Red wine

Pour me a last glass of the Douro –
I want to slide into the warm haze
of a rust red wine. The world’s too hard,
I’m small and tired and scared.
Let’s sit. The fire’s lit, those flames
are the same flames we watched
last year, when we were young.
The dark is pressing up
against the windows. The sun set
hours ago, crimson clouds
piled high against a lemon sky.
Pour me a last glass of the Douro –
my head’s too full of thoughts.

I’m hosting at dVersetonight, and our theme is red. Come on over and do some poeming.

New birth – haibun for dVerse

It was not long after my daughter’s 18th birthday. She’s my eldest. She was writing her university applications, planning her future after leaving home. I was very aware of the fact that she had become an adult, and found myself thinking about all the different relationships we had had over the years. In the very beginning, I carried her insde me – I was everything she knew. Now I was part of the childhood she was leaving behind  – and I had – still have – such mixed feelings about it. I’d love to keep her close, but I know she needs to spread her wings, to try new things, new places, new people, new ways of living. It’s my job to encourage her to leave me.

eggshell shattered
fledgeling spreads new feathered wings
nest is empty

This haibun is written forKim’s dVerse prompt. We are asked to reflect on an autobiographical poem and turn our reflection into a haibun. My original poem can be found here: https://fmmewritespoems.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/new-birth/

Changes

The planes stopped flying.
The screensaver’s changed –
the sky’s a blue dome now,
no chalky scrawls,
no slashed, graffitied lines.
It’s quiet.

The neighbours parked up
days ago. They haven’t left the house
except to walk the dogs.
We call across the hedge,
use WhatsApp.

Me? I’m quieter, too.
Switched to receive. I’m drinking in
the blue, the silence,
soaking in it. Waiting for words.
It’s like my voice is trapped.

All our connections are a little thinner,
I haven’t hugged my mum
for days now. Our words
stretched out, squeezed down wires.

I’m getting scary stories,
funny pictures, angry messages,
from friends I should see every day.
We’re making links, but we can’t touch,
pat a hand, bump a shoulder,
kiss a cheek. We can’t smell
each other. All those subtle things,
we’re down to basics now,
all our connections made of ones
and zeroes.
.

Still, I can report
the sky is blue,
and the lambs wag their tails
butting their mothers’ teats
for milk. Primroses
still sit shyly in the hedgerow,
and the birds are singing.

The Earthweal challenge this week is “silver linings”. I’m not sure I should be writing at the moment. I think I should just be letting things simmer. There’s a lot going on. I struggled with the idea of silver linings – it’s hard not to just state the obvious. I’m very priveleged – I live in the countryside, so I don’t feel too trapped. The weather’s lovely, there’s lots to do in the garden. So far, this isolation is an inconvenience. I’m very aware that it’s different for lots of people, that there are people putting their lives on the line, that there are people stuck in small appartment with small children going quietly (maybe not quietly) crazy, and my heart goes out to everybody who is suffering in this.

Measure twice, cut once III

I wove the fabric for the princess’s wedding gown, so I know it’s perfect, but for one small flaw.

I wove it over the winter, a special commission. Pure white, reflecting the colours of the world. I didn’t use white thread, though – I used the soft grey wool from a lamb’s throat, jaybird feathers, words torn from old love letters, wisps of grass, dried violets, a single thread of my own brown hair. As I wove, I whispered old words over them, san fold songs – songs of snow and ice, of clouds and gulls and seafoam. I made white through my own will.

I sew the wedding gown, knowing the princess will look like a rose flowering in the snow. The prince will turn and look at her, and his face will light up – as it lit up when he used to look at me.

I smile as I stitch, embroidering the snowy cloth with flowers – roses, lilies, snowdrops. When it’s finished, there’s just that one flaw – that single thread of my hair, dancing across the train. I leave it there, just to remind him of me.

Ok, this is the third draft of this small story, for Tanya Cliff’s Writer’s Workshop at GoDogGo cafe.  This week we’re thinking about our opening – using a single sentence or paragraph to introduce character and conflict.

This means I’ve had to sacrifice my best sentence, but you have to kill your babies in this game.

 

Three aspects of silence

There are times when it’s enough to not say a word,
to empty myself even of the warm breath,
to let all my thoughts rise free as a singing bird –

sometimes there are no songs fit to be sung –
I must lock my words up behind my lips,
I must cage my speech, tie up my unruly tongue,

and sometimes silence is a pillow I can rest upon,
a wave that endlessly carves, reforms, and carves the beach,
a bird rising, rising, and silence the wind it rides on.

Laura is hosting at dVerse for Tuesday poetics. She’s given us a fascinating prompt, inspired by traditional Welsh poetry. We’ve been given a choice of 3 line sets, to make into a series of 3 tercets.

The suddenness of love.

