Heroes for Earthweal

They told me heroes were broad-chested,
brave. They told me heroes came
on dashing steeds, with magic swords,
to fight a final battle with a dazzling foe.

I’m finding now that heroes come
in different shapes and guises. My neighbour’s one –
handing out flowers, making smiles. I work
with many, keeping going, day after day.
A hero comes with mail, another stacks a shelf,
another steps into a house with smiles
and sunshine, and a plate of food,
a paper mask, a pair of gloves, and love.

Heroism’s something small
and every day. It’s special, but it’s nothing special.

Men brought up without women,
men brought up without families,
men told to button up, man up, step up,
shut up, shut down, calm down –
men taught to deny themselves –
told us that heroes did all that. They built up
heroes in their own stone image –
heroes in uniform, heroes who flung themselves
headlong into the battle –
manned up, stepped up, shut up –
and we believed them.
We lived inside the battle story
for too long. We built walls,
buttressed our lives, shut up, shut down, shut out.

There are things that penetrate –
the smallest things. Viruses, glyphosates, fears.
We didn’t even notice them,
until we were surrounded.

We need new heroes. We are spotting them –
they are the ones with shining threads,
connecting them to others. They’re the ones
nurturing their children, teaching love
and laughter. All those old stories. Feeding us.
The ones finding new ways to love,
new ways to show their kindness. Spinning
new threads. We need connection now.

A poem about heroes for Brendan at Earthweal. If you haven’t been over there, check it out. It’s a space to think about our bruised and beautiful planet, to think about ways of changing things. Every week I think “I have nothing to say about this”, and then gradually something emerges that feels urgent and important. I’m not sure I say anything terribly new, but a chorus of voices saying the same thing makes a loud, compelling noise. We put our words out there, and they make unexpected journeys, journeys we will never know.

Deprivation – poem for dVerse

She always offered food
instead of love
when we craved kisses
we got cake soft
sweet light-as-air
as yellow as an egg yolk
sugar sweet too sweet

or crack-faced cookies
chocolate studded
clinging to our teeth

she fed us well

we ate
shame faced
knowing we didn’t need
this sweetness butter sugar eggs
in all their varied combinations
sharp shards of toffee
apple tart soft raisin studded dumplings

our stomachs ached
and we swallowed
hugs and kisses and cuddles and
warm pats on the shoulder
and brushed hair and smiles
and cosy fireside chats

gulped them down
as muffins fairy-cakes
toasted tea-cakes
dripping butter

we would have eaten her

 

Lisa (Jade) is hosting Poetics for dVerse tonight, and we are writing poems inspired by food.

 

I miss you – poem for dVerse

This phone’s a graveyard

of dead conversations,

an old handbag

where love rattles

like a dusty sweet. I mean

I’m sad and lonely

and I miss you

and my heart’s

a screwed up ball of paper

with a half-written poem

scrawled across it.

Bjorn is hosting at dVerse tonight, and he’s looking for metaphors. Not similes, oh no – the hardcore version. Get over there and read some poetry – or write – or both.

Remembering

Free gift in every packet –

it might not be what you expect. Anticipate delight, or fear, or that bright tingle of desire that sets your fingers splaying –

in that anger you spilled
over the kitchen floor, there is
the seed of change –

rise up and use it. Breathe in deep and roar. Build roads and bridges, use your strength, haul on the rope, tighten your grip. Don’t let go –

 and in that weight of fear there
is some love,

as if they’re sisters, love and fear, arms linked, flip sides of the same coin of passion, an old coin, warm in your hand, sticky from sitting in your pocket –

and in that great, grey,
overwhelming grief, you’ll find

somewhere in that cloud, that blocks your sight and leaves you groping, hands out, blinded by loss, reading the air with your fingertips –

a memory of joy.

Hold out your hand.

 

This is for Amaya at dVerse. She asks us to take something we previously posted on a past 11 September and play with it. My original poem was published last year Free gift in every packet – for dVerse – and it’s here in italics. It was interesting to review an old poem. 

 

Mast and Sail – twiglet for Misky

If I’m the mast, you’re the sail –
I mean, the thing that drives us on –
so that the wind creates momentum
and the ocean is connection –

I thought the water was a barrier,
but you see opportunity,
and I have hidden from the wind,
but you have made it energy –

but then again, I’ve held you,
strengthened you, tied you
to all these things you love,
kept you from flying too far away

losing too much, creating
too much distance. This is the power
we have together, to make purpose
out of fear and chaos. To travel.

 

 

A twiglet for Misky – a first go at a poem inspired by Miskys prompting phrase. It’s all about inspiration 

She doesn’t want to write about love

She’s not going to write about love –
because everyone writes about love,
and everyone knows
that love is a rose
and love is a thorn,
and love is a glistening
bead of blood on a fingertip.

There’s so much more to life
than love – there’s moonlight,
and reading, and bottomless coffees,
but everyone knows that
love is a warm jolt of caffeine,
and love is a poem,
and love is the moon,
and love is a lone wolf howling,

and even when she strips
the metaphors out of her work,
writing a forest – a real one –
she drove there, and pressed her hand
into the bark of a tree
’til her palm was marked,
still everyone knows
that love is a tree,
and love is a forest,
and love is the road
that carries you there.

