What counts as publishing?

I’ve been writing poems on here for a bit now, and it seems to be going OK. I’ve always thought of this as an online open mic session, rather than a digital chapbook. It’s been a great space for me to build up a bit of confidence in my work.

However, I’m now thinking about taking things a little further…dabbling in the world of competitions…maybe submitting poems to magazines…pushing myself a little. I’ve been inspired by a friend telling me that she was advised to aim for 100 rejections a year.

Obviously(!), the only way I get a feel for whether my work is OK or not is by putting it on here and hoping for feedback, so the first place for me to look for poems to use in this new enterprise is here. As I said, this is my online microphone. Am I right? Or does this count as publishing? And if it is publishing, am I allowed to revise stuff from here and treat it as new, or is that it?

 

Midnight Villanelle

Some of us cannot resist
The haunting owl’s cry:
Maybe we are midnight-kissed.
Soft twilight soothes us,
Moonlight makes us sigh,
Some of us cannot resist,
Fire burning in the darkness,
Watching the sparks fly –
Maybe we are midnight-kissed.
The bat’s swift darting thrills us,
And the fox creeping by,
Some of us cannot resist
A pale moon, dripping stardust,
Dark clouds rolling by.
Maybe we are midnight kissed.
The night world is our play place
I’ll tell you why
Some of us cannot resist –
It’s because we’re midnight-kissed.

I might be too late with this villanelle. It’s for Mindlovemisery’s menagerie. I think I could do better…need to try again at some point. Maybe not today. 

Low tide – for Sue Vincent

I low-tidepause here, to appreciate the quality of the light. We are connoisseurs of light, after all. How many times has my love sliced me a delicate sliver of moonlight, or licked the last traces of a soft pink sunrise from my fingertips? This light, the last of the day, is as silver as a mirror. I inhale the clean scent of it.

We are creatures of fire, my love and I. Cut me, and angry flames rage forth. Bind me with rope, and I will burn it to ashes. Wrap me in chains, and I will squeeze them as you squeeze a lemon – liquid metal oozing between my fingers. Only trickery could have captured my love, and only cruelty could have cast him into the cold darkness of the ocean. The fire burns white within me when I think of it. I have vowed to find him. I have sworn by the sands of the desert, by the bright molten heart of the volcano, and by the dangerous beauty of our mother, the sun.

You will know when I find him, you pale moist creature moulded out of earth and water, sucking in air like the milk you suckled at your mother’s breast. You will know, because the sky will burn. I will take my vengeance on all the slippery beings of the water, on the darting, swooping children of the air, and the plodding dullards clotted out of earth. My love and I will make a desert of this world.

Pray that I never find him.

This is for Sue Vincent’swritephoto Thursday prompt.

 

Nanowrimo

I did Nanowrimo. And I “won” – which seems like a funny way of describing it, but there you go. It was an interesting experience, and I think I learnt quite a few interesting things from it.

First of all, I can write. I don’t know if I can write well, but I can write a lot of words. That was a surprise to me, actually, and was the reason why I took on the challenge. I wanted to test myself. Now I’ve got 50,000 words – or just over, and I’m wondering what to do with them. There’s a lot of work to do before that lot looks like a book.

I also found out that to keep up that level of wordcount is hard, especially if you’re working, and trying to keep on top of the washing and feeding people. I cut out a lot of my usual self maintenance, and I need to pick that up again. So I don’t think that I could do it on a long term basis.

It was an amazing creative activity, though. Along the way a fairly minor character stepped forward and took over the whole plot. My original story shrank. A whole lot of new people I’d never thought of appeared and started doing stuff. And it was fun. More fun than real life, some of the time – potentially addictive, I think.

I’m glad I did it. I don’t think I’ll do it again – November’s a busy month for me. Mind you, all months are busy. However, I have discovered things about my own creativity, and what works for me that I probably wouldn’t have discovered without taking this on. From that point of view it was well worth doing. Now I’m caught up in Christmas, but next year (when the world gets too much…) I think I might have a go at polishing up this tangle of words and seeing what it looks like.

Wish me luck!

 

 

Good Night – Haibun for dVerse

If you’ve lived with cold, real cold, you might not understand our excitement. We come from a temperate climate, where snow causes chaos for a day or two every few years. Snowflakes are indistinguishable blobs of white, bringing joy to school-children – and those of us who still appreciate being at the mercy of the weather. But this was Finland, in January, and it was cold. Colder than I’d thought possible. Nights were long, and the days were short – the pink and orange light of sunrise fading gently into the red and gold of sunset, with the snow reflecting back the shimmering colours. Snowflakes were intricately embroidered creations.

