Pain – for dVerse.

I knew pain
when she was a little girl
in a jangling orange dress
sobbing over a grazed knee.

Back then,
she smelt of hot tarmac
and her hands were sticky
with melted lolly.

Raspberry.

I met her later,
wobbly in high, shiny shoes,
buying a hangover
in a high, shiny bar,

and then again
in a sun-bleached square
in a foreign country,
afraid and alone.

I held her hand
when she doubled over,
blue hospital gown
open at the back.
Her breath was sour,
and her hair was wet
with sweat.

But yesterday, when
I reached out for her,
her cracked laugh,
her bitter scent
caught in my throat,

and there was only music,
played on a broken clarinet.

she had forgotten me.

Mish at dVerse asks us to play with our senses. 

I know that you can come up with many more of these and so I leave you to it! Choose something abstract such as a colour, emotion, idea, concept, a quality, trait or situation…and bring it to life using one or more senses. You could also choose something more concrete, as long as you are use senses that are not normally associated with it. For example, “moonlight”. How does it sound? I think you get the idea. Find new ways to dabble with the poetic magic of the senses.

A list of apple names – for dVerse

Slack ma girdle
Camelot
Billy Down Pippin
Winter Lawrence

There is a crunch
a fragrance
in these names.

Fair maid of Devon
Don’s delight
Glass apple
Golden ball

There is a girl
rubbing an apple
on her skirt,
to make it shine

Black Tom Putt
Cornish Gilliflower
Hangydown
Hoary morning

A boy tossing
A glowing apple
High into a blue
September sky

Sops in wine
Cotehele beauty
Pigs nose
Red ruby, Morgan Sweet

A woman peeling and slicing,
Rolling out pastry
Hands floured,
Cloves and cinnamon to hand,
Singing as she works

Paignton Marigold
Lucombe’s seedling
Pomeroy of Somerset
Farmer’s glory
Quench

The men picking,
crushing, golden juice
trickling, and then
the long wait
in the barrel.

Yarlington mill
Ice apple
Nine square
Hockings green

Old names,
Graced,
Echoing down years,
Sweet and crisp,
Sweeter for being stored.

Names of traditional apples from the South West of England. I’m ever so slightly obsessed with them – and these are only a few. I didn’t really need to add anything else, but I have attempted to explain my obsession. This is for Victoria at dVerse, who is asking for list poetry.

Psycho – for dVerse

Come in, take a seat, observe my domain –
You can see I don’t do this for financial gain!
So why do I do it? The thrill of the power
I feel as I sit here for hour after hour…

Hey, right at the start I let her decide,
If she wants to commit, then she’s in for the ride,
And I’m always surprised when they say that they will –
Why do they do it? I guess it’s THEIR thrill.

I’m reeling her in now, taking it slow,
Step by step, feeling how far she will go –
If she’s silly enough to get caught in my net,
Then I’m sorry, my friend, she deserves all she gets,

Her parents are blind, they just do not see
Her boredom, depression, her teenage ennui,
And her friends let her down. But I’m always there –
And the comedy is, that she thinks that I care.

And you’d be surprised at the things that she’ll try,
Random instructions from some random guy,
Yeah, you’ll be surprised at the things that she’ll do,
The pain she will take if I’m telling her to:

If I tell her to cut, watch her pick up the knife,
If I tell her to jump, watch her offer her life,
And I feel like a god, as I sit in my room,
Fingers on keyboard, dictating her doom.

 

We were talking at work yesterday about a sick social media game that encourages young people to experiment with self harm and suicide. I’m not going to name it. If you’ve heard of it, you’ve heard of it. If you haven’t, it needs no publicity from me. Modern day evil for dVerse where we are asked to offer a dramatic monologue in the style of  The Laboratory by Robert Browning. 

Still – quadrille for dVerse

Grace at dVerse asks us for a quadrille – 44 words including the prompt word – “still”.

Still

still crazy,
still dancing,
still chancing,
still charming,
still telling stories,
still looking for stars,
still watching the changing moon,
still putting on one more tune
still trying something new
still soaking up sun,
still dreaming,
still learning,
still singing
still caring
still you.

