You try so hard to bind my tongue At times I can hardly breathe Your hand is clasped so tightly over my mouth. Confined in your embrace Your warm breath on my cheek sends shivers down my spine
But do not mistake my inaction for fear Do not take my hush for dread
I am ready to rage and wail at the top of my voice I am ready to scream and flail and fight I will not be silenced I will not allow you to still my voice Though you may grasp at me ever tighter And squeeze the very life breath from my lungs I will kick, I will punch I will grapple with the bonds you have drawn about me. My voice must be heard. My voice will be heard. Though my strength may at times fail me, I will not concede I will not kowtow to your pride and self importance
Enfolded in your arms I will squirm and claw Emboldened by your arrogance I will strain and wrestle And I will break free I will find space To draw breath enough to fill my lungs to bursting And when I raise my head and forcefully release No sound will come For my silence is of my own making
Today I am feeling hopeful. OK, so I still slept late and didn’t get much done, but I have coughed less and, joy of joy, CHOCOLATE TASTES LIKE CHOCOLATE AGAIN!!! My sense of taste has been restored, my sense of smell is improving and i can enjoy eating again! Funny how we take it for granted that things smell and taste, what a bland world it is without these senses.
This afternoon I have written poem number 2 for National Poetry Wrtiting Month.
There has always been hope Though everything around may be crumbling The storm clouds gathering to obscure the blues skies And the very ground quaking beneath your feet Hope prevails
There is always hope Though fools may bring you down, refusing to listen to truth Valuing opinion more than knowledge and understanding Letting their instincts trump calm rational thought Hope does prevail
There will always be hope Though times of pain will come to us all We will each take our turn to suffer in our individual way Everyone of us living through darkest days Hope still prevails
It’s been a while . . . Life has been busy and although i have written a line or two here and paragraph or two there, I do not seem to have had the time to sit down and write for a solid block of time. When Jon started coughing and we started to self-isolate, I had grand ideas of all that I would achieve in my 14 days at home and how much time I would get to write. Covid 19 had other plans for me.
Two days into our isolation I started with a sore throat. Nothing major, just a niggle to start with, but within a couple of days my throat was in agony. The pain spread all the way up into my ears, my neck ached and I was now coughing “persistently”. My fever was only ever intermittent, but I developed aches in every joint of my body, even the joints in my feet throbbed, and the fatigue knocked me off my feet. I lost a couple of days. As the fatigue started to recede I realised how much the constant coughing had aggrivated the whiplash from our recent car accident and at times I just could not find a comfortable position to keep my head in. I lost another couple of days to the fog of codeine. It is now day 15 since I first had symptoms. I am up and dressed and have brushed my hair. I went for a walk earlier as I had been desperate to get out of the house, but when I came back I needed a nap. I am so desperate to be back to my usual level of energy. Physical and mental. At least with more mental energy I could write, even if not much else.
The month of April is National Poetry Writing Month, also known as NaPoWriMo, and for the last few years I have attempted to write and publish online a poem a day for the whole month. I have yet to manage the full 30, but I was determined that I was not going to fail on the first day, just because of this stupid virus, but it has been hard work. I had the starting four lines for this poem already written, but I have completed it today. No doubt I will come back and edit it at some point, but for now here it is: Poem 1 of (hopefully) 30.
Once Upon a Moonbeam
Once upon a moonbeam in a land where wild things roam, There came a sudden gusting, that shook the stays of home It started in the Westerlands and blew straight to the East With no regard for kith and kin assaulted man and beast. The cries of those first lives consumed were heard by all around And all who paid attention scattered far across the ground Confusion reigned and fear was high as none knew what it meant The moonlight left and clouds so black began their sure descent And when no light was left at all, the darkness so complete The terror of the tempest whole was felt as sheer defeat. For none was left could stand up tall with boldness to oppose The resolute destruction by unknown unseen foes.
Twice upon a moonbeam in a land where mad things roam There came an awful gusting that shook the roots of home It started in the southern lands and blew straight to the north With no regard for kith or kin assaulted all thenceforth. The cries of those who knew the stories travelled far and wide And all around knew that the time they’d dreaded had arrived Ill prepared and caught off guard haphazardly they scampered As skies grew dim and brightest moon with clouds so black was covered And when no light was left at all, the darkness so complete The terror of this tempest once again brought sheer defeat. For none was left could stand up tall with boldness to oppose The resolute destruction by unseen once known foes.
Thrice upon a moonbeam in a land where rare things roam There came a wayward gusting that shook the base of home It started who knows where and who knows wherefore now it came The hurricane that brought such pain it’s power to proclaim The cries of all who suffered hence did not fall on deaf ears And one who would protector be stood up; defying fears And to the east and to the west the whisper did set forth They heard it’s tale throughout the South ‘twas heard throughout the North So as the skies grew black the champion’s beacon did shine out And all who saw grew bolder in the light and shed their doubt They blunted now the sword of fear this tempest held so proud And unified they stood their ground until this foe was cowed.
