Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Laura and Lizzie

Dante Gabriel illustrated Christina's poem

Days, weeks, months, years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone                                
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town:)
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
Then joining hands to little hands                               
Would bid them cling together,
'For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.'

Monday, 29 August 2011


A poetry friend posted about words that are endangered of going out of common usage, you can read Gary Longden's post here and the full list is very amusing. As soon as I read it I thought of the first line of this poem and had to write it. I think the reader can guess the meaning of  the words from how they are used but see what you think after reading the meanings on Gary's post.

I would look this angry if I had a
corset forcing my body into a fashionable
S shape
Potrait of Madame Paul Poirson
by John Singer Sargent


The trouble began when I said that from now on
I would only wear tea gowns.

His shoulders set, he put down his knife
And stalked off to sulk in his growlery.

I cannot help it, I long for loose folds and drapery
That can move with my flesh,

Rather than the constraint of the corset,
The binding weight of the bustle.

We argue in whispers of what gossip will come,
People will say his wife is lost in a widdendream.

He touches the edge of the transluscent fabric.
I know what he thinks;

Only his eyes may look at my body
Wrapped in fabric that light can seep through.

My mind weaves through the embrangle
Of rules that demand I must be contained.

Brooding on the muliebrity of womanhood,
I remove my choker and throw it at him.

I love this picture so much, how affronted
the fox looks under her feet.
Symphony in White, No. 1 by James MacNeill Whistler, 1862

Friday, 26 August 2011

Defending Walt Whitman by Sherman Alexie

'Basketball is like this for young Indian boys, all arms and legs
and serious stomach muscles. Every body is brown!
These are the twentieth-century warriors who will never kill,
although a few sat quietly in the deserts of Kuwait,
waiting for orders to do something, to do something.'

Sherman Alexie by Rob Casey

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Two poems of mine will be published this Autumn

A poem called 'On the Cautious Road' will be published by Helen Ivory at Ink, Sweat and Tears and it was a moment of good news in a bad week when Helen emailed me to say the poem had been selected.
I return to the I,S&T blog all the time to read the excellent poetry so I am very pleased my poem was selected to be included amongst all that talent. It is updated regularly so readers can get a poetry fix when they need one. I like the style of this blog, it is easy to navigate and there is a very quick response to submissions which is refreshing.

 Helen Ivory has a website here, as well as blogging and poems, I really like the 'sketches' go and look at them, they are intriguing.

The next poem is being published by Goblin Fruit, a quarterly journal of fantastical poetry. The tag line is 'come feast with us' and it is indeed a sumptuous collection of art and poetry. Most of the poems have the option of listening to the poet reading the poem which is really effective and brings it to life.

This is what the editors are looking for:

'We want poetry that we can call "of the fantastical", poetry that treats mythic, surreal, fantasy and folkloric themes, or approaches other themes in a fantastical way. Re-write a fairytale, ponder an old story, consider history from an unusual perspective -- really, it's up to you, so long as the fantastical element is there. Since what qualifies as "the fantastical" is easily debatable, however, here's what we're not interested in: science fiction poetry (it's not you, it's us), horror for horror's sake, and poetry that's self-consciously gothic.'

My poem which will be included in the Fall edition is called 'Go Round' and I was especially pleased that it was that one. I work so hard on each poem that they all mean something to me but this poem holds a special place in my heart so I was glad , I think I gave a loud whoop when I opened the email.

The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde

The black unicorn is greedy.
The black unicorn is impatient.
'The black unicorn was mistaken
for a shadow or symbol
and taken
through a cold country
where mist painted mockeries
of my fury.
It is not on her lap where the horn rests
but deep in her moonpit
The black unicorn is restless
the black unicorn is unrelenting
the black unicorn is not

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

An Illustration To Dante by Fleur Adcock

I have always loved this watercolour by Rossetti and I recently brought a 2nd hand book of collected poems from 1973-1974 and this wonderful poem by Fleur Adcock leaped out at me, because I knew exactly which painting she was talking about. The poem says so much, about Paolo and Francesca, Dante, Rossetti and Ruskin and the poet herself as she compares the lovers to her own experience and as a reader I recognise that tenderness in the painting, being lost in the moment of love.The poem is wise and witty, observant and personal.

They float in a sea of whitish blobs-
fire, is it? It could have been
hail, said Ruskin, but Rossetti
'didn't know how to do hail'.
Well, he could do tenderness.
My spine trickles with little white flames.

Friday, 19 August 2011

today is a day to read Rainer Maria Rilke

I am so afraid of people's words.
They describe so distinctly everything:
And this they call dog and that they call house,
here the start and there the end.

I worry about their mockery with words,
they know everything, what will be, what was;
no mountain is still miraculous;
and their house and yard lead right up to God.

I want to warn and object: Let the things be!
I enjoy listening to the sound they are making.
But you always touch: and they hush and stand still.
That's how you kill.

Translated by Annemarie S. Kidder

Thursday, 18 August 2011

St Mary Magdalene Church, Croome Court

To have a child, was to gamble with death.

Maria who lived in the 17th Century, with her stillborn son    

She died soon after she had delivered him.

She left behind four children, here are two praying for their mother.

Croome Court

St Peter, the church at Pirton, Worcestershire

We were going to Croome Court, pictures of which I will post later, and my mood was blue to say the least. not because of our day out (which was splendid and made everything feel uplifted again) but the subject matter of our conversation, circling debate about someone in my family, anyway the exact is irrelevant, the point is both my husband and I felt quite sad about it.

Then we drove around the corner and I saw this church. I screeched at how beautiful it was had to stop the car to walk around it and touch it. Just bask in it's medieval beauty.

 I love the timber frame tower. It is so honest and unpretentious compared to many churches lifting their stone towers and spires to heavenly glory.

After ten minutes with the church, with my family smiling and waving from the car and grinning with loving indulgence at my affection for old buildings, all my tension and anxiety about things I can't change or fix vanished. I felt all these  worries didn't really amount to much in the grand scheme of things.

The only thing I can do is make my own little family content. All the bones in the walls and the churchyard were saying, 'Be happy, life is a brief whisper and then it is gone.'

Monday, 8 August 2011


The dog walks at my calf, soft mouthed,
Completely empty of thought beyond
Pleasing me.

The earth steams,
Heated from the sun reclining on the horizon.

It is red like the corpse of a smashed fox
glimpsed upon the tarmac.

green verge,
grey road,
bright bloody fox
combined together

(though red is the colour
the retina is stained with,
and the mind will be able to recall it,
at moments like these,
when trying to describe the colour
of the morning sun.)

Wet legged from long grass,
naked beneath puritan, white nightdress.
Bare feet, boots pushed on in haste to walk
this eager dog.

Canine nose detecting everything.
The rabbit that fled from our footfalls,
The birds and mice that worried the stems
for seeds last night.
Ghosts of ourselves
walking yesterday and days before.

The dog knows my identity; female,
Pack leader, in season again.

The moon waned,
as the scent of pregnancy faded.

Comfort in the dogs blank loyalty;
The knowledge that at least there was one
other witness to a brief life.