Modesty and Joy

Simple Joy

 

It was the practical low heeled brown boots

that first caught my eye

my glance cast sideways so not to embarrass

the subject of my attention.

Secretly I studied her slender legs

leading up to the hem of a brown floral dress

and the crocheted cuffs of a sensible beige cardigan.

The modesty of attire surprised me.

Authors on their book launch night

are lavish and elegant

coiffured, polished and primed

but not so this lady.

I liked the understated look,

the quiet confidence of a writer

who had no need of a façade.

Her body of writing shining on its own merit

with no false vanity.

I adored this lady before she spoke a word

Davidson, Rowland, b.1942; Lady Reading a Book by Lamplight

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I feel immortal

Yes, I feel immortal… this morning I opened Twitter and there staring back at me was a quotation from an interview I gave a year ago, and underneath was my name Nicola Hulme…  I had to read it twice to make sure it was really me..it also carried the hashtag #wednedsaywisdom

I ask for no more, I am immortal, I have a quote as had Ghandi, Martin Luther King,  Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Gilbert, Oprah Winfrey, CS Lewis, Terry Pratchett…

I feel complete. My job here is done.

How bizarre!

OK so I’m not a superhero, but it just shows that wonderful things do happen and can happen for everyone. It’s something I believe in very strongly.

PS. I my job as writer will never be done, I have opened the gateway, I have let in the light, I will write until I have no more words. It isn’t a job, it’s a passion, perhaps an addiction.

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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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No, thank-you

It looks like I am such a fibber

or a “half a job,”

someone who can’t keep commitments,

perhaps someone without stamina..

I am of course referring to my promise to publish terrible poetry every day for the month of April, to complete the Napowrimo challenge.

I didn’t fib. Initially, I wanted to take on the challenge, so at the time of publishing that goal, it was true.

It’s also true that I did not do “half a job” but actually did less. I only published two poems. I didn’t keep the commitment, but this doesn’t represent my stamina or character. After consideration, I changed my mind and made a new decision; a new commitment; one that superseded my first intention.

I decided to take April off.

I decided to politely turn down requests for appearances at events, for contributions to written collections, for attendance at groups, meetings, gatherings etc.

I honoured any promises I had previously made for example running the Stockport Writers Session and attending Write Out Loud Poetry night, but I didn’t agree to take on anything new.

I also stopped booking or actively seeking workshops. I gave myself permission to stop, for a whole month.

I actually picked up a book to read for pleasure, not to study technique or research writing styles, but to read for the pure joy in reading.

I feel balanced again. I feel better. I feel my equilibrium has benefitted. I feel my priorities are restored.

I recommend it.  Take May off! Give yourself the gift of saying “no, thank-you” for 31 days and see how healing it is.

I may publish dodgy poetry in future, but for now, and the remaining 6 days of April I won’t.

NoThankYou_575

 

Success; I Did It! Napowrimo 2017 (with a short sprint to the finish line!)

It’s the last day of Napowrimo. It’s the last day of my first year and first attempt of the Napowrimo challenge. I was doing so well throughout April, submitting a poem each day, until the last few days. Life got in the way as it tends to do and I was distracted. However, I’m not a girl to give up so easily, once a gauntlet has been thrown down, so here on my final Napowrimo post, you will find not 1, not 2, not even 3 but 4 poems, which complete the challenge.

Day 27 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem that explores your sense of taste.

My Response:

Heaven In A Tea Cup

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First the crunch satisfies.

The chocolate drops close my eyes,

as pleasure begins to rise

and swirls around inside me.

A cup of tea to wash down

the jewel in this perfect crown.

No greater pleasure is found

than a cookie and a cup of tea.

Day 28 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem using Skeltonic verse.

My Response:

Never Give Up

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Napowrimo has almost ended.

During April my mind has bended.

My honour now must be defended,

as I finish these final days.

The last three days, I’ve lagged behind.

I must complete the final deadline.

Whether or not it actually rhymes,

I don’t think anyone actually minds!

Day 29 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word “stones” or “spectre.” After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.

My Response:

(From To Autumn, by John Keats, the word “mists”)

bee

 

The mist lies above the lawn,

hovering; a spectral form.

Beautiful yet surreal scene,

mystic haze, a ghostly dream.

 

Day 30 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem about something that happens again and again

My Response:

Sweet Addiction

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Again and again

I give in

to temptation.

All it takes is

a mere suggestion,

of sweet treats.

Destroys all

my good intentions.

I can’t resist 

the taste sensation.

 

That’s it. 30 poems written in 30 days. Would I do it again? Maybe. I need a lie down before I think about answering that. Were the poems any good? Some have potential, some need to be filed under “rubbish” immediately. It’s been a fantastic experience and I have learnt a lot. The main lesson, is that a good poem takes time. A first draft to meet a deadline is fine, but to produce something good needs time to ruminate, cogitate and deliberate. Poetry can’t be rushed.

Now for that lie down. 

Tinned People

I enjoyed writing this one, the concept amuses me.

