Advent calendar! December is nearly here….not to worry anyone…

Just a reminder that December begins on Friday(!) and I will be posting the first of my advent calendar poems. If you are feeling inspired and have a poem you would like me to feature, please get in touch. I have room for jiggling!

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My writing plan! – haibun for dVerse

I want to use my pen as a spade, to dig deeper, to uncover and explore. I want to use my pen as a scalpel, to cut away, to open up. I want to use my pen more often. I want to use the page as a seedbed, where I can grow, put down roots, put out leaves and flowers. I want to open my words up to criticism, so that I can develop my art and my technique. I want to use my voice, to speak my words in public, and learn to enjoy that kind of exposure and sharing of words and thoughts.

I want to write prose. I want to tell stories. I have stories of my own that I want to explore, but I also want to write stories of events that have never happened, tales of places that have never been. I want to develop my craft.

Most of all, I want to be read.

skylark rises high
singing in sunlight, in rain
song spilling freely

 

Toni at dVerse has given us this prompt. It’s her last time tending the bar at dVerse. I’m sorry that she’s stepping down, but she has new adventures to pursue…

All Hallows

Crossing the midlands –
the great bog bowl –
in autumn – (dull sky
stretching away,
grey road curving
beneath us, still
miles to go) –
we saw a priest,
(two altar boys
trailing behind) –
blessing the cemetery.

For a moment, we watched,
wondering.

There were no pumpkins
or howling ghosts,
no painted skulls,
or dancing witches,
so it took us a moment
to remember the day
that was in it.

We drove on.

We left nothing,
just a wide sky,
and empty road,
a man with his hand raised,
and two boys,
silent behind him.

This is for Sabio’s Billy Collins exploration.
If you want further details, you should head over to his site and have a look.

I have tried to incorporate some “Billy Collins” traits. I think it’s accessible, and conversational, and easy to understand. I think it does end in a slightly mysterious way. It’s first person, observational. The title tells you what it is. I don’t think I’ve done the background/foreground thing that Sabio discusses. Anyhow, it’s there for feedback, and I think the plan is that I edit and improve according to the feedback I get. That’s quite exciting for me.

This is the update following Sabio’s comments.

 

We were driving across Ireland,
across the midlands,
where the land makes a great bowl
under the wide sky,
a bog bowl.

There was nothing much to see,
the brown land,
grey sky, and greyer road.

Coming round a bend, we saw
a priest, blessing the graves
in a small cemetery.
Two altar boys stood back a little,
looking cold and serious.

For a moment we couldn’t work it out,
and then remembered that we had left the city
draped in fake cobwebs,
plump pumpkins grinning on every porch,
plastic skulls on gate posts,
bats stuck flat on front room windows.

“All Hallows”, we said,
remembering the day that was in it,
as they say,

and then swept on, round the curve,
leaving them behind,
two boys,
a man with hand upraised,
under an empty sky.

 

Yeats 27

 

‘Once more the storm is howling, and half hid

Under this cradle-hood and coverlid

My child sleeps on.’ —W.B. Yeats

Hush, little baby, be quiet as a mouse,
The wind is howling round this little house,
But here inside we are cosy and warm,
And I will keep you from every harm.

Though there will be harm, and I will not
be able to keep you safe always.
There will be fears I cannot shake out,
Like crumbs from a table cloth. Never mind
I will hold your hand when you are afraid.

I made a blanket from starlight and mist
For you to hold tight in your little plump fist,
A sea of dreams is a soft place to float,
So I set you to sail in a moonbeam boat.

The time will come when I wave goodbye,
and you set sail in the boat you have made,
far away, seeking your own adventure. Keep
a space for me in whatever land you find,
Remember how I stood on the shore,
Waving and waving, until you were gone.

Night is the time for dreaming and sleep,
So snuggle down, dear, in your rose petal sheets,
And dream of sunshine, and blue skies and laughter,
And wake up bright in the morning after.

I must remember that my dreams are my dreams,
and that you will have your own. There are places
in your mind I will never know. I can feed you,
and clothe you, and love you, and teach you,
but you must be free to dream your own dreams,
and find your own path. I only hold you for
a little while, and my hope is for you to be free.

Hush little baby, be quiet as a mouse,
The wind is howling round this little house,
But here inside, it is just us two,
Drifting to sleep in our safe little room.

Hush, little baby, you are only this small
for such a short time. I must dote on you
while I can, store up your baby scent of milk
and soap, and you sweet little toes, and your
calm gaze at this strange world, and your smile
when you see me. Hush, little one, be still in
my arms for this little while, this fragment of time.

 

Day 27, almost at the end of this month of Yeats. Thank you, Jane, for another lovely prompt.

