Chrysalis Heart

My chrysalis heart as

Dark as midnight

I emerged

Blinking, like a newborn

Dazzled

By the light

 

Your arms my gravity

I tilt to those lips

Forever in falling orbit

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After-birth

A white room.
The clock swam,
Wavered and loomed,
Like an artificial moon.
While I rippled in 
Concentric circles.

Buried in my cocoon
She beat with paper wings
Against the drum of my belly
A light tattoo

And then
Pushed her way through
The darkness
Took to her wings
And flew.

He came dressed in the coat

Of my womb

Delicate china head

Miles of Aegean eyes

Soft mouth that suckles

Helpless pink hands waver

Unaware

Featherless birds above his head;

When he cried my breasts

Ached milk

Like split coconuts

Into the paradise

Of his mouth.

Today he is four

I look into his eyes

And see

War.

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Christmas Inspiration Needed: Please Help!

Hello lovely WordPress bloggers!

I have been asked to write a Christmas poem to be used in the December edition of a talking magazine for those with little or no sight. Help! It’s a tricky one, as I like to steer away from cliche where I can. Can any of you lovely poets think of a theme or conceit which might encourage originality, or, were I to start us off with one line, might you be prepared to add one and make it a joint effort?

I have had two ideas: one, to write it from the point of view of a bauble and two, to write it about Christmas through the decades, as most of the listeners will be quite elderly. Any suggestions gratefully received and thank you in advance!!

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Hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison in which you put yourself. Tony Benn

My work as a mentor and personal development trainer brings me into contact with people who have lost all hope: their script is so powerfully bleak that it would be easy to feel as though I am drowning, just by listening to them talk. But it is my job to throw them a lifeline, not to drown with them: if I can’t see beyond their hopelessness, then how can I expect them to? I tell the people I work with that they are absolutely brilliant at convincing themselves that life will never be anything but hellish, but that no matter how powerfully they project this I will never, ever believe them. This often makes people angry and afraid in the short term but sometimes by the time we say goodbye, together we have sketched a mental note which says ‘I can and I will’ and this is the beginning of a new chapter.

I consider it a privilege to hold on to hope for someone that isn’t ready to reach out and grab it yet, but to be truly effective in my work I have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk: people know whether you are authentic. It leaks from your every pore. Part of what I do is simple salesmanship: I can’t sell the idea that life can be brilliant unless I am walking advert for the notion. If I am miserable, you won’t believe there is any point in reaching out for something different. I don’t give the impression that my life is perfect: I have subtle ways of letting people know that I have problems too, but that it is possible to accept this and still move forward, even if just inch by inch. Integral to this process is the ability to hold on to hope, no matter how bleak your circumstances feel. Our experiences shape our beliefs and our beliefs shape our experiences: it’s a subtle interplay between the two that creates our world. Many of the people I work with have had some awful things happen to them, and for this I have enormous compassion; however, I also believe it is possible to draw a line under the past and start with a blank slate, tomorrow. All that is required is hope, which is essentially the belief that things can be different than they are. A lot of what holds people back from making this leap of faith is fear: a negative script can also be comforting. It is what you know and feel comfortable with. To live in hope requires something more of you, opens possibilities: light, when you have been in the darkness for so long can hurt the eyes. But in light we can see where we are going, direct our steps and choose a path.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to do the work I do and I don’t believe it is any coincidence I was drawn to it. It has given me meaning and my desire to be good at it has meant that I have made changes to my own script, and begun to further evolve and grow as a person. Changes are afoot in my career, but I will never forget the people I have worked with over the past year: they have taught me so much. I hold the hope of progress still for every single one.

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Pebbles

Pebbles knock against my bones

I turn like a dog in his basket

sway in the hollows beneath my numb limbs

but the light is fading

Flies swarm our picnic leavings

so we pack the dirty plates

and wrapped in our crumby blanket

sore stumble to the car

 

In the car park

a lone plastic cooler stands

on a white line at the edge of a parking space

well used and forlorn

 

I talk through the medium of car door

 

Words fall from my dry mouth

like stones

instead of water

I drink you in

taste days spent writing

the metallic tang of dehydration

italics and ideas

half boy half man

the small animal

of your tongue

resting on my upper lip

 

Days and nights

of liquid bliss

whispers, wishes, wanting

and kisses so

long

we come up for air

divers

contorted limbs burning

heads bursting

staggering drunk on lust

blood migrating south

on the updraft of our breath

 

Curtains half drawn against

the summer light

I forgot to guard my heart

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Genealogy

 

At the railway station she pushes and elbows her way through the crowd. She just wants to get on the train, not to lose sight of her sister, for this part of her journey to be over. She doesn’t know that she will never see her parents alive again. She doesn’t guess that this moment will be replayed forever in the scribble of her pen. She doesn’t know that she is a poet, this Jew child escaping Hitler. Forty years later she sits at a desk in the semi dark of twilight and writes a poem for the grandson she will only ever see twice. He is tied to a dining room chair by a bed sheet, pulling faces at his sister, similarly restrained. His mother is sitting in the kitchen next door, crying softly, her cheeks red from the effort of wrapping the sheets around her children, tying tight knots. In an hour the children will be asleep, forcing the chairs to tip, their small faces soft in repose. A string of drool escaping from the lips of her son makes a wet patch on her shirt as she carries him to bed, her eyes still red. Somewhere in the endless heat of the Middle East their father is learning to fire a gun in the desert. The children are as far from his mind as the reality of death, so life affirming is this moment; what purpose is in the crook of his arm as he aims and fires at the horizon, how much a man he feels. In a bar five miles from the home of the children, a man with a jowly face and sallow skin around his eyes is drinking whiskey. He does not look like a monster. He has sad eyes. He is lonely. One day a woman who he has never met will be hanging dead from a noose made from shoelaces and neckties knotted together, and her last thought will be of this man. But he will never know her; never look into her eyes and see the hatred floating on the surface, like filthy petrol scum.

 

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Biography

So many girls and women in my story: it’s overflowing with them. Blonde, brunette, red headed- all of them serious. And fathers and daughters- absent fathers and present fathers: it’s all the same in the end. They thread their way through the girlhood self-narrative like clumsy stitching. These women are artists, scribblers, diarisers, poets, novelists- to varying degrees- the best a published author, never populist, but in print; the worst a writer of terrible, cliché poems about sexual desire. And then there is me, who has the biography of a writer- the miserable childhood, in which survival relied upon the reading of others, de-coding their double speak; the voracious book reading, classics all devoured like so much breakfast cereal by the age of eleven; the early attempts at poetry, aged 9 and later, the implausible short stories with nuggets of gold; the love of language, leading to the first class degree in literature at a good university where a published author lecturer nurtured and nudged raw amoebic talent; the urge to write, to speak, to sculpt, to capture, to understand; seeing the profound in the mediocre every day, measuring time in sentences, paragraphs and chapters instead of minutes, hours and days- but the novels don’t come, they won’t write themselves. Life comes. And now, even when history is at my feet, begging me to write it, I see only a basket of snakes, weaving in and out, hypnotising me- I cannot even see which tail belongs to which head. I could become a snake charmer, but a snake charmer is not a writer.

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Filed under Creative, Musings on Life, Personal Growth