Thursday, 29 December 2011

Set of Six For The Least Popular Month

Some people love New Year (of course I do, I love almost everything) some people think it's just repetitive nonsense (they buy five year diaries) but not many people care for January, as this is traditionally the time to be cold, broke, fat and bored. All cycles are repetitive if you go round like a hamster in a wheel, it should be more of a spiral if you want to enjoy the ride. Have a destination, don't be restrictively obsessed by it, enjoy the journey and Have A Happy New Year! 

After the gluttony comes
January. Unpalatable cold
Vegetable juice month of
Icy treasureless bank vaults

If only we could sell off that
Excess fat. Attempt optimism
Devise detox for an altered life
It’s a harsh start, feeling that pinch

Toxins dig their dirty nails in
Spear the fretful sense of self
Will the butterfly emerge? What if it’s
One of those boring brown ones?

Delicate designs wobble at ground level
Above the constant mining
Safe cover remains an option
Not viable for the success of the plan

Insipid sun elongates hours
So fragile, so dilute, prognosis for
Spring rejuvenation is dubious
Anticipation iced under shiny frost

We take a cold hard look at ourselves
In this winter mirror. Pain is an illustrious educator
Learn limits, plot courses, build bridges, get there
Into the New Year, brave new you

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Sluicing Machine

Specially dedicated to everyone who has washed their clothes by hand, not by choice. Especially if you have had a sick baby. I would love a dry toilet, I barely clean my house, my carbon footprint is petite, but life without a washing machine? That would take some convincing. 

Somewhere a woman is dreaming
Of the dance, where she feels
Most awake, most herself, most alive
But when the dream is done, don’t ask

Clothes curl foetal in the shushing
Sluicing machine, my most loved appliance
Daily, to my rescue; I have laboured
Over bathfuls of fabric, enough, enough

Somewhere another family wakes, perplexed
By unfamiliar walls and ceilings and curtains drawn
Having slept soundly in their new home; happiness
Settles swiftly, after the months of waiting

Without a machine for laundering garments
Stamping on the grubby stuff in soap-scum
Is the congenial stage. The sodden wretched
Back aching task is rinsing out, wringing out 

As a child I studied my mother’s hands, so
Creditable against my blank covered digits, they
Could tell volumes, while my infantile extremities
Knew not burn of stove nor cut of knife

Today my hand skin is coarse as dragon scales
Mythopoeia of life burnished in, expressed in skill
Of task; see how I can drape washing, deft, the
Fabric flicked, laid flat and faultless on the airer

There is scope indoors to drape this undirtied
Selection; the outside line is peg to peg already
And if the rain comes it provides an extra rinse
Things work out, like spring follows winter

Chicken in the fridge, pork joint
Airs on the windowsill, life currently is
Feeding me well. Not enough parsnips, but
I will soon walk into town, to top up

Washing, two loads, spun and hung to dry
The laundry basket half emptied, it is
Always mid task, that is the nature
Of the rotational task

Somewhere wakefulness chokes on grief
Every morning will break cold, through the lingering
Adjustive time, while normality does not return
Because its irrevocable change will not be recognised

Friday, 23 December 2011

First Visualise Your Roast

If you ever do get stuck in a menu rut, try picking a weekly theme. We initially thought we would do this for a year, but it lasted about two weeks- Mexican and Renaissance. Tequila slammers is not a balanced meal, in spite of the healthy lemon wedges. 

Boy steps carefully, eyes to ground
Mist disperses into temperate air
Follows his footprints up the lane
Lingering, hovering

Ground mist leaves grudgingly
Forms nostalgic clouds, inclined to
Reunite with the solid earth
Incomplete, suspended

Mr inspects his list of doing things
Weighs up weather, deliberates winter
And the firewood situation, he knows how
Many logs in the shed, calculates nights of fires

My list is immediate. Without parsnips
The roast is not what we have envisioned
Details make a life, meal by meal
Layers of flavour assemble

I will walk into town, in my town clothes
Not too muddy. Also raincoat and rubber
Boots; I have noted the pensive air
Pocket my shopping list for ease of access

This weathered red leather shoulder-bag
Holds means of payment, phone, emergency
Lipstick, key bunch, one romantic rail ticket
Momento; my pared down life

