armpits and breath. You scrub but they
infiltrate your clothes, your hair, your shoes,
your bed. You launder, they feed on your sweat.

Happy Easter!

Friday, 2 April 2010

National Poetry Writing Month, Day Two

The Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo challenge, day two:

Type RPW into acronym attic, pick an acronym, and write a poem inspired by it.

Ratings Were Placed

She put on weight with every child
and never lost it.
One Christmas she forgot to put
the turkey on to cook.
She didn’t dye her hair
when grey took over.
She often said she’d rather
read a book.
She failed to comprehend
the rules of football.
She gave up wearing heels
for comfort’s sake.
She took a job but never
earned much.
She never quite got into
abstract art.

At your behest she tried her hand at baking.
The cake she made sunk like a heart.

I know this is all over the place, but today has been busy and now I've had too much wine.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

I Picked up the Gauntlet

The Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a poem every day of April. I have to fill my empty nest somehow so I signed up for it. They give prompts, thank goodness.

Today's was:

Put your iPod or iTunes (or other mp3 player) on shuffle. (If you don’t have a music player that shuffles, you can choose CD or album titles at random from your collection by writing several titles down on little slips of paper … works the same way.)
Write down the first five titles that come up. No cheating allowed!
Use all five titles to draft a new poem. They have to be used intact — you can interrupt them with punctuation, but you may not remove or change words.

My iPod gave me:

‘Inside Out’ by the Travelling Wilburys, ‘Little Drummer Boy’ by Bright Eyes, ‘She Spreads Her Wings’ by Semisonic, ‘In Dulce Jubilo’ by the Westminster Boy’s Choir, and ‘Telephone Call from Istanbul’ by Tom Waits

Sweet Turn

Trapped and turning
inside out.
In dulce jubilo.

She spreads her wings
but they are broken.
In dulce jubilo.

Her head is played
by your little drummer boy.
In dulce jubilo.

Then a telephone call
from Istanbul.
In dulce jubilo.