Tag Archives: poetry

Did Your Existential Crisis Come With…?

In a lunch break between marking assessment tasks, I posted a photo I had taken in the morning (and doctored) and started with this question, “Did your existential crisis come with…?” and I intended to write a few witticisms.

It took on a life of its own.

This is how it ended up.

Did your existential crisis come with
A) free steak knives
B) a side order of chips
C) shoes that don’t give you blisters
D) extra marking of assessments
E) ill-fitting underpants
F) the playful observation of Berocca fizzing in a glass of water
G) guessing how many jellybeans are in the jar
H) exceptional Excel spreadsheet capabilities
I) looking good in glasses
J) obscure hobbies and interests
K) the satisfaction of picking your nose
L) drinking a hot beverage without it going cold
M) making the perfect fart noise with your mouth
N) not throwing up. Ever.
O) understanding the clinical benefits of ice baths but choosing not to have one
P) acne in middle age
Q) predicting the guilty person in a crime show
R) alphabetising stupid lists
S) using humour to disguise an overwhelming sense of individual doubt and fear
T) picking ripe fruit at the grocery store
U) being able to recite your favourite musical verbatim
V) never being able to find a convenient parking spot
W) reliving personal embarrassing moments in your head and providing scathing personal commentary
X) knowing faith and doubt make wonderful conversationalists
Y) wondering if you started something earlier how different might things be now
Z) being able to let it go

Possible Observations to Consider About Life Through the Metaphor of Food

Possible Observations to Consider About Life Through the Metaphor of Food

the dehydrated pea rattling around an empty plastic bottle
makes a great rattle for a child but
represents the entirety of your mortality

a secret being told to you
is the opening of a packet of chocolate biscuits
and you scoff the lot

doubt sticks to the roof of your mouth
like a fresh white bread and peanut butter sandwich
after adding a layer of butter as an undercoat

you take your tea with milk and sugar
same as your father
and recycle the teabag to make another cup

Dear 2021: The Start of It

Late last year I contributed to a project run by Nik Perring, Writer-In-Residence at Sheffield Library in the UK, titled Dear 2021: The Start of It.

The project was an initiative of Sheffield Library and their new digital channel. And it is now live. You can watch and listen to a range of poems.

Dear 2021, The Start of It videos

Here’s the teaser: Sheffield Library Teaser

There’s also a playlist of those who contributed: Sheffield LIbrary Playlist

And here is the link to my contribution: A Prayer for 2021

I hope you spend some time listening to these are there are some remarkable pieces reflecting on the year that was, and looking forward to the year that will be.

Here is the text of my poem so you can follow along as you listen to my Antipodean accent.

Next year
is a year of cautious uncertainty
of starting lists of Things To Do, People To See, Dreams To Have
written on sheets of wet paper
trying hard not to push the pen through in our haste and excitement
Slowly, slowly. Take your time.
We wish for the ordinary like shopping for toilet paper, attending birthday parties, listening to live music, having cups of tea together

After the year that has been
we remember Death still has its sting
not the quick, sharp bite of a Band Aid pulled from the skin
but the tearing of a soul from soul
where we collect the leftover memories like crumbs
to drop them as markers to find our way back to a hope worn gently across our shoulders
a favourite hoodie we wear for comfort in our solace and solitude
hands stuck deep into pockets, cradling ourselves

May gentleness be our watchword, a whispered prayer for salvation
heard in the boiling of the kettle
seen in the pegs holding our washing on the clothesline
the ghosts of ourselves dancing in the wind

When our hands were empty of crumbs, they retreated in fear
tightened into fists holding nothing but emptiness
let us unfurl our fists and dip them into bags of seeds
planting in the fallow soil and hoping for a harvest
let us return to the courtesy of common unity, enrich the soil of our neighbour’s yard
bless each other’s humanity and pray for rain to water the soil

Next year
we will listen for the cadence of time in the snap of fresh bed sheets
not the turning of pages of the calendar like autumn leaves

