Thursday, March 30, 2006


Well, I’ve been working my way through my A.R. Ammons book (The Selected Poems) and what a surprise – I find that I enjoy his poems more when I read silently. I usually read all poems out loud, since the sensuality of sounds is a major component of poetry enjoyment for me, but Ammons is very different – very cerebral. It is almost as if he is whispering secrets to you through the poems and you can only hear them if you’re very quiet. I know that is a very fanciful way of describing it, but it as close as I can get to explain how I feel.

I think this is a collection that I’ll come back to again and again. Even though he is making me work a bit, whenever I do work, I’m always rewarded.

Here are several poems that I really enjoyed straight off when I picked up the book again today, to read a few more:


I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I'll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:

but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is

magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:

I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:

I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:
at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!

I love the beggar in this piece, and the line breaks and use of colons haunt me as I try to discover their sense but then decide it really doesn't matter! There’s a really interesting piece about him and how he wrote in the Guardian, here.

Winter Scene

There is now not a single
leaf on the cherry tree:

except when the jay
plummets in, lights, and,

in pure clarity, squalls:
then every branch

quivers and
breaks out in blue leaves.

The image of the naked tree quivering to the “squall” of the jay seems both playful and delightful.


When the sun
falls behind the sumac
thicket the
yellow daisies
in diffuse evening shade
lose their
rigorous attention
half-wild with loss
any way the wind does
and lift their
petals up
to float
off their stems
and go

Although the very short lines turned me right off this one at first, the idea of the daisies being “half-wild” due to the loss of the sun, kind of took my breath away – such a simple yet dramatic image.

So, if you don’t know much about Ammons, I recommend you take a look – I’m finding him pretty fascinating.
This web site is a decent place to start.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


It’s some weeks since I mentioned that I’d been kicking around an idea for another poem in my ‘serial’ series but, finally, I’ve put fingers to keyboard and come up with a first draft.

Writing a series is weird. On the one hand, you have the ease of writing within a pre-decided set of parameters (in this case, I know who my narrator will be and what he will do, or will have done, or is about to do!) but, on the other, until you’ve completed the series, you don’t truly know who the hell your narrator is. Well, that has been my experience with this series, at any rate. My frustration as the writer is that I know a little more about him every time I write a piece and therefore, I might not do him justice in any piece, until all the pieces are written. But context is probably the biggest issue for editing and revision because most of my readers and commenters are aware of the whole series, so each piece is seldom read independently. See – weird.

Before Yvette. Breakfast in bed

Deleted for revision

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I am a tortured poet. But not in a good way.

I’m tortured because I can't stop worrying about whether I might not be tortured enough to match up to some folks’ ideas of what a poet should be. I don’t suffer from depression, angst, soul searching, navel gazing, or any of those kind of emotional gewgaws that seem to be so precious to the ‘true’ poet.

Okay, I'm not really worried about it, but does having a cheerful disposition make me an impostor poet? Should I weep rather than laugh and flow rather than craft? See that? It rhymes – I must be a poet!

This is an aspect of poetry that occasionally bothers me – why do so many people feel that ‘true’ poetry is a matter of heart and soul rather than head and intellect? Is a poem that touches on some insightful philosophical question worth any less than one that touches one’s heart? Neither are easy to write, nor so common. But I would much rather read a thoughtful piece that failed to reach insightful, than an emotionally soaked piece that failed to touch any part of my left ventricle.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


I wonder if it’s normal to feel pleased with a rejection? On the advice of (the very kind) Rob Mackenzie, I submitted a couple of poems to the magazine Anon and today, I heard they hadn’t made it (they've taken some of Rob's work though). However, they were short listed and, I just can’t help it, that makes me really pleased!

The poems I sent were ‘Dante’s Café Bar’ and ‘The Gypsy’s Devoted Son’ and I hadn’t sent them anywhere before. In fact, this is the only submission I’ve made in almost a year – I just never feel the need to send things out usually – but I was feeling quite pleased with where I’d got these two to and thought it’d be fun.

