The prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here".
Friday, 30 November 2012
The prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here".
Thursday, 29 November 2012
|Hope Poetry Gloves - "O wind if winter comes..." from Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind".|
``On a short walk, I could easily find two or three lone ones. Some were lying in the road and had had traffic rolling over them for days, making the fingers splayed and battered. They all have a history and there's something very poignant about that.'' In the case of Ruth Thomas's glove project, the works were given a botanical feel. After entitling her completed collection of glove prints Foxglove, Ruth gave each of them an individual name, based around the Latin term for foxglove, digitalisdigitalis (dĭj'ĭtăl`ĭs), any of several chemically similar drugs used primarily to increase the force and rate of heart contractions, especially in damaged heart muscle. The effects of the drug were known as early as 1500 B.C.
..... Click the link for .
``I made up scientific names for them all, so a child's glove is called digitalis minor and a lady's glove is digitalis matronalis,'' she explains.
``One, which was found with a finger missing and the other three sticking upright, is called digitalis pseudo-cactus, because it resembles a cactus plant.''
|Collagraph Print by Ruth Thomas|
I was small, like everyone. Life was a string of precautions: Don’t kiss the squirrel before you bury him, don’t suck candy, pop balloons, drop watermelons, watch TV. When the new gloves appeared one Christmas, tucked in soft tissue, I heard it trailing me: Don’t lose the yellow gloves.
I was small, there was too much to remember. One day, waving at a stream—the ice had cracked, winter chipping down, soon we would sail boats and roll into ditches—I let a glove go. Into the stream, sucked under the street. Since when did streets have mouths? I walked home on a desperate road. Gloves cost money. We didn’t have much. I would tell no one. I would wear the yellow glove that was left and keep the other hand in a pocket. I knew my mother’s eyes had tears they had not cried yet, I didn’t want to be the one to make them flow. It was the prayer I spoke secretly, folding socks, lining up donkeys in windowsills. To be good, a promise made to the roaches who scouted my closet at night. If you don’t get in my bed, I will be good. And they listened. I had a lot to fulfill.
The months rolled down like towels out of a machine. I sang and drew and fattened the cat. Don’t scream, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t fight—you could hear it anywhere. A pebble could show you how to be smooth, tell the truth. A field could show how to sleep without walls. A stream could remember how to drift and change—next June I was stirring the stream like a soup, telling my brother dinner would be ready if he’d only hurry up with the bread, when I saw it. The yellow glove draped on a twig. A muddy survivor. A quiet flag.
Where had it been in the three gone months? I could wash it, fold it in my winter drawer with its sister, no one in that world would ever know. There were miracles on Harvey Street. Children walked home in yellow light. Trees were reborn and gloves traveled far, but returned. A thousand miles later, what can a yellow glove mean in a world of bankbooks and stereos?
Part of the difference between floating and going down.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
“After weeks of watching the roof leak
I fixed it tonight
by moving a single board”.
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
|Nel wondering why I've stopped to eat on Moel Siabod|
Two have been the most amazing pathfinders. Megan was my second collie. I remember taking a compass bearing aimed at the cairn about a mile or so away before setting off across Blackstone Edge in snow . Megan ran a little way ahead, in an unwavering line straight to the cairn. I have trusted her instinct when caught in a white-out while running the Kentmere Round in the Lake District and on many occasions when I thought I would easily retrace my steps through unknown dense forestry.
Megan's strict abiding to paths sometimes led us into bother. When I lived in West Yorkshire our local regular run was the path up to Top Withens, considered to be the inspiration for Emily Bronte's novel, "Wuthering Heights". One morning we set off up to the ruin but decided to run on a good few miles further. On our return a couple of hours later, having reached the top of the path that looks down on Bronte Bridge, I saw that a film crew had set up there. Standing in the middle of the bridge was a woman in crinolines, holding a parasol. This meant nothing to Megan who was racing towards the bridge to cross it, regardless of who might be on it. I looked on aghast as the woman spotted this wild-eyed and thoroughly bog-drenched collie heading at speed towards her on the narrow bridge. She just had time to catch up her dress and bend herself backwards to give Megan the room she needed to cross. Megan's habit was to then sit the other side of the bridge to watch for me. This she did amidst all the film equipment, while a dozen or more pairs of eyes, including Megan's, watched my descent to the bridge - not all with love in their hearts.
Nel, my current companion has the same talent for path finding. There is one route that we run in the forest where we live that takes in two lakes - Llyn Hafod y Llyn and Llyn Mair. At two points around Llyn Hafod y Llyn, Nel takes her own short cuts, although I have never run or walked on these paths with her. I call these her Desire Lines.
