Coming Home

Today's poetry prompt is from my friend, artist and poet, Janice Windle. "DAY 6 NOVEMBER

Imagine that you meet yourself when much younger than you are now and write a poem about the experience.

This could take the form of a dialogue between your two “selves” or a narrative including a context for the meeting. Would your younger self be disappointed by, proud of, satisfied with, relieved by, shocked or amazed at, approving, disapproving of the way your personality and outlook has developed since you were, say, eighteen? Would your present self be surprised, ashamed, proud, envious, disapproving, approving, of your younger self? Would the two personae get on? what issues would they agree/disagree on? How confrontational would the meeting be?

If you feel very imaginative and intuitive, project your present self into the future and introduce a third character into your poem – yourself as an elderly person meeting the other two."

I have finally started writing my Morning Pages again. I'd recommend this practice to anyone who wants to write. Today's prose poem was a freewrite. It was one of those rare and delicious moments when the piece just wrote itself. It's not a very happy piece but one I hope that has some resonance for others. I always come back to the same spot - writing is the one thing that keeps me sane (ish). It's the only way I know to detangle what's inside.

Coming Home

The story starts like this. The condensation on the windows, the early morning cough and throat-clear of distant traffic, two magpies on the branch of the yellowing tree in the garden, and the promise of a brighter day behind the blanket thick clouds. Most of the house asleep and the air cold and still - and quiet enough to hear the patient hum of the fridge and a blackbird, out of view welcoming the morning in.

You would like to be happier than you are now but last night's novel got under your skin. The female protagonist is a little too much like you. She's lost, self indulgent but kind enough under the confusion. She keeps on trying to think her way out of things when she should just be feeling her way through. Autumn never ceases to make your eyes fall in love with it and all the colours its brings, rivalling May (your birth month) for your heart.

And then the text. From an unknown number. 'I'm back'. It says 'Did you forget about me?' Of course you know immediately who it's from and think about deleting it. You wanted your life to be one neat paragraph after another and when a page was turned, that was it, there was no going back. But no one told you the truth about ghosts, that you could be haunted by your self. You open the text again. Now it says 'Why did you forget me?'

You know the sender, 22 years old her hair far shorter than yours now. A precise barber shop cut, shaved at the sides and a neat halo of bleached curls on top. She's wearing black and the only shine comes from her market bought gold hoops hanging from both ears and the vague glimmer of hope shining in her eyes. She's been dancing all night at a word of mouth warehouse party and still has energy for the weekend ahead. She wants to live life without stopping but something keeps pulling her under the waves, something she doesn't have a name for. You know she has stopped writing poetry, spends her weekends on the hunt for what you, at 47, are still looking for.

A wasp buzzes towards the one light on in your kitchen. What he wants so much will kill him. The heat of the bulb will fry his tiny wings. He seems dejected when you switch the light off but you have to save one life even if it's not your own. You text back 'Please don't ever stop' and then delete it immediately. It feels lightweight and unreal.

Of course you want to tell her that you love her, to keep going and that the only things that are her fault are her fault but the rest is the world just spinning on its axis, and all the people living there and that she is not responsible for everything. Some of it is the dry old physics of being and that there's no maths that can explain why things happen the way they do, that she's not to blame. You want to say keep writing or that she should get out more, or stay in more and not run so much.

You have so much you want to say and so few ways it can be said, here, in this text. You type the text again, trashy as it sounds 'Please don't ever stop being who you are' and hope she can hear it this time.


I was in a stuck and foul old mood today, I was resistant to the beauty offered by Autumn's changing colours. I moaned, stomped and swore ignoring my emails and my ever lengthening to do list. In search of some much needed emotional catharsis I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen floors. For a few moments I appreciated hard work in the way only those that don't really do enough can. Then it was back to the week long wrestle I've been having with myself.

Then an opportunity. It was my friend Andrea Robinson's turn to post a prompt for our Poem a Day challenge. It was only after I finished the poem I realised that I had mentioned both boxing and wrestling which seems indicative of my mood ! I also think I need to take a moment here to acknowledge once again if there's one thing that really helps it's writing. I spend so much time fighting it off but she's (I see my muse as a she, and a very determined one at that) the boomerang that won't let me go.

