Tag Archives: poem

Hygge Feature #15: The Goodness of Fruit

Today’s photograph is of a painting by Gloria Jeffries, used with permission from the artist. It made me think about the goodness of fruit. It’s simple food, often used as a winter treat, and so has cosy connotations. 16252022_10158125653360274_7108546111645859513_o

Oranges

There were never oranges
like the one you peeled for me
that first night, paring the rind,
removing with a surgeon’s skill
every trace of white.

Zest filled the air.
You watched me sink my teeth in,
laughed as I posted a segment
into your mouth. Afterwards
you lit one of your father’s cigarettes.

I closed my eyes and breathed in
smoke, the scent of oranges, you.

Carole Bromley

 

Poem with a Satsuma in it

There is no sunset can rival
the particular shade of its skin

no sunrise the pimpled texture
no noon-glow the zing.

There can never be too many
satsumas in poems,

each segment a stanza,
every metaphor a pip.

I open a book of them
and my mouth waters

even before I’ve tasted
the opening line.

My grand-daughter
can’t say the word,

just points
more, more, more

 Carole Bromley

first published in The Stonegate Devil (Smith/Doorstop)

 

Pomegranate

For Jan Dean 

Five pointed star, my pentacle,
how I would lift your jewels
from their case, one by one
on the pin’s point, before
I found a better way.

Now I bite into your leather
with greedy teeth, devouring
your firmaments, your rubies.
Time’s a thief and so am I,
seizing everything I can.

Time enough for picking out
your treasures one by one
when days begin to bleed
one into another like washed
watercolour sunsets.

Even Persephone could not resist
your glowing fairy-lights.
I garner your seeds for my journey,
draw on clean parchment
my pentacle five pointed star.

Angela Topping

First published in Paper Patterns (Lapwing 2012)

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I Grew up with Doctor Who

Doctor Who first started in 1963. I was nine, and my dad said to me that a new programme was starting that I was going to like, and did I want to watch it with him. Mum wasn’t keen on Science Fiction but Dad loved it. So we’d watch it together while mum was cooking. (Dad used to do a lot of the cooking, but Mum was a great cook too.) Dad died in 1978 when I was 24. I rarely missed a Doctor Who episode, it was only when it got a bit silly towards the end that I gave up on it.

When it started again with Christopher Eccleston, I was very excited and we watched it as a family. My daughters love Doctor Who and so do their husbands, so it is still a family thing. I had an A level class who loved it as well and we’d often discuss it at the end of lessons, and in my writers club at school.

The new Doctor Who benefits from stylish special effects, unlike the first series which was done on a shoestring. All three doctors so far in the new version have brought something new to the role, and it’s also good to see ‘assistant’ becoming ‘companon’. I am exicted to see what Capaldi brings to the role. The Doctor needs to be capricious, mysterious, wise, energetic, brave, resourceful and if I am honest, a little bit sexy too.

Here is my Doctor Who poem, written for Split Screen (Red Squirrel), included in Paper Patterns (Lapwing) and in my selected Letting Go (Mother’s Milk Books).

Doctor Love

Jon Pertwee as The Third Doctor

 

 

Doctor, Doctor, when you first called I was nine.

I couldn’t come with you then, still hiding behind daddy,

sheltering in his shadow in front of our monochrome set

dreaming of Gallifrey, of diving into your kaleidoscope.

 

I was changing like you, renewing all my cells,

going through to my third incarnation:

a new version of myself with pointed breasts, long hair,

a waist. Not nylon slacks but Levi’s, lace and scent.

 

Doctor, Doctor, oh you dandy, velvet smoking jacket,

bow ties and leather gloves, you lounge lizard.

My mother warned me about men like you.

And yet you were the perfect gentleman, like daddy.

 

I watched as you outfaced Silurians, always polite

but not afraid to punch when words failed,

reverse the polarity and get the hell out of there.

I was getting out too: boys, A levels, university.

 

Doctor, Doctor, your world was colour like mine.

We watched you in black and white but knowing

others could see your green, burgundy and blue

as you strutted in galaxies, finding yourself, like me.

 

Daddy’s girl learned to argue, teenstruck and difficult.

I had no tardis to travel back to myself.  You

could have made everything alright again.

Where were you? Too busy on missions to call again.

 

Doctor, Doctor, you missed your chance with me.

 

 

Image

 

 

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Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en is a festival I feel strongly should be celebrated. It is based on the Celtic festival of Samhain which honoured ancestors and marked the passing from summer to winter.It then became subsumed into the Christian festival of All Souls, which serves to remember people who have died. November is the month of the dead in Christianity.

There is a wealth of Literature, much of it from the Romantic Movement, which concerned itself with the world of the imagination, among other things. From this period we have texts like Dracula, Frankenstein and many more. This period also saw a revived interest in the traditional tales and ballads from the past. We love the thrill of being scared, safe in the knowledge that it is not real.