Haibun for dVerse – feel the fear

It’s hard to say what I was so afraid of. It’s hard to imagine what I was so afraid of. I was five hours’ drive from home, with one of my oldest friends, in a smallish room, with pictures lining the walls, and friendly people sitting at tables. We were sharing a bottle of wine, white wine, that we had brought with us. My friend smiled confidently at the master of ceremonies. She knew him well. “Ah, no” she smiled, in answer to his question. “I’m not reading tonight…

But my friend is“.

So perhaps I was afraid that nobody would listen. That they wouldn’t like my stuff. That they would realise I’m not a poet at all, I’m an imposter. The wine tasted sour in my mouth and I struggled to concentrate on what anyone else was reading. When I was asked to stand, I winced, but I went for it. I opened my mouth, and listened to the words spilling out:

“I used to think that poetry had to be about something big and important, but now I find I mostly write about rooks…”

And off I went.

the wild bird flies free
sunlight breaks through rolling clouds
a flower opens

Toni at dVerse has asked us to write a haibun about overcoming a fear. I did my first poetry reading last week, while staying with a friend who is a confident and seasoned poet and performer. It was terrifying, and then it stopped being terrifying and was great! I had committed myself to doing a reading this year. I might even do more…

Rook – for dVerse

Rooks gather
in the auditorium –
there’s a little jostling,
some shoving, but, hey –
that’s family.

Black jackets, silver studs,
punk attitude. All those
young kids gathering,

and then a dad,
maybe someone’s mum,
suddenly lifts up
sky-borne

and there’s applause.

Rooks gather,
stage invasion,
suddenly they’re all
up there –
dancing, like there’s
no tomorrow.

Rooks hang
somewhere between
clod and cloud,
chorusing
carousing
conversing

waiting for
the show to start.

It’s a rook concert.

Lillian at dVerse is asking for some anthropomorphic verse. I apologise profusely for the terrible pun. I had no choice.

Apple tree – for dVerse

I have drowsed all winter,
dreaming my dappled dreams,
but now the sun has touched me,
and the lengthening days
and my dreams are all of leaves,
green flames. The sap rises
fire in my veins. Down there,
deep in the darkness, my roots
seek life. I catch the sunlight
in a net, carve my dreams
from it. It’s spring, and
the primrose says “Be glad, be glad!”
and the blackbird tattoos his song
of love and hate. It’s spring,
and I dream of blossom,
pink and pale, smooth as rain,
calling the bees to dance their weaving.

Each morning, the night ripens into day,
each evening, day autumns into night,
and I watch the stars trace
their slow pathways, and the shadows
grow and shrink their way
across the grass. I dream
of leaves, and flowers, and fruit –
heavy apples bending my branches –
heavier than the thieving finch, the blackbird –
“Be afraid, be afraid,” he calls,
but I know
that in the pale heart
of each glowing apple
shines a star.
I dreamed it so.

 

Mish at dVerseasks us to write a poem from nature’s point of view.  It was always going to be an apple tree. Or a rook. The apple tree won…

Those dVerse poets are a dverse bunch, but very friendly and there’s a whole world of wonderful poetry over there. Check it out. 

The best meal ever – haibun for dVerse II

If you ask me about the best meal I ever had, I’ll smile, and think of Sydney. I’ll tell you how we sat on the waterfront, by the place where the seaplanes dock, in a restaurant called the Catalina. We went for lunch, six of us, and ate and drank and laughed and talked. We were so young, life was an adventure, the sun was shining and the food was so good.

Don’t ask me what we ate. I only know it was delicious. And there was lobster. Lots of lobster. And a different wine with every course. I only know we stayed there all afternoon, and the waiters were lovely, and the sun was shining, and the food was so good. We stayed on, while everyone else left, after pudding, after coffee, watching the sea birds and the sea planes, and the sun on the water. I’m sure we drank champagne. We definitely drank champagne.

If you ask me about the best meal I ever had, I’ll smile, and think of Raj, who always knew the best restaurants, the best wines, the best cocktails. I’ll smile, even though there are tears in my eyes, because now there are only five of us, and the bravest of us is gone. The one who ordered the champagne. The one who made every meal a celebration.

Catalina calls
Sun on the water, shining,
Bubbles rise in fun

 

This is my second haibun for this prompt. It’s fortuitous – I’ve written about Raj before, our fun-loving, brave friend. It’s her birthday today, and she was there when I had the best meal ever.