Shadow Boxing

Shadows wrestle with what little light there is. Did I tell you I dreamt of being a boxer, to feel

my fist hard against anything that held still long enough, until the thrust of air and knuckle spun it

through time and space. A pendulum swings irrelevant of what you feel and, like light,

follows its own science. I wish it could be that way, always. Swinging back forth, back forth; a mobile

waiting for sound to happen, wind chimes holding their breath until the wind arrives; a quiet completion.

Instead the wrestling shadows, how time moves every last thing on, each counter on the board, step by chequered

step. The burglar always breaking the rose's neck, the fever mistaken for a passion destroying one's life.

Quotes used: "True rebels after all, are as rare as true lovers,and in both cases, to mistake a fever for passion can destroy one's life" — James Baldwin

"The ghost of your memory/is the thistle in the kiss/ and the burglar that that can break a roses neck" - Tom Waits

First Thoughts

Yesterday I struggled with my poem a day and did not actually complete it until way past midnight. I was determined to respond to today's challenge first thing. I woke up to Malika Booker's very special prompt and this inspired me to write the poem below.

Here's the prompt for anyone who would like to join me in writing a poem.

1. Go to this link on The Wellcome Trust Library.

2. Then click onto the nature section.

3. scroll down to the Mars, Mercury and Saturn images L0030659 / L0030662 / L0030670

4. Look at all three of the Pictures and read the descriptions below.

5. Use these pictures as a starting point. Take the name of a planet or a Zodiac sign and personify the name like the picture does e.g 'Saturn sitting under a tree."

6. Write a poem using "Saturn, Libra etc" as a person. You can also use words or phrases from the descriptions or the pictures in your poem as well.

Sun and Moon

The Moon's tresses are a hand-throw of stars, her whispering calls you over and over again. The Sun's arms vast as any embrace you've known.

Sun's a child and if his embers catch alight who knows what houses, towns and cities will burn with his magnificent force ?

From Moon's butter-soft lips comes a sweet tune, blowing hot on sun's kindling until he's the brightest star in the sky.

And whilst the solar boy-child is shining proud and true, Moon is silvering the night, the slow hum of her dark wisdom everywhere.

Wherever the Sun

Yesterday Jasmin, my niece, popped over with this book. It's called Wreck this Journal and has been described as the anarchist's Artist's Way. It's a book that encourages freedom of artistic expression. I thought it was particularly apt that Jasmin, who is 13 years old, quoted the T Rex's song title Children of the Revolution.

Every day during November I am taking up the challenge to write a poem a day. April is National Poetry Month in the United States and a popular worldwide challenge arising from this has been to write a poem a day. A small group of us on Facebook have taken up this challenge for all the months of the year with 30 days in them ie April, June, September and November. I have to confess that after April's marathon writing activity I was pretty exhausted and did not take part in either June or September.

Like any daily practice it's very educational. Some times a poem arrives and sits in your lap, or writes itself in to being on your laptop and other days it's a hard to struggle to get out even a few words that don't sound cliched or forced. The trick is to write through it and, whilst engaging fully with the writing, observe the arc of one's own emotional narrative.

I will be posting some of my first drafts here along with the prompts (which we take turns in posting in our group) that inspired them. Today's poetry prompt is from writer Karen McCarthy Woolf. It's posted on her site Open Notebooks. Today's poem is a freewrite which means that it has not been edited and was written in one sitting without stopping. I am hoping to bring some of the energy and enthusiasm Jasmin has for her 'Wreck this Journal' project to my own poem a day writing adventure.

Wherever the Sun

Nothing much happens here anymore. Nothing that we notice anyway. It's not bad in the way it was. That's when the cries of a woman being dragged by her hair were common place or the boots, always the boots. Marching, kicking down doors. The anonymous boots kicking faces, kicking at our art and our statues. We still carry the kicking inside us. Perhaps that's why it is so silent now. The shops are fuller, fatter than they were. On Tuesdays we buy eggs and eat omelettes together. On Sundays we cook chicken and the vegetables we grow in the big square in the centre of town. In the bad days, the worst days of our lives there were public hangings. So now we grow vegetables. Potatoes and carrots, tomatoes when it's hot enough. Wherever we seek out the sun there's a seed to be planted. Those old bullets have knotted my heart and I know sleeping is not easy for those who cannot forget. We garden and weep and walk barefoot in honour of all those we have lost, our toes darkened with wet mud and memories written in blood.