I am a dreamer. I dream often and regularly remember bits, if not all, of the fantastical tales and crazy adventures I have during slumber. The weird and wonderful worlds I inhabit whilst sleeping can be a rich source of inspiration for my writing whilst awake, and I keep a note book beside my bed to jot down anything I want to hold on to. Sometimes when I look back at them my night-time scribblings make no sense at all, but once in a while when I check my notebook I am amazed at the insight or poeticism I find there.
A few days ago I had an unusual dream, even for me. Instead of being in the dream, playing ny part, I was an observer. And as the scene played out before me it wasn’t live action it was a black and white cartoon, all rough drawn and jiggling. I can only remember a very small part of it but it was such a striking visual images that it inspired a poem.
I can see myself in the corner In a small stark patch of light All couched and folded inwards In a world of black and white
The darkness that surrounds me Is slowly pressing in The fear of it constricts my chest I feel it chill my skin
But flickering, and glorious A white light comes to shine And rages ‘gainst the darkness In this corner small of mine
So sensing something easing I dare to lift my head And see the light expanding And catch a glimpse of red
I can see me in the corner In a growing patch of light All couched, but less uncertain In a world of colours bright.
Sometimes I am quite deliberate in my poetry writing. Sometimes when I start to write a poem I start with just a phrase or couple of lines and have no idea where it is going to go. This was one of those poems, it wasn’t really until I reached the last verse that the pieces fell into place.
I took my lover to the sea Where I made him beg to marry me I grasped the heart he proffered me And flung it hence into the sea.
I took my lover near the sky And made him look into my eye And swear to love me til he die Then I did poke him in the eye
I took my lover atop the hill And begged to know if he did still Love me for sufficient thrill, I threw my lover down the hill
I knew my lover was not true And felt the sting of trust eschewed I did what I had to do To heal the heart he’d rent in two.
After a good start to this year I got a bit distracted and didn’t write anything for a while. This week I suddenly seem to have found my mojo again. I have been writing lots. From odd lines that will eventually develop into full poems, to snippets and phrases I have just jotted down to insert in a future poem, to a rather random short story. They are mostly first drafts still and will need a bit of tweaking before I share them, except for the one I am sharing now. I was playing around with different poem structures and with increasing and decreasing syllables and this was the result.
It were true
That which you say
Statements of great love
Pretence of devotion
The words by which you deceive
The lies that you exhale
Carry me away
On clouds of hope
But like rain
Today’s prompt was to write a poem in a single sentence begining” She told me”
She told me once about an amazing day, when the sun had shone down from the bluest of clear skies upon a child of undetermined age while she skipped gleefully through the field, wiggling her fingers through the waist length grass that was dappled with the reds and yellows of wildflowers and hummed with the frenetic activity of creatures she could not yet name, but which fascinated her curious eyes, hungry eyes that drank in every drop of the idyllic scene, before he found her and roughly grabbing her arm dragged her back to her cold, grey-skyed reality.
Today’s prompt required a bit of time travel – going either into the future or the past to write from the perspective of someone on the brink of a life changing event. I have recently been reading The Mirror and The Light which has inspired my setting, although I cannot be sure the scene I envisioned is an accurate depiction of life in the 16th Century.
I am not yet ready In time I will be But time, I have not enough The guests are assembled The candles are lit There has been much bustle and busyness Many hands bearing trays of finest produce Have borne more in one morn that in the past sennight
I am not yet ready In time I might be Yet not today, not so soon The tables are laden The feast all prepared The clatter of wheels has told me the tale Of many kin bearing gifts of richest treasures As would befit the auspicious occasion
I am not yet ready More time is requisite Yet time I am not allowed The servants attend me The stays are bound tight There has been much arranging and fixing Many hands shaping this” finest of ladies” to be the fine wife of our noble Lord
I must now be ready The time has arrived The time I would halt if I could The fanfare has started The doors are flung wide. There has been such anticipation Many Lives holding to what this day represents I must play my Part, Obedient submission
It’s always easier to write when on holiday. The combination of more time and being generally more relaxed, with visiting new and interesting places helps the creative flow. We have visited Portpatrick a few times now, finding out about ships wrecked on the rocky shore line, and how it served as a version of Gretna green for couples who caught the boat across from Belfast. The ferries no longer come into Portpatrick, the little bay and harbour could not cope with the large ships required these days, which now dock at Cairnryan a little further north. Instead Portpatrick remains a picturesque little coastal village – a beautiful unspoilt spot away from the hubbub of much of modern life; a great spot for a relaxing break. It was only yesterday as I walked down to the sea, that I noticed the extraordinary number of chimney pots on the buildings around the bay. I found myself a comfy large rock to sit on, gazing out at the sea, and wrote this poem.
