Sunday, June 28, 2009

Carnival - one minute writer

Shuggy Boat

It's just you and me.
We don't get a chance
to sit opposite each other
and laugh and laugh
at how ridiculous
this is.

You are just five,
I'm thirty years older
and the shuggy boat
makes me scream louder
than you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson made me burn my lunch

Well, not him. But news of his death when a facebook message made me realise that the reason there was a special on 5 this evening was that he was dead, not just a teaser in the run up to his tour. So as we've been writing poems about the news I wrote a poem about this news... sort of two but the first was just what I said when I heard.

Gut reaction





This isn’t right.

This is wrong, yes?

The Questions

Who do I remember?

You then, when you were still young

beautiful, untainted?

Or then, when your transformation

didn’t shock but intrigued?

Or then. When you’d gone too far

disfigured, body dysmorphic?

What do I remember?

The 1986 letter I never sent

saying maybe, one day, we could marry?

Or the music that filled childhood afternoons

classics that filled dancefloors?

Or the twisted media obsession

old skeletons that wouldn’t lie down?

What should I remember?

Maybe just the music

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Write a Poem About the News Day

The rather marvellous Kate Fox has incited loads of people to write a poem inspired by the news. I don't know if Write a Poem About the News Day is an annual thing but I'd be quite up for it if it is. I've been finding it tricky to write at the moment so any excuse to get something started and finished quickly is helping to keep me ticking over.

I noticed that most of the poems seemed to rhyme so I thought I'd give it a bash too (I couldn't quite combine humour and rhyme though... I'm taking baby steps). So I settled on a villanelle - not exactly the easy option but I found the challenge of sticking to such a rigid form helped to focus on a broad subject.

A Beautiful World

There’s old news and new news, laden with doom
headlines scream out a recurring nightmare;
paint a beautiful world in colours of gloom.

Articles comment on the downside of boom,
highlight the illusion of fiscal flair.
There’s old news and new news, laden with doom.

A Labour party with need of new broom
can’t rescue us from this mire of despair,
paint a beautiful world in colours of gloom.

Threatened injunctions might make racists fume
but a sense of futility hangs in the air,
there’s old news and new news, laden with doom.

A remembered young woman in a garden tomb
her living smile counters the killers stare.
Paint a beautiful world in colours of gloom.

And finally... good news pushed out, there’s just no room,
It’s no longer the point to inform but to scare.
There’s old news and new news, laden with doom
paint a beautiful world in colours of gloom.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I didn’t think you would be here.
So I’m lying next to you and listening
to the sound of the click
that used to come from your chest.
The absence of it.

I’ll rouse slowly, bring myself round
and head upstairs to count off your drugs
one by one into my palm.

The One-Minute Writer: Today's Writing Prompt: Bed

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A poem for Fathers' Day

At one stage I didn't think that Daniel would still be alive for Father's Day so I decided to use an idea from the Caroline Bird workshop on the BBC Poetry Season website to write a poem for Fathers' Day. I asked Maya and Ruby what their favourite things were, what made them feel happy and used their words to create a poem that would show Daniel how happy they (and I) were that he was home with us - safe. Alive.

Once I made a note of all the elements of the poem I jigged it about a bit to come up with the order but all the words are their own. I asked Maya what the poem should be called when it was finished and she came up with...

The Superfantastic Word Gallery

Like going to Coraline, playgroup or France!

Or to the swimming baths in a pink bikini.

Squirty cream and strawberries,

chocolate buttons and chocolate fudge.

Charlie and Lola,

Boomerang and Scooby Doo.

Spooky ghost trains, fun time,

playing Trash! and tickling.

Ready brek or raspberries,

prawn sushi with soy sauce.

Pulling crackers at Christmas time,

and happy birthday for Ruby.

Eating ice-cream on really hot, summer days,

bees flying in the garden.

Art books and Studio Ghibli animations,

drawing on weekend mornings.

Black and white and pink and red,

playing at Grandpa and Grannies house.

Daddy is; cuddles, love, music.

Friday, June 19, 2009

How've you been?

I was at the Cumberland Arms last night for the BBC poetry slam. I (sort of) really enjoyed the night but found it a little difficult to really get into the vibe. If I hadn't gone on my own - as I usually do to these things - it might have been a little easier. The main problem was how to answer the question "So, how've you been?" or what to say when someone says "You're looking really well" when the last three weeks have been hell and you're looking at weeks, months before you start to feel safe again. Does anyone really want to hear anything other than "great"? I decided to stay in my seat for the second interval.

The poets that really stuck in my mind were Scott Tyrrell (of course), Radikal Queen, Alfie Crow and Ross Sutherland... I'm very tempted to try my own univocalic poem though I'm not sure that it would be quite as accomplished as Ross' first round poem. Radikal Queen's style reminded me of Jill Scott, rhythmic, soulful. I was impressed by her delivery and slightly jealous of the fact that she seems to be the sort of spoken word artist I'd like to be... but my identity as a Black Briton has always been at odds with the perceived notion of black cultural identity, I'd feel like a fake if I attempted it. I thought Alfie's decisions to go with a gutsy, subversive use of nursery rhyme forms to create a jarring, disturbing view of "broken Britain" probably cost him the competition but in my view he deserved to be in the top two.

I wonder if karma was at work during the evening... Ross Sutherland was denied the second place spot by (I think) 0.1 of a point. During the first interval there was a queue at the bar, I waited patiently to get my two Fentiman's (a ginger beer and a victorian lemonade) and just before I got to the front said poet swaggered in front, seemingly oblivious to the queue, and got promptly served... Of course, I said nothing... to be honest I couldn't be bothered to be bothered.

When I got home I peered through a gap in the curtain to watch Daniel before I went in. He was sitting in his chair smiling and looking to his left talking to his "Dannysitter" Gayle. He looked almost the same as before in the sitting room light. Like nothing had ever happened and this was any night.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dual parenting again... sort of.

So we're in the sitting room. Together. The girls are happy to have him home and we're adjusting to the fact that he's weaker, for now. He looks the same, only thinner and he hasn't been pottering around tidying up after me and the girls. And the memory that he might not have made it home at all is surreal enough for me to almost have a smile on my face when I talk about what we've been through.

It's good to see him home even if he's still not comfortable in this temporary state. After we arrived home Daniel shaved off his four-week-old hospital beard, it had started to make him look like a lost member of King's of Leon but he wanted to feel more human so off it went - and despite the loss of weight he still looks great... his American superhero jawline is still intact.

I'm just checking in really. I couldn't blog about what was going on as it happened but now that Daniel's beginning to recover I think I can just about bear to blog what's going on with me. Some of the detail of what happened will creep in over time but the main purpose is to document each day so that if we start to lose heart I'll be able to see how far we've come.