Thursday, 27 December 2012

At sea, in sound, in silence

For Bob

I knew you in the deep soft silences
between the staggered chimes and tocks and ticks
of all those clocks you lived with, tended, wound.
I don’t recall the room, only the sound
and unexpected closeness, which was odd,
coming after weeks cooped up, on board.

We sailed a thousand ocean miles together
shared a shifting deck, night watch, bad weather;
led a fading wake across the Channel;
found wild wind off Africa, that funnelled
strong and warm between volcanic crags.
We stirred up phosphorescence, felt its magic.

Our courses crossed. I trust we both have marked
The point of intersection on a chart.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas Stills

Tinsel and lights turn this grey-lidded month
Starry-eyed, sparkly-cheeked, made up.

Santa’s bounty fuels children’s thoughts
As they make lists.

                             This is the time that sorts
The planners, well-prepared and organised
From panickers, last-minute-ers, who sigh
As they queue up to post late cards, in bursts,
Remembering only those who sent one first.

For some, a missing card, or gift-wrapped box
Brings to mind an absent love, one lost.

Gift-garlanded, the costly feast approaches.
Relatives draw near in cars and coaches.

The wise know joy and pain will surely strike
Not on demand, at church, but on the quiet
Maybe in the kitchen, uninvited:
Where sheer force of family-reunited
Stuns the in-laws, tensions marriage ties
Til something snaps.

Good cheer loosens lies,
Springs secrets, opens wounds.

No wonder all
Find reason to escape: to text, to call,
To walk the dog, to smoke.

        To find release,
We look up to the stars and search for peace.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Mapping Myself

Why, I have forgotten much of my life,
what went before.  All those scenes
on beaches, in parks or foreign cities,
those unfathomable entanglements
with people. Great flats of my past
are deforested.

Sometimes, catching moments
of a film I’ve seen, or re-reading a poem,
I re-ink the place where it struck me
before, the same cells responding,
forming a known part of me,

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Nurture your creativity

Here's a simple model I came up with to help with nurturing your creative writing (poetry in my case). The top half prompts us to bring the outside in by reading others' work and using any other external stimulus. That could be anything from taking a walk and really observing something in order to write about it, or using props, sensory stimulus (scents, music), for example.

The other half of the model is about bringing the inside out: which we can do by writing more and by accessing our own inner thoughts and feelings. Here are a few ideas about how to do that:

  • take 5-10 minutes to clear top-of-mind clutter by doing free writing before starting your creative writing
  • use creative thinking techniques that prompt sub-conscious responses - for example where you're asked to respond to a set of stimulus with "the first thing that comes into your head" or "without thinking"
  • pay attention to your own use of metaphor as you talk. I'm using the word metaphor in the broader sense, to mean any construction where we use one idea to describe another, when it isn't literally true. (For example, "Getting out of bed this morning was a real struggle"). The words we choose can point to our deeper thoughts and feelings about what we're saying.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Growing up

I stepped out of the house a while,
had children, jobs, a go at life. I put on
hats that didn’t fit and never saw
my smile in a mirror.

I stepped out of the house a while
walked odorous streets in gorgeous cities, wanted
others’ tricks and baubles, picked up hanging
threads of conversation.

I stepped out of the house and found a spring
a self-announcing, giggling gush, just mad
to rise and channel. Its prankish water
wet my lips and tongue.

I looked back at the house and noticed how
a sharper light fell, with a cutting edge,
on cobwebs, dust and window smears, and how
it met the dark inside.

Painkillers on a scale from Actually make it worse to Truly make it better

Comfort eating: trawling through the fridge
Secret, guilty, numbing short term fix

Sudoku: boxed in digits, one way’s right
Certainty, the truth in black and white

Archers: could it simply be the tune
Was played to me when I was in the womb?

Films: spill my emotions, lead them on,
Get them out and take them for a run

Friends: connections, talking, being heard
Sharing things that matter through our words

Poems: grasping something never said
From deep within me, laying it to rest

On the Beach

Nothing is here,
Though a blue sky, edge to edge,
Accompanies a mild-mannered sea,
white-capped for decoration.
Postcard-painted beach huts throw their colours to the sun. 
A hundred thousand sistered stones make shingle.

Loneliness is here.
But the sea is playful, chucking balls of spray.
So she ups her zip, while tensing,
slightly wary of catching skin.
Feels the mild discomfort of the stones
Beneath her feet. They’re slightly warm to touch,
Just slightly warming

Emptiness is here.
Complicit though, the ocean -hush, shush, hush -
denies it, plays at perfect summer’s day.
She drops a matt grey, ocean-tumbled stone
her hand has nursed. Returns it to the fellowship
 of pebbles, walks away.