The chimneys of Portpatrick That stand above the bay Stretch up heavenward to the sun That shines on us today How long they’ve stood there watching I really do not know They have seen the waters rise They’ve seen the tide ebb low.
The chimneys of Portpatrick Have stood there oh so long They’ve heard the ocean raging Witnessed her waves so strong. And in the still calm moments That come both day and night Know the peace just hides from view The ocean’s fearsome might
The chimneys of Portpatrick Stood solemn as the waves Threw boat, then boat against the rocks And not all souls were saved The lighthouse stood as warning It’s light shone through the night The brave and daring lifeboat crew Risked all for stranger’s plight
The chimneys of Portpatrick That witnessed so much woe Also saw such joyful days Saw lovers come and go Across the sea from Ireland Where family disapproved Wedding vows they came to say Their lasting love to prove
The chimneys of Portpatrick Stand cold and smoke no more Yet still we come to visit This bonny stretch of shore And while we swim the waters We drink, we eat, we play The chimneys of Portpatrick Stand proud above the bay
There is no good time to be told you are being made redundant.
February 2020 was really not a good time to be told that the site where you have worked for 20 years is going to be closing early in 2021. Four weeks later we were in a pandemic and within 6 weeks, the majority of staff at the site were furloughed. There was the inevitable delay effected by lockdowns, but now 17 months later, I am counting down the last few days until I finally step off site for the last time.
I returned to work from furlough in July last year, to a different site. There is now a one way system in place, so I have gotten used to walking further to get from one place to another than the actual distance between them. There are card slots on toilet doors to ensure no more than 2 people are ever inside at the same time, and tables in the canteen are set out like an exam hall where each person sits alone facing the front. This is not unique; few workplaces, if any, have been unchanged by the need to keep people at a safe distance from each other, and there are many faces I have not seen unmasked in months, though I have spoken regularly to their owners. It is a strange way to end my time at this place, with it so changed from how it has been.
I was ready to leave when they announced the site closure; I had known it was time to move on for a while, but not knowing what my next step should be I had procrastinated. It was a kick up the backside being told I needed to find the next step directly and not when I got round to it, but I am now happy that I am heading off along a different path.
So it has come as a bit of a surprise to me how sad I am. For all sorts of reasons really. Twenty years is a large chunk of my life. Since starting here I have got engaged, got married, had children, moved house, all to the consistent backdrop of the same workplace. Although plenty of people have come and gone in that time, there are many faces who have been a regular part of my work life for that time. I am grieving for the loss of those people, for the loss of the comfortable familiarity of the place, for the loss of a job that I know I can do.
The place has been winding down for a while now. As the workload has decreased and fixtures and fittings have been dismantled around us the sense of ending has grown. What was once a busy bustling place is grinding slowly to a halt. So although I am excited and hopeful, about what the future holds, today the joy is tempered by melancholy. As I sit here alone in my office I am inspired to write a poem.
We were warned
We had plenty of notice
Time to prepare
But did we?
Or did we put it on the back burner,
To be dealt with at a later date.
Denial and disbelief obscuring the need to make ready.
Now though, the truth is rushing headlong towards us and
the narrowness of the passage of time leaves no chance for escape.
As reality closes in I embrace nostalgia
Wrapping myself up in the comfort of the contemptuously familiar.
Change will come
What has been will cease to be
And I must move on
I wish to face the future with hope
With the excited joy of infinite possibility
But for now I stand on shaky ground,
unsure of where next to tread
Buffeted by waves of grief that ebb and flow
threatening one minute to overwhelm
Then receding to allow me once more to stand and face what lies before.