Friday’s Commute

The passing glare of headlights

Is interrupted, through the side

Window flames lick the horizon

Like dragon’s breath has set alight

That perfect point where land meets sky

And it is beauty, breath-taking,

Enough to make you want to stop

And pay attention. A new day is dawning.

You should celebrate, do something

Significant, mark the moment,

But you have work to go to, so you drive

On, reluctant, take one last glance

In the rear-view mirror as the sky

Explodes in crimson colour, hues

Which seem to scream murder

As you round another corner

And flee the scene.

~The H Word~

Fear Not My Darling

We wait together, you and I

as night falls, light dies, extinguished

day’s death never grieves us

illuminated in moon’s torchlight

we navigate night’s crippling darkness

find shelter in its blank canvas

and feast on fear, you and I

swallow bitter disappointment until

satisfied enough to try again.

~The H Word~

Slipping Through the Cracks

How much more can we possibly take?
Before this life we have built will come
tumbling down. Our homes made with love,
gentle hands, how can they withstand
all that’s expected of us? Our collective
stress evident on every street, in the faces
of strangers and those that we love. The
crumbling has already begun. Dust clouds
around our feet as we trudge through the rubble
of collapsing society. Trying to pretend everything
is okay. When nothing is okay or ever will be again
any time soon, or so it feels. Yet, we hope.
For hope is all we have, that kindness and
compassion will win through in the end.
I hope for you now. For me, for all of us
existing day by day, week by week, wondering
How much worse can things possibly get?
Knowing only too well what the answer could be
and gripped by fear of what comes next.

~The H Word~

Poems from ‘The Water Engine’ by Ankh Spice

I have been impatiently waiting to share poems from The Water Engine (2021), Ankh Spice’s debut collection published by Femme Salve Books, but I was struggling to pick only one or two and kept changing my mind about which ones to share. This is one of those collections that immediately takes up residency in your chest, it snuggles beside your heart and let’s you know it is always there for you whenever you might need it. And the poet is pretty darn special too. I first encountered Ankh’s poetry on Twitter and was, for want of a better phrase, blown away. His ability to capture a single moment alongside the entirety of the universe and everything in-between is outstanding. He gets to the heart of what it means to be human; how we treat one another, and this wondrous earth we call home. How our relationship with both can be flawed and joyous and more often than not breathtakingly beautiful. I highly recommend purchasing a copy of this collection for yourselves, you will not be disappointed, and you can purchase a copy via the publishers website by following this link – Femme Salve Books.

Ankh is a poet from Aotearoa New Zealand and is obsessed with the sea and believes our natural environment along with those old stories we don’t even know we know, mingle in magical ways to shape the human beings we become, and that sometimes we’re allowed to notice it happening. His poetry has been widely published with nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He is also co-editor at IceFloe Press and a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine (Spice n.d.). Ankh is also one of the most genuine, humble and kindest people you will ever meet and whilst I have not even met him, or know him personally, I had the privilege of attending the launch of The Water Engine and it is one of those experiences that will stay with me forever. Alongside the other poets and writers in attendance, the love and respect and care for one another radiated from the screen despite us all being scattered around the globe. I am delighted to be able to share a couple of his poems tonight for those who have not come across his work before. I hope you enjoy!


‘No (thing is) right’ by Ankh Spice

Who told this calm day
it had any right
to reel delicate and radiant
when I am dissolving hard

Who said
that when a person falls
to pieces, there must be noise –
screaming, sharp edges

The only sounds here are distant:
the quiet, ordinary tide
and a long, soft keening –
the wounded ape in me
calling, calling


‘I mean how do we balance at all’ by Ankh Spice

At centre you carry the weight / I don’t mean
a heart but yes chambers liquid
with iron / I don’t mean blood I mean
restless and betrayed only by being
magnetic / your core invisible
to something on the surface
otherwise / I mean a heart is a constant kind
of collision / I mean momentum
dizzies us / sure as a slow leak
in the moon. I mean we tide.
I mean our being off-
balance has flow-
on effects. I don’t mean
to be dense / I mean if your heart
was different this whole life thing
would collapse. I mean fragile.
I mean, it is.


References:

Spice, A. (2021) ‘No (thing is) right’ & ‘I mean how do we balance it all’ from The Water Engine. Vermont: Femme Salve Books, 49 & 55

Spice, A. (n.d.) Ankh Spice – SeaGoatScreams Poetry: About [online]. Available from https://www.ankhspice-seagoatscreamspoetry.com/contact [22 April 2022]

‘The Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver

Happy Friday Folks! I hope you’re all having a fab evening whatever you’re doing. I’m going to do a wee extra bit of posting tonight as I’ll not be updating over the weekend due to assessment deadlines and my brain already protesting that it is being overworked and underpaid.

The first poem I am sharing tonight is by the wonderful Mary Oliver. I could not celebrate National Poetry Month without paying homage to a poet whose work always leaves me thinking far deeper than I was before. The hardest part is choosing just one to share! Her poetry is timeless and I hope that one day my daughter will rifle through the pages of the collections I own and find her own favourites that speak to her and bring her comfort and pause for thought.