Ahead of schedule. Shops are not yet open
For business. Puzzling pause between jobs
Stalk the house for an interim task, if I stop
Tiredness will catch me up, I keep dodging

I’m not sure what to do so I think
About layers of authentic experience and
Caramelised parsnips. If you and the people you love
Remember some of this, life is delicious

Dog has decanted to her basket
Lies on her rope tug toy, all four limbs
Splayed upwards. Cat sleeps in the porch
Equally accepting contentment

One week we grew bored with shopping
Countered by theming the menu list, it was
Too much to think of, eventually, but there was that
Memorable Mexican tequila slammer teatime

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

There was even a tablecloth

The outside table is made out of an old pallet. It has a rustic charm, especially with a tablecloth. By night, candle lit, it is one of the most beautiful places on earth, as voted by me, Mr & Boy. We love the space we're in. 

This morning we are written
Cursively across the ground floor
Comments scroll the length of
Joined up lines of liking

Breakfast can squash us in at the tiny table
We are pleased to share cramped proximity
When it sprawls out, the fundamental cohesion
Persists, and elbows can relax

Convention is considered, on merit, sometimes
Respected, often, almost inattentively, pushed
Into something workable, and it works, like art
Because of the strength of the basic structure

Boy regards the sky, eyebrow raised
Rain is a possibility but he will be ok
To walk to school up the lane which
Becomes a small river when wet

Cheap shoes and adventure, I wish they
Were a more agreeable mix. As the limits of
Language are the restrictions of understanding
Adventure is curbed by the confines of kit

Good things to list about cheap shoes
A symbol of something to be improved
The need to carefully perceive where you step
Understanding the sublime liberation of painless feet

Three bowls, three spoons, two mugs, one glass
Dirtied, begins the sink-side clutter. On a bad day
Enough to quell the appetite to get it all done
On an average day, merely an acceptable occurrence

If a bowl held memories within itself, you
Could hold each of these and grasp a range
Of mealtime approaches. Impromptu outdoor
Breakfast would be my favourite

Mr woke up first on that convivial day, saw
The wide warm sky, took the fruit
From the cool fridge, diced it up and
Called us out, there was even a tablecloth

This year’s summer is all consumed
Warmth has lingered in the ground
For the effortless evocation of this
Early autumn sun ascending

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Lips in Stitches

The way we have breakfast does vary. We don't have to share a table, because we share living here, in our lovely, ridiculous swamp, and that means we have to be a team, or there is no fire, no jam, no cider, no comfort and no fun. Laughing is still more important than wishes! 

Pour porridge oats, the texture
Yielding and rough, mix to taste,
Mine is a thick paste, undercooked
And flavoured with jam

This morning I choose quince
From the jam scrap jars massing
In the fridge, dump a spoonful
Into the chipped bowl of hot oats

By western standards we are
Not wealthy, nevertheless
Five kinds of jam can be found
Here in our refrigeration device

Boy likes supermarket generic
Hoops and milk, he holds the bowl
With 2 equidistant flaws, while he
Heckles the stats of the M1 Grant tank

Mr, after walking twice through
The house, spectacle hunting, settles
For hoops and milk, sat at his laptop
Folds it out like a morning paper

I think I dream as much by day
Not to escape, to reiterate
Things previously noted
It means something, being here

The woodburner squats
Fat iron demi-god of the
Hearth, gaping open
Double door mouth

Last nights cinders puff
Chuck out a residue of warmth
Even a shot of flame, from yesterday
Time overlapping, clinker built

Spoon makes a line which
If visible, would loop
The lips in stitches
To the bowl

Contemporary breakfast tableaux
Mr in the hallway office, Boy
Considers Military History channel
Just me in the grubby kitchen

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Second Coffee

Boy (what we call him, not his real name) is always going outside just to see what's about. Ice is a particular fascination. He has a natural scientific curious exploratory type of mind. We found some human bones once, but we were exploring an abandoned church crypt. 

