Words

I am the queen of words,
and their slave.

You come in, and vomit
your words in front of me.
I kneel, sorting through
the sharp shards of words
that cut my fingers,
the dull, slimy words
that choke me. I construct
some kind of story from them,
we construct some kind of story
from them.

I am the witchbitch that built the tower,
and the princess trapped there,
and the wyrm that guards it.

You wrap your arms around your words
and hold them back from me.
I offer you a hundred nuanced shades
of meaning, and still you keep
your mouth closed, lips tight over
clenched teeth, words trapped
in the darkness.

I am the old woman holding out the apple,
and the girl who bites it.

There are words smeared dripping
over the walls of this small room,
there is a stink of them, rotting
in the corners.

There are words floating free
like glistening insects,
rising on shafts of light.

I will make your story.

 

Linked to Poets United, and to Real Toads, for a Real Toads prompt – words –

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Roses

This is my response to Louis MacNeice’s poem Snow. It’s for Brendan over at Real Toads who asks us to respond to a poem that inspired us. 

Roses

You came in, and suddenly
the room was full of roses,
as if you were the tipping point
that made it all make sense.

Inside, trapped warmth, rich scent,
and all those roses crawling up the walls,
across the curtains, and the glass vase
swelling on the wooden table,

one petal on the shiny surface, fallen.
Outside, winter,all lines and angles, woodcut.
The world turns in analogue, infinitesimal.,
but we see the moment when the load shifts.

World is evolution.

I’m struggling here. This room too
soft and fragrant. I could sink,
but there is something urgent
out there, beyond the glass.

Snow
BY LOUIS MACNEICE
The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes—
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands—
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Ghosts at my table

there are ghosts at my table tonight
I write, not mentioning that
my table is a pale rectangle
of wood, so that perhaps
you picture your own table,
round, white, plastic –
or a dark mahogany oval,
and your ghosts are
the dark ring left by
a wine bottle, the last time
you had dinner with
a long lost lover,
or the scorched place
where you set down a pan
too quickly, the day
you heard that news
about your sister, while mine
are the assorted stains
and scratches left by my
children as they leave their
childhood, not quite ghosts,
waiting to fade.

Metafictionfor the Toads

News

drip drip drip
the tap fills
the sink until
drip drip drip
it overflows
and suddenly
it’s everywhere
and the noise
maddens
drip drip drip
and yet somehow
we can’t turn it off
can’t turn away
can’t look away
we must know
drip drip drip
what she wore
what he said
where they fought
drip drip drip
who made the error
who told the lie
drip drip drip
the flood
the fire
the bomb
the war
drip drip drip
the child crying

Poets used to carry news with them, we are told. I’m feeling a bit newsed out at the moment, but this is for the Toads. 

Three flames

Photo by M. Bednar. Prompt from Imaginary gardens with real toads.  

The first flame
takes the leaf
the first leaf
and from there
it swings from
twig to twig
wild cat, bright
bird, moving
swiftly, yet
staccato,
bursting out
in unex-
pected spots,
a fever,
epidemic
of heat, raised
temperature,
wild passion.

The second flame
is a candle in a dark
window, waiting:
the quiet light
that calls the
traveller home,
drifts gentle through
the trees, spills
down the garden path,
wraps itself around you
like a warm robe,
a breath of love,
as the door opens.

The third flame calls the bullet.
The third flame
calls
the bullet.
The
third
flame
calls
the
bullet.