Poetry is for sharing; The Washing Line

It’s my very strong belief that poetry and prose is for sharing. Once written, it should be shared so others can take pleasure in it or perhaps receive a degree of relief in knowing others have felt the same emotions or had the same experiences. This sudden declaration comes after receiving an email from a friend, asking permission to read my poem out loud to her mother who suffers from dementia. She believes this poem would make her smile.

Concerned about copyright, she sought permission and asked if she could also read the poem out loud for another group she attends, who have members of retirement age.

This made me think. To protect our rights to “maybe one day” be published, we cling to copyrights and legal protection – but surely this is all going too far? What happened to sharing tales around the fireside for pure enjoyment? I’m saddened to think we have moved that far away from those days…. here is the poem requested, feel free to read / delete / critique to your heart’s content.

The Washing Line

 

Down dark cobbled back streets, clothes lines stretched

across cohorts of back yards, on Washing Day.

Regiments of white bed sheets hoisted high

flapping like flags,  in threatening skies

supported by proud,

immoveable clothes props.

Garments not daring to fly loose,

straddled by dolly pegs

forced down hard.

 

Above boiling bleach buckets,

malevolent steam swirled, silently seething,

polluting the air with pungent peroxide.

The back door was wedged open, windows wide,

but still its clammy fingers clung to high corners.

 

Seized shirts submerged in the twin tub

were dragged out of the simmering broth

by oversized wooden tongs, grinning

toothless crocodiles.

 

A solitary circular spinner flipped its lid

with brutal force, revealing a gaping hole

that gobbled up garments,

before firing it’s jet engine

at the press of an oversized button.

A bright warning label spelled danger but,

I was more afraid of grandma.

So I did as I was bid

and stayed two full steps back,

watching a steady stream of captives

being fed into the rollers of the mangle,

pulled out prostrate, straight jacketed,

lobotomised on the other side.

 

Winched up on a maiden, by rope and pulley

squealing like a stuck pig, screaming in protest;

corsets and bloomers were discreetly dried.

Ponderous drops dripped

onto the oilcloth floor beneath

missing expectant open mouthed buckets.

 

Hugging the gas fire, a burdened clothes horse

promised more than it could deliver.

A metal mesh fireguard, kept long after toddler years,

lent its flat roof to dry despondent socks.

 

From picture rail gallows, lifeless forms hung

closing in on the living,

One by one they were gathered,

folded and locked away in the airing cupboard

guarded by a gurgling old boiler in his

pillar-box red padded jacket.

 

Paroled for ironing; creases were pressed out

and forcibly pressed in.

Under a hellish red hot iron

wet handkerchiefs hissed and spat.

The board creaked and groaned,

along with grandma as she held her back.

 

Finally, the ordeal was over.

Clothes were locked into looming tall boys

with the turn of a tiny brass key.

 

The line stretches through time

from dolly tub to auto scrub.

My laundry is gently taken

from a silent washer,

that soaks and spins on demand,

conditioned smooth and wrinkle free

without need of an army of machines,

lightly clipped by brightly coloured pegs.

Still, I discreetly throw my underwear

into the dryer and smile

“What would the neighbours say?”

 

Mine is an easy load.  My line marks the ages

of my babies as their clothes grow.

Our tired old favourite t-shirts

out of shape and faded,

hang comfortably together, blowing in the wind.

Billowing white sheets release

their bouquet of jasmine and lily.

The sun warms my face,

the breeze caresses my skin

like the palm of a hand against my cheek,

or a kiss on the forehead from grandma.

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We interrupt this blog to give you…. #Napowrimo 2018 #1 Threadbare

I’m falling behind rapidly on Napowrimo 2018… which may be a small mercy to my blog readers… however, onwards and upwards… here we go on the catch up…

My first poem of April was inspired by Write Out Loud Stockport’s prompt “Threads”. Although completely unrelated to #napowrimo’s prompts, it’s a chance to get something down on paper and make a start;

Threadbare

biscuit tin photos

Each family member spins a yarn.

Tales told over years are

embellished with brass buttons and ribbon strands.

