NaPowriMo 2020 Day 2 – “I only went to a psychic for an ego boost”

Lost to the comfort of burnt sage
and bergamot, I do not remember
entering or paying so I arrive
to myself already sat in silks.

The woman I thought a wood carving,
bows with patience, hands shaking,
branches in the breeze. My questions
about how I got here evaporate
and merge, forgotten, into smoke.

Without looking down at her deck,
she draws the five of pentacles
the tower, the ten of swords.

The curved lines on her face
grow deeper. I realise I have
forgotten how to breathe.

Remembering our arrangement,
she takes my hand in hers,
dry as kindling, soft as moss.
She lies to me: everything will
work out fine, nothing will change
and I am simply a flickering light,
luminescent in the gathering night.


Prompt for today was “Write an overheard poem” from Amy Kay Poetry on Instagram. The title comes from something I overheard years ago and have been waiting to use ever since. I didn’t expect it to turn out like this.

NaPoWriMo 2020 Day 1- The People

We the spin, the shimmer.
We the sway, the light,
the contagion and the cure
We the anointing and
sometimes the penance.

We the living cosmos.
We who stockpile flocks
of wings in our hearts
and galaxies in our eyes.

We the sun on the river
in the morning. We, barely
glimpsed, we the golden
and the gentle, we the
shine and the reflection.

We the rare, the cruel
and the wonderful. We
the infinite and the brief.

We who have been searching
for millennia, in the skies
and in the hedgerows. We
who are still searching. We
who strive for transcendence
and find it, now and then.


Prompt was “Write a poem that includes the words ‘flock’ ‘simmer’ and ‘sway” I misread simmer for shimmer. I drafted one poem and didn’t like it, so I ran it through a cut up machine, which twisted my words. Then I wrote out from that.

The Oracle

Forgive me, I have lost my lexicon
of the future. Now I search the tangled
entropy of brambles and bindweed.
Nothing useful emerges, only woodlice.

Clouds no longer spell out predictions,
don’t merge or drift into forgotten faces
or arrows, indicating the way forward.

These tea leaves do not show patterns,
just transmit random letters through
flecks settling in cups, stewed static.

I scry daily but my mind is a broken
telescope array. Like every person
now I stumble forward in ignorance.
I ask the stars for guidance. No reply.


This was written from “something hidden, something unknown, something to be discovered” prompt from the Poetry in the Time of Being Alone group.

I’ve just noticed it’s April tomorrow 1 so I guess I’ll be doing a poem a day from tomorrow. Consider yourself warned.

Resonance

I joined a Facebook group 1 which has daily prompts. This one was written in response to the prompt: “How do you click: Write a poem filled with noise” poem.

It’s the first day of lockdown, a week of social distancing and I feel this is representative of me missing the buzz and hum of humans in general.

Resonance

Days pass with the click of keys,
the confused mumblings of the wind,
unseen neighbours speaking, phrases
occasionally diffusing through walls.

Underneath, I still hear an echo-
many voices merged into a chorus.
We were so melodic, weren’t we?
We sang in such rare harmonies.

Our vibrations still shake each
single brick, rumble along tarmac,
and cause dust to dance with joy.
Holding my breath, I listen.

Encrypted (video)

Social isolation means I’m working through the backlog of things I have to do. So I uploaded this video of my poem Encrypted, which was kindly shot by Chris at Bristol Tonic, one of the best nights around to encourage new writing.

Each month performers get given a prompt and are asked to make a piece in a month. My prompt was “Threw postcards in the shape of airplanes hoping they get to where they meant to.” That’s a great prompt.

I took it in some strange directions. Chris also helped me record an audio version of it which was featured on BBC Upload on BBC Radio Bristol.

Have a watch:

These Poems are Not What They Seem

I’m delighted to have a poem included in an anthology of poems inspired by Twin Peaks, called These Poems are Not What They Seem, published by APEP publications. My poem is called We’re gonna keep her out of it and draws inspiration from Sarah Palmer and the character of Judy in the return. It’s also about rumours.

The anthology out March 7th and is available for preorder now. It’s a US publication though, so check shipping costs.

I also read my poem as part of Performance Anxiety, a monthly reading on skype. You can listen below. I’m the token Brit.

Tis the Season

Come sip the festive juice.
It tastes of cinnamon, cloves,
something strange you can’t discern.
Join us in the circle as we chant,
Tis the Season, Tis the Season

Feel your head expand and contract,
like a blinking light on a tree.
Watch as the world is delayed
by half a second, maybe more.
Tis the Season, Tis the Season

Hear the chant continue like
a runaway train, your mouth moving
without thought, unstoppable now.
Try to clench your jaw shut. Fail.
Tis the Season, Tis the Season

Understand, like falling from a cliff,
this ritual is older than the holiday.
older than the first human societies.
Around fires, they called to the darkness
Tis the Season, Tis the Season

Leave your body far behind.
Become one with us in the circle,
unsure of where you end and begin,
as we call to the cruel ancient god
Tis the Season, Tis the Season


Thanks to The Bristol Magazine for the incredibly creepy headline about cocktails, that was phrased in such an odd way I had to write this.