We’d gone to the edge of a frozen lake – only distinguishable as a lake because there were no trees growing there – and waited with a group of other people, hoping to see the Lights. It was cold. Our breath formed clouds around us, and we shuffled and jigged, keeping our feet moving, talking, joking, waiting. Gradually everyone else left, in search of hot chocolate, or maybe a nightcap. No Lights tonight, they all agreed. But we are stubborn, and we hung on, the four of us alone in the wide, white night. We finally decided to go, when our youngest started to noticeably droop, and that was when they came. White lights dancing in the sky, just for us. Our memory, to hold for ever.

Whiteness all around
Snowflakes dance their way to earth
Lights dance in the sky.

Toni is tending the bar at dVerse tonight. It’s the last haibun of 2016, and she’s wishing us a “Good Night”. You should head over there and read some haibuns. Life is beautiful. 

The Journey – microfiction for Jane Dougherty

Sometimes he wondered at how heavy they had become. At first, when there were just one or two of them, they had each seemed as insubstantial as mist, and he had hardly felt their cool hands on his arms or neck, had scarcely heard their whispers, that moved through the air like wind through sedge grass. Now they clung to him like ivy to an old wall, and all he could hear was their insistent murmurings – “The princess, the princess” they whispered, pushing him on.

“We are her dreams” they told him, “Her memories. We are the stories she tells herself. How can she be herself without us?” And they cling to him, begging to be carried, to be taken on the long journey to the lost princess.

In the beginning, he had trusted them, but with the passing days he grew to hate them, and to fear them. There were more each night, holding out pale arms to him, and he couldn’t refuse them. He wondered if the princess would welcome him, and his strange company – if ever they should find her – or if she would turn from the, preferring her forgetfulness.

But still he journeyed, as if this forest had no end, and his destiny was to walk these twisting paths for all eternity, seeking a princess who had forgotten her own story.

This story is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge. The image is by John Bauer. Check out her site – her entries are really great stuff.996px-john_bauer-ha%cc%88sten_ledde_han_vid_betslet

Sunlight

 

I know that pump
and the coldness of it
on whitened
winter mornings

and that bucket,
the awkward weight,
held away, wide
of your body.

They must eat, of course,
the men, the children,
roaring in
full of hunger,

and is this not an act
of heroism? The daily task
of giving
to them,

the daily act of staying
here, in this narrow place,
not spreading those
white wings, folding.

The beating hearts of all
those women, who have
poured out
their desires

and here is love
in these four walls
and the hands’ movements
again repeated.

This is my “cover” of ‘Sunlight’ by Seamus Heaney, for a dVerse (Tricky) prompt. You can find the original here: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1995/poems-1-e.html

I have tried to keep something of the spirit and the feel of the original. I wrote out each stanza of the original and then wrote out my response to it, and found I seemed to have written a poem that worked. Seamus Heaney wrote beautiful poems filled with intense local detail and universal significance. He works on many levels. 

Moon Haibun for dVerse

We were much younger than we are now, and out in the far West of Ireland, where the sea hits the land so powerfully that foam rises off the waves like snow. We’d spent the evening in a pub, wrapped in the warmth of hot whiskies and the sweet scent of turf smoke. We talked to some strangers, and laughed with them and there was music, and somehow we found ourselves walking with them up a green lane to a cottage where a party was in full swing. There was more music there, and a wild mix of people – a man in a yacht club blazer, a group of West Cork hippies, some younger kids, all talking, some singing, all drinking, and a haze of smoke over it all. At some point we all spilled out into the night, where the grass was wet, to watch the lunar eclipse. That was the point of the party, after all, and we’d half forgotten about it. We watched the moon go red, and then disappear, bite by bite – eaten by some great sky serpent, out of myth. We walked home, hand in hand. That was our first eclipse together.

Not wine, nor roses,
Nor hearts scrawled on midnight leaves,
But a blood red moon.

 

Toni is back! She’s offered us a choice of prompts – moons or birthdays. I’ve gone with the moon, on a lunatic jaunt, even though the supermoon was hidden by thick low cloud tonight for us. If you go over to dVerse, Toni explains the haibun, and you can read some great poetry, too.