Sepia memories kept in a Jubilee biscuit tin

are brought out and closely studied

with moist eyes.

 

buttons and ribbons

Though charity shop clothes were worn

until the cuffs frayed,

troubles were patched at the elbows

and spare buttons found, amongst the treasure

in the old treacle tin,

which sat next to bundled knitting needles

best china

 

and china cups, saved for best ”

in case the Queen should come”.

 

 

 

grandma sewing

 

A thimble was all that was needed to protect

the seamstress, until the day she laid down

her work and found rest;

leaving her children and theirs, to pick up

the thread and embroider their own stories,

to pick up the shears and cut their own cloth,

each stitch a priceless and unique addition.

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Child

Napowrimo Day 19

The Prompt:

Write a poem that recounts a creation myth. It doesn’t have to be an existing creation myth, or even recount how all of creation came to be. It could be, for example, your own take on the creation of ball-point pens, or the discovery of knitting. Your myth can be as big or small as you would like, as serious or silly as you make it.

My Response:

Rainbow Child

 

sunbeams in misty forest

In leafy forest glade,

amongst meadow flowers fair,

heady floral fragrance

hung heavily in the air.

Still, she sat in zenful peace,

as daydreams drifted by.

A breeze blew the tallest leaves

and whispered softest sighs.

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With eyes closed, she observed

a world of scents and sounds.

Then she pushed each thought out

until silent mind was found.

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Maiden so serene and soft,

in state of inner calm,

exhaled long, stretched aloft

her slender ivory arms.

With slight move, turned her face

to the golden orb on high.

Reaching with delicate grace

plucked insight from the sky.

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Again she reached, caught more;

glints of wisdom and of truth.

Pulled each near her fairy form,

where they glowed, brightest hues.

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Nimble fingers worked thereon,

wove gems into ribbon tails.

Multitudes of colours shone

as fluttering bright yacht sails.

Her fingers worked into night.

Ribbons stretched to the stars.

Weaving kindness, peace and grace

into finest work of art.

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The Gods saw the modesty

of this gifted fairy child,

whose work simple honesty,

from a soul so meek and mild.

They raised her up to heaven.

Forever she will remain.

Her ribbons stretch across the sky

when sunlight meets the rain.

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The Best of Times

Written with an aching heart, here is my response to Napowrimo’s challenge for Day 10.

The Prompt: Write a poem that is a portrait of someone important to you. It doesn’t need to focus so much on what a person looks (or looked) like, as what they are or were.

My response:

The Best Of Times

We talked for hours by the fireside

of Keats and poetic greats.

We waxed lyrical of literary works,

swapped recommendations, compared texts.

You lent me dusty old books,

from your bowing bookshelves.

They smelt of aged paper, slightly musty and damp.

Some had prices pencilled on the inside cover

or dedications marking occasions.

They were charity shop treasures you’d unearthed.

We shared sadness as we wondered how works of art and genius

could be so casually tossed aside to charity bags.

We laughed until tears rolled, when the actor who played leading role

in a beloved film escaped us.

“It was errrr… now then… blast it… I know this…

he was also in… no, no, no…

the one with the actress, who was married to…” and it went on.

These conversations were more frequent

as your memory faded,

but we laughed all the same until we recalled the names.

We agreed on Wuthering Heights and Olivier

being best cast in the role

but disagreed on your love of Laurel and Hardy,

It amazed me how you belly laughed

as you watched their slapstick humour.

You bought me a box set of Doris Day

though your pension funds were running out.

No-one else in the world knew or understood

my passion for her voice

Our talks were exclusive.

We’d be enrapt until it went dark outside and I had to leave.

They were the greatest times.

Who would have thought whilst generations apart,

we could have been best friends and soul mates?

Now all I have is a box of your books,

which were handed to me when you died.

I cried because they had been hastily thrown together

without any conscious choice.

Just a random after thought, of “She may like some.”

There are some old poetry collections.

Opening them, I found notes made on strips of paper,

which bookmarked the pages

and an old lottery ticket.

Some poems were starred and I knew before looking,

I’d find stars next to The Highwayman and The Oxen.

I hope you have found new friends to discuss with,

Until we meet again.