Friday, 25 February 2011

Tangled up in blue

I'm not there, a brilliant film

Listening to Blood on the tracks this morning. Never get tired of it.

She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello,” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue

So now I’m goin’ back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They’re an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenters’ wives
Don’t know how it all got started
I don’t know what they’re doin’ with their lives
But me, I’m still on the road
Headin’ for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A Leonard Cohen poem that I first read when I was 16

and I have always remembered it,  I recognise it in myself, everything I do is a poem even when I don't mean it to be. Leonard Cohen is a great poet and singer of songs.


You tell me that silence
is nearer to peace than poems
but if for my gift
I brought you silence
(for I know silence)
you would say
    This is not silence
this is another poem
and you would hand it back to me

- from The Spice-Box of Earth

I heard a fantastic local poet, Sarah Tamar, read a poem about her love of Leonard and it was great to meet someone who loved him like I do. Often people think he is miserable or depressing! I find his songs to be uplifting and beautiful. Leonard Cohen has a witty sense of humour, he sings in Tower of Song: 'I was born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice.' I adore his voice, it is deep and full of intensity and it suits the poetry he sings.

So many beautiful lyrics and poems, here are just a few of my favourites:

They lay down beside me, I made my confession to them.
They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.
-from Sisters of Mercy

I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
you were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you preferred handsome men
but for me you would make an exception.
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
you fixed yourself, you said, "Well never mind,
we are ugly but we have the music."

-from Chelsea Hotel No2

I'm not looking for another as I wander in my time,
walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme
you know my love goes with you as your love stays with me,
it's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea,
but let's not talk of love or chains and things we can't untie,
your eyes are soft with sorrow,
Hey, that's no way to say goodbye.

-from Hey, that's no way to say goodbye

So many more, I can't put them all here!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Modigliani's muse : Jeanne Hébuterne

gentle, quiet, shy and delicate
Jeanne met Modigliani when she was eighteen years old and she soon became his lover and muse. He painted her red hair, sinuous body and long neck many times.

He believed the only route to true creativity was through defiance and disorder

She became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. The couple were quite besotted with one another and Jeanne put up with Amedeo's hedonistic lifestyle, caring for him and supporting him. They were friends as well as lovers.

When she was nearly full term with their second child Modigliani died. Jeanne was completely heart broken and committed suicide by walking backwards out of a top floor window. Jeanne was only twenty-one years old.

Devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice.
Jeanne was also a very talented artist in her own right and one can only imagine what she might have produced if she had lived.

self-portrait by Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne painted by Modigliani

Modigliani portrait by Jeanne

April 6, 1898 – January 25, 1920


the tender light came before dusk
it turned my hair burnished red
swallows swooping in the gable
would soon be dead
when he was painting
I did not move
held by his restless gaze
only my lips and fingertips
would tremble at the anticipation
of each stroke that left
peach and pink oil paint
on my skin
and was my skin

Friday, 18 February 2011


Seven swans hook their necks
Into silent question marks.

Why is the water just there,

Is this a punishment
For the vain and beautiful?

Waddling on a frozen lake;
The crust of ice denying their elegance.

Sunrise, a church bell parts the fog.
The swans wait in humble

Shapes for the first crack.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

cake in two and half minutes...oh yes!

4 tablespoons of self-raising flour
4 tablespoons of sugar (soft brown is yum and you can use a bit less)
3 tablespoons of milk
3 tablespoons of oil (olive oil tastes great)
2 tablespoons of cocoa or chopped dark choclate (or anything you fancy, chopped crystalised ginger is amazing)
1 egg

Mix it all in a bowl

Heat for 2 and half  minutes (although test this as microwaves vary in power and you don't want to nuke it)

Eat. Enjoy. Go for a run to work off calories (to Scotland)

Kids love this, it's like magic : )

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

I am writing my novel again, the poems have shifted over and made space.

Poems have been banished for now. I opened the file for my (most current) novel last night and read it. Ignoring it for two months worked wonders, I felt excited by it. The story grabbed me and sucked me in and I wrote for two hours. I wanted to write more but it was 2am and I knew I had 4hrs before the boy got into our bed and asked for breakfast.

It was book group tonight so I couldn't write but the characters were there in my mind clamouring for attention. Tomorrow, I will get on with it, inbetween reading for uni, housework, cooking, playing and educating small children and many other tasks!

As usual, trees form the landscape of my story.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Modigliani and Rimbaud = seduction

She was only half-dressed
And equally bare trees tossed
Their few leaves against the window pane
Playfully and with reckless abandon

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Again and again

Again and again, however we know the landscape of love
and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees, lie down again and again
among the flowers, face to face with the sky. 

Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

John Donne knew how to write a love poem

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late schoolboys, and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Thy beams, so reverend and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long:
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and tomorrow late, tell me
Whether both the'Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear: "All here in one bed lay."

She'is all states, and all princes I,
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compar'd to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, sun, art half as happy'as we,
In that the world's contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy sphere.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Queen poem

Catharine Howard 1525 –1542

Before I arrived at court
I had to darn my dresses.
Now the King desires
To posses me, I am given
The very best velvet to cover
My plump limbs.

Rubies, sapphires to wind
Around my neck,
And pearls to hang from my
Pretty white ear lobes.
The King whispers how
He is hard for me.

His breath smells of rotten meat,
His vast bulk repulses me.
He places a golden
Circlet on my auburn hair,
I allow him to grope my breasts.
A diamond ring; his hands
Bruise my thighs.

My family control this.
Grasping power as I satisfy
The royal bull.
A wisp of a Queen.
Pulled like sheer cloth,
Tenuously keeping all

How I long for youth;
Smooth skinned young
Men to caress and love
Me until I become liquid.
So all I can see is light
And I forget the King.

Friday, 4 February 2011

At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime

I recently wrote a poem about an Iglu and have been thinking about snow and surviving in that hostile environment. I then read The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge and I thought it was a wonderful book. It evoked Scott and his party at the Antarctic to me in such a vivid way. I was flicking through a poetry anthology and found this excellent villanelle by Derek Mahon, the refrain and Oates last words keep running through my mind. I keep thinking of Oates and Birdie, the brave but foolish mission. How beautiful the Aurora must have been, overlooking the tragic frozen death.

Captain Lawrence Oates

Antarctica - Derek Mahon

‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’
The others nod, pretending not to know.
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

He leaves them reading and begins to climb,
goading his ghost into the howling snow;
He is just going outside and may be some time.

The tent recedes beneath its crust of rime
And frostbite is replaced by vertigo:
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

Need we consider it some sort of crime,
This numb self-sacrifice of the weakest? No,
He is just going outside and may be some time –

In fact, for ever. Solitary enzyme,
Though the night yield no glimmer there will glow,
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

He takes leave of the earthly pantomime
Quietly, knowing it is time to go:
‘I am just going outside and may be some time.’
At the heart of the ridiculous, the sublime.

Oates with the ponies he was in charge of caring for.

Next poetry event in worcester city

poetry at parole parlate: worcester

I heard this guy last night, he is a really, really great poet. Such sensitive/brutal poetry, makes the listener pay attention, his name is Ray Antrobus: check him out here

Thursday, 3 February 2011

lightness of being and the unbearableness thereof

Not lacking in ego, just my body feels like it takes up very little space in this world today. Shadows weigh nothing at all and are painful. I feel like I will float away if given a good push. Dandelion clock. Bones are lacking in substance. The boys run around me and I strive to make them hear me. Maybe I have lost my voice and no sound is coming out?

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Burning with desire, even the children notice the cut in the air and sense the unsaid meaning in everyday conversation. Parents have to remember they are lovers sometimes.