Once upon a moonbeam in a land where all things roam Just one stood tall and all around were granted peace at home.
I remember when buses and trains were noisy places. In the days before everyone had phones and devices to remove them from the present. I remember having conversations with whoever was sat near me and no-one thought it was odd or perceived ulterior motives, where there were none. I was always very shy and it was never me that started these conversations, but I was always happy to respond and to be surrounded by the chatter. Now when I get on the bus to work everyone is quiet. Some people will be reading books, some will be listening to headphones, lots will be on their phones, a few will be gazing out of the window or glassy eyed. One or two may actually be talking, but in hushed tones, as if the sound of conversation on a bus full of commuters is somehow unnatural and something to be kept to a minimum. This used to bother me, but now I find I have conformed. I get on the bus and within the first minute my phone is in my hand and I am ignoring what is around me. On the occasions when I do have a conversation on the bus I always have the uneasy feeling I am addressing an audience and not just the “conversee”.
This week though, I had a rather wonderful interaction with a fellow passenger. As usual I was ignoring my commute companions when I had to move to allow the person next to me to get off at their stop. As I sat back down I caught the eye of another passenger who smiled and said “I was just admiring your hair.” “Oh…thanks” I mumbled, surprised by the unexpected complement, and a little embarrassed. Then after a slight pause “thank you” and I smiled and turned away, back to my phone.
But I wasn’t really looking at my phone then. That one sentence had lifted me. Just a few small words, but when I got off the bus I was walking a little taller, and holding my head a little higher. I had had a “Bad Hair” morning that day, and it had taken several attempts (and a couple of deep breaths) to achieve the roll I tend to wear at the front of my hair, and I had left the house feeling less prepared to face the world than usual.
The truth is I have long struggled with my self image. During my teens I was something of a chameleon, dressing differently according to which group of friends I would be seeing, doing my hair and make up differently. I remember shopping and buying things not because I liked them, but because friend A would like them, or because they were the kind of thing Friend B would notice and comment on. I spent too long trying to be different things to different people and lost sight of myself. In my 20s and beyond I was always after the latest fashion, wearing clothes that were “in” regardless of whether they actually suited me or not. It was only as my 40th birthday approached that I started asking myself who I really was and wondering how I had somehow lost “Me”. I decided that from then on I was going to be myself, whoever that turned out to be. I would start by wearing what I liked regardless. If I liked something that was all that mattered. I did a lot of self assessment that year and concluded that I was far too worried about what others’ opinion of me was. I had a bit of an epiphany when I realised 2 things. 1) that what I think people think of me, and what they actually think of me are not necessarily the same thing. In fact they can be very different. And 2) the people whose opinions really mattered just wanted me to be me, and to be happy being me.
From that time I have dressed in vintage style clothing – particularly 40s and 50s styles. I feel great wearing these clothes, and dressing differently can certainly be a conversation starter. Plenty of people ask me where I have bought something, or how I manage to get my hair “in those rolls”, or get my eyeliner so symmetrical (it rarely actually is!). At one time I may have stammered out a reply, with an embarrassed smile and turned away, but now I will usually try and make more of a conversation. I appreciate the time and effort taken by the person who has commented, when they could have stayed silent. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have the occasional wobble, I was not feeling so confident that morning, but that comment from a stranger made a big difference to my day
What made it even better was when I looked at my Facebook feed that evening. I am a member of various vintage clothing groups, and this was a post in one of them.
How fabulous that with our words we have the power to build up someone we have never net before. Never underestimate the power of the words you say to a stranger. So pay the complement, give someone a smile, you never know you could just be a sunbeam in their otherwise grey day.
It has been a couple of months since I was last able to sit down with my tablet and write. Life in the lead up to Christmas was so busy, and with an extra part time job as well, there just wasn’t the time. After over a decade of working 3 days a week, to work 5 days was a change I wasn’t quite ready for and it has taken me a while to get used to the extra organisation required when you don’t have time in the week to get things done. Of course one of the things I used to ‘get done’ was spending time in a coffee shop with my tablet and/or notebook putting my thoughts into black and white. I hadn’t realised quite how cathartic that was. A lot of the time I just write whatever comes into my head – I am no more disciplined than that, it may come out as a poem or it may just be a collection of seemingly random thoughts, but however expressed it is a way of getting what is inside out. Of putting into words feelings that up to that point I may not even have recognised, and I didn’t understand how much this benefited me until I stopped doing it. Of course the truth is I have not lost that much time, I still have time each week which I can spend however I choose, but to a large degree this is frittered away or distractions like my phone. The habit of walking to a coffee shop after the school run each Thursday meant I didn’t even have to think about putting aside time to write, now I need to be more deliberate about it, but I am determined to get back into the habit of writing each week. I am also determined to break the cycle of ‘busyness’ I subconsciously keep trapping myself in. Whilst thinking this week about the way I spend my time the line of a poem popped into my head, not one I have written, but one I had to memorise whilst at school. Written in 1911 by welsh poet William Henry Davies, it seems more pertinent than ever in our present non stop culture.
