Speak No Evil – A #Poem By Carol J Forrester

Temper your tongue with candyfloss static.

the bite is enough to ward off words,
stop them before the starting gates
in the narrow space 
between crowded molars. 

Use teeth to smile
around calorie free pleasantries. 

Taste patience becoming poison.
Every syllable sharp.

I’ve started recoding some of my poems and posting them to Tick-Tock. (@caroljforrester) Short and sweet work best, so I’m looking to a lot of my quadrilles as a starting point, and trying very hard not to self-sabotage with worries over how awful I feel I sound in recordings.

#NaPoWriMo2022 – Day Twenty-Six

My Body Is Like An Envelope

I have the watermarks
from when you steamed my secrets
loose from my skin. 
I felt every inch of you tremble,
mouth a tight scream of a spout
shrilling for attention,
for answers. 
You left me unstuck, 
spilling words addressed to someone else. 
No one held your tongue accountable,
only mine,
see where I taped down the tears
the places that no longer seal. 

Perhaps surprisingly, I always find the harder prompts to be the ones where I’ve done something similar before. I have a poem ready to send out for submission that works an extended simile/metaphor of a shipwreck throughout the whole piece. It can be easy to almost write the same poem again if it fits to the prompt, and I had to go off for a little think before I found a way to work around the old poem still lurking in my head.

#NaPoWriMo2022 – Day One & Fifteen

I Could Not Care Less About The Light Switch - NaPoWriMo Day Fifteen Prompt

intermediate, mediate, or whatever,
I do not need its technical portrait 
imprinted on my retinas.
As if you scored those wires on my eyelids
instead of crumpled fists of paper
our bedroom littered, yes, yes, our bedroom
where I am so desperate to be sleeping,
duvet to forehead, clawed over the ears,
this unbidden seminar of light switch electronics
threatening to blow a fuse in our marriage--
I do not need to know why 
the switches won't match when the lights are out.
And we have tried every combination
every puzzle box of on and off
to make them fall in to a uniformed march. 
It was never a why question, but a general annoyance
of a thing seeming out of place,
like unmatched salt and pepper pots!
Not purposeful, but one being oh-so-slightly shorter?
Thinner? More rounded on the corners?
Not a, "this is salt, and this is pepper difference"
just difference you can't quite pin down
or turn off,
like the bloody light switches 
you won't stop explaining,
or drawing 
at two a.m. 
when I mistakenly say 
'I'm still not getting it?'
Which I admit was really my fault
so I'll take the next round of circuitry analysis in stride
but gods above, will someone smite me,
and while you're at it, 
hit the lights.  
With The Other Mums In The Park - NaPoWriMo Day One Prompt

discussing our bodies, like sharp beaked harpies
picking clean the carcass 
of what was once a woman we recognised in mirrors.
In the reflective surfaces of car doors, and shop windows
with a matching stride, strut, stance, shape. 
We all have new shapes we do not know how to fit
or dress,
so we press ourselves into old clothes and old ways,
pretend the chafing is our imagination
or temporary discomfort,
like the first run back, after a week on the beach
we are picking sand out of our hair
and baby vomit from our clothes. 
It is all fine we say, and it is all not,
the taste of carrion on our tongues like an iron bit
we gnash between our teeth
when anyone suggests we are not already beyond
anything we thought we could manage. 

I’ve veered away from the optional prompt with my Day One poem. I took the ‘body’ idea and ran with that, so I might have to circle back to writing a prose poem. I did have some debate about posting my NaPoWriMo responses online, as it means I can’t submit them to various journals who only accept entirely unpublished work, but since I’m currently wading through rejections from those journals I decided to go ahead and just post. I’m probably going to tweak and polish the day fifteen poem for the Ledbury Poetry Slam at the end of the month, and I’m really quite fond of my Day One poem. Thoughts and feedback are also welcome in the comments, so if you enjoyed either poem I would love to hear from you. Otherwise it can feel a little like shouting into the void.

“Hello void, how very nice to chat with you again. How’s the wife?”

#NaPoWriMo2022 – Early Bird Prompt & Day Fourteen

The absence of the Witch does not / Invalidate the spell 
After Emily Dickinson

We counted all the none-witches. The waterlogged women 
parcelled in their tiny, tidy, Christian graves.

their muted markers, talked of mother, daughter, sister, wife 
found innocent by the drowning of their sins
and a rope hauled shoreward too late in search of certainty. 

Within the magic of madness, they too may have thought
there was spell work in their prayers.

Wove a cursing hope into their repentance,
believed power in their charms, in their unheard voices 
and clung to those last drifting thoughts
before the current snatched those too. 

There Once Was A Beginning, But This Is Not It 

We're picking typos out of the script, staking them up like billboards. 
Huge things. 
Obvious in retrospect, 
through another set of eyes, in a spotlight of memory. 

Actors are improvising, ignoring, pretending 
there is no mistake, it's intentional, purposeful, a work of brilliance  

The opening fuck-up spray-painted in neon, is a fall-in-love moment. 
A heart-break, ice-cream binge disaster. Inevitable. 
We make it the centrepiece, then leave it on the cutting room floor,
find it again when the story no-longer makes sense

it is pivotal 

at least in part, like a cog clicking into place 
the movie machine does not run without it

we return 
to this start point that did not sound like action
or look like a clapperboard,
that we passed by, slogged through, and shook off
then could not find the thread of. 

In post, we admit that it was not perhaps the moment it all began
and there was a second before it
when the clock started ticking. 

We cannot think what was,
but we know it
in our marrow
when we lie awake at night
the ceiling a screen that it plays out on
before dawn burns the negative
and we draw an echo of it in the ash. 

There once was a beginning, but this is not it. 

I’m late to the party, I know. I started April with the best of intentions, but instead of writing a poem each day, I’ve been focussed my entries for the Bath Short Story Award, and the Bristol Short Story Prize. With one out of the way, I decided I might as well have a go at writing some poems for NaPoWriMo and posting them here since I’ve been a little remiss in writing much for the blog.

Since I’m playing catch-up I’m doing both today’s prompt, and the early-bird prompt.

Some Nights – A Poem by Carol J Forrester

when the weight of the sea settles on her shoulders,
she wears a shawl of waves and swims in starless fabric
wishing for sequins. 
There is always a watcher, 
a little, bobbing boat cresting each swell of her filled lungs
its crew casting nets, for sequins. 
Even the sea foam does not glitter
but leaves its watermarks on sun cracked knuckles
passing hand over hand to reel in… nothing. 
Caught in their empty net she wishes
for sequins. 

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