I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world,
to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

Some of these poems are autobiographical, some are entirely fictional, and some are a mixture of both. The intention is art rather than self-expression. I don't allow factual details to get in the way of poetry! (I do seek emotional truth.)

They are works in progress, and may be subject to revision without notice. Completed versions appear in my books. Nevertheless copyright applies to all texts found here.
Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your posts as much as possible.

30 June 2015

On Not Writing a Monday Poem

I wanted to write
a small, sweet Monday poem for Gillena
because she invited me to
and I like Gillena

but over the weekend
I wrote a big, exhausting
confessional poem
about hurt and healing —

about all the pieces of my life
carried in my hands,
about my quest
for balance and remaking.

After that I forgot
all about Gillena and Monday
and everything.
I was letting so much go.

This is Tuesday.
My friend Patsy
shouted me a massage
with lovely Sarah.

It was much needed.
‘You are doing a lot of detoxing,’
Sarah said. And I thought:
'I know. It’s because of Solstice.

'It’s because of what I consigned
to the Solstice fire.'
The days are still cold
but Winter is slowly leaving.

Linked to Monday WRites and to The Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

Also posted in my facebook Notes.

28 June 2015

Taking My Life in My Hands

In one hand, I hold hurt:
the loss of my dearest husband
into his death; the pain
of a grown son become an enemy;
various cats who used to be;
particular dogs who were mighty.

I hold my mother
who named me after a fragrant herb,
telling herself she was naming me
for a pretty actress — symbolic
of love and misunderstanding
as we never quite connected ... except deep.

I hold the stepmother
who fed me poison (no, not literally,
though she'd have liked to
and to force it personally down my throat);
the father who betrayed
me and my little brother into her keeping.

This is the hand that handles
the housework, the food,
the weeding and pruning,
the careful allocation of the money;
the hand that signed divorce papers — twice 
and afterwards dried my eyes.

In the other hand, the healing hand, I hold
memories of happiness
with my late husband, and with the others;
the conjured-up touch of their skin.
I hold my parents in this one too,
when they were young, when they were glad.

I hold, in this hand, my stepfather's hand
who was a friend, and all the hands
of all my friends. And I hold the hands
of my children, back before one let go.
I feel the fur of the remembered 
cats and dogs, and the cat I still have.

Here in the healing hand is a map
of the green Caldera I live in (20 years now)
its mountains, rivers and ocean.
I hold, too, the island
where I grew up its mountains and rivers
and wild ocean. I even hold an old city.

My hands themselves are old.
The backs are freckled with liver spots
and the veins have turned into strings.
But the palms are rosy and firm,
still smooth-skinned, still plump. These hands
have a clean smell and a good grip.

I stand poised, one foot on a rock
and one dipping into the water.
I am almost dancing. The wind
flirts with my skirt. The sky is a gentle blue
like the water; the clouds are fluffy soft.
There are golden flowers, green grass.

From the cups of my hands pour streams
of living water. The streams combine.
The hurts I hold are soothed and healed,
just as the sweet things I hold are defined
by certain sharp edges. I find a precarious
balance, and spread my red wings wide.

Inspired by an exercise in Wingbeats

Also posted in my facebook Notes. If you think you have already commented, but don't see your comment, it was probably made there!

‘Six Word Saturday’ emanates from Call Me Cate’s blog, Show My Face. To read her and other people’s ‘Six Word Saturday’ posts, click the icon.

Also shared at Poets United's Poetry Pantry #258

Faithful Friends

Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find. 
— William Shakespeare

I am the person of the cat.
He comes in and out, his tail raised,
and greets me with plaintive yells.

I remember that he was a quiet cat
not so long ago. His sister, then,
did the talking. He, lordly, refrained.

Now she is dead, and he has become 
his own mouthpiece. Necessity!
He also jumps up and scratches my chair.

We both know I am his. Sometimes
I am obedient. When, so often, I’m not, 
he yells louder, telling me off.

I snarl back. I still have the power
of food. But he has the power of himself.
When I am good, he will give me snuggles.

Written in response to 'Play It Again' #18 at imaginary garden with real toads,
for both the Writing from the Inside Out and  (Very) Old School challenges.

26 June 2015

Speaking with the Mother

'Thou,' I say
to Mother
(She who is all this)
to give respect.

Not that we are 
used to hear
the old tongue,
but I know it.

My hand is ready
to pull from fire
what black ashes
I can

to spit at that worm
the man — but she says,
'He is My son. Learn now
to flow, be water.'

Written in response to a Words Count prompt at 'imaginary garden with real toads' in which we are asked for a poem of 60 or fewer words, using some from a list of 23 'ultraconserved' words dating from the Ice Age, which the Eurasiatic languages have in common (seeming to indicate that there was an original mother tongue). The words are: 

to give
man / male
to hear
to pull
to flow
to spit

25 June 2015

At the Turning Point

Winter Solstice 2015

At the turning point
I greeted old friends
not seen for many months,
and said goodbye to a new friend
going for months away.

At the turning point
I danced and sang
with others in a colourful circle,
then moved to a chair at the edge
when they gathered speed.


At the turning point
I delivered a talk, hiding nerves.
I had to speak loud, and project
over an exuberant infant’s joyous whoops.
‘Such command!’ they praised. ‘Such a voice!’

I drove back home with new ease
around the scary bends
of the darkening road —
handling the car with confidence
at each turning point.

My angel sat beside me
only a little while.
‘You can do this now,’ he said.
I agreed, and acknowledged
the turning-point.

In the Solstice fire I burned
old fears, old guilts, old regrets —
leaving a space for new light
to begin and grow in me, here
at the turning point.

Written for Midweek Motif, Entering Summer or Winter, in which our challenge was: Write a poem to share your insights on the events and changes you're  experiencing this time of  year.

Photos © Dede Callichy 2015

(I have deliberately blurred faces in the dance photo, except mine. — RNW)

21 June 2015

The Quality of Your Smile

Someone said  in fact many said
we should be friends, so much
in common. So we met, and became
mildly friendly. It seemed enough.

'Such harmony,' the seer told me.
'This one will be in many ways
your happiest love, even though
more friendship than passion.'

I could believe that last. There was
no spark. But our conversations
were easy and pleasant. It might have
gone on so: delightful yet inconsequential.

Until I noticed your smile, as you spoke
with someone else. I saw your joy,
your unconscious charm. And more.
Startled, I recognised my own smile.

Linked to the Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

19 June 2015

Father Christmas

The little ones didn't know it was you.
You were on your way to be, as usual,
Santa to the crippled kids.
You'd been a crippled kid yourself,
and I guess those kids must have liked
a Santa with a limp. As for us,
we never even noticed. You don't notice
what you've grown up with, never any different.

You decided to come by our house
dressed up, a treat for the little ones.
I was big enough to know, and I knew
I must not tell. But I was nearly bursting,
jumping up and down, clinging to your arm.
'Oh Daddy!' I whispered through my grin.
'Daddy Christmas!' Mr Lightfoot next door said
very quickly, then whirled you away in his jeep.

The Lightfoots' new puppy ran after it, barking,
but my little brother and his best friend,
Roger Lightfoot, grabbed him. My mother
gave the puppy a biscuit. His name was Bingo.
He was black and tan. Then she gave us all
a biscuit — shortbreads out of the big red tin
she kept in the kitchen. She had on her new
teal coloured jumper over her pleated skirt.

I thought my Mum was prettier
than a film star. You thought so too.
Sometimes she sat on your lap
and you kissed her and sang:
'I'm half crazy, all for the love of you,'
and both of you laughed. But that day
was the last time I ever remember
all of us being so happy.

I suppose we had a good Christmas
two days later, but I don't remember.
I remember that day, and my little brother's face
shining. Father Christmas came to his house
and talked to him! I was mostly unable
to speak, my breath coming huge and fast.
I remember how red your costume was.
I remember you driving away.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Fathers. Based on an exercise in Wingbeats: Rube Goldberg Poems, by Oliver de la Paz.