If you look under the ‘poetry’ tag on the WordPress reader, you’ll find more posts than you can shake a stick at. (Or read in a lifetime if I’m honest.) A lot of it is personal poetry, and if you start reading through it, a lot of it uses the same sort of language and the same sort of imagery. Anyone who has written poetry knows that when you start out it’s very easy to write poems designed to ‘sound poetic’. The subject of your poem can quite often get lost in the writing of it. Finding your voice is the most important, and the most difficult part of being a writer. No one picks up a pen for the first time and magically finds it. Part of the way I found my own voice was through poetry workshops and lectures. So for those of you who are interested I thought I’d share one of the writing exercises I’ve scoffed at, and then found quite useful, in the past. Find an object immediately to your …
At the start of this year I was planning on which poetry events I wanted to go to in order to publicise my new collection ‘It’s All In The Blood‘. I managed a few local ones, and had a slot booked to perform at a Ludlow poetry night, right at the beginning of March. Then 2020 hit its stride in the UK. Flooding meant that I wasn’t able to get to Ludlow, and lockdown meant no more poetry nights. What was supposed to be a year of poetry and readings, turned into four months of searching for new nooks and crannies in the house to reorganise. Of course I started off with the best intentions. I was going to finish my novel, work on my next collection of poems, and submit to every journal and competition under the sun. I did work on my novel, and I did write a few new poems, but I’m not close to finishing either project. Submission went very much the same way. In fact I’ve spent the last two …
She brings it in with her, the rain, clung to the tip of her nose and through her hair so it’s blacker than night. Strips out of her waterproofs till she has shape. Colour, risen high in her cheeks, on the knuckles of her hands. Reveals the desperation of it, crept through zips and openings. Slid a caress down her neck till she bears a collar of its touch. Trails it deeper into the kitchen, Siren kettle a song to sodden socked feet, printing a vanishing trail across the tiles.
Tescos ran out of loo rolls and soapboxes. Stay-at-home politicians with keyboards and opinions screeching their how-to, quick-fix slogans. Have you not been told? Fake it till you make it means everyone’s an expert. No one wants to say, we’re all just fucking lost. I’ll just slink back off to my grump little hobbit hole. Rant over in just forty-four words.
Ink will fade given long enough. Even stone weathers, back to rock with the help of time.
‘Eddie! Stay awake!’ ‘Ah- what the’ Eddie flinched forward, the back of his skull throbbing where it had cracked against heating pipes. ‘Come on Gripes,’ he groaned. ‘What’s your problem.’ ‘You know what!,’ Gripes scowled. He was crouched down in front of Eddie, his phone light throwing his shadow along the length of the corridor.. ‘His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream, remember! You go to sleep and we’re both in big trouble.’ ‘That’s just a story Gripes. No one believes it.’ The torch on Gripes phone flickered. Eddie plucked it out of his hands and switched it off. Darkness swallowed Gripes’ face, but Eddie could smell his breath. ‘Erg mate, you need to lay off the cheese and onion.’ The darkness stayed quite but Gripes’ breathing picked up. He placed his hand on Eddie’s knee. ‘Ed,’ he whispered. ‘You need to wake up!’
I want to sink bells into the pond. Plant them just below the waterline, where the ripples look like scales lifting out of the shallows slowly on the back of an endless snake. Then at night when the moon lifts, turns her face to watch, I’ll slip out onto the decking, strip down to my silver skin. Drop like a stone or a witch into the quiet cold of a place not quite what I wish of it. Wonder as the bells ring out if anyone else may be listening. There’s a lot of Shropshire Folklore about women and water. The River Severn is often characterised as female, and there are tales of women (or women-like creatures) inhabiting lakes and ponds. Another image in Shropshire folk tales, is that of church bells falling into water and being lost forever, but the sound of their ringing being heard at night. I’ve always been in love with myths and legends, but more often than not it was the classic Greek, Egyptian, and Norse myths that I turned …
Cut me off at the ankles or so you said, stood astride my stump, saw grinned. ‘Not so pretty now are we’ either of us. Spent the winter finding my roots, you brought on your hot house girls throwing out the deadheads before they even had chance to wilt. Spring freshened up all that toughening from too many years the same. Found new shoots moving upwards, more bend, less bark to my bite. Summer and I redecorated it all, cloaked myself in colour, announced my presence, my survival. Dared you to try cutting me down again.
Upstairs a door slammed. Then another, and another, until finally the cast iron monstrosity at the top of the stairs shuddered open. ‘Quickly now grab me a jar!’ The jumped the last three steps. Ellsmore jolted awake and darted for the draining board. He fumbled with the jars but turned in time. The surgeon eased his hands over the open mouth and opened them slowly. It thunked against the glass. ‘Real bad ‘un this one,’ said the surgeon and wiped his hands on his trousers. Ellsmore closed the jar. The thing shivered. ‘What is it?’ The surgeon scowled. ‘There are moments caught between heart beats. They make us, us. This one, made a very, very, bad man.’ Ellsmore swallowed thickly. ‘If you cut it out, does that make him a good man?’ ‘Well that depends.’ ‘On what?’ ‘On the moments I didn’t cut out.’ ‘
Spent an evening smashing holes in the walls you’d fixed, and smoothed with filler. Waited for the dawn to discover the bones of this house now naked of plaster. Wondered if I looked as broken, beneath. If I would catch light just as quickly.