The wedding

“My wife and I”, he said,
and everybody cheered.
After, we gathered round them –
“You’re punching, mate”
somebody said, “You’re punching”

and, smiling
he acknowledge it,
accepted it. Embraced it –

and she moved closer, nestling
in his circling arms, bird to his bear:
a small boat resting
in safe harbour.

a quadrille for dVerse – 44 words including tonight’s word: punch

How I wrote the poem: Welsh poet Matthew M. C. Smith on his poem ‘Abyss’

Welcome to a brand new feature. I’m fascinated by how people write, and so I decided to ask them, starting with Matt Smith, who is sharing the background to his poem Abyss. Over to Matt:

Sarah, thank you for this opportunity to discuss a poem that will be in my second collection of poetry and prose, The Keeper of Aeons, to be published by Broken Spine Arts. I’m going to take this opportunity to discuss a poem called ‘Abyss’, which was originally published by Anti-Heroin Chic in 2021 (thanks James Diaz – poetry editor).

When I started to write ‘Abyss’, I imagined a human figure positioned in a cathedral-like structure, suspended in space. No earth below, no cloudy or blue sky around, just an open cathedral, surrounded by stars far, far away. The human figure holds a flickering flame in the draughty vault of the cathedral. They realise that any way they face is infinite and sense the tremendous speed of light bursting through the darkness of space. At the end of the poem, they ascend to the altar and unexpectedly dive through the cathedral window, plunging with the shattered glass like a dolphin.

For me, there is the implication of choosing not to stay at that central point in the darkness of that cathedral but to break out, to travel through infinity, to submit to it and to reach for freedom. This poem could suggest many things but, ultimately, this is down to reader-response. It is a poem that strives to be strange, uncanny, full of mystery.

I am interested in cosmic surrealism – playing around with cosmology in a poetic sense, with strange imaginative leaps. I have a lot of dreams and nightmares about scenarios like this and often wake up exhausted.  

In my forthcoming collection, The Keeper of Aeons, I take the reader to the Space Station to look back at Earth; also to interstellar space to convey the minuteness, yet wonder, of our own existence as human beings and as a living planet. It’s an unsettling collection full of existential, dark moments but I hope readers will also get that sense of awe – the feeling of vastness of space and time, which we can never quite grasp. There are also more prosaic, nostalgic pieces – memories of childhood and my love of Sci Fi films which show I became interested in the Universe and why I am preoccupied by this subject as a writer.

Thanks for this opportunity, Sarah – I hope that readers connect with this poem and feel its strangeness; also hope take the leap of faith and get the book. It’s wild, weird, trippy. An experience!

Abyss

Light a taper, listen to a note’s
echo through the vault.

The draught will shake the flame,
at the end of a wave, silence.

Stand with black all around you
and feel anything there may be.

Anyway you turn is infinity,
as light sears the void.

At the altar, stand before a window
of celestial light.

Dive through, dolphin-dark,
plunge through shattered glass.

into abyss.

Matthew M. C. Smith is a writer from Swansea, Wales. His second collection, The Keeper of Aeons, is forthcoming with Broken Spine Arts, following Origin: 21 Poems in 2018. He is ‘Best of the Net’-nominated three times and his work can be read in Poetry Wales, iamba poet, The Lonely Crowd, Arachne Press, Barren Magazine, Icefloe Press, Atrium Poetry, The Storms and Fevers of the Mind. Matthew is the editor of Black Bough Poetry, The Silver Branch Project and MC of weekly global poetry weekly event on Twitter @TopTweetTuesday

Matthew collects signed poetry books, vintage Star Wars and gets the kids out of the house as much as possible, usually with a Rugby ball.

Twitter: @MatthewMCSmith @blackboughpoetry

Insta: smithmattpoet Also on FB. 

http://www.blackboughpoetry.com

Read me

go on, then

browse me

flick your fingers through
my paper soul – underline
keywords – love lust hate

bookmark my memories

step from one image
to the next, unroll
a narrative

highlight the highlights
erase

bookmark my thoughts
write “yes, this!” in the margin
circle a pearl of wisdom

scrawl your name

A quadrille for dVerse.

A taste of summer

I just bought my first strawberries of the season. They smell so good. On the way home, in the warm car, I held them on my lap while my husband drove. The car filled up with that sweet strawberry scent.

We grow a few strawberries – little wild ones that self-seed round the garden – looking for them feels like a treasure hunt – and bigger ones that are lost to wildlife half the time. They’re all still white petalled flowers at the moment – not even tiny, hard, green fruit. The berries I bought were grown in a greenhouse in Herefordshire – small, artificial summers. Today, I don’t care. We’ll eat them with cream and a sprinkling of sugar, and we’ll know that summer is just around the corner. We’re teetering on the edge of it, ready to fall.

sunshine
the dancing of bees
ripening fruit

A haibun for Frank at dVerse. We’re considering summer…

Dreaming

I sit and drowse by candlelight.
I dream that this, my little house
becomes a boat on seas of night,
and it’s my job to turn the prow
towards the welcome harbour lights –
by candlelight I sit and drowse.

Stay close to me, I’ll keep you warm;
my arms about you are the key
to safety from the coming storm –
your arms about me, equally
will hold me safe, away from harm:
I’ll keep you warm, stay close to me.

By candlelight we’ll sit and dream,
the stars are clear, the moon is bright,
the world is shimmering and gleams,
and all the dangers of the night
are simply stories we have seen –
we sit and dream by candlelight.