Next year
while I have lungs to give breath to speak
soaked as they are in the condensation of compassion and doubt
I will squeeze my lungs out like sponges
and give utterance to my hope
letting my words drip over my hands
down my arms
running off my elbows
into the ploughed ground of next year

Next year
each day is an advent, the waiting for an adventure
the coming of things promised

Things To Do While Sitting With Grief

Things To Do While Sitting With Grief

tie your shoelaces with the perfect tightness you like. send a text to your best friend asking how he’s doing at the moment because you haven’t spoken in a while. and send one to your sister for the same reason.

write out a shopping list of what you will need for the week and include a treat for yourself. count the drops of rain falling and see if you can make it to one thousand.

read a book; the one you said you always would but never get around to.

respond to your best friend’s text and invite him over for dinner and ask him what his favourite food is and plan to make it. add the ingredients to the shopping list you started earlier.

turn your phone off. listen at the window. make a mental note of what you see in the colour of the sky and shape of the clouds. remember your first kiss and why it stays in your memory and not the last kiss you gave or received. wait for the echo.

paint your fingernails and toenails even if no one will see them. later, put on your favourite socks, the comfy ones you wear around the house with slippers.

measure the distance the shadow travels as it pushes in like the rising tide. tomorrow, time how long it takes.

draw the flowers in the vase and capture their fragility; a daguerreotype of death. next week, draw them when they have wilted. preserve it.

listen to the sound of your breathing, through your mouth, through your nose. clench your fists breathing in. release them breathing out.

The Cartographer’s Journal

Hello there,

It has been a little while since I’ve dropped in here to announce anything but in the background things have been happening.

During June I was participating in the #JARWriteathon where I set out to write a zine combining vignettes and poetry with continuous line drawing.

It is now finished and very soon it will be available for sale.

Here is the blurb:

The Cartographer’s Journal is the fragmented exploration of a man’s life following the death of his grandfather and is the catalyst for examining his life and the moments he remembers. He plots his experiences as way points and erects milestones to understand how memory, distorted and fragmented as it is, constructs an identity although it is not fixed until secured in retrospect.

These random moments of memory are catalogued in our heads, a sequence of unconnected and disconnected events that serve as marker points of who we are. To explore the past is to chart the periphery of maturation as “Here Be Dragons.”

We make our way forward in life by walking backwards.

You can see a preview HERE.

The Correlation Between Writing and Single Line Drawing

The Correlation Between Writing and Single Line Drawing

A single line drawn; a continuous, unbroken line.

The pen invents the existence of the image from the blank space of the page, drawing the white into the pen to reveal the darkness of the solar system beneath. Conversely, the tabula rasa of sight is given vision through the pen, leaking the blackness of the imagination onto the page.

The line takes shape: straight paradoxes, curved obstructions, angular indices, folded waves, circular epiphanies. The brevity of a single line suggests, coaxes, entices or has the complexity of a woven tapestry to illuminate, postulate, seduce.

As it is with words.

Single words.

Verb. Noun. Adjective. Preposition.

When connected together they expand, like the line, to form phrases and clauses. When arranged in single horizontal lines as sentences they give direction and purpose to the shape of the narrative.

Sentences with the lines of tailored couture bestow a resplendence of awareness.

Sentences with the sparseness of underpants and socks bestow a nakedness of understanding.

What are words but a single continuous line.

Post It Note Poetry 2020

2020 is the 8th year of Post-It Note Poetry. Not bad for something that started as a dare to write bad poetry on Post-it notes between two friends.

The JAR Writers’ Collective will host the month-long poetry event this year, co-ordinated by Jodi CLeghorn, in league with fellow Collective members myself and Rus VanWestervelt, and ably supported by eight brilliant Post-It Note Poetry Ambassadors.

