Thursday, April 30, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Vanitas

And to conclude this year's NaPo madness ...


If I grind the mirror to the flat
of a millpond caught in a spring
heatwave, still and unrippled -
can I keep what I have? Or must I

bend and swerve like a reed caught
in the glove of an autumn storm,
spent in the race to reach the sun -
its taunting pull: tall and fine,

the pure line drawn from the muds
of birth to the summer sky of dream,
thrown down by the tick of a cloud -
that moil of change? I've polished

this moment as keen as a betrothal
to any lover and no blemish remains
to offer me wintry lies, and still -
it slips beyond me: water and light.

NaPo 09 ~ Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Sic transit gloria mundi

Glorious is the cat who's caught
the first of the summer sun
in whiskers on a window sill,

the line of his eye-stone lidded
by the resonance of sun-heat
echoed in a belly of purrs;

a tail-tip mouse lure twitches.

NaPo 09 ~ The Lunchtime Show

Snowdrop 11.2: The Lunchtime Show

In the park a crowd of people cluster
in rings around a rag of performers
whose fleshy stench makes space for their play.

"But ho! I hear a trumpet blare
from over yonder field."

"A fair haired lad has come to bring
this evil bane to heel ..."

Within the grime of their garments, colour:
the green of weld and woad, the red
of madder root, each marked in wool
and cotton woven in the cloth of shoes
and shirts and pants and patched jackets
strapped to the body by strings, and buttons -
each oval true to the artist who carved it.

"He wears a breastplate bright as noon
and carries a great spear."

"And even though he tumbles on
the ground we give a cheer ..."

They sweat as they dance despite the frost
that powders the eddies of air they reel in
to the white of a memory of mist, or perhaps
an echo of moonlight etched across skin
and scabs that should have sought the grave
in a different age - a darker place
where the scuff of a foot or the strike of a phrase
was a force to keep the cunning of devils
away from the hearth, the home, the breath.

"For he is England's own Saint George -
a little short, we know."

"But even so he's not afraid
to battle monstrous foes ..."

She watches for a minute, a mute witness
in a crowd of laughing, crowing shoppers
drawn to the hoodeners' desparate show.
Their dread is her panic - a potent dismay
of shock and loss, the sharp displacement
from the known to the new enough to render
her lost again in the grip of madness.
Their faces tell her the truth of this horror:
a sidelong glance at the snickering giants
surrounding the space; a squall of noise
hauling a head into the hug of shoulders;
the jaws as slack as the strings on the hobby
now stolen by kids for the kick of a game.

"He fights for Christ and Christendom
and our own mortal souls ..."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Reverie Inc.

Reverie Inc.

We've assembled a new dream for you,
as per spec, with added colours
enameled on the spelter frame.

The cellar is fresh-hewn, with frets
of lime for the dangling of drops:
that pool of neuroses comes gratis.

We can supply extra veneers
of your deity of choice at cost,
and laminate the clouds with eyes.

For maximum pleasure, the fancy
should be applied with even strokes
and allowed to leaven in sweat.

Remember, there's no shame in nudity,
not in your head; these strangers
who stare and chase are bespoke.

We thank you for your custom. Please
dispose of your delusions carefully
after use. Consume before midsummer.

NaPo 09 ~ Oistins on Friday

Oistins on Friday

Fish scales blue as chop sea
scraped on tables, guttings
knocked to earth for dogs
and cats and white gulls.

She smiles large as waves
caught on evening huffs
of breeze: "You need good
macaroni pie go wid de cutter,
mister, put some flesh
on dose bones. Hah! No bounce
in you, skinny as de fish
in de bun like I make for you!"

Gulls and cats and shouts and dogs
and cheap white chairs in dust
wet from washed trestles;
guttings of the sun in the sea.

And dark, so quick. A growl
of diesel, here, and here, here
and lights on lines round sheds.
"You stay a while, skinny man
and we do some dancing, hah,
you de fish and me de cutter
catch your bones in my buns
washed down with good rum, yes?"

Nets on poles shine in lights;
spouge plays on decks, new words
to old beats fresh-caught today;
spice grog with conch and lime.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ He Finds a Special Niche for this Memory, and Chants

He Finds a Special Niche for this Memory, and Chants

Hot loft, beneath tiles
and summer sun; guardian
of pasts; keeper of gifts
wanted, unwanted, lost
and trashed. Dark loft,
lagged in glass; tufts
to cut hands, paws;
birth-cuddle squirrels
teeth cut on holes,
slates. Long loft low
space I pray please
hide these secrets,
cuddle them close
in wool glass;
hush, hush
and hide.