 

“Love is raw as freshly cut meat,

mean as a beetle on the track of dung”

~ Jim Harrison  from Songs of Unreason

 

Day 20 of this 28 day delve into the world of Jim Harrison. Jilly is hosting a month of Unreason. Check it out. There’s some great stuff being written there.

Truth

She has become adept at reading
in between the lines, at analysing
gaps and pauses. She understands
the elements in him that will
combine explosively, she knows
that history changes, dates
and meanings re-appraised,
eye-witnesses are blind,
the source material long gone.

She knows that boundaries blur
and shift, small wars declared,
and independence movements claimed.

All the stories that he tells
cast him as the hero – what does that
make her? The wicked witch?
Tempting with gingerbread?
The big bad wolf,all teeth
and slantways glances – or,
much worse, the second bride
of Bluebeard, destiny to find
the bloody chamber, and then
never leave? The bad girl
spewing vipers as she speaks?

Still, one and one make two,
Pythagoras holds true. He’s
made a physics that describes
a simple world, of billiard balls
and marbles. Under that, there
is a truth. She keeps on digging.

 

 “Nearly everything we are taught is false except how to read”

~  Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

For Day 11 of Jilly’s totally Unreasonable month. 

 

 

Love letters

She writes a love note
every morning.

Starts with the warm embrace
of fresh-cut bread,
all smeared with butter kisses,

adds shreds and shards
of green reflection,

then the main event – firm flesh,
or the salt mystery of cheese,
or once a week, a more exotic whisper,

tops it with red hot passion,
neatly sliced, and the sweet
memories of summer, spooned
from a glass jar.

She writes a love note
every morning,
seals it inside
a plastic envelope

she sets it by his place,
so that, at lunchtime,
when he opens it –

he’ll know she loves him.

This is for Bjorn at dVerse. It’s an idea I’ve played with before, and I’m not sure it entirely meets the brief. He wants us to develop metaphors. I guess this is an extended metaphor with little metaphors inside it…

Cracks – kintsugi for dVerse

On Friday night the weather was glorious. We threw some towels into the car and drove to the beach. Just as we pulled up by the pebble ridge, my friend Tracey pulled up next to us, with her two daughters, Jojo and Julia. We climbed the ridge, laughing and stumbling, negotiating the warm, round stones – dull grey, sometimes splintered through with bright, white quartz. The wide bay faces west, so the afternoon sun sits out to sea, setting eventually behind the island, but still high in the sky when we arrived. The sea was clear blue, sparkling in the sunlight. The tide was on the way in, and we hurried to get into the water before it reached the pebbles. Jojo helped her sister into the water, and then helped her again when it was time to get out. Then we sat on the warm rocks, soaking in the sunlight, warming our bones, talking, laughing, enjoying being together. Just being together is a miracle.

Just over a year ago, Julia had a massive brain bleed. She was nine. Amazingly, there was an ambulance driving through the village when her mum dialled 999, and even more amazingly the air ambulance happened to be at our local hospital when she arrived there. She was flown 150 miles to a specialist centre, where the surgeon had just finished operating and was able to wait for her to arrive, and take her straight to theatre. Even so, she spent three weeks in intensive care, and three months in hospital.

I watched the family crack, but hold together. I saw how much work Tracey put into keeping things going, and how much love and care surrounded them, but at times it wasn’t enough. The stress was overwhelming, the strains became almost too much, but somehow each of them was able to reach out and hold on, and pull things back together again. Sometimes Tracey was the strong one, sometimes her mum stepped in, sometimes her husband shouldered things. Sometimes Jojo took on more than a 14 year old really should. There were cracks, yes, but they were filled up with love and family, and kindness. There will always be cracks, I think, but that love that fills them has made them part of the family story and the family strength.

Summer sun on sea
moments of love and healing
warmth of air and stone

Grace at dVerse is tonight’s bartender. She asks us to think about the wonderful art of kintsugi, mending things so that the repair becomes part of the beauty of the piece. ” In Japanese, the word kintsugi means “golden rejoining,” and refers to the Zen philosophy of acknowledging flaws, embracing change, and restoring an object with a newfound beauty” she explains. The story I thought of is all there, it needs no explanation. 

Microfiction for Jane Dougherty – What Freedom!

If you had told me I would spend my days in dancing and laughter with a gallant sea captain – well, I daresay I would have looked at you in disbelief through the lorgnette I affected, shaken my head and moved away.

I was the eldest – and plainest – of seven orphaned sisters, of limited means. I dreamed of romance and adventure, but I knew my duty. I became a governess and watched as my sisters in turn secured positions or husbands. When Louisa, the youngest of us, married the Reverend Coulter and travelled with him to Kettering, I seized my opportunity.

English governesses were all the rage in Russia, I learned, and I secured myself a position in St Petersburg. Such excitement! I took a berth on a small vessel, mainly carrying cargo, but also myself and three commercial travellers .This was the adventure I had dreamed of, and the warm glances I exchanged with Captain Aaronovitch were my own secret romance.

And then – disaster! An ice-berg! Imagine the maelstrom of emotions I experienced – fear of doom, then delight as I felt the Captain’s strong arms around me and knew I would not die unkissed.

And then the unexpected joy of this spirit form, and this sense of freedom – what freedom! – as I and the Captain frolic and cavort in these icy seas, through the long Arctic summer days, and the starlit nights of winter.

The prompt is from Jane Dougherty, and the image is by Ilya Repin – it’s called What Freedom!1024px-ilya_repin-what_freedom