Napowrimo Challenge Day 26

The Prompt:

Have you ever heard someone wonder what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us? Today, I’d like to challenge you to answer that question in poetic form, exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist? 

My Response:

Tinned People

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Little tins of people drive by;   

some are big, some are small, some long.  

At all times of the night and day,  

little tins are moving along.  

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Some are packed and chattery.

Others contain a single one.

Where are you going tinned people?  

Tell me, where did you all come from?

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From left to right, a constant stream  

of shiny black and silver cars.

What do you know? What have you seen?

Do you think there is life on Mars? 

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My questions fall on deaf tinned ears, 

as the tins keep moving on. 

Not a “hello” or “cheerio” 

From a single, solitary one.

 

I have “blurb”!

Today, I contributed to and approved,  the blurb that will be issued to the trade when describing my first Children’s Picture Book. It may even appear on the back cover. (I won’t dwell on how the word “blurb” frustrates me when the words “a brief outline of the story” could be used, this is not the time to be picky.) Today is the day to celebrate and be excited by the fact I have my very own blurb. I have blurb about a book that I have written. Me. My book. My blurb. Happy. 

Remote Space

Napowrimo Challenge: Day 25

The Prompt:

Write a poem that explores a small, defined space – it could be your childhood bedroom, or the box where you keep old photos. It could be the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand. Any space will do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to you.

My Response:

 

Remote Space

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Warm sunbeams stream through the windows

bathing my room in golden light.                                             

Propped by plumped, puffy pillows.

Nested, I settle down to write.

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A peaceful retreat tucked away,

so sacred, secure and serene.

Escape from everyday melee,

to conjure, create and dream.

Georgic

Day 22 Napowrimo Challenge

The Prompt:

In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to challenge you to write a georgic. The original georgic poem was written by Virgil, and while it was ostensibly a practical and instructional guide regarding agricultural concerns, it also offers political commentary on the use of land in the wake of war. The georgic was revived by British poets in the eighteenth century, when the use of land was changing both due to the increased use of enlightenment farming techniques and due to political realignments such as the union of England, Scotland, and Wales.

Your Georgic could be a simple set of instructions on how to grow or care for something, but it could also incorporate larger themes as to how land should be used (or not used), or for what purposes.

My Response:

Nature

Each blade of grass cools and cushions naked summer feet.

Pure daisy petals inspire children to form chains for halos and crowns.

Scented blousy roses tempt lovers to give away unguarded hearts.

Sage and stately trees steadfastly raise their arms in worship,

whilst housing birds, squirrels and bugs.

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Their roots protecting foxes, badgers and rabbits

in bracken covered burrows and mossy dens.

The bluebells delicate and snowdrops hardy,

the clinging ivy, sheltering scurrying insects,

all withstand the extremes of each season, weathered yet thriving.

Opening and closing in response to the sun,

reaching skyward in praise.

None needs man’s intervention.

Man takes the fruits of their labour to feed his own.

Frustrated that nature is not abundant enough,

not convenient enough, not quick enough

to satisfy man’s demands, he violates the earth.

bee

Tearing up nature, he manipulates and reforms the land

into ordered geometrical design;

to contain more production in a single acre,

to harness and harvest every last ounce nature can provide.

Like a caged tiger pacing, sleeping, repeating,

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she churns out crops, silently awaiting freedom.

She survives captivity and molestation.

When man has gone, she will flourish once more,

using his decomposed body as nutrients to feed the soil.

The largest, most dominant predators fall,

swallowed up and fossilised by the ground they once trampled.

 

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The roses arise more fragrant.

The bees produce a sweeter honey.

 

 

The Uncomfortable Middle

Again today has been a busy day. More birthday parties and social gatherings. I actually wrote this poem whilst sat beside a bouncy castle and a fully grown Imperial Stormtrooper! It may not be my finest work, but I’m still completing the Napowrimo challenge.

Day 15 of Napowrimo 

The Prompt:

Write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something. The poem could be about being on a journey and stopping for a break, or the gap between something half-done and all-done. Half a loaf is supposedly better than none, but what’s the difference between half of a very large loaf and all of a very small one? Let your mind wander into the middle distance, betwixt the beginning of things and the end. Hopefully, you will find some poetry there!

My response:

The Uncomfortable Middle

Too far from the shore to swim back.

Destination still out of reach.                     

The initial energy that pumped

through your veins has faded away.

b;og7Success and glory is yet unknown.

The middle is where we stretch and grow.

Dig deep and persevere.

Cultivate a belief in your abilities,

your unlimited potential.

Aching limbs, heavy muscles, heavy hearts.

Tired, we must pull ourselves up.

Clarity has left us.

Confused, muddled, blurred.

Search your mind. Search your heart.

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Seek out that elusive vision.

In stillness, listen for the quiet,

muffled voice amongst the turmoil

struggling to be heard. A whisper,

buried deep within, pleads “Try again.”

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Find the glowing ember and fan

the flames with courage. Let desire burn.

Allow hope to shine through. Stand tall.

Be heard.

Try, try, try.