The sign says no running, and the tiles are slickwith water sloshed up from bodies heavingsoaked costumes over the ceramic edge.Blown out cheeks, red eyes, and tremble arms,one bloke who kick off as if it will propel him up,flailing mockery of a front crawl splatteringonto the pool edge where a teenage lifeguardsqueegees the flooded walkway back to damp,yellow shirt a symbol that he’s been trainedto fetch a brick from the depths of the deep end. Moves slow while his colleague plays cat’s cradle,with the whistle roped around their neck,discuss who will hose down the shower stalls,since the pool is almost empty now,apart from the elderly pair doing lengths,and a girl bone dry in the changing room archtelling herself to step out of the fringesbefore the clock on the wall ticks along furtherand the whistle is blown for the last call. I chose option three for tonight’s poetics prompt, and incorporated the word fringe into my poem. I’ll admit to feeling a little apprehensive about posting, especially when one of my previous poems got a shout …
The bins have been emptied,their silver bellies linedand sprayed to quell the stinkfrom last week’s puddling condensationtack dried at the base.In the background the washing thumps,thuds, thunks,throws itself around drum wetand clinging,till the spin cycle sticks it tightto the very edge of a whining whirl.Clementine clouds each counter,cloth swept of crumbs so they shine when the clouds part,sun splitting through the greyand spilling onto the tiles,knuckled into a gleam on hands and knees,so your face stares back up at metight lipped and furious,about to speak till the sponge cuts you off.I can soap over those featuresbut eventually it all dries outand there you are watermarkedsprawled across this floor,elbows and knees against the tiles,and the dishwasher bleeping that it is time. Tonight’s DVerse Challenge is to focus on adding a ‘turn’ or a ‘window’ into our poem. I’ll admit my focus has drifted slightly at the end of this, as something keeps beeping down in the kitchen and investigation is probably in order.
So many orphaned sorrows,I gather the castoffs,pluck stories by root,dirt clotted,waterlogged.Old tears still bloomwith dark, thickened flowers.In the potting shed I ease themone by one into terracotta bassinets.Pack soil round tight,to keep them from weeding outinto the garden proper,before their time.From the window, half-light,slips between the shelving slatstrips over spiderwebs and drip trays.Safety among the looming gloom,safe from the unearthing grief. Tonight’s poetics challenge was to take a line from Paul Dunbar’s The Paradox, and to build a poem around it. My choice was “I am the mother of sorrows; I am the ender of grief;” which has led to this rather odd piece.
On the very edge,where you go to curl your toesinto prayers.Ten tiny bodies bent shoulder and hipheads tucked in tightas if curved spines can protect themfrom the weight pressing forward,you’re so wind washed of expression,clinging on.
Salt stiffened, her wings don’t liftexcept pinwheeling featherscaught helter-skelter by sea breeze,sun bleached and lichen lined.Watches for the hands rising,faces breaking among shallows,hope and desperation.She sings for them.Caged in her cove, she sings.
I should have taken that course,the one with the guywho builds drystone walls up northfor the farmers who have to maintainthings the way they’ve always been.A bit like how I’m still tryingto keep this how it waswhen you laid each slab in placeone, against the other,so clever with your fingers,finding the flattest stones,the edges most like jigsaw pieces,and stacking the piletill it looked like a skyscrapereven if it always was only a folly. I’ve just taken part in Caroline Bird’s Brave Writing poetry workshop, so I was a little worried I’d be all poet’d out by the time I got round to the DVerse prompt for this evening. It was an amazing workshop and I feel like a got so much out of it, much as I did with the workshop I did last year run by Mark Pajak. Workshops are a great way to improve your poems and your craft. Also, my poem When Medusa Goes Shopping went live on The Daily Drunk today! I think this is the first poem I’ve had published …
Fireworks popping off underneath skin,an explosions against the brickwork.Blood so bright it burns my retinasand when I dreamed I can see it,the splash, the sizzle of colour.My own fists tight as un-popped corks deep in my dressing gown pockets,buried under lint and hidden things,like the sound of bone crackon plasterboard,always plasterboard,this fuse pulled taught between my shouldersunlitand your face so dark with thunderthe crash of it in a plate on the kitchen floor,slowly starts to clear. I feel like I need to preface this poem with the fact that it is not a description of a real event, or specifically based on one real individual. We’ve had sporadic fireworks for the last couple of weeks, so if anything, those are the main source of inspiration. Right with that out of the way, here’s an audio recording of the poem, and a note to say go and check out the rest of the poems written for tonight’s DVersePoets sound prompt.
You and your dim accuracy,head lolled loose eyes whitened and widenedtill the pupils blink out.Words come clipped,ransomed love lettersread like shopping lists,or obituaries. Call this a grey life,the air sucked clear your mouth a pursed funnel,but I am the culprit. Found the bruises of your hands,like marble sponge,cold as stonethe heat slipping over youwithout warming. In the well shade you sitwhile I sink deeper, darkerfor the waterline.Come up spitting dustand excuses.Shoulder a shallow cloakof indifference,already the hem unpickedby those grasping handsalways tappingrappingat the weakest point. Feel them at my templestonight, tomorrow, today,at the weakest pointalways tapping away. Ah, I’m really hoping I got this right. The five Samuel Greenberg charms that I used for my response are as follows: dim accuracy / grey life / marble sponge / the well shade / shallow cloak. I tried to emulate Greenberg’s abstract style (though not quite as drastically as he employs the abstract).
Their heads bob like drinking birds,of course, of course, of course.Necks pulled up from their collar bones.I have never seen throats so openas when your snout is at their jugularthe gleam on bright white teethmasked by sheer magnetism. Tonight’s quadrille prompt had me a little stumped to begin with. Then I started writing about iron filings, got stuck fifteen words in, and wrote this quadrille instead. I even got to bring out one of my own sketches to use for the feature image.
Last of the soft fruits,these blooms are redder, fatter,skins splitting sticky on a palm.Drew my tongue along a lifeline,caught what was left beadedbetween the creases of flesh.Half a gasp at the tingling,spring still weaving magicas the trees catch fire. Time trick of seasons blurring,like unexpected heatunder the winter sun.