A whisper of grey tugs at my edges Hurry, catch the morning A silent plea moving silently across my closed eyes I try desperately to hold on to my dream when Bob Dylan played for me and he looked like he did in the late ’80s But its no good, he’s gone The tall stove pipe moves out of the darkness up to the white-painted rafters the first marker of the day I dress in the dark feel my way down the stairs through the creaking door into the hall where the pink glow of the salt lamp lights the way to the porch door Outside the big green river rock lies in wait to bash the shins of the unwary The faint creak of the swing bridge and the river running below are the only sounds Until a blackbird calls and a bellbird answers I look up and over in the east I see a bright magenta patch over the hills This is the Land of Grey and Pink like the cover of the 70’s album by Caravan I think of my lost dream again Deep pink fades to peach, then yellow and in minutes is washed back into the grey Funny black alpaca faces with their comical ears, appear over the fence and walk along beside me until we reach the green stable with the white-framed windows The tui joins the conversation overhead a fantail dances around me weaving her crazy web Then the magic happens A light switches on dewy meadows sparkle white green leaves turn neon tips of the oaks and willow glow red and amber their shadows striping the road ahead I hear a tiny pat And a perfect trefoil of oak leaves falls to my feet the papery leaves yellowing at the edges and a small acorn cap still attached to the knobbly stalk I add it to my morning bouquet of late dog roses stems of purple hawthorn berries and crimson rosehips A truck rumbles past on the other side of the river and a lone dog howls in the distance as I head back home The sun has reached the old phone box its red and white glass sign perfectly etched on the green river rock ENOHPELET
We have an understanding, the crows and I. In the early days, they would leave gifts in my path, black, iridescent, beautiful to some, but hideous to me, A corvid lover cursed with pteronophobia. I tell them I don’t need the gifts, just communication. To feed them is my privilege. They wait respectfully until I am safely back indoors before they the dive and grab for the food I leave. Always polite, carking their thank you’s in advance, for even crows know, that one shouldn’t speak with one’s mouth full. Our conversations at dawn and dusk, their presence on the rooftops, perched on red chimney pots, bear witness to my day. And I, watching, applauding, provide an audience for theirs. The crows and I have perfected the art of the long-distance relationship.
Early autumn I scavenge for the last of the blackberries The biggest and ripest You know you will get scratched But those berries, the colour Their juiciness, taunting Eat me, but I bite Small sharp thorns that burrow into the skin Blood mingling with the purple juice Stained hands
The apples on the ground are rotting Codling moths invaded them long before they left the tree The rot set in early One bad apple The worm works from the inside out Some apples look perfect Until you cut them open and the core is brown and mushy and full of moth excrement Be wary of biting the perfect fruit
We shake the tree bring them down All the bad apples rolling away over the grass Camouflaged in wet leaves red and gold and yellow And wood smoke in the air But I gather them all Every single one is going under the knife
I peel and chop and gouge out the rot and scabs Remove the mushy core Until I have a huge pile of decay ready for the compost heap There it can flourish and nourish new life Next years codling moth larvae Cydia pomonella the worm in the apple Bad to the core And yet there is a small pan of perfect unblemished flesh
The pan of stewing apples smells heavenly caramel toasty vanilla And the blackberries, oh the colour! And cinnamon My crust for once is beautiful Light and just the right amount of crispy The pies are delicious I eat three straight from the oven A burned tongue
The Three of Swords is about loss, separation, heartache and grief. I have chosen three different versions of this card, which I feel illustrate the vibe of the Three of Swords, and I have written a flash fiction piece which is my own personal take on a Three of Swords experience.
Like most people I have had many of these experiences in my life. The card serves to show us that the grief is not empty, it has meaning, and maybe it will also be there as a shadow, but it can also help us to gain strength when faced with future grief. For me when I see this card I feel intense grief for the things I believe I have done to cause pain for others, not just my own personal grief. In the Thothdeck, Crowley calls this card Sorrow, with good reason.
The three cards below are from The Deviant Moon Tarot, The Lucy Lescot Tarot and The Poet Tarot.
The Deviant Moon card on the far left, follows the RWS system fairly closely, but it also has it’s own unique twist, which can often cut like a knife. In my own experience there is no messing with this deck, it comes straight to the point. The figure appears to be dressed in some kind of armour but it still cannot defy the swords piercing her heart. The shadow behind her shows that her own pain is bigger than she is at this moment. Yet through the window, the moon is shining over the mountains, showing a sliver of light, she just needs to find the strength to turn towards that hope.
