In love with death, a little bit.

Only the very young can be in love with death.
Oh, and the old. The old man’s friend,
we called pneumonia when she came,
hot-fingered, offering a sense-dulled end.

Those of us in middle life
who’ve chewed death’s raw, rank-flavoured meat,
are different. We’ve sat with death,
been in the room when she has found her seat

and found life sweeter, sharper, stronger
because we know death hovers there
behind the door, around the corner,
beside us in the clinic. Everywhere –

Santa Muerte reaches out cold hands,
her fingers clattering like castanets,
offering cream cakes, coffee,
a tray of cocktails. Lighting cigarettes.

But would our little lives feel quite so sweet
if she weren’t stalking round the house at night,
stilettoes crunching on the gravel?
It might be not. Perhaps the young are right.

My second “dark ballad” for Lucy, who is guest-hosting at dVerse. This is a little less obviously dark – and a little less camp, I think!

Empty – NaPoWriMo 4

The photo’s gone, the wall is bare;

the Sacred Heart’s been packed away,

leaving the faintest shadow where

the striped wallpaper didn’t fade,

and the piano’s out of tune,

silently waiting all alone

to be polished up and moved,

make music in another home.

The kitchen smells of nothingness.

It once was filled with cake, and chips,

and family rows, and happiness,

and sugared tea that burned your lips.

All of the things that made this home

are packed away, or lost, or gone.

Day 4 of NaPoWriMo, and we are asked to write a sad poem in simple words. They suggest we might think about writing a sonnet. This is a sonnet rhyme scheme, without any syllable count, and without a volta. A sonnot, maybe?

It’s Open Link night at dVerse tonight, so I’ll link this there, too.

All the colours

  Death comes in a range of colours
There were blue curtains round the bed
  Black crow pecking
not quite sky blue, not quite the sea
  Coffee ground vomit brown
and the nurses all wore blue
  Rolling yellow jaundiced eye
as if they were all virgins
  Bright blood pumping from an artery
silver bells on the bedside table
  The green sheen of decay
cockle shells on those blue curtains
  Livid purple of obstruction
and me, contrary as always
  Pink puffer, blue bloater
I have lived blue, chasing the distance
  Gangrene
scanning horizons, watching water,
  Drowning waters, green, grey, blue
lingering at departure boards

blue comes naturally to me

 

This is for Day 6 of Jilly’s Unreason poetry prompt month. Today’s Jim Harrison quotation is: 

“Her nights are full of the red teeth of death”

from Life / Dead Man’s Float

So far 11 poets have taken part. There’s some really good stuff going on. It’s not too late to join in for one or some, or even all of the prompts. 

I don’t think I’m usually a dark and brooding poet. There’s something going on here.

Senses – NaPoWriMo 26

We won’t get that scent of you again –
that’s gone for good. Nowhere
on this earth will that particular mixture
of Dove soap, and skin, and biscuits
be smelled again.

Maybe
that’s part of the strangeness of death.
That lizard squatting in the middle
of our monkey brains, tasting the air,
frowns in confusion. Eyes see – the face,
the hair, the hands – we know them
like we know our own, better maybe –
but there’s no smell. Or what smell
there is is cold, carrying the bitter
echo of the undertaker. All wrong.

Death tastes bland. We salt it up –
ham rolls, and gala pie – but still,
it strips flavour out of everything.
It’s bright lights and dark corners,
and too much noise. Cars keep on driving,
someone sounds a horn, a child is talking,
there’s a sudden splash of rhythm from
an open window.

We are set apart
in formal clothes, uncomfortable shoes,
some of us too warm, some of us too cold.
We’re not dressed for the weather,
the real weather, but for something
outside of weather, normal life suspended,
we in this bubble of mourning, looking inwards.

It won’t last long.

But then, sometime in the way ahead,
I’ll smell that smell, no, not that smell,
just something that is close to it
and suddenly I’ll see you,
hear your chuckle, or catch a glimpse
of your hands, slim and capable,
and you’ll be there, and gone again
before I recognise you.

 

 

Day 26 of NaPoWriMo, and this might be the last I get to do this year. That’s a shame, but sometimes life gets in the way. I’m not usually a miserablist, but we are in the middle of bereavement, and that is surprisingly time consuming – as well as consuming thought and energy and all that other stuff. I’m aware that I’ve been writing about this, on and off, at some level for a while. That’s OK. We work with what we have. Anyhow, here’s the prompt. It’s about using our senses:

And now for our prompt (optional as always). Taking our cue from today’s craft resource, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that includes images that engage all five senses. Try to be as concrete and exact as possible with the “feel” of what the poem invites the reader to see, smell, touch, taste and hear.

Happy writing!

 

Waiting – haibun for dVerse

We are driving across Richmond Park, in a sad procession of cars. None of us want to be here, but we’ve all made our journeys, and here we are. The traffic’s stopped for a moment, and we are waiting here, right here, appreciating the pause – a space to breathe and be silent, before what will come next. It’s beautiful here. We can see why you loved it, why you came here when you wanted to breathe. It’s bleak, though. The January sky is bone white, and everywhere is grey – the trees, the ground, even the deer that gather and rest, so close to us, so tame. We are waiting to move off again, when suddenly there’s a flash of green movement – a parakeet – sudden, incongruous, wildly glamorous. It’s like a message from you, reminding us that life is fun – your favourite word – and that we should remember you with cocktails, and silk scarves, and laughter. One day we’ll manage that. I promise.

Sudden green arrow
Piercing the grey winter light
Promise of laughter.

This is for Raj, who walked away from us two weeks ago, and left the world a little duller, a little greyer, a little less glamorous. She carried her life like a bouquet of roses, and shared the scent and colour with us all. DVerse is asking for waiting haibuns. It seemed to fit.DVerse

Whisper – quadrille for dVerse

Santa Muerte

Stalks round the house

In a bone dry click clack

Pair of red stilettos,

Trailing discarded

Cigarette stubs,

Empty beer cans,

A whisper of dark scent,

Peering in at windows,

Waiting in shadowed

doorways,

Smiling her constant smile

All teeth and eyes.

This is for De at dVerse. Slip in, order quietly and keep the noise down. We’re whispering in the bar tonight.dVerse