My Poor Abused Friend – Poetry

In youth, you were hypnotic, inviting reciting,

invocation with intonation,

around a campfire charms and incantations

uniting the village, outlet of emotion,

stories told of heroic devotion

conquering enemies, stealing love’s kiss

of purest love, of Heaven’s bliss.

but academia tied a knot ‘round your neck

restricting your voice, removing choice

cutting, shaping, controlling, conforming,

boxing your soul into stanzas and form

with counted metre they drove the stake home

Elitists emerged declaring “this is the way”

confining performance to plays and stage

in plush theatres for the rich who paid

the poor

left out in the cold.

Heralded as art your heart lay dormant

amongst dust and cobwebs still conformant

but a spirited few saw through, sought out

your cindered Beauty; “Truth will out”.

and so your time has come, it’s now.

the yoke that choked is smashed and broken

words are alive and passionately spoken

your energy taken up by a youth, who

taste and chew the new true you,

the devout, who speak out, shout out, call out,

slam down, throw down,

giving the low down,

honouring

your crown,

standing on streets, stamping feet to your beat

whilst denouncing cheats who held you

captive.

You are once more free to be

unleashed beauty

with depth of sea , height of sky

asking why

of you and me, bearing souls,

uncovering truth

appealing to old whilst captivating youth

not held to a page or strapped to a stage

accessible to all, who hear your call

hearts open wide allow you inside,

bring darkness to light,

revealing scars and bites,

what lies beneath, wounds and grief

making sense of confusion, turmoil and pain

and through you

we discover

we are all the same.

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Razored Nail

 

Razored Nail

 

You will not see her approach,

hear footsteps fall or gravel crunch.

The moonlight shadow makes no sound

as she picks you out for lunch.

 

But you may smell the foul stench,

feel slimy spittle against your skin.

Pungent odour fills your nose

your stomach writhes and knots within.

 

You will not see a blade glint

but feel the gouge of razored nail

as she disembowels your organs

and drags out your entrails.

witch

 

Pray she passes you by, my dear

pull the covers over head.

Lock your windows, bolt the door,

hope she isn’t in your bed.

The Tale

The Tale

 

Trust was betrayed by my

curious fumbling fingers

Disappointment flashed across

Grandma’s eyes

I felt the pain like a physical blow.

 

Side by side the old couple

had sat on the mantelpiece.

Been proudly displayed

to her red lipstick friends

who peered through a fog

of chemist shop perfume

and hairspray, nodding their approval.

 

I emptied my piggy bank

on market day

bought a new little lady.

I presented my gift

wrapped in a blue striped paper bag.

 

Her eyes lit up and as she set

the old girl down next to her mate.

My heart sank;

She was half the size

of the old man.

 

old man and lady

I’d failed yet Grandma beamed.

More precious than a trinket,

she now had a tale to tell;

the tale of a granddaughter

who tried to make amends.

 

Today is Day 12 of Napowrimo and the above is my response to the challenge: write a poem about a dull thing that you own, and why (and how) you love it.  I still own the ornaments shown above, which have no aesthetic beauty but are extremely dear to me as I hope my poem explains.

 

From there to here

I am of hard cobblestones

that broke developing bones

of damp bricks and dense drizzle skies.

I am of the baggy grey sock

that slumps down the leg

and is constantly hitched up.

I am of skipping ropes tied

to flaky paint lampposts

of hot buttered toast suppers.

I am of backyard washing lines,

coal holes and metal bin lids.

I’m of children home by lamplight

and Grimm Fairytales.

Of job centres and blue collar jobs

and paydays prayed for weekly.

Now, I’m of tidy semi,

tarmac roads, motorway hell

of clinical 9-5 desk job

office politics, niceties, pleasantries.

I’m conditioning brilliant white socks,

limiting lightly buttered whole meal toast.

I’m central heating and condenser dryer.

I’m of assessed, measured, compared,

evaluated, tracked and monitored kids

and censored fairytales.

It’s Day 11 of Napowrimo and the prompt is to tell of where you are from and where are you now. Please excuse the poor punctuation… this is written on the hoof as always.

Lyrical beauty, decomposing poets and butterflies

The New Mills Poetry Trail Open Mic Event – The Butterfly House at The Torrs, New Mills, by Nicola Hulme

As the setting sun filled the evening sky with a spectacular orange glow, I drove through the Derbyshire lanes to a small town nestled against the dramatic backdrop of the Peak District. I was on my way to celebrate the New Mills Poetry Trail with an evening of open mic poetry.

