The dark bird witnessed himself, wearing a crown, phosphorescent. He strutted, wet claws tapping, preening his plumes, feathered breast swelled. Then he saw a spoiling ripple, he had succumbed to false pride.
The more I stood and listened, the more I heard. A zephyr of song became a gale, a storm, a hurricane. There were no people, just the birds and their escalating chorale, filling the space around me, growing closer, thicker, pressing me thinner and smaller until I was no longer standing there but bodiless, floating, in the warming air as a thousand feathered chests threw out their primal call and reclaimed as theirs the brightening sky, the waking trees, the world.
‘Birdsong’ was written a couple of years ago. I was reminded of this poem earlier this week when I was aware of how vocal the birds are in our garden at the moment. When I wrote the poem I had been outside in the early morning when I felt almost physically lifted by the sheer scale of birdsong which surrounded me.
Joe Campbell was kind enough to choose my poem ‘Nothingness’ to accompany his fabulous photo ‘Rising from the Deep’ to appear in the Spring edition of The Parliament Literary Journal which was published on 16th May 2021. (A link to the journal is here. My poem is on the last page. https://www.parliamentlit.com/current-edition)
To drown or swim? To cleave into the skin of the smooth, deep abyss or let your body float silently, undulating with each gentle pulse.
You feel it call you in, its silky tresses taunting, tempting. It rises, swells, until each wave becomes a drag of metal twine around your quivering form.
As you submit, oblivion strokes at your mind. Let go, it croons, let go and drift down to the soft dark floor of nothingness.
A cry. A wrench. A sharp slice of cold air rips the deadness from your lungs and smacks your face to wake. Come back they call.
A photo Is an anchor Tethering us to past inlets Where we dipped our toes.
Our photograph albums have recently been put in the loft, out of the way, in readiness for decorating, I used to walk past them many times a day as they lived on a bookcase on our landing and occasionally dip into one, reliving old holidays (very old in some cases, as more recent trips are captured digitally). But, whatever the medium, there is no denying the link they represent to our past. And I cannot imagine not having that visual reminder .
I thought I would have a go at a Naani. Shadow poetry describes a Naani as “one of Indian’s most popular Telugu poems. Naani means an expression of one and all. It consists of 4 lines, the total lines consists of 20 to 25 syllables. The poem is not bounded to a particular subject. Generally it depends upon human relations and current statements.”
I look out of my daughter’s bedroom window – a habit I have acquired before I go to bed. The room is unoccupied for most of the time – drying laundry and empty boxes reside there these days. A large moon hangs in the cloud-breaking sky, directly opposite our house – glowing its other worldly white light through an oak tree. I quickly grab my phone and rush down the stairs, slip on some shoes and creep out of the house into our front garden. I feel strangely furtive snapping the sky in the dark. Gutters drip from the recent downpours. Only a few hours ago an arching rainbow glowed its magic in the same portion of sky where the moon is now centre stage. Clouds muffle the edges of the moon and a faint orange-hued corona surrounds it. All I had to do was look out of the window. My daughter would have enjoyed it.
Prisms in the day White light in the dripping dark Hold me in their sway
This peach, pink and ruby and golden yellow, with just the velvety hint of a granny-cheeked down, is soft and ripe. My knife slices until it finds the pit and as I tease it apart the flesh tells me that it is ready. I have caught it just as I wanted it. Yesterday the yellow was too pale, and tomorrow the tiny mark where it hit the floor when I dropped it will have spread like a sore, browning, with a ring of white scum.
Today is the day it is sweet and just about perfect. Today, this moment. And so we too are made of moments when luck or guile have lead to life, or not.
And I ask myself, is only one moment the right moment? Is perfection all? And, how precise does the instant have to be to produce the perfect pinnacle. And if it has to be so precise, how will I ever find it, feel it, know it amongst all the other moments?
I don’t want perfection. I am happy with a firmer fruit that I can sprinkle a glitter of sugar on. Or a small bruise that I can cut out to reveal its golden bounty. And when I smell the moment, it will be sweet enough.
I had bought some peaches for a pudding I was making yesterday and, not surprisingly, they were not ripe. I was disappointed that they were not perfect, not as I wanted them to be. But by the time I had added sugar, toasted almonds, almond essence and some mascarpone and cooked them in my tart they were fine. It hadn’t mattered in the end that they were not perfect …
I found you at the dance with leather slip-on brogues which squeaked across the floor like angry little mice.
You asked me, did I wanna? You really asked the space above my black curled head. Regardless, I said yes.
You shuffled more than danced. Your pale blue shirt was soft against my powdered cheek. You barely said a word.
You mumbled – what? who knows – and then I pressed a note into your sweaty hand before we left the hall.
I’d spied you first you see.
Bjorn at dVerse Poets has set the challenge of writing a poem with a waltz in mind. “what counts today is the beat. Maybe you can listen to a wiener waltz, and imagine dancing around a ballroom… counting one two three.” See the link and some dancing responses at: https://dversepoets.com/2021/05/20/meet-the-bar-waltzing/. My mind went back to dancing in my youth and all those discos.
I’ve put the link below to a classic (no, not a waltz 🙂 )which would have played at the end of the evening at a 70’s disco – perfect if you had someone you wanted to get up close to, excruciating if you didn’t have anyone to dance with.
About them Or Addressing them in the direct voice your title must include the poet’s name try and employ something of the poet’s style there are no rules for meter or poetry form those who choose the direct voice, might like the extra challenge of an ODE.”
I chose Elizabeth Bishop, who I was introduced to through my degree a couple of years ago. I cannot claim, however, that I have been successful in employing her writing style. For anyone who knows her work, I hope they will identify the references to a number of her poems. There was often a theme of searching for a sense of belonging in her work, which I have tried to reflect.
I thought of all the words that rhymed – entombed and zoomed first sprang to mind – then a classic – swooned – of course, but after that the words were forced. Oh woe is me, for I am doomed, I cannot make a poem with wound.
Being given the task of using a particular word is always fun – and there seemed so many possibilities with the word ‘wound’. I’m feeling in an upbeat mood this morning, so went for a light-hearted approach. (Or, perhaps my other attempts were just too awful 😉 ).
What is the colour of fragmenting love? If our love dies and drops crumbling from our hands – knowing its fragility, yet holding it too tight, too bound – what colour will it shade the ground when flakes settle in the cracks beneath our feet? Will yellow sour grass clump where last we sat? Will we taste the acid on our tongues and see the yellow stain our flailing hands, or will a hopeful hue of cornflowers dust our way, turning blue?
I have recently been reading a wonderful array of different poetry forms on writers’ blogs, and felt inspired to try a form that is new to me. The website Shadow Poetry has a comprehensive guide to poetry types on their website: http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/types.html
I chose to have a stab at a double reversed Etheree today. An Etheree consists of 10 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 syllables. Etheree can also be reversed and written 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and doubled, tripled, quadrupled, whatever you like 🙂