poem nineteen: unequal bittersweet

the truth of you
overwhelms most
& they need to connect
you to something
already known; this
you do to yourself –
hyperreal discord.
& I have been guilty
but I have seen behind
the mask & the words
& not once have I
looked the other way.

*

This is based on today’s official NaPoWriMo prompt, and also on things tumbling round inside my head. Apparently ‘unequal bittersweet’ is the name of a seashell. Interesting.

poem eighteen: it couldn’t be

TW: rape, domestic violence

*

It couldn’t all be climbing on
Nelson’s Column, three inch
heels on my tall black boots,
to sit next to the lions at one AM
and watch a guy roller skating
in Trafalgar Square, while we
smoked off our pints, laughing
eating chips, catching the night bus.

It couldn’t all be like this
when I stopped remembering
how to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, kept quiet
and let things happen as they fell
because you bought me a mic
and said I must never let
myself go, that I had an image
to maintain, what was I thinking?

It couldn’t all be rock n roll my
love. It couldn’t all be your way
even if it was in your city, even
if the words sliding over my lips
were floating on your tune,
even if you were almost a whole
foot taller than me and what could
I do about it? Say no? Funny.

It couldn’t all be funny, even
though you turned up to the shop
with flowers, looking sheepish, sorry
you’d thrown me around, sorry you’d
said harsh words, mangled the parts
of me you said you loved. No, that
isn’t how it went: you only said ‘sorry’.
You never explained what you meant.

*

Sorry for the dark waffling stuff, people. Others don’t appear to think about what they’re saying to me and what it might trigger for days after. Poetry is a way through that for me.

poem seventeen: redemption

branches stretch to black
veins across the sky’s blue
skin; I can’t hear the beat
of this word without consequence,
a hidden piece of me shrinking –

knowing there were things
sex & singing couldn’t smooth
away, things pints of beer
wouldn’t wash off, no matter
how many hours passed our way.

maybe it doesn’t exist, a dream
like the words you recycled
for me, maybe it’s a distant
old thing, like stars. redemption.
let it roll & bump off your tongue.

*

This was a prompt I noted down last year – the word ‘redemption’. What a loaded word. Ancient history, though, when I was younger and dumber.

poem sixteen: following the river exe on a wednesday afternoon

my son is crying because he wants a boat.
he’s very insistent, and I’m suddenly guilty
of filling their heads with my dreams
of riding currents out to sea. so I soothe
him, tap his temples and rub lavender
under his nose, and we walk along this river
awhile. it’s not like our river up north, tamed
for centuries, but wild with purpose –
this river meets the sea like an old lover, fitting
together without a fuss, while the sun turns
the narrow winding roads to glitter and dust.

*

I like rivers and walking and my kids and stuff, okay? Also pirates.
And yes, if it wasn’t immediately obvious, I’ve been in Exeter & Topsham in Devon for most of this week :)

poem fifteen: quayside

the past isn’t for burning after all
she tells herself, as long as you don’t
let it burn you. but her chest tightens
around her heart, woollen and warm
while the downhill flow of a street she
never forgot, not in all these years,
takes her around a corner, over a foot
bridge to the cafe with its little metal
teapots, still the same as ever before
where she buys ice creams for three
little boys, eight nine and ten. and this
she tells herself, is how you rearrange
the fire, how you temper the flames.

*

I’m certain this is unfinished. But again, I am catching up, and what’s NaPoWriMo if not a time for drafting new things?

poem fourteen: antithesis

it wasn’t your finest
set of hours, like Cathy
in from the moors, pent
up & desperate, wild
with fever in your chest

& thinking if you fuck
him once more it will soothe
the ache. but he knows you
too well, he knows the pain
to you is like a drug & if

your skin touches his skin
you’d pretend nothing happens
you’d behave as if his eyes
have not changed & you love him
as much now as you ever did.

*

Catching up! I’ve been away. Day fourteen on day seventeen, what fresh hell is this …

poem thirteen: hope & lavender

This is a good place to start
a discussion on growing hope.

Hope is best planted between
April & May, as the soil is warming.

You can always grow your hope
in pots and move it to follow the sun.

Hope does not break readily from old
wood; neglected specimens are best replaced.

How will you use this lovely hope
you’ll be growing?

The use of hope has been documented
for thousands of years.

Hope may be very effective with wounds,
& an effective treatment of neurological disorders.

To bring love your way,
carry hope in a sachet.

*

This isn’t *exactly* a finished poem, but it’s from the day twelve prompt on the official site. A replacement poem. Pick a tangible noun – I picked ‘lavender’ – then pick an intangible noun – in this case, ‘hope’. Then I looked up articles about lavender, chose some sentences, and replaced ‘lavender’ with ‘hope’. (I used the RHS, Wikipedia & About.com for my sentences.)