Signs of this family rousing
From sleep; Footsteps
Toilet flushes, mumbling
Retraced steps for things forgotten

Cereal bowls take their
Morning journey, cups swoop
From hooks, kettle flies
To tap and back, spoon tray clatters

Dog stares it is her Jedi mind
Trick to get breakfast
Every morning her bowl is
Replenished, clever mind trick

Washing machine jaw opens
On a side hinge, dirty clothes
Stuffed in to rumble
Through the belly drum

Second coffee. Around this
Percolated calm, problems arise
But the lost trousers will be
Inevitably, in the airing cupboard

Other lost items materialise, such as shoes
Drying on the hearth-stone, and they are
Found to be not in the place they were left
And no, forgetfulness cannot explain it

Second coffee, sip by sip, takes all this
Morning flounce in comfortable strides
Across this most familiar landscape, still
Can enjoy the cantankerous scenes
I watch them repeat my mood-skip
On seeing the mist, the tide of which
Has slipped down, but one can still, with
Vividness, conjure pictures of sailing ships

Washing machine ruminates
Boy ventures out to look for ice
He finds a piece of discarded mouse
He observes it as a right hindfoot

Above the vapour haze, heavenly
Blue unbounded, a band of bright
Atmosphere ties the world up
Proffers today as a gift

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Guano for the Soul

When in doubt, celebrate- one of my favourite life rules. It is more cheerful than sensible.  This was not factory farmed pig, incidentally, which is why we had to wait for a bargain before we could indulge. Overall, we aim for responsible freedom, which is cheerful, sensible and affordable on a limited income. And string does make a good drawer handle, although after some years of heavy use the one on the cutlery drawer has frayed and needs replacing. 

Easing back to tired, sitting
On a rickety chair, eyes shut
The sun rises, later than me
Bathes this weary face in light

Quiet time, before the
Post arrives, before I vex
Over what disturbances may
Slap down on the doormat

If just a little bit more arrives
Than departs, my guarded  
Jubilant budget will dissipate
Exasperating material frets

Necessity has mothered some
Invention and adopted some
Attitude. We have replaced the
Broken drawer handles with string

Inventive resources are
Guano for the soul; sit the
Baby down with a cardboard
Box and a mixing spoon

Sharks, under the slick
Of seal blood, slide
All aqua-dynamic
Somewhere, doing shark things

Last night’s curry was the middle
Of a triptych menu. It is flanked
Traditionally, from left to right
By roast meat and noodles

After the roast comes pie, if not
Curry, after this, the next
Round of leftovers, if not noodles
Then rice will be expected 

Tonight, the carbohydrate of choice
Will be potato, given the opportunity
Of half price pork. In store, we ponder,
We remember; when in doubt, celebrate

This cheap cut of meat
Is aired overnight
The dry skin will crackle
Nothing, in death, will be disregarded

Monday, 12 December 2011

Tae Kwon Do Tale 2

Exciting new work from the winner of the prestigious Best Bonkers Ghost Story TAGB Summer Camp 2010!

How Kwon Recovered From Death, Which Is Usually Quite Fatal

Kwon was not just not like other ducks.
He was not like other mortal creatures.
He stood out in his family, as his parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters, and everyone but him, were in the normal range of duck forms and sizes.
He stood out in the world, being 18 feet tall with steel kneecaps, sharp teeth and a fist on the end of each wing.
This is not enough to explain how, after dying in terrible agony from a spattering of partially digested exceptionally poisonous smelly troll food, he managed to get better. To understand this, the story must go back to before he was born, to the time that Kwon’s parents, Mr and Mrs Noodle, were excitedly expecting their first batch of eggs.

Mrs Noodle was anxious about the safety of her babies, so she asked Mr Noodle to find a mountain peak to build a nest on, to be up out of the way of any roaming Cowboy Werewolves or similar perilous creatures that were partial to slurping up duck eggs. Mr Noodle was also worried that duck egg babies would be a tempting tasty treat for scavenging nasty things, so he found the highest mountain peak looking over a stunning river valley and built a perfect feather lined nest. It had a calming view for the nervous Mum-to-be, it was warm and soft and safe from danger, and as long as the eggs stayed in the nest, they could not possibly come to any kind of harm. It was quite a long walk from the Duck Island in the lake in the park where they lived, but Mrs Noodle was happy to waddle her way up the mountain path.
‘What a lovely calming view,’ she said, settling into the snugly nest just in time, for the eggs were about to pop out!
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine eggs!!

