Rook sestina – for dVerse

Rook? Well, she’s never really been alone,
fledgeling sheltered by an oil-black wing,
lullabyed by the soft sounds of her own crew.
Each tree’s a mansion with a dozen rooms,
the copse a village, full of work and play,
chattering neighbours, gossip, song and dance.

Rook grabs the wind and takes it for a dance,
as if the wind was made for her alone,
storm clouds a call to her to come and play,
to open wide her midnight painted wings
and sweep across the great grey gleaming ballroom,
dancing alone, together with her crew.

Rook works her way across the meadow, with her crew,
beaks thrusting in the earth, where insects dance,
picking some delicacy out, because there’s room
in her sleek stomach. She won’t eat alone,
and if a sudden sound makes one take wing
the whole mob rises, like a team at play.

Rook flies in twos and threes, like kids at play,
a careless, restless crowd of friends, a crew,
splayed feathers, craggy beaks and tattered wings,
yet they’re the monarchy, their complex dance
is known to all of them, and them alone,
sharing the sky, giving each other room.

Rook settles in her tree-top, swaying room,
in princess in a tower, in a play,
but like some ancient queen, she’s not alone,
circled and protected by her crew,
as all around her, leaves and blossoms dance –
white petals falling on her ink-black wings.

Rook is an actress, waiting in the wings,
a black-gowned witch queen, eating up the room,
a goth girl, wearing boots that want to dance
a surfer on the wind, an ink-filled pen at play,
she’s moonlight’s sister, part of midnight’s crew,
she’s joyful in her skill, herself alone.

If I had wings, then that’s how I would play,
burst from this dead room, whirling with my crew
in one great sky dance – all together, all alone.

Another sestina. I’m starting to get a feel for this form, I think. We were supposed to use homonyms this week – I haven’t really managed that, though I’ve exploited some diffrent meanings of ‘play’ and ‘room’. You never know, there might be another chance…for dVerse.


Disappearing into the woods- sestina for dVerse II

This meditation is like going for a walk
somewhere that she knows well. A place that stays the same
but always changes. In each orchard or wood
leaves show, and grow, and burn to fiery red or gold,
flowers form and fade, fruits swell to heavy sweetness,
grass grows, is cut, and grows again. The turning of the world.

She’s meditating on this lovely world,
her eyes turned downwards to the place she walks,
as if the world were nothing more than sweetness.
She’s gently dreaming everything’s the same,
that everything she touches turns to gold,
that she’s a princess in a fairy wood –

Would she believe it? I don’t think she would,
if someone showed the truth about the world,
the nickel underneath the skin of gold –
she’d smile, and shake her head, and then she’d walk
into a dream, where everything’s the same,
and air is heavy with a flowery sweetness.

Enchanted princesses are made for sweetness,
singing with bluebirds through the gentle wood.
Those over-cherished girls are all the same,
wandering wide-eyed through a candy world,
there’s always limousines, no need to walk,
there’s always food to eat and chains of gold

until their life’s leaves fade to red and gold,
and it all slips away, that youthful sweetness,
that gently swaying, young gazelle-like walk.
There’s always brambles in a real wood,
and thorns that scratch, and mud in the real world,
and that enchanted wood is just the same

cold winds blow through it, rain falls and the same
shadows lie stark, although the light is gold,
and you can choose to leave, and join the world
or journey deeper, always seeking sweetness,
losing yourself, those stray paths through the wood
will tangle you, beguile you as you walk.

You can pretend it’s all the same, that life is sweetness,
but maybe life brings gold, maybe that wood
divides you from the world. It’s time to walk.

I may have lied about never writing another sestina. This is my second one. I think my problem is I find the repetition makes it hard to progress, I just spiral round and round the initial idea. Anyhow, this is for Victoria at dVerse, where our form is the sestina. Check out her original post for a clear description, and for inspiration.

Watching the lake – sestina for dVerse

And at this moment, nothing is as real
important as this watching of the light
constantly moving on the moving lake,
that shivers like a mighty animal,
its muscles moving underneath its skin,
resting in movement, restless in its calm.

