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.
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.