I fear that, in the increasing commercialism, the festival itself is being lost. Dressing up (in home-made costumes), carving a turnip lantern (nowadays pumpkins are favoured), bobbing for apples and telling stories were all delightful ways to have inexpensive fun. Trick or treat is a fairly new idea, but there is a misconception about it: as the dressed-up children come, the idea is to give them a treat or show them a trick. It is a pity that visiting each other has almost died out and people lack the ability to interact with their community, seeming to privilege the internet over flesh and blood friends.

When I was teaching I always used to tell my classes the wonderful Hallowe’en story of Tam Lin and Janet. It’s a Scottish ballad and tells how Janet meets a beautful knight in the forest and falls in love with him. She has to free him from the Faery Queen on Hallowe’en before he is sent to Hell as a tithe. The Queen turns him into several scary things but Janet holds fast as he has told her and eventually the Queen gives up.

There are many poems and short stories too, which are worthy of reading aloud by candlelight, to create magical memories for children, friends and family. Here is one of mine:

 

White

 

White Face at the window.

White face in the hall.

White sounds in the garden,

seeming to call.

 

White skin in the glooming.

White teeth in the night.

White moon in the darkness,

a world–weary sight.

 

White bones of the forebears

buried in clay.

White tomb stones standing

against the day.

 

White Face in the garden,

white hands scrape the latch.

White Face coming closer

with sharp nails to scratch.

 

White feet are mounting

the stairs one by one

searching for something

or maybe someone.

 

White fingers feeling

for the key and the lock;

White Face is greeting

white veil and white frock.

 

White two united,

they join their white bones

their faces meet lightly

to silence their moans.

 

White lovers meeting-

their time apart done,

they drift away hellwards

before the first sun.

 

 

This poem appeared in Kids’ Stuff, my Erbacce chapbook for children.

 

 

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Heirlooms: poem based on the letters

Heirlooms

For this family no precious objects,

collections to be loaned to museums

or passed down as heirlooms.

Scarce enough money sometimes

to put food on the scrubbed table

or buy corduroys for the boys

to cover their bare bums from trousers

worn too thin for decency.

Yet on the surprising tide

some treasure is brought to shore.

What strange waves brought to me

this package of well-thumbed letters?

Paper is worn to silk, envelopes torn

by eager fingers when they first arrived

bringing news from home.

Some are written on paper torn

from schoolbooks, or written on the backs

of things no longer needed:

no notepaper to speak of in the house.

I would welcome comments on this poem with constructive criticism. I want these poems to be as good as possible, partly because I always want that and partly because I want to do the letters justice and I want to produce work that can stand next to Maria Walker’s wonderful artwork and still hold up its head.

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Embroidered

 

Silk Bookmark of line from my poem Two for Dad

 

The wonderful company Sumptuosity have offered to use my words on their bookmarks, with the likes of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Robert Burns.

This is the poem the above one is from:

Two for Dad

Blackberry…

In it together:

conspiring against bramble,

holding down a spray

of beauties for me to pick,

showing how leaves

hide choicest fruit.

Finding docks to cool

nettled flesh, stained,

battlescarred, spoils dangling

in baskets, on handlebars,

we ride our triumph home.

…Pies

We dare not go through the kitchen

when you bake. There is

deftness, artistry at work.

The pies are crammed

with blackberries, plump

with pleasure at being picked.

a line of flour on your jumper

from rolling out.

The pinched edges of pastry

seal the boozy juice.

You cut large slices

to offer me.

The second one is from this poem:

From The Wendy House

Peter Pan: The Opera House, Manchester 1988

“Cramful of adventures” he’d promised, but this place

is packed with scruffy boys who can’t stop

walking planks and smoking peace pipes –

games they think too rough for me, their Wendy-bird.

They want me for Mother, darning socks, sewing pockets,

worrying what to cook them for their tea.

Peter doesn’t really want to hear of Cinderella’s bliss,

would have her picking over lentils,

peeling spuds forever, never find her Prince.

It wouldn’t be so bad if he’d play with me

but he wants to be one of the boys, not prepared

for Fatherhood. Why is it me that must grow up?

Yanking me from a warm nursery for this!

Whizzing my head with dazzling words, making me

feel light enough to soar between the stars.

 

Lines from From the Wendy House

 

I am delighted and hope the project is beneficial for both parties. I will be selling these at readings alongside my books. They do a range of different colours and lots of different items such as lavender bags, groovy notebooks, and the cutest range of brooches I have ever seen. Their goods can be bought here:

http://www.sumptuosity.net/home

I have been a customer for a while now and everyone comments when I wear one of their brooches. Lucky me – that’s two textile artists I work with now, Sumptuosity and Maria Walker. Maria and I are currently putting together exhibition proposals for the work on the lost Lightfoot Letters.  Exciting times.

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New poem up for comments

Esme Answers Back

This poem has been completed and has been removed from the blog.

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Day 4 of Challenge

Below the Skin

I may not look much
but my heart is a mansion
with all of its chambers
decorated in red velvet
linked by the satin ribbons
of my veins. My lungs
nourish rare flowers and trees.
My brain is a maze of corridors
embellished with incredible art
and in the back of my eyes,
upside down and fuzzy,
the world is suspended.

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