NaPo 09 ~ As Above; So Below: Collapse

My one-and-only attempt at Google sculpting this NaPo. I promise.

As Above; So Below: Collapse
(a found poem)

It is also known
as a credit
crunch. It occurs
when participants
in an economy
lose confidence
in having loans
repaid by debtors.

Mystery ailment
in Mexico have
experts scrambling.

For many people
the credit crisis
isn't very real
yet. But it's seeping
down to Main Street.

Mexico shut down
schools, museums, libraries
and state-run theaters.

Amazon resists
the credit crunch -
the online retailer
has joined Apple
in seeing profits
rise during
the recession

The national laboratory
in Winnipeg
has confirmed human swine
influenza virus
in clinical specimens sent
from Mexico
for testing.

The Prince of Wales'
dream to replicate
his sustainable
eco-village in Dorset,
has been hit
by the credit crunch

Up to 70 dead as swine
flu outbreak
sweeps Mexico, crosses
US border
and prompts worldwide
pandemic panic.

The credit crunch
has chewed its way
through a fair
few victims this year
but you may not realise
how it started,
what it is.

A deadly strain of swine
flu has sparked
concerns of a worldwide
after suspected cases
have been reported
in the US.

The recent credit crunch
was driven by a sharp
rise in defaults
on subprime mortgages.

Mexican health
authorities have counted
1324 people
likely sickened
with the new strain of swine
flu. As many as 81
have died.

Did an obscure
accounting rule
cause the credit crunch?

Friday, April 24, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Experimental Poem Thingy

Experimental Poem Thingy

We learn to walk in syllables,
each tumble a punctuation.

The best economies are charted
on calfskin scraped clean of fat.

We once stored gossip in oak apples
and vitriol, sometimes mixed in wine.

Skipping chants in playgrounds -
North; East; West; South:
Maggie Brown's got the biggest mouth!

My gossip is rich in dates
and times, channeled in ducts
clad in water sips.

A man chronicles the economy
in numbers and charts: harsh gossip
exchanged across pews.

Banks are for rolling down;
failures are charted in red ink
and extra lines at playtime.

How long will it take
two competing Year Four children
to complete a billion skips?

I found a vellum mouse nest, once,
caught in a heat of ducts.

There is no news; gossip
is for those who have the ear for it.

You need to be quick on your heels:
Maggie Brown was good at the kiss chase.

Sheets are for wriggling in,
bedtime gossip wrapped in cotton.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Some Spring Fukyus

Some Spring Fukyus

When their pistons swell
they drop their spring finery,
settle, stretch their leaves.

Dew has washed her stripes
clean; the new laundered air calls:
she will build nations.

A spike of leaves stirs -
he searches for slugs, a chance
to sire bristled pups.

After the hatching,
a single thread emerges:
eight legs cuddle gusts.

Though their winter's art
of sculpting shapes in the sky
is done, they bicker.

She mothers many
beneath her stone, each tethered
to her by a leg.

They are a madness
of croaks clumped about her as
she weaves life round reeds.

NaPo 09 ~ The Long Draft

The Long Draft

Did you hear
how they built
a chimney
that reached up
to prick the shawl
of the sky, high
like the flight
of rockets, geese
and heroes.
They wanted
to shout at
God, you see,
make sure He
heard their praise.
On each brick,
a signature
penned by a
keen to book
a cushion stool
of thunderclouds
to witness
the world's end.
That chimney rose
so high the stars
themselves dodged
the hum of songs
birthed, evolved
and dead within
its long throat.
Many roasted
on the hearth,
their oiled smoke
caught on the flue.
Did I buy
a brick? Yes,
an orange one,
as flaked as
the ones that held
my grandmother
beneath her roof;
But I didn't like
the pointing, and
their choice of mortar
was shoddy. I've
still got it, here,
just in case, you know.

NaPo 09 ~ Joe

Seems I'm a few behind ...