All of my collies have lived into ripe old age but it hasn't made losing a dog you have loved so long and so well any easier. This is a Found Poem I wrote with the original works cited at the end.
A Small Dog
She was a small dog,
neat and fluid –
She flowed through fences
like a piece of black wind.
she was old
and sick and crippled.
I’ve made the call.
We ease her out
of that worn-out
with a kiss.
The easiest breath,
and not so at all.
as though we were rushing
to bend over.
The best we could do.
A long life.
A fine life,
and not nearly enough.
“Dog Years – a Memoir” by Mark Doty
“On The Euthanasia of a Pet Dog” by Elizabeth Smither
“Praise of a Collie” by Norman MacCaig
Monday, 26 November 2012
About his own work, Kunitz has said: “The poem comes in the form of a blessing—‘like rapture breaking on the mind,’ as I tried to phrase it in my youth. Through the years I have found this gift of poetry to be life-sustaining, life-enhancing, and absolutely unpredictable. Does one live, therefore, for the sake of poetry? No, the reverse is true: poetry is for the sake of the life.”
Sunday, 25 November 2012
A snake came to my water-trough
To drink there.
In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before
me. He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of
the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,
And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,
Silently. Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second comer, waiting. He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,
And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do,
And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment,
And stooped and drank a little more,
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.
The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous. And voices in me said, If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off. But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth? Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him? Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him? Was it humility, to feel so honoured?
I felt so honoured. And yet those voices:
If you were not afraid, you would kill him! And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth. He drank enough
And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken,
And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black,
Seeming to lick his lips,
And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air,
And slowly turned his head,
And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice a dream,
Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round
And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face. And as he put his head into that dreadful hole,
And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther,
A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid black hole,
Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after,
Overcame me now his back was turned. I looked round, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter. I think it did not hit him,
But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste.
Writhed like lightning, and was gone
Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front,
At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination. And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education. And I thought of the albatross
And I wished he would come back, my snake. For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again. And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
And I have something to expiate:
Missed chances...now there's a prompt for some writing!
Saturday, 24 November 2012
Across the country, people have been seeing Blackbirds with strange white markings. The condition, typically referred to as ‘leucism’, is one of a number of plumage abnormalities to have been reported through the BTO Abnormal Plumage Survey, preliminary results from which have just been published. In less than a month, the survey has clocked up nearly 700 sightings, encompassing more than 35 different species. Three quarters of records have been of leucistic birds and, of these, nearly half have been Blackbirds. Leucistic birds may be confused with albino individuals, but the latter have pink, instead of dark eyes, and only account for 12% of survey records to date.It is not yet clear why Blackbirds appear to be particularly affected. It could be that they are unusually susceptible to the condition. However, being black or, in the case of female Blackbirds dark brown, any light-coloured feathers show up particularly clearly. Indeed, several other species with all-black, or mostly black, plumage have been spotted with white feathers fairly often, including Carrion Crow (49 records) and Jackdaw (40).
The blackbird came to call the week she died,
knocking his golden beak against the pane.
Insistent to be heard he left his mark
in streaks of hieroglyphs across the glass.
In streaks of hieroglyphs across the glass,
I read his ragged black edged calling card.
I read his ragged black edged calling card.
I knew the time had come to bear the blow
I knew the time had come to bear the blow
like death a deadline desperate to be met.
Like death a deadline desperate to be met,
the blackbird came to call the week she died.
The Pantoum tradition as a poem first appeared in
In a Pantoum :
This shows the pantoum's repeating format:
Stanza One – Line1, 2, 3, 4
Stanza Two – Line 2, 5, 4, 6
Stanza Three – Line 5, 7, 6, 8
Stanza Four – Line 7, 9, 8, 10
Stanza Five – Line 9, 3, 10, 1
Friday, 23 November 2012
|My laughing Buddha|
faces the front door and
helps me remember a sense of perspective
I was keen to get the shelves in place so that I could better organise the shed. I woke up early and decided to get the job done. I emptied everything out of the shed so that the unit could be positioned where I wanted it. Then I needed to drag the unit across and inside the shed.
It was obvious to me as I did this that the unit was too much for me to handle alone. At this point I could have asked for help but instead I persisted. I heaved the unit through the shed door and literally backed myself into a corner with it. Then the whole unit decided to collapse trapping my left hand with the whole of its weight. The pain was excruciating – a mixture of pinch and crush. It took a while for me to extricate my hand as I needed to raise the entire weight with my other hand.
The swelling and bruising was very impressive. I needed help to get it bandaged and for the next two days spent a lot of my time continuing to ask for help.
A poem by Robert Frost
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns --
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.