So, glad I nearly made it – and maybe I’ll send them somewhere else some day. For now, they’ve returned to the ‘work in progress’ folder, and here’s the Dante one (never can get those line breaks right):

At Dante’s Café Bar

I. Superbia
At six o’clock the host lights up
each table’s centrepiece, and edging
chairs with the toe of one lustrous shoe,
marvels at his creation of such a homely
mood. By seven, he’s polishing his palms
for the diners at five tables, and glowing
with resplendent satisfaction, he welcomes

II. Invidia
the latest customer who takes the sixth
with an awkward air, a meandering step.
As she twists her body into a chair, smiles
at him without her eyes and orders a green salad;
she stifles her desire for his polished silverware,
condiment bottles and convivial surroundings.
Appetite aroused, she appraises the possessions

III. Ira
of the man seated at the next table, stabbing
ravioli to a staccato ceramic screech. His concentration,
splendidly absolute, colours his skin the same vermilion
shade that smears his plate. He forces
a gulp of yielding sweetness past the garrotte
that is his shirt collar and, unappeased, he growls
deep in his chest, disturbs his neighbour,

IV. Acedia
who sighs. She pushes her fork around the dish
she has eaten countless times, and wishes
for something more than equilibrium, but her transitory
hope subsides. Complacency returned, she eats
(remembers to chew), a daub of sauce escapes
the slackness of her lips, oils her blouse.
She spreads the stain with languid fingertips, shrugs

V. Avaritia
as a man across the room takes a moment
from his Blackberry to notice her and suppress
his distaste. His dinner pushed aside, he immerses
himself in thoughts of greater pleasures, of the market’s
thrills and tides. He taps at numbers on the screen,
checks his balance; his surplus succour an indulgent
need. His coffee arrives, the aromatic tendrils drift

VI. Gula
to the receptive nostrils of a fellow patron
who pauses, fork in hand, to anticipate delights
yet to come. Returning to her unstinting
plate, she eats with large and steady eyes, punctuating
pasta with generous draughts of wine, that hint
at an excess of summer in European climes.
Numb, her nourishment ever incomplete, she watches

VII. Luxuria
a couple move from table to bar, perch on stools,
order Amaretto over ice. The woman’s foot, heel hooked,
bends until the satin of her shoe gapes wide; the man’s
shoelace sprawls untied. Leaning forward, muscle straining
the red silk cover of her thigh, teeth pressed against
her bottom lip, unconscious of the sin she is enraptured
by; she loosens the restraining knot of her married lover’s tie.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Some people have very relaxing jobs – like the lovely Elle here. Sadly, I do not. I spent no more than one hour on line for my own amusement this week, and about the same last week.

As for writing, well – not a chance. My usual thinking time for blog and poetry subjects was safe though (it's usually when I do the weekend hoovering) however, I never then had the energy to follow them up. Last weekend, I was thinking about Marcus Aurelius and wondering if his Meditations might count as the very first blog, but I never had the energy to follow it up after I’d finished the housework. Mindless crochet projects have taken over – they are about the only thing that can make me relax after work when I’m really busy – anything involving thought is just too much!

Anyway, the good news is that I have an idea for another poem in my serial killer series – just a few images so far, but it is starting to come together in my head. It always helps me to have something to focus on when I don’t have much free thinking time.

Hmm, wonder how one goes about getting a job that involves a lot of reclining, other than modelling? Although maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on myself – I could model, perhaps I could get a few gigs doing photo shoots for ‘Crochet Today’ or something?


I’ve had very little time on line for the last few weeks, and when I popped on to read the selections for this month’s Guardian Workshop (well done again Victoria – “bones of my news” will stay with me for quite some time) and revisited my own entry a little later, I positively squirmed. Self-editing after a few weeks break, certainly seems to breed contempt!

Although I was pleased with my little offering at the time, mostly because it expressed a sentiment that I deeply felt and have never before attempted to express, it now seems, well; trite. In fact, so much so that I can’t even face posting it here.

Note to self – when writing on personal themes, take a very long time to edit and refine. If you think it’s bordering on hackneyed now, just wait and see how much worse it’ll look in a couple of weeks!