Joe is invisible today. He's lowered
his hood to set his face free, let breathe
the scabs and growths in his bones
that dapple his jaw, his brow. Joe

knows he's invisible by the lack
of eyes that look back, the turn
of necks to shopfronts blocking
the street from hiding space,

their flow of goods through doors
isolate each of his feet. Where Joe
steps, a cloak of space flutters,
clearing crowds so he can see

what offers have been set to tempt
the coins in his pocket; Joe has
many pockets set to empty and fill
though staff can't spot Joe beyond

the hand that holds the coins, lets drop
the coppers on counters. Still,
a hand is as good as a speech
for a man who cannot be seen.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Snowdrop 1.6: Hunt


Beneath the moil of muddied pelts
a bloody hock beats and strikes out;
tremors stammer the spattered hoof
which stills and falls. A feral man
strides through the pack, plucking the dogs
away from their kill by kicks and growls
to slide his flint through sinews, release
blood from the neck - a newsprung brook
bustles downhill. He barks a command
at the bickering hounds, their hackles bristled,
a fight for the right to feast on offal -
they cannot compete: concede the prize.

He tugs and straps the stag with twine,
drags the carcass from its couch of brambles
to pull it uphill, the pinioned hooves
sketching a line through the litter and sod.
It was a great stag, its grey muzzle
scarred with the thrusts of thrashing antlers
through many ruts. A muddied tongue
slugs over leaves; the last of its spoor
beads the tousled baton of its tail.

A snick of a twig stops all activity ...

In moments men are moving, running.
They loop in lines through larch and aspen
to track the source of the sound in the mist.
Dogs snout through ferns, snuffle and forage
for a scent of intruder: terror; escape!
When a puppy trips and pitches at her feet
she screams - a snarl; a sprint; a leap!
Danger! Danger! Dogs on the loose!
Teeth on the throat! Tearing and ripping!
And the girl is caught in the grasp of a man,
pinched in his biceps, a blade at her neck.

Online Literary Magazines

Further to Nic and Scavella's comments on Sandra Beasley's Poets & Writers article on the evolution of online journals, I decided to do a little investigation to see which of the magazines mentioned in the article are currently accepting online (ie web form or email) submissions. Here are the results:

linebreak - online submissions welcome

Memorious - online submissions welcome

Mezzo Cammin - online submissions of formalist poems by women welcome

AGNI Online - online submissions welcome; does not accept submissions that have been previously 'published' on any website, including blogs or personal sites

Anti- - online submissions welcome; "... Anything the editor can Google is previously published ..."

Valparaiso Poetry Review - online submissions welcome; "... accepts submissions of unpublished poems, book reviews, author interviews, and essays about poetry or poetics that have not appeared online ..." (whatever 'online' means)

The Literary Review - only reads online submissions! Next reading period starts in September

No Tell Motel* - online submissions currently closed; next reading period will start in October

Blackbird - online submissions currently closed - next reading period starts in November

The Kenyon Review* - online submissions currently closed (couldn't find details of when the next reading period starts)

Drunken Boat - online poetry submissions currently closed (couldn't find details of when the next reading period starts)

The Iowa Review - does not accept electronic submissions

*I have received graceful rejections from these venues

And two further magazines deserve a special mention, mainly because they've published me! Both accept online submissions year-round:

The Shit Creek Review

Magma Poetry

NaPo 09 ~ We Added Some Herbs to the Brew

We Added Some Herbs to the Brew

Sharp: a grasp, unseen,
that pulls my nape clear
of a hand that tingles
the back ends of teeth.

Tart: when the chin drops,
my lips melt; a fudge slab
atop the fence post midday
- sidehooks in the cheek.

Sweet: a smile, an ease
in the throat, a comfort
of belly hugs; a tap
on cavities. A temple-pain.

Cold: where the frown
burrows beyond the curve
of skullbone to plough
stavelines in the sinus.

Salt: old memory refreshed,
rag-swept and dusted; colours
kindle brighter, each face
clear and firm and whole.

Love: a twin of tongues
rolled in unspoken words.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Serendipiticiously


He found her number in the pocket
of his post-stressed, pre-bleached jeans
moments before he set the load to tumble
and cleanse the stench of singles night
from their ambient, non-committal threads.

She picked up the phone in a rush
of dried pasta and defrosting pizza
and - somehow - recalled a face to match
the pitch of nervous tones that tinned
in her velvet-hair ear, and she smiled.

There was a gap in the rain the day
they met for coffee, a space in the drops
that made a cozy fit for two, and a place
in the bustle of conversations for each
to hear the other listen and nod.