Alas, the nest was not quite perfect, as it was not quite big enough! Egg number nine, unseen by its Mum or Dad, teetered on the edge and tumbled out of the nest, onto the pointy rocks. The frail egg was in dreadful peril; the odds were stacked against it, the situation seemed hopeless.
The shell dented as it struck the sharp rock.
It rolled again, and a fracture line appeared, and it would have fallen into a jagged crevasse had it not been suddenly swallowed whole by a snake.
The chuckling snake, with an egg shape in its middle, wriggled off down through the forest, and the fragile egg would have been digested if the snake had not been suddenly frightened by a forest fire and passed the egg straight out of its bottom.
The fragile fractured egg rolled through the burning trees and would have been cooked if it had not suddenly rolled into a fast babbling brook and bobbed along downstream to the wide river and out to the stormy sea.
The fragile fractured off-course egg was getting waterlogged and would have sunk in the heavy waves if it had not suddenly been hit by the oar of a passing warship and thrown into a tornado. The fragile fractured off-course confused egg twisted round and round in the cyclone and would have been hideously curdled if it had not suddenly swung free from the grip of the wind and plummeted back onto the mountain top and been caught in the wings of a very shocked Mr Noodle.
He put the fragile fractured back-on-course still-confused found-again egg gently into the nest.
Mr and Mrs Noodle did not know how many adventures this ninth egg had experienced, but they saw the cracks and the dents and they cried. They were afraid that the chick would be damaged, maybe even beyond repair.

But when the fragile fractured back-on-course still-confused found-again egg hatched they realised a sort of terrible wonderful miracle had happened. Instead of getting broken, the little chick had developed bravery and steel kneecaps, and he had teeth, and adorable little fists at the end of each fluffy wing. They looked at the chick, and looked at each other and looked at the chick some more.
‘Let’s call him Kwon,’ Mrs Noodle suggested.
‘That’s both appropriate and acceptable,’ Mr Noodle smiled and watched the newly hatched Kwon try out his little wing-fists by punching a boulder into pieces. ‘It does rather demonstrate that sometimes tough times can make you tough.’
‘Ah yes,’ replied proud Mrs Noodle, watching newly hatched Kwon bite a passing snake, ‘and ridiculous adventures can make you both ridiculous and brave.’

So that does explain how Kwon became so improbably indomitably different that he could prove impervious even to death by contents of troll stomach. His adventures in the fragile fractured back-on-course still-confused found-again egg had magically made him super strong and slightly immortal. Nobody is quite sure why he became 18 feet tall though. This was too big to live comfortably on Duck Island, so after trying various beds and squashing too many flowers, Kwon eventually got his own specially adapted apartment in the pleasant tower block next to the park.

He still visits his parents everyday and they sit by the Lake, eating home made pond weed pancakes with lots of chilli and drinking spicy tea. He likes a quiet life, but given how his life started and finished and started again, the adventure trend may not be ended…

Set of Six for Christmas

Whatever else you do over the winter holidays, time spent eradicating barriers to newly resonating embracement* is never time wasted.

(*Playing with tinsel, or tree baubles, or anything shiny)

String and foil makes tinsel, simple
Ingredients, which the youngest
And the oldest absorb best, one
For novelty, one for resonance

This is how I learn Christmas
My mother carries a tray, she
Is in her dressing gown, smiling, a
Whole mug of bubbly chocolate each

In twists of plastic and electric
Berry sized bulbs, recollections
Accumulate, associate, illuminate
Impressionable years of imagination

The tradition with Dog is to gather all
Discarded wrapping paper into one
Cardboard box, drop in one dog treat
Say ‘Find’ and cheer on the shredding

Cat will sit in her basket knowing, turkey
Scraps are coming, soliloquising, solemn faced
On canine clowning, as though a piece of
Twitched tinsel couldn’t cause kittenish pouncing

There is bewitchment in the twitching
Glimmer of tinsel, it can eliminate weight
Of expectation, eradicate the boundaries
To newly resonating embracement  

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Back to the drunk, and the dance

The man who drank to forget
Wakes up. He shakes as he moves from
Bed to bathroom, his world is shattered
This is the ice-cold start to living alone