I could never resist a handsome face. I’d see him, leaning over the side of a boat, and I’d be struck by a lightning bolt of desire. I’d hear a voice raised in song and my heart would burst open. Always a shock, always sudden. I don’t know why.

I was surprised every time love started. Or ended.

My blood is colder than theirs, of course, and my life much longer. Handsome boys grow pale and lose their beauty. Their fingers pucker in salt water. Their singing stops, and they yearn for sunlight, green grass, the feeling of air in their lungs.

Suddenly they bore me, and then, with one flick of my silver tail, I’m gone. Off in search of the next handsome boy who strays too close to the water. Off in search of something like love.

Merrill is hosting Prosery at dVersetonight. Our quotation is “I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended” from I wanted to be surprised by Jane Hirshfield. 144 words of flash fiction – prose, not poetry. Whatever next?

Plague

See, we’re the virus. We’re the plague rats scuttling
from place to place, consuming and consuming –
it’s our hungriness, our greed, our endless need
to have and have and have, it’s our stampede
from store to store. Just click to buy. We click
and click and click, and make the whole world sick.
We look for comfort. We bite, we scratch, we swallow –
we eat it all, but still feel like we’re hollow.
We are the plague. We’re killing everything –
burning the grasslands, suffocating
the great wide ocean. We’re the rats
that scurry everywhere, spreading a plague that’s
almost untreatable. We should quarantine
ourselves. Self-isolate. Stop reading magazines
that tell us that we need to self-improve,
buy more, just treat ourselves, equate self-love
with brand new lipstick, one more pair of shoes.
Update your living room! Be a consumer, choose
this, choose that, choose everything. Don’t be satisfied
with what you have. Come on. Just buy.
Buy more. Devour it. Come on, now, you rats,
stay on that wheel. Run fast. Keep running fast.

This week’s Earthweal challenge is to write a pandemic poem. I don’t normally rhyme much, but I wanted to do something pounding, and the rhyming kind of fitted.

GoDogGo – measure twice, cut once #2

Even blindfolded, I could tell what fabric I’m cutting from the sound it makes. This is heavy, made to drape like snow across a girl’s hips. I know, because I wove it.

I wove it over the winter, a special commission. Pure white, reflecting the colours of the world. I didn’t use white thread, though – I used the soft grey wool from a lamb’s throat, jaybird feathers, words torn from old love letters, wisps of grass, dried violets, a single thread of my own brown hair. As I wove, I whispered old words over them, san fold songs – songs of snow and ice, of clouds and gulls and seafoam. I made white through my own will.

Now I’m sewing a wedding gown for a princess. She will look like a rose flowering in the snow. The prince will turn and look at her, and his face will light up, as it lit up when he used to look at me.

I smile as I stitch. I embroider this smooth, white cloth with snowdrops and lilies, with white roses and lily-of-the valley. When it’s finished, there’s only one flaw – that single thread of my hair, dancing across the train. I leave it there, just to remind him of me.

This is for the Writing Workshop Challenge at GoDogGo Cafe, facilitated by Tanya Cliff. I posted version I of this a week (ish) ago. We’ve been asked to reduce our word count by at least 10%. That meant I needed to lose 22 words. I’ve cut it down by 23. It’s hard, because I think this piece depends on the piling up of images – and I’m not a very good editor. However, I’m learning.

Measure twice, cut once.

Even if I was blindfolded, I could tell what fabric I’m cutting from the sound it makes. This one is heavy, expensive, made to drape like water or snow across a girl’s hips. I know, because I wove it.

I wove it over the winter, a special commission. Pure white, reflecting back the colours of the world. I didn’t use white thread, though – I used the soft grey wool from a lamb’s throat, feathers from a jay, words torn tenderly from the love letters he sent me, whisps of grass, dried violets, a single thread of my own brown hair. I wove them carefully, whispering the old words over them, singing the old songs – songs of snow and ice, of white clouds, of gulls, of sea-foam. I made them white through my own will.

And now, I’m cutting and stitching, to make a wedding gown for a princess. She will look like a rose flowering in the snow. The prince will turn and look at her, and his face will light up, the way it used to light up when he saw me.

I smile as I stitch, a mistress at work. I embroider the smooth white cloth with snowdrops and lilies, with white roses and lily of the valley. When it’s finished, there’s only one flaw – that single thread of my hair, dancing on the surface of the train. I leave it there, just to remind him of me.

Over at Go Dog Go, Tanya Cliffis hosting a series of writing workshops. She’s given us a theme – Measure Twice, Cut Once – and asks us to put up a first draft this week, to be worked on over the next few weeks.

This is my first draft. I think my pronouns are probably a bit baggy, and I’m not sure how easy it is to work out who is who. But it’s a first draft, so I’m not being too fussy.