Move fast and break things

We’ve found a way to monetize breath.
It’s simply a game changer. Can you feel
the paradigms shifting under your feet?
We are shaking up the world like a snowglobe
and breaking traditions. Each inhale a cent,
each exhale is free. Thats it! Simple!

After all, we are providing a service.
We could flood the atmosphere with
deadly chlorine gas, killing everyone
painlessly and quickly, but we don’t.
We allow seven billion humans to live.
So we are providing a service.

The market has responded favourably.
All hail the market! Praise stock tickers!
We’ve revolutionised food and water,
turned the streets into profit, now we
spin gold from the air itself. Our
investors are very pleased indeed.
If you don’t like it, don’t breathe.

Brand Ambassador

we are just hear to tell the truth / tell the good as well as the bad / counteract all the lies / get our message out there / provide some much needed perspective / all hail the benevolent bosses / let’s keep it light guys / we are just here to better inform you / no need for such language / you do not have all the facts / you are misinformed / you are a child lost in the woods / alone / with only a failing torch / we have the map / we have a gps and we can lead the way out of this forest / we know where you are / we haven’t implanted the gps in you / silly / of course not / the technology doesn’t exist yet / we know all the routes / if only you’d listen / we’re going to have to insist / please do not raise your voice / aggression will not be tolerated / please stay seated / allow the machine to do it’s work / do not cause a scene / this won’t take long / we are here to help / we are giving you another story / the one you won’t hear or read / the media hates success / your echo-chamber is too limited / not long now / stop squirming / people are jealous / those stories are false / our workers are happy / look how happy they are / they are part of our success / look at their smiles / they enjoy it / everyone wins / they have adequate breaks / of course / we are not monsters / we calculated what is enough / to the second / so nothing is wasted / we are not cruel, we are kind / everything is optimised / everything is efficient / that is what you desire / after all / embracing life fully / sometimes we give our workers a minutes rest / please stop the hostility / this is your final warning / the machine is almost finished / it is not calibrated to hurt / your pain is an act / we have the information we need / and more / we know everything about you / two seconds / stay seated / stay quiet / listen to what we are saying

How to Be Free

Draw a line before your flat door.
Put up a sign saying Do Not Cross.
Disconnect your phone, gas,
the broadband, electricity.
Tear up the quarterly newsletter
issued by the resident’s committee

Declare your flat sovereign
and the line a border.
Open any post with
bomb disposal gloves.
Push back the neighbour’s cat
when it tries to enter.

Put down barbed wire
across the corridor.
Watch everyone who passes-
they might be hostile.
Start producing your own
newsletter, telling the truth.
To be safe, destroy the post.

Wonder why deliveries stopped,
why your fridge is empty
and the taps are dry.
Blame the other flats.
Blame the resident’s committee.
Detain the cat when
it crosses the line.

Turn the barbed wire
into sheet metal, a wall.
Brick up your windows.
Stop the freeloading light
from pouring into your home.
Force the cat into a cage.
Don’t feed it. Ignore the cries.
Wonder why the neighbours
are suddenly outraged.

Sharpen your knives
and wait for the knock
as they come to invade.

NaPoWriMo 2019 day 29

Rewritten

Eyes flicker and head reels.
I am lost and dizzy from
another reality adjustment.
Precious seconds to get my bearings,
probing my memory for gaps,
a tongue checking missing teeth.

A nerve twitches, a sign of change.
Last Tuesday no longer existed.
Not the worst to reconcile,
nothing of great importance lost.
Perhaps just a rainy day gone,
work, tv and cups of tea.

Whole months have been deleted before,
years when they were inconvenient.
We accepted them without protest
not often knowing what we lost.

The subtle, gentle changes are hard-
rain when you swore it was sun.
Physics changing. The bullet
landing there, not here.

Most stopped caring about politics.
We became numb and did not register if
a speech’s reception was edited
or some minister altered a few votes.
These are the days of constant whiplash
and rising nausea. No, we mourn the
quiet moments most. Holding hands
deemed subversive and forgotten
or our laughter changed to silence.

NaPoWriMo 2019- day 28

An Invitation

Come cross the sea at night
when the moon is a target
pierced by an arrow, a jet
stream shot from distant lands.

One small solitary figure
alone under the moonlight.
No sound but your constant engine,
Your breath distant and faint.

You are not pushed forward
by constant explosions but
pulled towards us, dragged
on invisible spider’s silk.

Your perception sprawls out
over the mutable waves.
As horizon and sea blend,
you twitch, trying to wake.

Our island is a shadow
blocking stray stars at first
then growing like a revalation
you refuse to acknowledge.

Leave your beached craft behind.
Walk the route you know so well
without having been here before.
Trust your feet to guide you true,

over the shore that sighs secrets,
to the glowing lake where we bathe.
We smile. Invite you into the icy water
and wash all your memories away.