I hope you enjoy the poem I have chosen to share for you all.


‘The Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with you one wild and precious life?


References:

Oliver, M. (1992) ‘The Summer Day’ from New and Selected Poems: Volume One. Boston: Beacon Press, 94

‘Late Poems’ by Margaret Atwood

Speaking of late… I appear to have missed another day posting, oops! In my defense, it is a little hectic at the moment with end of semester assessments and also coming to the end of 4 years studying! I can see the finish line, just need to make it to the end.

The poem I am sharing this evening is from Margaret Atwood’s collection Dearly (2020), which contains poems written between 2008 and 2019. It had been over a decade since Atwood had published a poetry collection which made it all the more special when Dearly was released. There is the sharp eye (and wit) we have come to expect and also reflection, as she says in the introduction, “Poetry deals with the core of human existence: life, death, renewal, change; as well as fairness and unfairness, injustice and sometimes justice. The world in all its variety. The weather. Time. Sadness. Joy” (Atwood 2020).

I hope you enjoy the poem I have chosen to share tonight.


‘Late Poems’ by Margaret Atwood

These are the late poems.
Most poems are late
of course: too late,
like a letter sent by a sailor
that arrives after he’s drowned.

Too late to be of help, such letters,
and late poems are similar.
They arrive as if through water.

Whatever it was has happened:
the battle, the sunny day, the moonlit
slipping into lust, the farewell kiss. The poem
washes ashore like flotsam.

Or late, as in late for supper:
all the words cold or eaten.
Scoundrel, plight, and vanquished,
or linger, bide, awhile,
forsaken, wept, forlorn.
Love and joy, even: thrice-gnawed songs.
Rusted spells. Worn choruses.

It’s late, it’s very late;
too late for dancing.
Still, sing what you can.
Turn up the light: sing on,
sing: On.


References:

Atwood, M. (2020) ‘Late Poems’ from Dearly. London: Chatto & Windus

‘The Aunties’ by Lynn Valentine

I hope everyone has had a good Tuesday, although if ever a Tuesday felt like a Monday it was today! But we’ll forgive it just this once. Tonight I’m sharing a second poem from Lynn Valentine’s new collection Life’s Stink & Honey. I could honestly share one each day but don’t want to reveal the whole book, you should buy it and discover the delights inside for yourselves. You can purchase a copy of Lynn’s collection on her website or through her publishers, Cinnamon Press.

The poem I am sharing is ‘The Aunties’ which was commissioned by the Scottish Poetry Library’s guest curator Aoife Lyall as part of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Champions project in 2020 (Valentine 2022). I’m sure you’ll agree it was a worthy commission and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do:


‘The Aunties’ by Lynn Valentine

They had the gift. Hidden about them
like a penny at the bottom of a pocket.

But theirs was a silver coin. On high days
they flattened your hand, palm up and

snap, out of their mouths flowed planets
and stars, life’s stink and honey, babies

being born, relationships stalling, illnesses
yet to come. Never a date of death,

only a hint of feather, of crow. I laughed
as a child, thought them witches, hoodwinkers.

Now the crow cracks the glass, the moon turns her head,
the evening thickens with visions from aunts long-dead.


References

Valentine, L. (2022) ‘The Aunties’ from Life’s Stink & Honey. Cinnamon Press, 24

Depression Interrupted

For days I’ve felt your presence    lurking
just out of sight    hidden in shadows
growing in strength as my mood darkens

tentacles of torment twitch    aching
to touch    a low hiss escapes cruel slit
of a mouth    back arches    skin stretches

shivering with need   ready to pounce    any
minute    now    my melancholy state
the nourishment you crave    and for a moment

I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes    lungs
freeze    inflated    space between us    closes
nothing I can do to stop this    until  

you’re interrupted    a hopeful sound somewhere
in the house    seems to travel through time
to where we are now    is it music or laughter

or both    who can tell    you flail on the floor
lips curl back in pain    there is joy in this home
you cannot control    like a slug bathed in salt

you fold in on yourself    this will not be the night
your misery prevails    the shadows devour
what remains of you now    I go to the source

of that magical sound    who has managed to save
my life once again    without knowing how close
their mum came to the end.

~The H Word~

#NaPoWriMo

Parenthood

No-one tells you how it is.
How it truly is. This
motherhood business.
It’s all sleepless nights,
terrible twos, teenage angst
and empty nest, they warn
you of. No-one mentions
the guilt. The constant
worry. The searching
of faces for signs they
are happy, or not. I do
this last one, a lot.
They think I’m annoying.
Sigh in frustration
at my maternal questioning
‘Is everything alright?’
But I cant help myself.
Petrified I’ll miss
something important,
some crestfallen moment,
some revealing expression.
How could I forgive myself?
No-one warned me of this.
So, now I warn you.

~The H Word~

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