Corner

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.

Moment

Life is made up of moments. Some we barely notice, some we would rather forget, and some we will never, ever forget.

One fleeting moment
Gone in a flash –
Too quick for me to catch
Yet I will hold it forever
In my head
and in my heart

For in that instant
There was
Nothing
Else

That perfect moment
The look of purest raw emotion

In that fleeting moment I saw
Love
That would last a lifetime

Betrayal

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.

The Injustice in the Corner

Inspired by a ‘ thought for the day’ that was shared at The Arches project last week, this just kind of flowed out in response.

The injustice in the corner
Is ever so small
I turn my back, don’t see it
Ignoring your call

The injustice in the corner
I do not wish to see
Though slowly growing larger
Does not yet bother me

The injustice in the corner
Is no longer small and faint
I have to now acknowledge it
To hear your complaint

The injustice in the room now
So clearly in my view
Can still be ignored if I
Close my eyes and ears to you

The injustice I must see now
I’ll stand and rail against
But words are feeble weapons
And my strikes make no offence

The injustice right before me
I try to reason away
But all that I’m achieving
Is a break, a slight delay

The injustice in my face now
Continues hour by hour
So I must wrestle with it
And try to staunch it’s power

It may seem overwhelming
But yet I’m not alone
The seeds of revolution
Have already been sown

And so we come together
Injustice to oppose
Our common purpose strengthens us
And hope for justice grows

If

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.

If

If
Only
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
They soon
Fall

World Poetry day 2022

It was one of those nights . . . so I got up and wrote this.

It’s the end of the day and my eyes are tired
But my brain just will not switch off
My body won’t let me rest either
Preferring to sniffle and cough

But my eyes are just so very tired
The sandman has been with his wares
And yet even this intervention
Won’t let my brain forget its cares

I can no longer keep my eyes open
My limbs found their night-time weight too.
But still in my brain there’s a buzzing
I know will last all the night through.

And now that my eyes are closed tightly
I find I am caught somewhere twixt
The slumber I so much desire
And the wakefulness that still persists

I think that this night might be hopeless
But slumber eventually descends
And just as if waiting this signal
The sun through the peaceful dark rends

DAY 14

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.

Day 5

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

The Chimneys of Portpatrick

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
 
 

Juncture

Image: Ross G. Strachan

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.

Time will find me away from here

I will thrive

And then I will reminisce

With a grateful smile.