For me, my poems serve as a diary. When I look at them I can remember where I was when I got the idea for each one, and what it was that acted as the initial inspiration. The opening poem in my book, Heading North, is called Midnight, July.
The title indicates the when, but not the where and why.
The words for this one came when I was sat in the back garden with a coffee. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and I was looking up at the stars and wondering whether we could be alone or was there life somewhere out there?
We writhe with a rage to know the unknowable, blind to great masses that dance in dark orbits. And a soft, summer wind on a night beneath stars is no balm.
While I was sat there, neck craned in the quiet of the…
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Above the house, the swifts are screaming.
Can you hear them, Clarice?
We are bogged down by time and heat and lethargy.
I’m thinking of an old poem of mine, Dog Days, written under the sledgehammer of a July, noon-day sun:
who can deny /the sapping sun/at its highest point /lording over /our genuflecting /straw gods
We are all genuflecting, lowering our weary, supine brows. It’s been a hell of a long summer, and we’ve not yet reached July. Who could have foreseen this, who prepared? Not we little men, we average Joes and Josephines.
Not tonight, you-know-who.
Tomorrow is more of the same, that has been foreseen, but nothing lasts forever, nothing lasts at all, and storms are due to hit the day after that.
And then we batten down. Straw Gods and rush men.
Children of the corn. Drinking in the rain.
It was a year ago today that In Brigantia got its first cover reveal.
Following on from my first collection, Heading North, I’m quite proud of it, and thank those who have already bought it.
For anyone else who’d like a copy, it’s available here:
from my poetry blog
This period of lockdown has given me an opportunity to have a clear out, and going through old cupboards I’ve discovered scraps of paper with old lines and verses scribbled on, words either rejected at the time or forgotten. I’ve decided to share them here for posterity. Some are years old and fragmentary, some are more developed, though still rough drafts.
Loved this. Evocative writing that deserves to be read.
Trains have been a bit of a theme in my life. When I was fifteen years old, it was the first time it really became my own personal thing to feel and think about. My Dad had transformed the attic, open wooden rafters with shingle dust pouring in. Cracks in the ceiling where water drops dropped. He took it from unfinished, to a teenage girls safe haven. That’s what I called it, my safe haven. Sea-foam green walls, tapestries painted with rainbow tie-dye and the moon and the sun and the stars hanging from the ceiling. Taking turns flickering on and off throughout my teenage years were several white halo ceiling lights that were probably incorrectly wired. Speaking to my Dad’s intention to do everything he could with the very little he had. Alone in my own world of longings and wonderment, I would open up the window at night…
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I posted this a few weeks ago on my poetry blog, stating that I know that there’s parts of it that I’ll change, but it’s of interest to record the first birthing lines.
I’ve since deleted the opening three lines, it now begins:
the hulls and husks
of scuttled ships
shadow the sky
I’ve tweaked a few others lines and added much more.
I’ve also renamed it Rooftop Blues. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I can hear the gales outside. It’s just turned midnight and it feels as though the wind is trying to gain access to the house through the chimney.
I don’t know how that works. The fire isn’t on and the chimney breast rises up to it’s capped peak, but somehow it sounds like the wind is spinning around in there, a dark vortex of dust and ash. That comes over a little dramatic, I know.
I’m a little feverish. That can’t help.
It’s a perfect setting to begin an M.R James story, or one by that favourite of mine, Le Fanu, but I’m feeling weary and bunged up with this head cold. Not exactly conducive for an half hour’s reading.
No, I think I’ll go up. Even if the wind keeps me awake (my bedroom being up in the loft), bed is the best place for me.
Tomorrow I’ll get rid of this four day’s growth of stubble and step outside, blinking, into Ciara’s aftermath.
There is a poem in my second collection, called The Storm Moves Out, which was written in the wake of such a storm. I can’t recall now what that particular storm was called. I’m quite promiscuous like that-forget the last storm as soon as the next one comes along, for what is life but one long line of storms and sunshine?
I’ll take a walk around my town. Dawdle among the debris.
It may not produce a poem, but the fresh air will do me good.