Re-volution

Evolution stutters.
Stuff banks up, then cartwheels suddenly.
Boys become men. A woman dies.
A red leaf spirals down.
The rain starts – did you feel a drop?
I think I did – and then we’re running
under cover. Apples ripen.

These empty streets –
are they tomorrow
or a week ago? I couldn’t say.
Sculpted skies, birds calling,
spring morphing into summer
morphing into autumn.

How much do memories cost, then?
They sink into the soil,
red ice-pops melting sticky
the ground mouth-gaping,
gulping at ersatz cherry juice.

Stuff banks up. A pushchair and a rainbow dress,
sunshine on water. Piles of books,
things fluttering through my fingers.

Wait. I scribble in a yellow notebook,
tap on a keyboard,
then a typewriter,
I paint my phrases
onto parchment, vellum,
press letters into clay,
I chisel words into the rock.

I draw a horse head
on a half-lit wall.

Tell me a story. I’m all out of words.

It’s Peter’s first night hosting at dVerse, and he’s given us an exercise in editing. You can read the details here: https://dversepoets.com/2020/09/10/mtb-write-like-a-dog-edit-like-a-cat/

I don’t do much editing. I spend a lot of time working a poem out in my head, so I think I edit before I commit anything to paper. However, I regularly write for Brendan’s earthweal prompts and I find those poems tend to be a bit more relaxed and free-form than my dVerse poems. This was originally an earthweal poem. Do check earthweal out.

The Red-haired girl – NaPoWriMo 10

Bobby Sands died. That’s how old I am.
Bobby Sands died, and the red haired girl died too,
two days apart – so now, when I discuss
the hunger strikers, I still feel
that gush of anger, that someone could just die.

We’d been in a school play together, her and I,
the Redhead. As if her hair defined her.
Perhaps it did. I think now, that hair might have been
her mother’s first loss, the first thing
she mourned.

Somebody had dropped out, so we
both moved up a notch, theatrically.
I became the mother, and she became
the governess. A comic part. I wanted to play
tragedy back then.

The father was a guy called Tim.
He wore white jeans. Went off and joined the Met.
The Metropolitan Police – so that maybe
when I was down in London, doing all that
student stuff, making my way in party clothes
at daybreak through the empty city streets,
and knowing this was how my life would always be,
if I’d been picked up for some minor crime,
or been the victim of an unprovoked attack,
so guileless in my tawdry party clothes –
it could have been him that I dealt with.

And maybe he was at Orgreave. So while I was
layering on my eyeliner and putting change
into the miner’s tin, he was up there,
sticking in his boot. So far apart
we drift, just spiders, really, riding threads.

When my hairdresser shaved my head, she cried, and
an old lady sitting next to me reached over –
“You look just like that Irish girl” she said,
and we all laughed, smiling and crying. That was my
first loss, but nothing like her mother’s –
that great cloud of Titian red, those curls,
she must have sighed and cursed that hair so many times,
and then wept at the losing of it.

 

 

Bobby Sands was an Irish hunger striker who starved himself to death. Orgreave was the site of a violent confrontation between the police and the striking miners in 1984 (such an appropriate date). NaPoWriMo asks us to write a poem where lots of things happen at the same time. I’m not sure I’ve quite done that, but I went with the poem, which turned out to be a collection of shards of memories. 

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

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 them, 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

NaPoWriMo 12 – an index poem

Memory

See also: Amnesia
Of course – for love, see also hate,
For joy, see also despair.

Ageing effects
I forget the pub we first went to
But I remember you asking me
If I wanted a drink.

Anaesthetic effects
And I remember your smile
And the way your eyes shone

Autobiographical
I remember the flat we stayed in
And the meal you cooked

Biasing recall
I remember a bar in Madrid
And the sun on the tiled floor

Biological basis
I remember the fireworks
One New Year’s Eve
Reflected in the water

Chunking
I had forgotten the light
In the early morning
In the desert
But I remember it now

Confusion with reality
I remember the smell of incense at night
Mixed with the smell of flowers

Consciousness
And the smell of heat
Rising from the ground

Déjà vu experiences
And I remember the stars,
Those clear, clear nights

Of dreams
But I can never remember the smell of bluebells
Until they are there

Dream function
I remember drinking cider
In the sun, falling asleep,
Waking up hot and sweating

False
I remember the flames

Forgetting
I remember

Long term
I remember the colour of the kitchen
And the colour of turmeric
Spilt on the slate floor

Loss, dissociations
I remember walking home at dawn
With the sun rising

Recall
I remember streetlights
In the rain

Remembering
I have forgotten his name
But I remember the coat he wore

Short term
I left my sunglasses
At the beach.
They are long gone.

Skills, learned
I remember the sand on my skin.
I remember the dust.

Sleep, enhancement by.