The residents of New Mills extended a warm welcome to the “outsiders” from Stockport’s Write Out Loud group; they even extended their arms to a poet from who hailed from the far reaches of Glossop, such a friendly bunch.

book butterfly

Held in the beautifully ornate Butterfly House at the Torrs Hotel, poets spilled out into neighbouring rooms such was the amazing turn out. It was heart-warming to see so many people of varying ages and backgrounds coming together to share in their passion, to hear and be heard. Remarkably, for such a large gathering, the atmosphere still remained intimate, reminiscent of stories told around the fireplace.
Published poets, new poets, experienced performers and those, like I, who still shake inwardly when approaching the mic, came together in a shared appreciation of the spoken word. Topics conveyed ranged from the pastoral pleasures of a slow canal walk, the heartaches of unrequited love, through to the surprise of eight family members surviving their first holiday together without anyone’s demise! For our delight we were told how Wordsworth’s decomposing body made fine fertiliser for the daffodils and allotment gardeners cried out for insect genocide, namely the extinction of the Cabbage White. The strength of Manchester was praised in a salute to the bees and conversations overheard at Costa were mulled over between drinks.

It was interesting to observe how we write as introverts, cocooned individually honing our craft, yet, on nights such as these, when we share our lines a new beauty emerges. Like a butterfly spreading its wings for the first time verbalising our humanity, vulnerabilities, passions and fears we create something new and more captivating together. We create a place of trust, empathy and support where smiles, nods and applause say “Yes, we understand, we have experienced the same and can relate to you.”

Quill-pen-parchment-and-ink-bottle1

IPhones, technology and social media may play a huge part in our daily life but it’s reassuring to know the poetry scene is very much alive and well, uniting communities. On this night the people of New Mills and the surrounding areas turned their backs on box set binging and X-Factor warbling, preferring to spend time with friends in a lyrical wonderland.

I’d like to say thank you to Randy Horton and his team of volunteers for organising the Poetry Trail and the open mic evening. Thanks also to the shopkeepers who supported the event by allowing poems to be displayed in their windows and of course to the people of New Mills for coming together and making it a night to remember. I hope we can do it all again next year.

Review is about New Mills Festival Poetry Trail Round Robin on 26 Sep 2018 (event)

Visit @writeoutloud for details of your local poetry groups.

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.

 

 

 

 

The Sycamore Prince

Slender branches silhouette

beneath his golden crown.

Sparks thrown out by the silver sun

ignite his flaming hues.

The autumnal prince towers above

ethereal mists, caught between earth and sky.

In a final flourish, passionate embers

of saffron and copper smoulder.

Only to cool as the light fades

and chill winds blow.

Each yellow fingered leaf, I mourn

as it falls and returns to it’s roots.

I will his warming glow to remain

to comfort my spirits during

November’s nip and winters depths.

Knowing my protests cannot halt

ruthless frosts from calling “time”.

November 2017

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.

Fortuitous Festive Feast

When does prose become prose poetry or vice versa? Where is the line drawn between prose poetry and free verse? Does any of this matter? Perhaps the poets out there can enlighten me?

I’m classing my response to today’s Napowrimo challenge as an artistic expression, free from limitations, simply so I can complete the challenge on a day where I’m over-stretched…sorry!

Day 7: Write a poem on luck or fortuitousness

My response:

Fortuitous Festive Feast

blog12

We saw it at the same time.

Halted our march through the grimy slush.

Our toes pinched with cold.

Mum stooped down,

Quickly picking up

the bunched and crumpled papers.

We stood to one side,

letting the throng of shoppers pass.

We waited. We watched.

Time ticked by. Busy bodies bustled by;

blog13

a constant stream of upturned collars,

chins tucked in, heads down,

red noses glowing in the fading light.

Clouds of breath rose in the icy air.

Confident no-one was looking

for a lost bundle, we slid

into a small side street.

Huddled together, mum drew out

the tightly wrapped notes.

blog6

Ghostly white, trembling fingers

unfolded the green notes, one by one.

It was Christmas Eve,

The cupboards at home bare.

Now we held enough money

To buy Christmas dinner, pudding

and still have some left over.

Mum stifled a laugh.

The Christmas lights swaying

in the bitter wind,

looked brighter, prettier

but not as pretty as

mum’s tear filled eyes.

She looked up to the sky,

said a silent prayer

blog3

then grabbed my hand

dragging me, running, skipping

back to the market to buy

our fortuitous festive feast.