I’m putting the intro here first, because this poem was actually mentally and physically hard to write. It’s a laudation, and I got the prompt here from Jo Bell’s 2013 prompts. You actually have to be super kind to yourself and sing your own praises with one of these. It was an enormous challenge but also kind of satisfying at the moment. Won’t be making a habit of it though … 😉
Kate, you are astonishing, you are tough.
What hasn’t killed you actually does make
you stronger – even Nietzsche bows down
to you, is flattened by your ability to see
the emptiness of the world, and smile anyway
the futility of caring, but love anyway.
You’re a force of nature, forever creating
or crumpling up and beginning again.
You always want to tell the truth
you are not afraid of your feelings
and you own every action you do, for better
or for worse. You own your pain, your mistakes.
Kate, you are beautiful, you are the sexiest
hippy grunge pixie the world has ever seen –
no one wears patchwork hair and literary tattoos
like you. You wear your tears like a song, like art
you make beauty from misery whenever possible.
You are, as they say, in the business of being rad.
Rock on, Kate. You have a common name, but there’s only one of you.
streets pavements bus stops –
the blur of urban landscape
your feet carry you
slip between bluebells
under trees whose baby leaves
since last week have grown
So this was inevitable. Can’t get through NaPoWriMo without some emergency haiku. Emergency running-based haiku, in fact.
I wonder if she was a student
face upturned to the sky
& barefoot on the grass
nestled between petitions
and protest groups, belonging
to no one, uncertain & dreaming.
I wonder if she was a housewife
suburban or small town, sure
of herself & life, the world ended
with the last house on the street
serving lemonade in the backyard
shade trees staving off July heat.
I wonder if she had a job
and by job I mean on her feet
all day, selling things she didn’t want
to sell, or making small talk, serving
drinks and food for tips, and when she
wore this dress she was herself.
Without setting out to do it, I’ve used anaphora in this poem, which was the official prompt for yesterday. Also I’m quite struck by the idea of where all my vintage & secondhand clothes have been before they got to me. As with the pirate poems, I think this is a tiny seed of an idea that’s going to be a bigger project later on.
The bitter end
of the rope that let your sails
down, or swings empty and
waiting from the gallows –
she takes up the slack, knots
twisted like secret codes, pulls
up the anchor, changes course.
Part three of three (at the moment) of these pirate drafts, here & here.
Sailing close to the wind
There are always omens, signs
warnings like the old red sky
in the morning. Like the time I told
you I was not a good swimmer;
it was in December. Now it’s April
and my feet alone only take me
so many yards from the shore.
It’s a habit of mine, sailing
close to the wind. The worst
that can happen is the ship will
tip you into the sea by Spring. If I
drown paddling back to you, don’t think
of it as failure, but as courage.
Part two of three. See part one here.
The pirate round
is marked on our hearts
maps etching both dangers
and treasures. Deviation
from the same old voyage
is discouraged – never change
what’s familiar. It is a comfort.
Even if the comfort is forever
battling a hundred navy ships,
and our treasure is ten tons
of tarnished brass, weighing
us down – stick to the maps,
you know the way home.
I’m doing it now. I warned people. Today I’m catching up again and you’re getting not one, but THREE poems drawing on pirate traditions. They’re definitely drafts because I want to make something of them, and they’re in no way there yet.
her toes draw patterns
through the dirt, dust
kicked up by a dry-land
wave of her skirt keeps
time with six hundred
years of heartbeats
it’s spiral, a cycle
she lives in the future
dances the past, threads
them through the needle-
eye present with transmissions
to her blood from dying stars