The bridesmaid was grasp-close to the cake
when a third tier strut broke. The best man
chose to wear the ring-bearing jacket. The vicar
was sober, and not yet under arrest. The pins
in the dress held. The dance was like dreams.

She cried to a point beyond tears on hearing
of her Papa's fat-embalmed heart; his last gift
arrived two days ahead of the forclosure note.
He cried, too, when the cage on his blade
failed; the firm compensated in nursery funiture.

Twins saved her stomach from multiple cuts
and the pre-eclampsia destined to heist
the second pregnancy; though contracting
mumps from his infant son or daughter helped
dampen the risk from her genetic destiny.

That first grey hair was a release, a contract
fulfilled. Two opposites combined; two individuals
merged and mixed and halved and stretched, played
and spent. Above the house a guardian demon smiles,
its work well-done. An atom of misery evolves.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bonus double dactyl

The doctoring folks over at Digestive Care Online have been running a poetry contest; entries (so to speak) have to be poems about colonoscopies. How could I resist such a challenge? So I entered (sts). You can enter (sts) too: the deadline for entries (sts) is 30 April 2009.

Here's my entry (sts), written last month so sadly not elegible for inclusion in NaPo:

Colonoscopy: the double-dactyl version

Digestive doctoring
Saved me from great worry
When I discovered some
Blood in my pan.

Investigations showed
Nothing of worry - just
Piles for my pain.

NaPo 09 ~ Double dactyl thingy

Each NaPo requires certain actions to show the depths the acolyte is willing to descend to in order to complete the challenge. Such as writing an obligatory double dactyl. And a poem with chickens in it. Some of us like to show off by combining the two into a single poem.

You have been warned!

The Double Dactyl with chickens challenge thingy

Choppercos loppercos
Charlie the chicken was
Running away from the
Slice of the blade

When he run into the
Oven to hide he found
With marinade.

NaPo 09 ~ Streetlamp Theatre

Streetlamp Theatre

Maggie stands tall tonight.
She has nails for heels
and cloth around her hips
damp from the low cloud.

Cars slow, stop, inquire -
she ignores their chrome charm.
Maggie stands tall tonight.

Lads drunk on new tattoos
offer tatter-notes for favours.
She has nails for heels

and sees no need to upgrade -
she shuts away the pretty faces,
keeps cloth around her hips.

And when the face she needs
arrives, wallet on chain
damp from the low cloud

she takes chrome from her purse
and fucks his chest with bullets.
Maggie stands tall tonight.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Elemental limericks

... in which Rik runs out of inspiration and finds himself resorting to elemental limericks ...

Vanadium Vera has ticks
she counts them by bites, and licks
each blood-laden ball
as it lets go to fall
to the carpet, for stamping to bits.

Roger has radon hair:
it glows when he goes to the fair
to ride on the dodgems
and slide on the dog-ends
and vomit that veneers the stairs.

Hafnium Hettie does huff
when she clomps down the stairs for a puff
on her Marlboro Light -
each suck a delight
of poisons and tars and stuff

A lady called Chromium Kate
delights in the search for a mate:
she hunts down her man
and does what she can,
then marks up one more on her slate.

Rubidium Ronnie has form;
his bones are immune to reform:
each night he must shake
his tackle, and make
the women of Romford perform.

NaPo 09 ~ Planter Awaits Replanting

Planter Awaits Replanting

Bamboo: spent stalks, brown
and stiff; drains for the breeze
to hum in, knock on knock, tap;
winter's snapped plumbing.

Crocus: a vase of flutters,
white; pole dancing a spear,
gold; a cage of stiff swords,
long striped bodyguards.

Rose: tissue-pink leaves, paired,
set in line on telescope stems,
the soft thorns a rash; a bud
nestles amid greenfly, crushed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Painting


Walls are not blank. They soak in lives, each pore
in the mortar a pit to house outbursts and tears.

We chose the scheme together: a brush of faint cream;
a slice of simnel; a feather of fresh-hatched chick.

And so we paint: this emulsion stroke shall cover
the time we argued the length of a bottle of whisky.

I texture the colour with cobwebs, old nets to catch
forgotten meals, parties; the husks of anniversaries.

As the room grows in its new coat I follow your lines:
dab wet gloss on the skirting, wipe spats from my hair.

When it is done, we make a good memory - a kiss -
for the walls to record. A cat-hair glides in the fume.

