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')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). 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 blog posts as much as possible.

25 May 2013

Wanting to Comfort Sylvia

 When the soles of my feet grow cold,
The blue eye of my turquoise will comfort me.
Let me have my copper cooking pots, let my rouge pots
Bloom about me like night flowers, with a good smell.

— Sylvia Plath (from Last Words)

You wrote of a woman who was not you,
from a time far past, when perhaps life and death
seemed simpler. I see her — a small woman,
contained, almost cosy.
Yet she was afraid, this ancient young woman
(for I do not believe she had grown old).
Walking through your life, did you feel like her,
afraid and needing comfort? You courted death.
Did you think — you who appeared so bold —
‘When the soles of my feet grow cold’?

And if so, how cold?
You aimed for the sun:
yourself your burning arrow,
flying into the eye of morning
fast and straight. That’s how you told it,
striking your target and blazing, fierce and free.
I wonder, though, about the other —
the you who bore children, fed them …
ordinary enough to be able to see:
‘The blue eye of my turquoise will comfort me’.

Copper cooking pots; we know them today
in our own time and culture.
These are the things that connect women
across places and times, races, religions —
these familiar things, our belongings
which have us belong, planted in our garden plots
and knowing the right way to grow.
Indeed it’s the small things that comfort us:
‘Let me have my copper cooking pots, let my rouge pots…’

We don’t have rouge pots as such any more,
we Western women, but we still have
colours and textures we smooth on our faces;
we have our silks and laces, our jewels and robes.
You knew her, I know, this dead woman
from long ago. You make me know her as well.
That was your genius, to make us know and feel and see
whatever you wrote. So I must believe that you too
wanted those homely comforts, penning your own call:
‘Bloom about me like night flowers, with a good smell.’

For the dVerse Form For All prompt: Paying Tribute ....the Glosa

I was too late to link to Form For All, so I'll link to the next Open Link Night. If you find this earlier, no need to come back from OLN.

A Glosa is a tribute poem to another poet, weaving one of their quatrains into one's own verse, as above, and trying to write in something of their style. It was only when I was embroiled that I realised — if one is going to attempt this with a great poet, one had better be a great poet oneself! I'm not; she is. Nevertheless, it was such hard work that I am not going to just hide it away now. :)

Click on the link on 'Last Words', above, to see the Plath poem in full.

23 May 2013

A Visit to the Podiatrist

‘I know your face,’ she says.
I recall those times in her waiting room,

And helping him afterwards
manoeuvre the wheely-walker
down the steep steps.

‘You used to treat my husband,’
I tell her. Pause.
‘My late husband.’

‘Ah,’ she says. ‘When did he…?
I lost my father
just a few months ago.’

She means to indicate
she knows what it’s like.
I doubt that.

As for fixing my crooked toe —
too complicated, too expensive;
I’ve left it much too late.

Poetic Asides Wednesday prompt #220: a late poem

17 May 2013

Always the Writing

Always the writing writhes
to be born and flower,
pushing up through a dark
ceiling of earth.

Always it pounds in my blood
wanting to break on you,
on the reef of your hard body,
explosive as tides crashing.

The writing is rhythms that swell
and will not be gainsaid.
It pushes, burrows, surges, leaps.
Hammers and shrieks. Weeps. Begs.

After the blind climax, the ebb
has the panting of breath,
a giant wave receding.
I am its point of calm.

Written 1988; posted here now in response to dVerse Meeting the Bar: Volition and Velleity (which raises the question of whether poetry is wish or enactment).

First published The Nonsense of Living anthology by The Aardvarkers.
In Secret Leopard (Paris, Alyscamps Press, 2005)

15 May 2013

For Mother's Day 2013

I found on old piece in response to the Poets United prompt, but was too late to link it at the PU site. If anyone arrives here looking for it, it is called Remembrance.

13 May 2013

Crying His Tears

Love and heroism touched his heart.
He was a man who could be moved to tears.

His death caused me to think that we must part
for many years — oh, far too many years.
'He leaves an essence with you,' said a friend.
My smile was wry. 'That's not how it appears.
He's gone, and our communion's at an end.'

But then I read a military tale
of courage under fire, and I found
my heart expanding. Soon my eyes were full,
though I'm a pacifist. I recognised
this was an emotion he would feel.

His essence is still here, I realised.
He's with me as they say, within my heart.

(A disguised Terza Rima sonnet)

Missed linking this to the Form ForAll prompt at dVerse, 
so submitting instead to their Open Link Night #96

8 May 2013


He speaks as if those ashes are his father.
'Him,' he says, referring to them: 'I've got him
with me. I'm thinking that I'd like to inter
him somewhere.' He's unwilling to scatter them.
He wants his children to have a place to go
to visit their Pa, a place that they will know
and find with ease. When he went to find his own
grandparents, there was nothing — all traces gone.

This form is called Rispetto.

Submitted for dVerse Open Link Night #95

2 May 2013

Life's Confusing, In'it?

Two confused young men
stopped being ordinary and bombed Boston.
Others, confused by smoke and noise, 
but with clear hearts,
ran back to try and help.

When my dear was alive, exhaustion 
thinned my patience; 
love had me hope 
for his swift release. But now ...
Be careful what you pray for.

In the monsoon season
weeks of battering rain
gutted my strong geraniums.
The weeds, though, flourished.
Those with glossy leaves I'll keep.

Poetic Asides Wednesday prompts: write a confused poem

Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #149