A short paean* (28-29 November)

What gives me hope?
So many things that lift me up,
Brush away despair’s cobwebbed shades.
Innocence, eyes that have not yet perhaps
Become clouded over by the darkened shades
Of life’s miseries.

Hope carries us everywhere,
Leaves us
Like a sad farewell
Where there can be
No second meeting.

Still I look to the stars,
Turn my eyes away from their gaze
And hold out
For the regeneration of
New life.

I can wait
In hope.

*This is a short piece I composed during our lunchtime writers’ meet-up. If this poem is a little rough at least our meet-up went (seemingly) really well. Because I was running around I only had about four or five minutes to write. Must do something about that in the future.
But I hope something comes from it (yes, a hope reference, I know), that it grows and keeps growing.

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What holds (26 November)

Are these broken or breaking?

Inhale first from this basket
fresh-gathered tears plucked
new yesterday, a wilting harvest.

Or touch uncracked glass,
its hollow form whispering
a single note before it fragments

into sieved and severed stories:
unwilling revelations
unburied with a sidelong brushstroke.

Words descend from aching place,
staining paper with the trails
of unvarnished truth.

Then these homes, where what is
within goes without, all the
pronouned pieces displaced

by the breaking: marble shatters
too, you simply missed the lines
marking the coming separation.

The Passing Of Amelia Blue* (20-21 November)

*What follows is a poem co-written with a student, Melissa. When Melissa starts publishing her poetry (a must), this will link to wherever she publishes. (Melissa’s writing is in regular text, mine in italics)

Strange they said was the passing of Amelia Blue,
The cat said ‘woof’ and the dog ate shrews,
The doorbell rung and the floor-mat shivered,
Two pills in bottles and the bedsheets quivered.

Eight to two the kettle started boiling,
Kitchen lights off, the bread started toasting,
The tea was ready, the China set in place,
The curtains were impatient but the room made no haste.

Strange they said was the passing of Amelia Blue,
Strange they said what they thought was true,
For my eyes alone saw the strangest truth:
Through the Gates of Hell walked Amelia Blue.

Amelia raps at the solid cedar frame
A dull and listless tragic tapping
Accompanies this futile midnight game
She knows won’t lead to any sudden napping.

Trapped in an endless flip and flop
Against the humming of this backlit clock
Whose azure digits refuse to stop
Announcing each mocking whispered knock.

We wait in nights’ ever-spiralling descent
A hypnotist’s mind-bending wheel
With scratching, seething claws hell-bent
On making sure Amelia will never feel

Pale shadows streaking windowed walls,
Diaphanous curtains leaking the silky stain
Of bleeding moonlight whose faint catcalls
In dreams alight where she has lain.

Amelia needed a roof over her head.
Nourishments, encouragements and a bed.
To rest, to cry, to sleep for the night,
To live, to die, for all that’s right.

Lost Nightmares, the Sandman and his mischievous imps,
Hid in nooks and crannies shy of Moon’s glimpse,
The shivering stopped and her body froze
That was the cue – all mourners rose.

Muttered condolences, unflowing tears,
No family, no friends wait by her here,
Lengthy sopranos of dirges we hear,
Courtesy of cicadas, crickets and peers.

Fireflies lined, soldiers in garrison,
Amelia rose:
Light her way to redemption.

Fireflies pop and crackle at the river’s side,
Night music summoned to these grainy banks
Whose ceaseless flowing shows no thanks
To Amelia, waiting for these notes to subside.

Accompanying this rolling, twisting, waiting
With a boundless leap from river’s edge
To cross foreboding Styx on ferry’s ledge:
This deadened hour needs further sating.

It gnaws and nibbles at her soul
For we know she’s yet to pay the toll
In full, or half: not quite enough
This nocturnal journey will soon get rough.

Spring Rains #2 (16 November)

Spring rains, where are you?

Your winding tracks   rivulets that stick
As tea leaves do, smudged remnants recall
Some hundred forgotten stains. We pick
Those we would wipe dry before they fall.

In one scene, your arm up-reaching to save,
We think, an apple trimmed too soon, displaced
By gravity’s truth. Palm upward-poised to pave
Soft earth might mute its falling, unbraced

For this metaphor to come unstuck
As hand, tree, apple all fall apart
When we realise we cannot pluck
Hope from life’s branches as birds start

In song. We cannot sing out in prayer for
Spring rains, though we need your afterglow,
Wait for epilogue to follow downpour
When the world breathes and this flow

Smiles itself dry.

Spring Rains (15 November)

Under open branches to grasp a falling
Apple saved from memory’s dappled traces,
Whose hundred blotted flaws or our recalling
Reveal sorry scars in blistered spaces.

Oh but these are winding tracks that stick
Like tea leaves to the cup’s cracked skin
Left out in yesterdays wept over, slick
With oily film a residue so thin

We barely notice its searing sting
This fresh-lit fire, palm-burning, soul-dropping
Wrenching away the song we sing,
No melody accompanies this lopping

Of another limb, another track lies
Blackening these salted fields, inking
This orchard dark against knowing eyes,
Spring rains make rivulets of our thinking.

Testimony (8 November)

Speak of these burial grounds,
Say that newly-salted curlicues,
Jutting periods and hyphens,
Form rows of peach, pale plum,
Winding vines which tremble up
Last season’s wasting stories.

Pull words through gravelled earth,
Ungrassed spaces where
Time pools, reflecting
What perspires beneath these
Thousand pinprick scrapes
Sewing their story into yours.

Who tends this wretched place?
Confess: you bottled this cityscape,
Skin-thin, head-high, heart-deep
With faded wounds and blistered
The soil. A single touch ignites
These sunken scars.