NaPo 09 ~ Sunday

This one's for Saturday (despite the name):


"Know this: he was a changed man
when he first returned - more solid
than the walls he walked through;
his words boiled love in my heart.
He wore his wounds like totems."

She's changed, too. No longer
the little woman - scarf-bound,
lip-taut seeker, lost. She hunts
like she hires: with crisp bills
on wood she measures my worth.

These are good notes. I measure
my questions accordingly: who
and where, and how. Not why -
the curves of her black-sheen
calves supress my need to know.

There's no noise outside, no wind
to swirl the street litter in dance,
no midnight trade, no dogs. "He's late,"
she tells me. "The world can't sing out
its rattle-tunes if he won't come home."

I'm thinking these last three could be gathered together into a 3-part poem, perhaps under the title The case of the man who was dead - what do you both think?

Friday, April 10, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Saturday


"How did you torment him?" I demand.
His face is huge: an icewall chin calving
berg-hair; each cheek a flat tundra,
fellfield pockets grey in the chill -
his eyecaves could house nations.

And as he smiles, I follow his mechanics -
oil and shape, twist and form, evolve
a frosted fret of recollections tight
across his blue lip. "You should ask
the one who supplied my design, perhaps?"

He talks in gusts of air released
from glaciers - a slow whisper of gas
recalling the histories of the world.
"I charted the story of his message
and watched him scream, scream, scream!"

NaPo 09 ~ Friday


"Come," she says. "I'll show you
second hand"
and takes her palms
to her brow and pulls them wide:
walls crack to ooze a levant
light around us, swirl us - here.

This hill has strange trees.
"Only three, today," she smiles,
"I've watched them plant forests
some mornings."
A spring orchid
spires amid cups of blue bindweed.

I see shapes in the guttering sun,
watching, long shadows restored.
"We could not go to him; we bore
witness instead, a child of whispers:
what monsters and martyrs we birthed!"

Almond petals spot the dry dirt
white about our feet. From the vale
wafts a sharp citrus; from the city
call the chisel taps of hasty repair.
"Lost!" she murmers. "I cannot move!"

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Plane note

Plane note

Whereby Rik revels in free-association verse, in commemoration of the day one hundred and five years prior when, as instructed by his bride, Mr Crowley began the process of committing his Liber Legis unto the ink.

I am not your Pan, rather
     a shadow, mud-stained, thrust amid
        with new shoots sickly green,
         a weave of roots. I am not
        your shade - though if you wish
     it shall be done: each twitch
an echo of your arch, your bone.

I found a god enrocked;
     he called me, veins of silver
        strum by salts, a hand outheld
         to gather me, succour, snout
        to yielding sand. Indentures
     caught the brow mid-turn -
an echo of vats, basins; pots

These pipes - so cold they freeze
     my tune, each note a glob. Ice
        chimes; teardrop charms. Am I
         dead yet? Impress my bones,
        fill my light dents, wine stains;
     flame me. I am mists of shade -
I am your Pan: I echo your gloam.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Annie


Annie sees dragons in all things - that car
has a dragon ensconsed in the wheel hub
and there in the bricks of her office, a worm
set to watch her flick through the doors and clip
on the foyer's marbled floor; there's one
in the lift that huffs her aloft, its scales
each brushed to a burnish by fingers of colleagues
too eager to rub what they will not see -
how could they miss the ruby wink
of the wyvern who heats the canteen muffins
or the knotted blue tongue they walk on
each day, each step a hiss of static
warning: we taste you; we hunger; we want.

Annie sees dragons in all things: this babe
in the pram has a tail in her hands and eases
the ache in her gums on cold leather,
her mother ignores it; the man with the dog
on a lead cannot sense his mutt's fear
of the draco that laps puddle water -
she could comfort the creature, but people don't like
nutters who talk to shadows and bumps
in the crease of the kerb, who weave across streets
like a pup after milk to save their flesh
from the lick of cere flames ... no,
Annie prefers to let people do what
people do, for they can be dragons too.

Monday, April 06, 2009

NaPo09 ~ Economics 101

Let's post this one quickly to get it out of the way ...

Economics 101

The reason why
your belly hurts
is simple maths.

Some people chose
to act somewhat

"Let us eat baked Scottish salmon with seashore vegetables
and broad beans and a herby garden salad and some mayonnaise
and wild garlic-scented Irish soda bread."

They broke the rules
of banks and bonds;
they took some risks.