The card in the centre is from The Ludy Lescot deck, and this is almost a perfect illustration of my biggest personal Three of Swords experiences. A broken home, broken family, broken children and lost babies. The blood is on the woman’s dress, signifying her guilt and her part in this wreckage. She cannot face what she has done at the moment but she clings to the cross, a sign of hope and strength to help her go on, like the moon in the previous card.
The third card is a bit different, but I chose it because it reflects art and writing which are both big in my life. The Poet Tarot substitutes Swords for Mentors, which signify revision… the stuff we do to put things right once we have created them, this card is when we may have to kill our darlings. But another side to this card according to the accompanying book, is the darkness that can sometimes take hold of a mentor, causing them to act out of personal petty jealousy, rather than honest critique. It is a different take on this card as is shown with Cupid wearing a death’s head. It is a sign to look deeply at your own work and be sure that those who purport to encourage you, are not actually out to make you feel bad.
The piece of drftwood in the photo is something I found a few years ago, recently it wants to be part of all my Tarot readings, so who am I to argue. Driftwood is watery, it may be to do with my current emotional state., It is also very Cancerian in its vibe.
This is a piece of flash fiction that I wrote for the Three of Swords:
When she woke to hear rain battering against the iron roof, and heard the tides rushing up to fill the mudflats, she knew it was the right day. It was hardly light outside, and even standing over by the estuary she could still see the glow of the candle she had left burning in the window. She took the white plastic strip from her pocket, looked at the two blue lines, and remembered the hopes and dreams that they had signified. She touched it to her lips one last time, and then sent it spinning through the curtain of rain, out to the high tide. She stood watching, tears and raindrops blurring her vision, fighting the urge to plunge into the water after it. When she could no longer see the tiny flash of white she turned back back to the house. ‘Go free little soul’, she whispered.
This is a poem I wrote a few years ago but tend to re-visit and revise now and then. I once planned a series of fairy tale poems, but then art got in the way of writing. I see them moving in together in the future…
let down your hair
to be twisted and pulled
and wrenched from the roots
at your towers foot…
No gentle Prince awaits you there…
No… we of old pain
worn down, harsh, raw with grief
we seek to punish…
We do not care
As we trample on fragile endings
our boots, encrusted with ancient mud
we close our eyes
we do not dare…
to see… To feel..
or let some kind word
escape through parched lips.
From these hardened hearts
no compassion we share
let down your hair
for we are weary…
Allow us some sanctuary
shelter from harsh reality
where we will remain
the bastards cut your hair
Shorn of strength
disempowered in your tower
for those lost ones…
and the dreamers
who felt only their pain
never allowing for your sorrow
Yet still you bow you head
and weep for them
As those proud
but snagged locks
fall to icy flint floor
come down from your tower
it is no safe haven
but your prison
Afraid of your strength
they blinded you
and kept you there
with threats of dragons and witches
and blackhearted suitors
come down from your tower
Hold your head high
bring forth your pride
and watch those cheats and liars
and feint hearted triers
as they tremble and cower
in the shadow of your power
as you pass them by
I found this while looking through Transformations, a collection of Anne Sexton’s poetry which is based around the tales of The Brothers Grimm. Sexton was a confessional poet, like her contemporary Sylvia Plath she suffered from depression and mental illness. I feel at home with the work of both these women. They tell life as it is.
In Transformations Sexton has told these stories as they were portrayed by The Brothes Grimm, but within a darker context. The stage set has changed, the props are different, the lighting is altered but the stories are still there, to be interpreted as we will, or as society dictates.
Red Riding Hood by Anne Sexton
Many are the deceivers:
The suburban matron,
proper in the supermarket,
list in hand so she won’t suddenly fly,
buying her Duz and Chuck Wagon dog food,
meanwhile ascending from earth,
letting her stomach fill up with helium,
letting her arms go loose as kite tails,
getting ready to meet her lover
a mile down Apple Crest Road
in the Congregational Church parking lot.
Two seemingly respectable women
come up to an old Jenny
and show her an envelope
full of money
and promise to share the booty
if she’ll give them ten thou
as an act of faith.