Thursday, 22 November 2012
|Wild Horses in The Rhondda|
Of souls loving the untamed land,
of feather and bones, and paint made from the earth.
a line of warrior joining earth with sky.
war paint dripping in the blaze of an angry sun.
I wept then for the endings I would miss,
and those shared wild places of our separate hearts.
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
|Library and Reading Room at Poets House, NYC|
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
|Poet Jack Gilbert 1925-2012|
GILBERT: Almost any book in the library—knights saving ladies, cowboys trying to kill the bad guy. I just devoured books; each new story opened a new vista.
Poets like Jack Gilbert open up such vistas. Here is one of my favourite poems that he wrote.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.
Monday, 19 November 2012
Ekphrasis or ecphrasis is the graphic description of a visual work of art. In ancient times it referred to a description of any thing, person, or experience. The word comes from the Greek ek and phrasis, 'out' and 'speak' respectively, verb ekphrazein, to proclaim or call an inanimate object by name.
Ekphrastic poetry is the conversation between two pieces of art. The writer interprets a work of visual art and then creates a narrative in verse form that represents his or her reaction to that painting, photograph, sculpture or other artistic creation.
This is a poem I wrote from "The Hallucinogenic Toreador” by
with your horn.
An army of flies,
heading your way.
Bears herself back
into a mist of time
she has no memory of.
How could she
beating its own retreat,
the coloured charms
the molten pool?
are gods and heroes.
of your heart.
Your future face
Sunday, 18 November 2012
I have always loved this poem by Robert Frost.
Acquainted With the Night
Acquainted with the Night
Lisa Russ Spaar - Editor
This Anthology “brings together Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop, Rimbaud and Sappho, Shakespeare and Shelley—the great poets of the Western literary heritage—on a theme with which each one has been acutely familiar. Lisa Russ Spaar has also unearthed ruminations on the sleepless nights of poets the world over: in a fascinatingly diverse anthology, she has harvested verse from Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Inuit, Vietnamese, Tamil, Yiddish, and Romanian poets, who together present an illuminating display of insomnia’s extraordinary and enduring legacy in widely different cultures through the centuries. As these exquisite poems chart a course from solitude, through anxiety, to epiphany, the reader truly learns what it means to be acquainted with the night”.
Saturday, 17 November 2012
John Killick did the morning presentation and workshop. John is a freelance writer who works with people with dementia by recording their conversations, and with their permission, writes and publishes their words in poetic fashion.
This is a poem I wrote about my grandmother who had dementia in the later stages of her life.
bartered pale ale
for piano lessons
from the self taught drunk
banging the bar
for one more tuneful pint.
emptying their dregs,
tables sticky with spills,
spit in the sawdust.
I stood beside your bed,
turned pages while you read
the score like Braille.
All sense of timing lost,
those soured slops of days.
Friday, 16 November 2012
|The International Academy for Poerty Therapy|
Definition of Sestina - The sestina is a challenging form in which, rather than simply rhyming, the actual line-ending words are repeated in successive stanzas in a designated rotating order. A sestina consists of six six-line stanzas, concluding with a three-line “envoi” which incorporates all the line-ending words, some hidden inside the closing lines. The prescribed pattern for using the six line-ending words is:
1st stanza 1 2 3 4 5 6
2nd stanza 6 1 5 2 4 3
3rd stanza 3 6 4 1 2 5
4th stanza 5 3 2 6 1 4
5th stanza 4 5 1 3 6 2
6th stanza 2 4 6 5 3 1
envoi 2--5 4--3 6—1
Here is a sestina by Elizabeth Bishop
September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.
She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,
It's time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle's small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac
on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.
It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.
But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.
Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.
where my grandmother
lived. How I watched her, as a child,
coax into life the old stove
with pages from the almanac,
the smoke in her eyes bringing tears.
I never saw her cry. She kept her real tears
shelved like preserves. In her house
she had no need of any almanac
to dictate or predict. My grandmother
who could resurrect a dying stove
had lost her first born child
to diphtheria. For this child
she counted out the tears
like cobbles, hardened for the stove.
Never really spoken of, the house
held onto grief. My grandmother
never used an almanac -
memory, for her, made an almanac.
blank. My mother, as a child
remembers my grandmother
as toughened by hard work. Futile the tears
when at sixteen she ran a house
for seven younger siblings round the stove.
deriding the predictions in the almanac.
Nothing can foretell the way a house
decays from the inside. To a child
she was the upright woman without tears
I knew. My uncomplaining grandmother
busy on her knees or at the stove.
And it was still without tears
that she touched the pages of the almanac,
turned for her by her oldest grandchild,
the chaotic ruins of her mind collapsing like a house.
In the last house that my grandmother
gone cold, her almanac a distraction for our tears.