Blind Contour Drawing
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
The Crows and I
We have an understanding,
the crows and I.
In the early days, they would leave gifts in my path,
beautiful to some, but hideous to me,
A corvid lover cursed with pteronophobia.
I tell them I don’t need the gifts,
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.
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.
provide an audience for theirs.
The crows and I
have perfected the art
of the long-distance relationship.
Apple and Blackberry Pie
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
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!
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
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
let down your hair
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 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
It’s all true, all of this is me… and some…
I made a word cloud of my Identity…
and another one of my blog…
I feel somewhat fragmented ;-/ But this is fun!
I like to see words thrown together like a jumbled up box of magnetic poetry… now that should definitely feature in my identity… as should tarot…
Wow, I just watched this TED talk by French artist JR.
I am so inspired and humbled by this guy, and his projects. What a beautiful mind! There will be more abut my thoughts on this but for now, I am too filled with awe to make words here.
Just go and watch it…
I had to share this video, found on Dispatch from LA… Thanks Mary Ann.
Such gorgeous people, and those papers hanging out to dry, yummy, you really wanna go and play with paint and glue. Love the rain scene too, I want that deck…
Paulus Berensohn is such an inspiration.
Soul’s Kitchen from TOTM Film on Vimeo.