November with Yeats, Day 26

‘I would that we were, my beloved, white birds on the foam of the sea!’ W.B. Yeats

 

From here the sea is a pewter plate
running between the headlands.
The gorse is bittersweet yellow,
and the shore rocks are grey.
We can see the gannets gather,
a chaos of white, whirling wings,
and hear the clear crack sound
as they hit the water.

There are mackerel there.

The gannets are wild in their greed,
plunging again and again –
each bird a blade. If we
were fishermen we’d follow them,
sharing the plunder.

But we are just spectators, feet planted
on the land. We are distanced,
watching the rising, falling,

sharing this scene.

There is no gentleness in these
white birds, just a mad
hunger, death streamlined,
folded into those narrow wings,
refracted in the shift
between the elements.

No gentleness, but beauty
is sometimes fierce, and strange,
and love is painful sometimes.

 

November with Yeats – day 26. Thank you, Jane, for curating these wonderful prompts. Nearly there!

November Yeats 25

 

‘And when white moths were on the wing,

And moth-like stars were flickering out,

I dropped the berry in a stream

And caught a little silver trout.’—W.B. Yeats

 

If I were a silver fish

I would dart through the dark reeds

seeking you, following you

wherever you chose to lead

 

Or I would suddenly twist

in the clear water, sunlight

shafting down, and, laughing, I

would lead you for a little while

 

and in the evening, when the

stream water glows like fire, we

would rest, side by side, just touching,

yin and yang, we would fall asleep

 

Day 25 of this cold, bleak November, brightened considerably by Jane Dougherty’s Yeats fiesta. 

November Yeats 24

‘We know their dream; enough

To know they dreamed and are dead; ‘ —W.B. Yeats

Their dreams were small ones – just for ordinary
lives, lived out in ordinary ways,
no river of excitement, just a gentle
stream of endless, ordinary days

They carried those dreams with them, held them
firmly, under shirts, next to the skin,
with other precious things, the things they kept,
a holy medal, or a mother’s ring;

as if those things would warm them, in the cold,
wild rocking boats, pressed tight,
hip against hip, arms wrapped around each other,
in all the dirty dangers of the night.

Sometimes small dreams are still too big to bear,
small dreams can be too heavy to hold on,
and when the waves are rising up around you,
sometimes you find that all your dreams are gone.

Their dreams were small ones:

Ordinary lives
lived out in peace, in ordinary ways.

<Jane gives us another Yeats quote, from Easter 1916. So many people have died for their dreams. 

Jazz – for dVerse

sometimes i like the sound of the sax

coiling like smoke round my

hips

swinging along to the sound of the

beat

of the drum that sits at the back of the tune

that wanders around like a drunk in the

dark

of the room where we sit and the beer

is cold and there’s steam on the

glass

and the walls are wet with the sweat

of the people who dance to the

beat

of the drum that sits at the back of the tune

that boogies around like a bride in a bar

where the people are watching and nodding

and tapping and nobody’s thinking of anything much

or stressing or shouting or moaning or groaning

just tapping their fingers and nodding their feet

to the beat

of the drum that sits at the back of the tune

owning the room and the moon and the mood

of the tune

that flitters around like a bat in the night

and is here and is there

and is never quite where

you expect it to be.

 

Bjorn introduces Amaya, guest host at the dVerse bar tonight. They are looking for jazz, man. Hmm. Mellow. 

Not sure I’ve quite achieved it but there you go.

November Yeats 23

‘…your hair was bound and wound

About the stars and moon and sun:’—W.B. Yeats

She wove a net

from her own long hair

and hung it high

in the lightening sky

to see what she might catch.

A handful of stars

that glistened like fish

like the silver mackerel

that roll and dart

in the dark of the sea…

A sliver of moon,

a gleaming a feather,

a white swans feather

that drifts and floats

on a midnight lake…

A fiery sun,

like a blazing fire

on a mountainside,

like the glowing embers

as midnight strikes,

like a steadfast candle

in somebody’s window,

that never goes out.

 

Jane Dougherty’s month with Yeats continues. I didn’t think I was going to get to it tonight, but here I am!

November with Yeats 22

 

‘I wander by the edge
Of this desolate lake
Where wind cries in the sedge:’ —W.B. Yeats

Standing here, at the edge of the lake

I am standing at the edge of the world.

 

The grass is summer-bleached,

Rattles in the wind like an old woman’s hair,

And the water is dark – darker

Than any domestic thing,

Darker than any secret.

 

Back in June, the water caught the sky

Like a woman catching her lover’s gaze,

And there were skylarks

 

But now the water is a pool of night

In this grey, empty morning,

And there are no more birds.

 

The wind that’s blowing winter in

Has blown them all away,

Down to lower ground,

Swept away like stories.

 

Day 22 of a November with Yeats. It’s bleak and windy today, you might guess that from this poem.