"For those without the will to battle flesh, we've Childwickbury
goatcheese with roast shallots alongside the beans
and bread and leaf, mayonnaise withheld."

They had a dream:
to be as rich
as football stars.

The plastic pull
of credit lines -
a siren's song.

"The slow-roasted shoulder of Welsh lamb comes with first
of the season Jersey Royals, newforced asparagus and wild
St George mushrooms; mint sauce and gravy to pour."

A trust in bricks
and mortgage loans -
a stranger's kiss.

"Again, lovage & potato dumplings are available for those who prefer
their lamb to eat the mint, rather than be garnished by it.
Hot bakewell tart and home-made custard to conclude."

No time to waste!
A penny saved,
a trinket missed.

The simple maths
of belly pain:
no money left.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Snowdrop 1.3: Jenny Twig Dances

This rewrite is so completely different from what went before that even the title's changed!

This is a Good Thing. Believe me.

Jenny Twig Dances

There's an eye in the tree with the tinsel strand
and the spice of woods: somebody watches
the women by the fire - one is asleep
and the other mesmered by mimes in the flame.

When the log explodes she screams: her limbs
hug to her head to hide her face
from charcoal embers, their indolent flush
setting smoulders as they speckle the carpet.

      "That was a shock, and no mistake! Are you
      okay, old woman? Gran? You're fast asleep,
      and snoring soon, no doubt. This night, it creeps
      like a cat, no noise; your bedtime's long overdue."

And the other who watches unwinds; a finger
peels from the bark, a palm, a wrist;
a shoulder of splinters splits from the bough;
from a gnarl, the brow; from a knot, the eye.

      "Did you hear a noise, behind us, Gran? A rat?
      There's something going on - is someone here?
      This room's got ghosts, I swear, a tart veneer
      of not quite right ... oh Jesus wept - what's that?"

She steps from the tree, her tethering ribbons
of husk broken. She breathes, lets air
unfurl the cellulose sacs of her lungs.
She does not smile as she starts her dance.

      "You've got to be kidding! This is a joke, unreal!
      There's no such thing as ghosts, just fear and dread."

Where callus toes tap on the floor:
a scent of woodlands slumbered in winter.

      "Yet you're not real - you're hollow like a spray
      of breath - don't touch me! Leave us be! Be still!"

Limber digits dock to the wall:
a creak of breeze caught in the briar.

      "Don't hurt my Gran, please don't! Kill me instead!
      It's me that bad, not her; don't take her away!"

Through mortar, buds burgeon and green:
a shiver of mist shawling the trees -
and Jenny Twig untwists the room
and screaks, and sings; expands and blooms.

In fact, there's so much that's new about this rewrite that I've decided to claim it as my NaPo poem for today.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Untitled(1)

This is my "poem written in under ten minutes" thingy, as suggested by Mr Rob.

It shows. I am shamed.


There's a bear in the sky
hunting sacks of gas,
each hydrogen mass
rent by claws; then
eaten, digested,
smashed into stars.

A mild man would quiver.

Beyond the facade of black,
echoes of heat relate
a story of the first birth:
resonate microwaves sing!

I am not a mild man; quivers
never stipple my spine.

Take out the spin of my world,
hide my gravity. I still have
ears to hear the stellar hymn.

Some say that mystery is a
key herb in good soup:
your bare hide quivers me.

Snowdrop 1.2: The Glamour through the Flame

... and the bonus revisions of Snowdrop snippets keep rolling in ...

The Glamour through the Flame

Look at the stag! He leaps at the trees
and hoofs through the bracken, eyes wide in despair;
his moonlit pelt spattered by mud and debris
as hand-echoed huntcalls shiver the air.
Look at the stag, he darts from the flares
of beaters who stalk him, no time to freeze:
the dogs are about him, snouts frothed as they seize
his stress-shaking haunch, tumble him, tear
at his throat to spatter hot blood. Now see
him, eyes wide now, dispaired.

Look at the feast! Great platters of meat
and scuttles of beer brought to sate a fair
of dancers and lovers; a barrage of treats:
a pivot of swan breasts; boar heads in pairs -
look at the feast! There's ramstones to share,
and manstones, and tongue-in-a-purse - discrete
entrapments performed as a service replete
and dulled and indifferent, each unaware
participant lost and alone. Now see
the feast that sates the fair.