Her life savings are under the mattress
covered with rust stains
They are as wrinkled as prunes
The two women take the money and disappear.
Where is the moral?
Not all knives are for
stabbing the exposed belly.
Rock climbs on rock
and it only makes a seashore.
Old Jenny has lost her belief in mattresses
and now she has no wastebasket in which
to keep her youth.
The standup comic
on the “Tonight” show
who imitates the Vice President
and cracks up Johnny Carson
and delays sleep for millions
of bedfellows watching between their feet,
slits his wrist the next morning
in the Algonquin’s old-fashioned bathroom,
the razor in his hand like a toothbrush,
wall as anonymous as a urinal,
the shower curtain his slack rubberman audience,
and then the slash
as simple as opening as a letter
and the warm blood breaking out like a rose
upon the bathtub with its claw and ball feet.
And I. I too.
Quite collected at cocktail parties,
meanwhile in my head
I’m undergoing open-heart surgery.
The heart, poor fellow,
pounding on his little tin drum
with a faint death beat,
The heart, that eyeless beetle,
running panicked through his maze,
never stopping one foot after the other
one hour after the other
until he gags on an apple
and it’s all over.
And I. I too again.
I built a summer house on Cape Ann.
A simple A-frame and this too was
a deception — nothing haunts a new house.
When I moved in with a bathing suit and tea bags
the ocean rumbled like a train backing up
and at each window secrets came in
like gas. My mother, that departed soul,
sat in my Eames chair and reproached me
for losing her keys to the old cottage.
Even in the electric kitchen there was
the smell of a journey. The ocean
was seeping through its frontiers
and laying me out on its wet rails.
The bed was stale with my childhood
and I could not move to another city
where the worthy make a new life.
there was a strange deception:
a wolf dressed in frills,
a kind of transvestite.
But I get ahead of my story.
In the beginning
there was just little Red Riding Hood,
so called because her grandmother
made her a red cape and she was never without it.
It was her Linus blanket, besides
it was red, as red as the Swiss flag,
yes it was red, as red as chicken blood,
But more than she loved her riding hood
she loved her grandmother who lived
far from the city in the big wood.
This one day her mother gave her
a basket of wine and cake
to take to her grandmother
because she was ill.
Wine and cake?
Where’s the aspirin? The penicillin?
Where’s the fruit juice?
Peter Rabbit got chamomile tea.
But wine and cake it was.
On her way in the big wood
Red Riding Hood met the wolf.
Good day, Mr. Wolf, she said,
thinking him no more dangerous
than a streetcar or a panhandler.
He asked where she was going
and she obligingly told him
There among the roots and trunks
with the mushrooms pulsing inside the moss
he planned how to eat them both,
the grandmother an old carrot
and the child a shy budkin
in a red red hood.
He bade her to look at the bloodroot,
the small bunchberry and the dogtooth
and pick some for her grandmother.
And this she did.
Meanwhile he scampered off
to Grandmother’s house and ate her up
as quick as a slap.
Then he put on her nightdress and cap
and snuggled down in to bed.
A deceptive fellow.
Red Riding hood
knocked on the door and entered
with her flowers, her cake, her wine.
Grandmother looked strange,
a dark and hairy disease it seemed.
Oh Grandmother, what big ears you have,
ears, eyes, hands and then the teeth.
The better to eat you with my dear.
So the wolf gobbled Red Riding Hood down
like a gumdrop. Now he was fat.
He appeared to be in his ninth month
and Red Riding Hood and her grandmother
rode like two Jonahs up and down with
his every breath. One pigeon. One partridge.
He was fast asleep,
dreaming in his cap and gown,
Along came a huntsman who heard
the loud contented snores
and knew that was no grandmother.
He opened the door and said,
So it’s you, old sinner.
He raised his gun to shoot him
when it occurred to him that maybe
the wolf had eaten up the old lady.
So he took a knife and began cutting open
the sleeping wolf, a kind of caesarian section.
It was a carnal knife that let
Red Riding Hood out like a poppy,
quite alive from the kingdom of the belly.
And grandmother too
still waiting for cakes and wine.
The wolf, they decided, was too mean
to be simply shot so they filled his belly
with large stones and sewed him up.
He was as heavy as a cemetery
and when he woke up and tried to run off
he fell over dead. Killed by his own weight.
Many a deception ends on such a note.
