Granny

My Cinderella granny, scooped
from the ashes, smelling of raspberries
and sugar. Always ready for a ball,
always ready to stay out
‘til after midnight.

My fairy godmother granny,
scattering gifts and blessings,
laughing at corny jokes,
weeping at corny films –
safe times to cry, safe places.

My wise granny, opening
arms to everything, living
the now. What’s wisdom, anyway?
Knowing when to step
out of the dance. Knowing
when to step back in.

I’m hosting at dVerse tonight, and we’re writing about grandmothers. They come in all shapes and sizes, and so do our poems!

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Review: The Keeper of Aeons by Matthew M C Smith

The Keeper of Aeons

I first came across Matthew M C Smith on twitter, as the editor of Black Bough, an imagist small press that has grown into something quite amazing – publishing anthologies and chapbooks and hosting an online community at @TopTweetTuesday . Reading these poems, you can see 21st century imagism in action. Each one is like a tiny scrap of film – intensely visual. There’s intense detailing in the poetry and the prose, and a great sense of time and place.

That time varies immensely – we start in the deep past – Cover him in sacred ochre with charms for a dead chieftain – a Mesolithic burial site on the Gower peninsula; hand axes, triangular stones, filling the palm-grip that cleaves, cuts, scrapes, cracks and smashes – a Neanderthal cave site lost to open-cast quarrying. We finish in the Space Age – six panes that show a bow-electric rim of light; drifting through the great void – where lips are planets tilting and limbs are luminous, giant jets of cloud on axis. In Aeons he takes us from kneeling in the scrub to the ability to fly.

In between, there are childhood memories and present-day reflections. Matt writes in a Welsh accent. By that, I mean the cadence, the rhythm of his words, is Welsh. There are faint echoes of Dylan Thomas in his memories of school trips and presents (Millennium Falcon!) from his uncle. There’s a generosity and creativity in his use of words and word combinations that feels quintessentially Welsh to me – the green steepled ravines, forests of firs, screens of trees. I feel that Matthew is writing within a tradition, but not bound to it. He’s expanding it, taking it somewhere new and powerful. There are Welsh places here – Paviland, Henrhyd Falls, Ogof Coygan – and Matt manages to make them real and mythical at the same time. He balances paradoxes – in Aeons he takes us from kneeling in the scrub to the ability to fly. He contemplates our ability to venerate and to destroy.

There’s a lot to love here. I think my favourite poem in the collection is Ancient Navigations. A road trip with a lover from the present, into the distant past, a standing stone, and then on, into something almost mystical – pass over ancient navigations, travel in the wind with all our people. Contrast that with Fixing the Hyperdrive, where young Math’s childhood is seen refracted through his relationship with a Millennium Falcon model. The detailed reality is stunning.

The Keeper of Aeons is published by The Broken Spine press. It’s a great collection. I’ve borrowed their image so that you can see the fantastic cover. I hope they don’t mind.

Hoverboards

I miss the future – you know –
the shiny one, all ergonomic curves
and silver screens. The clean one.
I miss that hope. I miss the boldly going,
peace and prosperity, all that stuff.
Perfectibility. Hoverboards. Utopia.

What are we stumbling into?
Rain and the lights failing. Nobody home.

A bold quadrille for De at dVerse.

I was not lost

Looking back, I was never there –
not in that room, that bed,
that body.
I was not lost.
I was too heavy – I was sunk
down in the dark, where the light
runs slow.
Blue shafts of sunlight
filtering down – my eyelids
barely touched –
my skin too heavy,
all my bones, too heavy.
I was not lost,
just deep, sleeping my dark sleep,
dreaming my dark dreams.

For Merril at dVerse, who gives us a list of podcast titles, and asks us to incorporate two of them into a poem. Here’s the list:

Articles of Interest: American Ivy

I Was Never There

Legacy of Speed

Not Lost

Pivot

Reveal: After Ayotzinapa

Rumble Strip

Serial

This American Life

Ghost in the Burbs

The first walk of the year

Like pilgrims, walking into the new. Or parishioners beating the bounds. We walk our familiar walk, past the row of twisted oaks, past the stump that looks like an owl, past the lane that leads to Mary’s barn, up to the stile. We squelch across the top field, drop down to the track. It’s quiet. The light is fading, the sky is tinged with gold and violet. At the last gate, we hear an owl calling, and then another owl replying. The year begins.

mud and water
the last of the light
owl wakens

A haibun for Kim at dVerse. A new year begins. I hope it’s kind to you.

Lights

There’s something brave about them,
flapping in the wind, but holding on –
reflections gleaming on wet tarmac –
the double dark of street and sky.

Gallant, I think. Old fashioned words
for something bold and charming –
even though I know the man
who hung them there, and he’s

not dashing. Not a man to bow
and ask you if your card is full.
Just one quadrille?

But something in him craves
these twinkling lights, so small,
so delicate. So brave. They keep faith
through all the darkest nights. They shine.

I’m hosting at dVerse tonight. The lights are on! Check us out.

Winter

Some days, she forgets herself –
sugars the countryside,
adds candy colour skies –
a drift of birds –

and then remembers who she is:
monochromes the world,
deadens the light.

Some nights, she throws clouds,
but sometimes she can’t bring herself
to hide the stars. She can’t resist
the sparkle of them.

A quadrille for Mish at dVerse. Our word is “candy”.

My winter

My love is winter –
oh, the paleness of his skin,
and his eyes like January.

My love is winter.
He has built a home for me,
of storms and hail,
the winter things.

My love is winter –
he has carved
roses from snow,
lilies from ice –
a garden made
of hints and glints
of light.

My love is winter.
He has set me dreaming,
his hands so cold they burn,

my heart a lantern
trapped under ice.

A bit of wintry romance and whimsy for Lill at dVerse. She’s given us some song titles to choose from and incorporate into our poems. Can you spot them?

My Love Is Winter (The Smashing Pumpkins Oceania)
Roses from Snow (Emmylou Harris)
Trapped Under Ice (Metallica)
Winter Things (Ariana Grande)

I could have called this ” A Winter’s Tale”, I guess.

Fire

All that sunlight
trapped here. A hundred years
of sleep in a green tower –
sunlight gathered, woven
into something solid,
light that murmured,
light that swayed,
light that knew the taste of soil
and the sound of birdsong
and the dark –

and we have woken it –
warmth spilling out,
golden and dancing
goddess again.

A quadrille for Ms Jade Li at dVerse. Our word is “warm” – perfect prompt for this time of year!