She chose soft clothes.

Her bare feet are cold against the kitchen floor.

She chose soft clothes today,
as if her body was a child
in need of comfort.

She held on tight – the kettle handle
smooth beneath her palm –

her clinging on, like it’s
a lifeline linking her
to planet Earth

her feet are bare against the cold kitchen floor

she closed her hands around the cup –
heat almost pain,
pain almost heat –
but nothing warms her –

she trailed her fingers
over the wooden table,
letting the faint, fine ridges
of the grain be felt
letting the texture soothe her

her cold feet bare against the kitchen floor

she chose soft clothes today,
to hold her like a mother’s arms,
cradling her.

This is my second poem for the dVerse prompt tonight. Bjorn wonders what happens if we change “he” to “me” or “us” to “they”. I’ve already taken a poem from third person to first person – this one is the other way round. The original is here. 

Sunrises

Our first sunrise –
I was bubble-headed,
party-dressed –

and London was
a Camelot
of spires and towers
brightening
catching flame

midsummer sunrise
coming suddenly
catching us unawares

then, those weary sunrises,
early mornings,
lark-child singing,
rust-red sun
creeping slowly over
the city rooftops
day begun too early
child heavy in my arms

and now

fearful of time

I slip from our warm bed
as if I have
an assignation
with the cold-fingered
winter sun
who offers me
a pearling sky.

Oh, look who’s hosting at dVerse tonight – it’s me! Get over there and write some poetry.

Antipsychotics – poem for dVerse

The tablets stop my dreams

he said

and so he stopped the tablets.

who am I,

to deny a man his dreams?

This was a tough, tough prompt for me. I’ve worked with mental illness all my life. I’ve always avoided “mining” it for material, because it seems disrespectful to the people I work with. This little comment has stayed with me for 25 years now. Thank you, Laura, for a challenging dVerse prompt.

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.

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.

The traveller.

I wonder where it is you’re going now?

Do you fly to the sun, or seek the cold?

You’ve learned to carry your own roots around

in your backpack, that one with the rainbow –

it’s fading now. That pack is growing old. 

I’ve watched you fill it up, packing it tight

with clothes and books and boots and things you might

need one day. Empty, then fill it again,

because you want to, but can’t travel light.

Those heavy roots will not be cut. Your pain. 

This is for two dVerse prompts – it’s dizain month, and I’ve used the theme of movement from Amaya’s Tuesday prompt.

Guess what I saw this morning? – poem for dVerse.

There was a dragon
in the valley, curled
like a white cat:
each scale a pearl;
each breath a cloud
of soft white silk –
’til the whole valley
was a bowl of milk –
as the sun brightens
with the coming day,
such dragons fade.

De – the wonderful WhimsyGizmo – is hosting at dVerse tonight, and here be dragons. Our quadrilles are infested with the pesky things…

Rook – ghazal for dVerse I

Rook spreads his wings and takes to the sky-road,
for who else can say they are king of the sky-road?

Early morning, he rises from the highest branches,
calling his own name, king of the sky-road

Crowned in midnight, cloaked in darkness,
he is well-arrayed, the king of the sky-road,

as he rides the storm clouds, a black knight battling
the might of the wind, he is king of the sky-road,

with his wide-splayed wing tips, his black silk feathers,
he swallows the sunlight, this king of the sky-road,

and as the sun sets, he calls to his kingdom
“Good night, I am here, the king of the sky-road”

and the princess in me yearns to fly with him,
to see the last rays of sunlight, be queen of the sky-road.

Over the last few months, dVerse has been offering a “Form for All” prompt, looking at a series of different forms. This month we are looking at the ghazal, a repeating, associative form, quite different to a lot of “western” poetry. If you want to read a great introduction, check out yesterday’s dVerse prompt, where Gay Cannon is our guest host.

Regular readers may recognise some of the imagery in this poem. I find it helpful to get to know a form and see how things develop. This involves being quite playful with it, and exploring its strengths – and weaknesses. To help this process, I’m re-cycling some lines and images, and seeing how the different forms give a different overlay to a similar concept.

The last verse is my “signature” verse. I’m a Sarah, which means princess. We are supposed to weave a reference to our name, or use the name itself in that final stanza, so I’ve used “princess”.

Over the green edge

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Come away, then,
come with me,
over the green hedge
into the mystery –

there are beaches there
of shimmering pearls,
gathered each day
by smoke-eyed girls

and a woman who’ll
weave you a golden gown
of graveyard lichen
and thistledown;

there’s a castle built
of sunset clouds,
where the music is fast,
and sweet, and loud,

and you can dance there
all night, all day,
’til you dance your
childhood dreams away –

there are market stalls
selling bags of stars,
and berries that taste
like chocolate bars,

and horses as blue
as distant mist
who’ll ride you away
for a silver kiss

and you won’t come back
the same as you are,
for the world is big,
and the sky is far –

so come away now,
come with me,
over the green edge
into infinity.

I’m hosting at dVerse tonight, and I’m showcasing the art of Mary Frances. This poem is written for one of her tiny, found landscapes. You can see more on Twitter at @maryfrancesness, and the dVerse post will give you more links to see more of her wonderful work.