The huntsman and the grandmother and Red Riding Hood
sat down by his corpse and had a meal of wine and cake.
Those two remembering
nothing naked and brutal
from that little death,
that little birth,
from their going down
and their lifting up.
I have a sore throat, a head full of something that feels like it came from Gollum’s cave, couldn’t sleep. So I picked up my iPad and read a book that I had got on Kindle on a 99p deal. The new Bridget Jones, Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding. I mean who doesn’t love Bridget? Especially when you are a bit under the weather. I have to admit knowing that Colin Firth’s character had died, was the reason I have put of reading it until now, I mean he really was the whole point of Bridget Jones, at least in my book.
So I settled down under the duvet with my iPad screen turned down low to save my eyes, and soon realised I was not reading what I thought I was. The book I had opened was actually entitled Bridget and Jones Diary – Mad about The Toyboy by Bridget Golightly. I laughed, a lot, even though it hurt.
It is parody, it is way over the top, it is slapstick and clichéd, and it suspends belief. But at the same time, it is warming and funny, and it gives you hope and warms your heart. My favourite passage:
Half past nine. Joan came knocking on my door again this evening. I told her to leave me alone but she insisted she had something very important she had to show me. Reluctantly, I followed her out of the B&B into the dark and down the road. After a little way, she stopped and looked at her watch. I looked around. ‘What’s going on?’ I asked, a little grumpily. ‘Why have you brought me here? Isn’t it enough you’ve hidden my phone, now you’re trying to finish me off? Are you planning on pushing me under the next tram?’ ‘Shush,’ she answered. ‘We just need to wait a minute.’ ‘Wait for what?’ I said. ‘I don’t get it. Why are we here?’ ‘I told you. Just wait,’ she answered, curtly.‘No,’ I said. ‘I mean, why are we here? In Blackpool? I’ve been here hundreds of times. Why did you think this would make me feel better?’ ‘Ah, but have you ever been at this time of year?’ Joan asked. ‘Well, no. Of course not. Why would I? It’s freezing! I don’t get it.’ ‘I’m afraid my savings didn’t quite run to the Arctic Circle,’ she said, looking up from her watch, ‘so I thought this might do instead.’ I followed her gaze. Suddenly the black night was filled with sparkling rocket ships, laughing sailors, the gleaming tower – all aglow with a billion watts of good old-fashioned northern electricity. ‘Blackpool Illuminations,’ she announced, proudly, ‘the real Northern Lights.’ I stared at her, then back at the lights. ‘Why Joan…’ I said, beaming, ‘they’re wonderful.’
I tend not to read funny books or romances etc, (unless of course Colin Firth is involved), but his works for me – highly recommended.
Oh and before I forget, Bridget and Joan have a twitter page which continues the fun, here
Photo via: https://www.oneworld-publications.com
Quote from Bridget & Joan’s Diary by Bridget Golightly
I was looking through some of my old poetry and I found a couple about identity, I like this one, it is full of names and labels that defined me in the eyes of others, I may use this in a future piece of work which will also use some of the fragments that I created for this project and then decided not to use.
Anyway here is the poem:
The Naming of Me
The one who came at 4.00am
The one whose spring was autumn
She who was born on a Friday
New baby for St Swithin’s Day
Woman they call a Witch
The child who came from a caravan
Princess of a thousand books
Siouxie with hair like an Indian squaw
Who is a builder of towers
The dreamer who wakes up contented
(although she rarely sleeps)
She who ran away to the bottom of the world
Mother of Shoog, Chickpea and Beetroot
Mother of angels who walk through her dreams
Mother of Tabby and Polly and Phoebe and Boo
Sister of the worlds best sister (and aunt)
Hippy Tripp and the attachments
Bib best forever friend and soulmate of Dilly
She who cooked Bob Dylan’s breakfast
One he calls Bonegirl the lover
She who can burn in her passion
One who loves once and forever
She who plays guitar late at night
She who wants to sing like Janice and Patti
but who sings just like herself
Brighid the Goddess of Poets
Dylan the wanderer from the sea
or a rabbit on The Magic Roundabout
Daughter of the Moon
Daughter from the wild side of life
Daughter and Sister who was lost (and so
collects waifs and strays)
Daughter who was a boy named Sue
Wife who was a girl named Bob
She who followed the hares
She who whispers with goats
She who waits to be found
She who you all gave names to
She who misses you all, in every moment