Dismay

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

Bad Habit

There was a little habit bad
That sought to draw me in
I thought it was no large concern
After all, twas was not a sin

But soon this habit bad did grow
No longer satisfied
I clutched it closer to my heart
I schemed, I hid, I Iied.

And more and more it still would grow
It’s hold on me so strong
And from it’s grasp I would not flee
Though now it did me wrong

In time I could ignore no more
The damage that was done
I had to face the truth of it
That I had come undone

But powerful now it’s hold on me
I could not wrestle free
I struggled long, and strove so hard
Yet still it clung to me

And so I faced my deepest fear
I had to now confess
To let another know I was
Embroiled in such a mess

But judging not, they did console
And reached out helping hands
With love and true compassion helped
me once again to stand

And though this habit bad of mine
Still clutches at my heart
I know I can be free of it
For I have made a start

No longer now alone to strive
Supported I can fight
And with true love to build me up
The hold is not so tight

It may take time, it will take work
But I will overcome
My grateful heart will praise for e’er
The faithful, loving one.

Hope

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.

Hope

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

Just know this
There is always hope.

Once upon a Moonbeam

Or My experience of Covid 19 and NaPoWriMo Day 1

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.

E Howie 01/04/2020

Leisure

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.

Leisure

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.

Immanuel

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.

Immanuel

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.

To the Grave

Photo by Jill Dimond on Unsplash

If telling you will make it true, then I will hold my tongue.
My story never will be writ, my ballad never sung.

If looking up into your face my eyes would tell the tale;
Forevermore my lids be shut, my mask must never fail.

If through my deeds the truth will out then, needs must, I’ll be still.
The revelation must be stopped, so stifle it I will.

If, to the head against my breast, my fool heart would betray;
Alone, unloved, without a friend, I’ll live out all my days.

And when my solitude is done, my penance at it’s end,
I’ll open wide embracing arms and greet death as a friend.

Cerulean

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.

Enough

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

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.

Sleeping Beauty

We have recently been doing a tour of high school open evenings. My daughter, my baby, is in her last year of primary school and we are visiting a number of schools so that she can choose where she goes. This has led to a whole host of mixed feelings in me. Firstly I cannot believe how quickly the last 11 years have gone. Secondly, school seems to have changed so much since I was there, it looks a lot more interesting! Thirdly, what a shame it is that we do not appreciate it at the time. School days, although not without their own ups and downs, are free of many of the stresses and worries of adulthood and working life, and if I could go back now I would want to learn, and would make much better use of the opportunity to do so. But the strongest of these emotions comes from the increasing pace with which time passes. My baby is no longer a baby, far from it, she is growing up so quickly and that is bittersweet. She has always been a lot of fun, fully living up to her middle name, Joy, but as she has grown she has shed a lot of her shyness and self consciousness and shares her Joy increasingly with those outside our home. Yet I miss the times when she would climb sleepily into our bed in the early morning. I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t always happy to see her, especially on weekends when I could have slept longer, but now that those times are over I am left with a little sadness at their loss. She no longer pesters me to play with her and her dolls, when I would rather be doing something else, and now I mourn the missed opportunities. Bedtimes are significantly quicker as I no longer need to read chapters of her favourite books when she reads them herself. So for now I will make sure to make the most of the times she does want to spend with me, for in no time at all she will be testing her budding independence. A few years ago I wrote this poem about her. It will always put a smile on my face.

Early each morning Sleeping Beauty creeps into our bed.
She rises with the sun and plods, slumber footed, into our room
Wriggling her way between us, she lifts my arm to wrap it around her,
Snuggles in and let’s sleep claim her once more.
Roused from my dreams I smile at the warmth of her against me,
This innocent child of mine.
Hovering between sleep and wakefulness, I try to re-enter my dreams,
But cannot, and so I gaze through sleep fogged eyes
At the perfect curve of her cheek, speckled with a gentle spread of tiny freckles;
At her long lashes, fanning out on her cheek below the lids that currently hide
her brilliant blue eyes from my view.
This beautiful face, so full of love and trust, causes my heart to swell.
Her delicate, wilful, big-hearted, enthralling personality radiates through every pore.
I am tempted to squeeze her into me,
to hold her so tight as if to never let go,
but I do not wish to wake her, so I content myself instead with a gentle kiss on her forehead.
Drifting away, my eyes close once more,
as a dreamy smile crosses my face
And I rest with our beloved Phoebe Joy in my arms.