𝗔𝗕𝗢𝗨𝗧 𝗣𝗢𝗦𝗧-𝗜𝗧 𝗡𝗢𝗧𝗘 𝗣𝗢𝗘𝗧𝗥𝗬

Post-It Note Poetry runs every day in February and is designed with two broad aims in mind:

1. To encourage people of all skills sets and persuasions to explore and have fun with poetry – whether they are seasoned poets or curious souls attempting poetry for the first time since their teenage years.

2. To create within a confined physical space (the size of a post-it note) as a positive limitation. It is also a way of making poetry composition possible for 29 consecutive days.

“𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗥𝗨𝗟𝗘𝗦”

The rules are simple for those who’d like to play along at home (at work, on the bus or in any of those in between places perfect for scribbling poetic words on small squares of sticky paper).

🖊 Write/build/create a poem every day of February.

🖊 Poems must fit on a post-it note (or be an equivalent sized poem – ie. no more than 8 lines on a larger backing).

🖊Poems must adhere to the original light-hearted spirit of permission to write badly – in which poems can tackle serious content, but internal editors/critics all get a break over February.

🖊Post poems to social media with the hashtag #pinp20.

🖊Follow the hashtag and enjoy what others are creating.

We look forward to introducing our ambassadors in the coming days.

All questions or inquiries can be directed to me!!

If you’d like to join the Facebook group – you can do so here.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/460406284024429/

Pick A Number

Pick a number
ascribe to it any value
you so choose:
steps to motivate yourself
number of heartbeats before your lips touched
journal pages you wrote in then burned on New Year’s Eve
pens you collected from the floor, under the couch, borrowed from the teacher
days until you decided enough was enough
channels you flick through waiting for something to turn you on – but nothing ever does
seconds it takes you to orgasm by yourself – double it if you’re bored and only doing it as an act of revenge
thoughts about tomorrow
permutations of today’s anxiety
shades of lipstick available but you only use three
soundtrack albums you own
letters it took to say “It’s over” and the same to say “I’m sorry” and the same again to say “Please”
social media followers who know your name
ways to die – plus one more to know you’re alive

Inktober

For the month of October, participants engage in a drawing frenzy #inktober, drawing and posting one of their creations each day of the month.

My artistic skills are amateur at best. It’s a skill. One I have not developed or invested time into. 

Therefore, instead of drawing, I’m posting a hand-written piece per day. It’s what I normally do over on Instagram (@handwrittenpages) but adding in the challenge of doing it daily. 

Here is the first week’s worth of writing.

August Round Up Part 2

Now that August has officially ended, and Spring has knocked politely on the front door I can wrap up the last of this month’s pieces.

And now, as adults, at a family gathering around a meal of spaghetti bolognaise, abbreviated as ‘spagbol’ – one word, not two – we each cut our children’s spaghetti; fragmenting sentences into phrases, clauses and syllables caught between the tines of forks and uttered between lengthy pauses while conversation pools in puddles of sauce.

The temporality of whiteboards and their content, known to me as a teacher, also makes a great canvas or notepad. I can write on it, amend, and take a photo to preserve it then erase it as if it never existed.

I rub the scar tissue on my knee, the geography of brothers
a reminder of when I had pieces of gravel scrubbed from my flesh
after you had pushed me onto the bitumen
the playful violence having given way to silence in later years
because we never found the words to replace our actions

I’ve had this used drum head for a while and I loved the texture that happens when a coated drum head deteriorates and I wanted the texture to reflect the tone and content of the poem.
I finally got around to finding the right words. I’m not happy with the penmanship; maybe I should have used a different handwriting style. However, I like the content.

1 Object/2 Poems

tongues of flame above our heads
descending to our mouths, our lips
duplicating another tongue withthe anticipation of consuming
tongue-twisted ecstacies of abandonment
unto one another
burning twice, existing briefly

 

tongues of flame
the revolution of the insolent
indolent
insouciant
ashes in the wind

fragmentary colour/blooms quickly then disappears/a father’s anger