Rivers are smooth as this, but not as calm,
and here the seeming movement is not real,
this water patterned like a dappled skin
is like a mirror held up to the light –
but water can’t be tamed, like some soft animal,
tameness is the illusion of the lake.

What do you think of, looking at the lake?
In this bright sunshine, everything is calm,
there’s barely sound from any bird or animal –
do you believe this calm is truly real?
Wait here and watch the dancing of the light
and feel the sunlight seep into your skin,

then tell me there’s no wildness in this skin
of peace that hovers over this great lake –
thee’s constant movement, dust motes in the light,
and rippling waves make mockery of calm –
it’s all illusion. None of it is real –
you can’t keep water like some fettered animal –

it’s a wild creature, not some quiet, tamed animal
that can be stroked or petted. No, its skin
is scarred and shattered. It’s wild self is real
and underneat the surface of the lake
is something that is far from being calm
something that’s fierce and hidden from the light.

Streams raced to get here, shattering the light
into a thousand pieces. Something animal,
and toothed and clawed, is sleeping. Now it’s calm
enough, but underneath that skin
are muscles tensing, and this restful lake
holds for a moment, then flows on to somewhere real.

In this bright light, we only see the skin
of this wild animal, of this quiet lake.
We breathe the calm, and dream that it is real.

Oh me, oh my. My first sestina. I’m not entirely happy with it, but I’m posting it because I may never have the stamina to write another one. This month’s form for dVerse is the sestina, a form depending on repetition of end-line words in a particular order. It’s also probably the longest poem I’ve ever written. I need to go and lie down now.

Prosery 3 – the stranger

You don’t know this now, but In two days time, you will leave. You will pack one small case. You will post the keys back through the letter box as you leave.

You will take a train to the airport. You will wait in the departure lounge alone, drinking bland coffee; you will buy a pair of sunglasses, a notebook.

Later that day, you will sit in a small restaurant in a foreign square, warmed by the evening sun. You will order a glass of white wine, and a plate of pasta. You will eat it slowly.

You will leave your phone unanswered. You will read your novel. You will go back to a quiet room, with a window looking out over red roof tops.

You will feel a knot loosen in your chest.

You will love again the stranger who was yourself.

For the third dVerse prosery – a piece of flash fiction – 144 words, including a quotation, set this time by Kim – a line from Derek Walcott:

You will love again the stranger who was yourself”

What a resonant line…

Washed clean – poem for dVerse

Somehow I became
by water – the smooth
laminar flow
the turbulence
the tidal rise and fall
of the river

because this is estuarine country

and the soft sound
of the stream
after rain

and the surge
and fall
rise and drop
constant lift and lowering
of the sea
the green grey blue
of the ocean
the white topped waves

and the gull flying

and the movement
of water

washes me clean

as if the water in me
sings to the water in the world
moves with its movement
echoes its rise and fall
and laminar flow

and the rain is me
and the stream is me
and the river is me
and the ocean is me

and I am them
washed clean.

Linda is hosting at dVerse tonight. She asks how we purify our minds – very apt for the times we’re living through.

Hope – haibun for dVerse

Hope feels like a small thing at the moment – the hard green apples waiting to ripen, the half-filled pea-pods. A domestic thing. I am narrowing my gaze, because the world feels too big, too precarious, and I feel helpless.

But perhaps that’s how hope always starts – as a green shoot coming up through the burnt earth, as a child folding a paper crane.

peace comes at twilight
green things growing silently
sun rising with hope

This is a haibun for dVerse. Frank is hosting tonight. He reminds us that last year we wrote about the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. This year, he wants us to commemorate that bombing, but to write about the hope that can emerge from tragedy.

I’ve just read “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki. She mentions the fact that Japanese schoolchildren folded 1,000 origami cranes for peace after 9/11. I was moved at how this connected back to the story of Sadako, who developed leukaemia after being exposed to radiation at Hiroshima. If there is hope, it is in the hands of children.