Look at the man! He squats by a tree
and stares out the moon, mustering charms.
His lap hosts a knife, its iron blade free
from its yellowhorn sheath; he weaves a barm
of mist from a cauldron, now seething, now calm.
Look at the man as he sits on the tee
of a stripy old hide, his work to decree
the rise of a newly birthed sun - his arm
and his song are the tools of God! Now see
the Tallyman master his charms.

Friday, April 03, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ Prophets

Meeting the requirements of Day 3:


Her pivot is her globe:
it sits between us, a gem
of unbubbled glass swirled
in transluscent reflections.

Her hoops are for show:
I show her a palm, pin
my eyes to her pulled lobe
as she seeks secrets in lines.

My lode is her creased face:
matching gulleys channel anger
from the nip of her nose up -
botox could veil her pain.

"I can see money," she says:
I can see addictions etched
in her jaundiced fingers
as they stroke my wrist.

We thank each other, sip
at thin china, guess weather.
As I leave, I see patterns
in clouds: ill omens in greys.

Snowdrop 1.1: The Yule Log

More revisions of old stuff.

The Yule Log

She watches it wither and waste in the grate;
A peel of bark bristles and powders.

Each kindled flare ferrets through crevices -
one bursts a chrysalis in a cannon of steam.

A chorus of dancers crackle and twirl,
their shapes make scenes: a story of shades.

She follows their play, a pantomime
of hunters and dogs, dangers and hopes.

          This gift you have brought me - a jewel, a rose:
          she'll dance in the moonlight to passionate dreams!

Jack Flame alights on the log, and bows:
a moss-pad smokes in the midst of his stage.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

NaPo 09 ~ From the Ass's Jaw

I seem to be producing one of these poems every NaPo. Another 19 years and I might have enough of them to make up their own chapbook ...

From the Ass's Jaw

"Do you believe in destiny?"

He's old, this one, blind
as he walks in the steps
of a child. His breath
smells sweet, brandy in flame;
his lungs buzz. I shake my head:

"we are what we do, no more."

He laughs: "a harsh judgment
you place on my back; I have killed
many men. A child of the sun
can do no more than follow
the knots embraided in his hair."

"I have no comb to change you ..."

He knocks bills from the desk
as he leans to my face: I see
midnight enthroned in sockets.
"I chose to push the pillars,"
he says, "cascade that stony sky.

"I am a good judge. Are you?"

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Snowdrop 0.5: The Good Room

Snowdrop 0.5: The Good Room

Not officially part of NaPo as that's supposed to be all about new stuff, but while there's a hint of creativity still in my bones I might as well make best use of it. Hopefully there will be some new Snowdrop stuff appearing over the next 4 weeks, but for now you'll have to settle for a rewrite of an early section of the project.

This works much better now, and I am saying that myself ...

Snowdrop 0.5: The Good Room

Dark is the room. She reaches for the switch
and lights up clutter: a couch laden
with coarse cotton; a carpet of swirls
dating back decades; dust on the table
cracking veneer; cascades of vases.

          "Come here, my sweet. I'm sorry for those words -
          I miss her too, and sometimes I forget
          that you're not her; you have her look, absurd
          as that may seem to you, a silhouette
          to catch and shift me back to when she snuck
          away - I ache for her! Still, no time to mawk!"

There's memories here; moments of comfort
and laughter caught in the layers of grime.
She refutes their call, casts them away.
Going to to the window, she grasps the curtain
to shut out the moon. Her shadow ripples
between the folds of the faded drapes -
a wasp, long dead, winnows to the sill.

          "We'll pull some ivy from the fence out back
          and braid some berried holly through the stalks
          and pin the twigs along the walls, and Bert
          the Herder gave me mistletoe - he gabs
          romance, that man, but I know what he seeks.
          And once we've spruced the room we'll find a fir
          for potting, drag it here so you can wrap
          that tinsel round it: Christmas done on the cheap!"

The grin on the face of her Gran is crooked
and whole, and good, and the girl can't help
but to smile in return - a tacit ceasefire.

NaPo09 ~ Locus Delicti

And so the madness starts ...

Locus Delicti

Would you wear a killer's cardigan?
It's only wool, see, a weave of sheep
caught on needles for the looping.

And this ring, a sweetheart's gift,
has no talismanic magic; the stones
intone metaphors - a lasting garnet love.

I do not need to knock wood: I know my luck
is in you. Those locks of your hair I curl
in my wallet? A keepsake, no more,
for when our fringes were young.