A sparrowlet for Grace at dVerse. Grace introduces us to this form, that takes this shape:

RRRA, RRRB

xxxxxxxb

xxxxxxxa

xxxxxxxb

xxxxxxxa

RRRB, RRRA

It’s quite…technical. Anyhow, head over to dVerse to see more.

Barmbrack

It was supposed to taste
of your childhood –
a childhood that I didn’t know –
I never knew you grazed-kneed,
talking excitedly, packed onto
that back bench, trapped
between a brother and a sister –

but instead, made something
different. You liked it. It was not
your childhood, rain on the windows,
warmth in the kitchen –
it was something different,
tastier, maybe, comforting
as the day fades, as the wind
rattles roudn the house –

warm cinnamon, half-melted butter
oozing off the fruited slice –
a new coziness. Isn’t that
how marriage works? We bring
our memories, make something new,
cherish the old. Relish this now.

Barmbrack is an Irish tea loaf, traditionally eaten at Halloween, with charms inside it that have various symbolic meanings. My Irish husband mentions it every Halloween, and one year I decided to bake a loaf for him. If you want the recipe, it’s here: https://www.irishexaminer.com/recipes/?c-recipeid=4079

I’m not a great baker, but this is delicious. It tastes nothing like my husband’s childhood memories, but it’s become part of our repertoire.

This is for dVerse. I’m hosting tonight, and we’re writing poems about food.

Day 10: Cruel Mistress

Winter is a cruel mistress,
alluring in ice diamonds and snowy dress,
she curls her lip at shivering and distress.

And yet winter never lies,
her eyes are the colour of open skies,
her heartbeat steady beneath the earth on which she lies.

She sometimes shares secrets
and sometimes splashes field and forest
with bright berries or a robin’s breast.

And when winter glowers,
punishes us with gales and hail showers,
we hunker by the fire for hours

waiting for her forgiving smile
twinkling in icicles, cold and beautiful.

Thank you to Kim Russell for this glittering, icy poem.

Kim M. Russell started writing when she was a schoolgirl and, since she retired from teaching in 2014, she has become a morning writer of at least a poem a day. She posts mainly poetry on her WordPress blog, writinginnorthnofolk.com. Her poems have been published on-line on Visual Verse, Spillwords, The Ekphrastic Review, Pure Haiku and the Poetry Pea Podcast, as well as in the following printed anthologies: Poetry Rivals and Love’s Labyrinth (Forward Press), Afflatus Magazine, River Writes (Bure Navigation Conservation Trust), Anthology of Aunts and Second Place Rosette (The Emma Press), Peeking Cat Anthologies 2017 and 2018, Fieldwork (New Nature Writing from East Anglia) and the Poetry Pea Journals, as well as a piece of flash fiction in Flash, I love you!, published by Paper Swans Press. Kim has self-published Between Heartbeats, an anthology of short stories and flash fiction, and a novel for children, Joe and Nelly. She lives in Norfolk with her husband and two cats.

Day 6: For Auld Lang Syne

Montmartre, after midnight,
in the very depth of winter,
under the host of her Cœur
in candlelight as black boa
feathers teased keys on pianos
and bowls of French onion soup.

In a gypsy skirt, she twirled
her midlife around the 25th,
familiar threads of childhood,
like the first snows falling,
decorate steps of the Élysée.

Moments are thus sealed;
making mangers into magic.

On a market morning, pre-
feasting, stuffing red noses
into picks of ripe pineapples,
in gloved hands December’s
icicles thought to be trees.

In Le Train of many more
colours than just Bleu, chefs
at side tables flambé Suzette
till sugar runs liquid across
the stationed tongue of Lyon
that we’d mistaken to be l’Est.

Snowflakes, catching flight
on the staircases of interior
courtyards, with its Romeos
on balconies and holly berries
trailing, in a former factory.

Aotearoa on périphérique
of Paris, gifting out parcels
to Lusk girl, no longer local.

Montmartre, after midnight,
child born to be King and we,
under the giggle of cocktail,
whisper au revoir to the new
friends found as snow melts.

Never the same flake. Flame.
Moment. We cannot go back
and equally, can never let go.

Damien B Donnelly needs no introduction from me. Poet, podcaster, consummate host and supporter of poets and poetry, you can find him here:

Websitehttps://eatthestorms.com/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/eatthestorms/?hl=en
Podcasthttps://open.spotify.com/show/0mOECCAcx0kMXg25S0aywi?si=ttUYKsf9TX-WaeitLg6hpA
Email eatthestorms@yahoo.com

Eat the Storms is available from the Hedgehog Press, or Damien’s own website – and new publications are on the way.

Day 1: The Warmth of Snow

Cobwebs of crystal thread and
crisp flattened leaves held the path
we dared that morning.
Coats crammed full spurning the
whip of air; boots sketching the way.
Sun’s glare was too harsh to warm,
but the thrill of snow could scrape
winter’s stinging grasp.
We were catching snowflakes as giddy children.

Julie Stevens @JumpingJules kicks us off! Day 1 of the poetry advent calendar 2021.




The generosity of birds

By which I mean

The way the robin throws his song
out to the world

The way the herring gull
carves the sky

The way the starlings
create dreams

The way the wren
calls from the hedge

The way the pigeons
swagger across the city square

The way the goldfinch
embroiders a line
between tree and sky

The way the blackbird
melts the world into music

The way the cormorant
opens its wings its arms its heart
to the wind

The way the lark
sings only of summer

The way the buzzard
reminds us to trust the sky

A poem for Brendan at earthweal, celebrating biodiversity.