He has reached out his hand
To the other side of the bed, pressed
His palm on flat blankets, across the
Slight hollow in the mattress

In loss, an imprint exists, it is
No less transient than the life
Of the memory that holds it
Nor any less unique or precious

The whole solar system has a shelf life
Making perspective simple from intellectual
Angles. Life is more than cerebral for people
Stars have life cycles not funeral rites

Ketchup has been left with the lid off
Sticky and vulnerable like a tracheotomy
It’s mostly sachets in cafes these days
Split open heart-pods lying on side plates

She wakes naked with achy feet, parched
Skin, echoing head, seeks comfort in
Pulsation of water, the congruous
Drum of indoor plumbing

Oh the beautiful drops tap their cadence
On weary skin, thumpy bones, tight
Connective tissue, everything
Eases in lemony froth

Encased in the chrysalis of
Shower stream, head-thumping
Pupae gets a feeling for flight
And a fancy for a bacon sandwich

Wet flesh, refreshed, falls back
To bed, starfishes limbs under the
Duvet, dreams of wings and heaven
And the kinetic fusion of dancing

When she wakes again, it
Will be lunchtime and her hair
Will, caught in the mirror
Cause such laughing

Thursday, 8 December 2011

About Not Rolling Crap In Glitter

A Seasonal Message

'Furthering my quest to appreciate life, to actually be bothered to find the extraordinary in the ordinary detail of life, I have set myself this task. I use the word miracle to describe the act of seeing the moments where something wonderful is happening (if you are looking at it correctly.)
I think I need about 41.66 per hour to cover 24 hours.
Further miracle reports to follow.' [1,000 Miracles In One Day]

'You can't polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.'

A Compare and Contrast of these statements is more serious than you might think! The second one is much funnier and more quotable. The first one takes a liberty with the word miracle which may raise an amused eyebrow. But! If you can be bothered to have a think about it, if you can be bothered to try finding your own, you might get a longer deeper happiness buzz by learning to see what is beautiful in your life, and then you can take the turd, compost it and grow a metaphorical sequin tree. You will be learning to see and be your own kind of beautiful, the living embodiment of a real life story. You will be getting practice at appreciating what you have. You will be your own miracle. Of course, you needn't stop being entertained by glittered crap and as the brilliant late great Eric Morecombe once said, 'You don't have to be miserable to be serious,' so I am laughing at myself as I present you with my Yule message: 

I bring you not surface sparkle, I bring the fairy lights that plug into the universe and the soft glow of deep true wonder. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

290: Eaten by heat

We don't use the microwave everyday, but it is bright red and regularly admired by us. Unlike the rest of The Microwave Corner, which is an annoying mess. Other house place names are The Useful Drawer, The Wurlitzer and the Box Office. 

In the cool clear blue sky, the sunlight
Liberated from mist, skims over white
Fleece surface, splits through a teardrop
Gem circling in the kitchen window

The kitchen is warmed and filled
With cuts of rainbow light from the
Gyratory crystal. Shut my eyes, put the
Sun on my face, have a tropical moment

Temperatures trigger sense memory; from
The squashed breath-recycling aircraft aisle
I drag my crumpled self out to the sensation
Of engulfment, the warm air swallows me up

I am inside the belly of heat, feel the haze
Of absorption, the ground heat of airport tarmac
Wants to digest me, I am assimilated, then
Freeze-shocked by arrival-lounge air-conditioning

The traffic baffles, there are vehicles of
Preposterous proportions, they swarm like
Metal fish in a humid turbulent sea, we are so
Proud of learning to cross the road here

Dog claw clatter on the laminate floor
Brings me out of my reverie, to squint
At the kitchen, think, I’m on a roll, I will
Sweep the floors, as my next domestic trick

The broom is kept propped in The
Microwave Corner; we have names
For places to assist in navigating
Around the Atolls of Detritus

Vermilion microwave has top shelf
Pride of place, in its own
Idolised corner-nook, flanked
By attendant oven gloves

There was once a rug in the
Living room but also once we gave
The dog a prawn head to eat
She rolled it into the wool pile

As the broom-bristles clog
Accumulating dog hair and
Smudging wet paw prints, bored
Four-legs sighs in the armchair