What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance, And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.
Although I have been writing for decades, it is only more recently that I have had the courage to share my writing. It started with a writing group my husband got me to join. It was, thankfully, a small group but still when it came to reading what I had written it was painful. My heart would thump, my mouth would dry and I struggled to concentrate listening to the work of other group members, as I swung between desperately wanting my turn to be over so I could listen and enjoy the others, and hoping we would run out of time before I had to read mine. The fact that they actually seemed to like what I wrote was unexpected, and such a relief, but I didn’t quite believe it. Since the group ended, I haven’t read anything to anyone, so when I was asked if I would write and perform a poem for a Christmas concert this year I was as surprised as anyone when the “yes” came out of my mouth. I was still really nervous, but my self confidence has grown hugely and I knew that I could do this.
The first hurdle I had to overcome was actually writing the poem. It’s strange how poetry can come so naturally at times, yet now I just didn’t know where to start. I had plenty of notice, but that really just meant more discarded first lines and more time spent fretting. Eventually I sat down a week before the concert and looking back at all the ideas and abandoned phrases from previous attempts to write, I realised I had essentially written a poem in pieces. All I needed to do was put them together in the right places and I had something that summed up what I wanted to say. However, it was now time to panic about actually performing it.
I love reading to my children, although now they are older it is not something I get to do so much anymore. I put on voices, and try to ‘express’ what I am reading in a way that is fun for me as well as enjoyable/informative for them. But dramatic reading to my kids is a far cry from a poetry reading in front of a group of mostly strangers. I tried many times, when alone, to recite it with the right expressive emphasis but it just sounded insincere (to me anyway).And then I made the mistake of recording myself on my phone, my voice sounds so strange outside of my head that it really dented my confidence.
I did it though.
I stood up with a microphone in my unsteady hand and looked around at the faces looking at me while I said the words I had written. I didn’t rush, I didn’t stumble over my words, and when I finished I heard applause! I walked off stage elated. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not about to rush off into the world of performance poetry, but I achieved something that Saturday evening. I did something that a previous me could never have done, and at the same time proved to myself that I am not a small insignificant voice that no-one wants to hear.
One night. A night like any other A night like none before, like none ever again
The night came like each before; The sun descended at the end of the day Making room for the moon and the stars Little did the sun know it would rise to shine on a world forever changed
A star A star unlike any other A star like none before, like none ever again
The star appeared so brightly shining It traversed the sky, piercing the night, A herald of hope that surely proclaims Love has come, the Divine love has been born for all
A Baby Born in humility Born in a place obscure and un-renowned
His a birth like many others, a mothers labouring Long and painful, but oh so worthwhile when a tiny cry is heard. Yet here was straw and dirt and animals in a borrowed room Little did the cattle know, that the baby warmed by their breath was the child Christ.
How well do we hide this story? Deck it out in tinsel and holly Obscure it’s truth with feasting and merriment Smother this grace with excess and greed
We no longer see the radical love that started it all We have turned from the Glory of the God who reigns on high, Yet deigns to stoop and envelop us in his unconditional love.
He is here now, waiting for each of us To clear away the wrapping To free ourselves from festive distractions And once again gaze in awe At the majestic humility of the babe in the hay. Almighty God with us.
I have soared through cerulean skies Catching my breath on the peaks of mountains With the warmth of the day on my face I have watched the clouds unfurl their stories before my greedy eyes. I have inclined my ear to the music of ravenous thunder My feet have danced to the beat of the rain. I have tumbled in the arms of the ocean as it rolled out it’s lofty promises to dry in the midday sun. And when skies grew inky cold I set my course by the whims of the wind And hung my hopes on the shining stars
In a world that abounds with infinite possibilities You Are my truth.
Occasionally, when I am in the midst of a bout of depression there come odd bursts of anger. Sometimes these are nothing more than the irritability that many experience as one of the symptoms of depression, or a result of the lack of proper sleep, another all too common symptom. Sometimes they are outbursts of cathartic rage against the injustice of mental illness. On rare occasions they are my brains way of saying “Enough’s enough! No more! No more hiding, no more apologizing, no more feeling sorry for myself. It is these outbursts that act as a catalyst, pushing me one more step along a journey of change, of better self understanding, and hopefully a step towards freeing myself from depressions’ grip.
I have had enough of cowering cowardice Of having so much to hide Of clutching my mysteries so tightly I have almost engulfed them in my very flesh And have shrunk with the weight of them. But no more curling my defences around my core As you creep advancing. I will open up, I will Unfurl and stand tall. I will lift my head high and Throw wide my treacherous arms. And as I grow taller with each breath I will let all who would see all. For through exposure I am Emboldened Enlarged Empowered And when I stand full free – Tall as the sky and naked as a babe You will have hold of me no longer. And I will smite you.