This week’s assignment for How Writers Write Poems is the Turn: Write a poem featuring a major turn in logic, situation, or voice.
The brick wall
by the milking shed is old.
Older than anyone’s
And ferns sprout
between the gnawed bricks,
like ledges of wild eyebrows,
all that green growing
without direction or restriction.
And the sun rises over
that wall in the morning.
as the neighbour’s
when its name is called.
moves at its own pace here.
inspired and remixed from “Bleak House,” by Charles Dickens.
The Village Uniform
Much has changed in my life. Village life
changes everything. It’s not an easy
place to keep secrets, even though most
claim to keep themselves to themselves.
We’re all sneaking a peek at the person
queued ahead at the post office, who
is sending what where, how many
Christmas stamps did they buy, as if
that number reveals the size of your
inner circle of friends, who buys cheap
wine at the co-op’s shop, and who
buys a dozen mixed-colour carnations
at Texaco. And the recycle man, he
must know more than he should about
us all, paper with grocery lists, to-do-
lists, love notes, and who scrubs inside
empty tins with soap and water, and
who’s messy enough to leave a few
Heinz beans stuck firm as Polygrip
inside the can. Everyone gossips,
everyone thinks they keep secrets,
but these are village secrets,
the village uniform.
For Miz Q “Uniform”
Well Stuck in a Mood
I’ve yet to see that man smile, a face
set like thick-sawn wood, and he moves
only rarely so as to not appear dead.
Everything in this portmanteau town
is one of two things – either alive or dead,
and yet it’s said he’s never happier in life
than when he’s well stuck in a mood.
But I believe it’s a universal feeling
among us all, although none look worse
for knowing it. This slight village, this
country-errand is a cobbled secret way
when you’re found so newly arrived.
Inspired by Charles Dickens, Three Ghost Stories
The Prospects of Good
I set myself into the exaggeration
of this day, gathered here by
offers and pleas: food, clothes,
disposables for those with less.
We gather for prospects of good,
of character, but examples are
perceptions by nature, and I feel
dull and colourless in this cradle
of charitable cunning. I am not
so well born, not so well bred
as these so genteel. My shoes
are bred for misery and ruination
by weather, and I am misplaced.
He Stood Tall
there in the shop door,
a cat sat
on his shoulders,
its tail as a tall as a hat feather,
and he stared
into weary winter sun
without word or expression.
‘morn’, I said, dropping
all unnecessary words
and needless syllables.
Found and remixed from Bleak House
and my 1991 Winter Journal
A Squeeze into Rumpled Pleasantries
I find winter a headache. Constant, earnest,
wanton chess-playing with rascals at the door
and serenely mannered neighbours who give
me significant looks, and no doubt I should
know what it all means, but its manner
and manoeuvre is half lost on me.
May I call you Selma?
… but that’s not my name.
So I squeeze myself back into rumpled
pleasantries just as Mrs Peepy draws
closed her white lacy curtains. I smile,
‘though I don’t think that she notices …
Found text from Bleak House by Charles Dickens, and remixed
with my 1991 Winter Journal from Bletchingley, Surrey
A View from a Parapet
The air is not freely admitted up here, not
so high up where clouds crouch and close,
curl as fog on sky-filled parapets, too close
to our flighty little lives. Clouds that watch
like waiting cats with hungry eyes, wanting
what we have, jealous when we change
our minds, even change directions at whim.
They want to touch something, those clouds,
so high, so sly, so full of watching and hurrying,
chasing the sky and erasing all traces of blue.
I know I’d never open my door to a cloud,
if one came calling in search of a parapet.
Inspired by Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
Inspired by Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
Seemed Mad by Grains
You’ll excuse me for my restless habits,
strolling into every shop I see –
an amble slow as drags,
slower than drowning by drops,
but such goods as yours I’ve never seen,
nor hope to know their purpose. So you’ll
excuse me for seeming mad by grains,
for you see, I am by your estimation,
Found and remixed words/phrases from
Bleak House by Charles Dickens and my
1991 Winter Journal of Bletchingley, Surrey
It’s a shove and bump on the cobble lane
by my house. It passes two by narrowest
persons wide, leads from the Queen’s Head
pub to the church, each set at opposite ends.
A walk done fast, a travel of minutes at most.
This lane that plied a doctor, a cobbler,
smithy, chippie, and shopkeeper in trade.
Right here … all the wears of our world,
all a villager would ever need. Now I walk
on ancient ways, these Methuselah tracks,
paving stones of such patience to stay here
underfoot. To tread, to trod, pub to church
to holy ground. A lane of life’s management.
“Found” and remixed words from my
Winter 1991 Journal and Bleak House.
Mrs Fiddleby’s Child
I cannot help but notice that the postmistress
is a strewn-about woman, and that her posey-
print frock has an open seam railed together
with hapless cross of stitch. Her bosom shows
an open lattice you’d expect to see scrambling
with clematis on a sunny day. I find myself
obliged not to notice this. My attention draws
to a frayed child of tumbledown nature pulling
up level from below a letter-littered desk, there
a small girl with a lump of pink chewing gum
gristling her hair. I force to diversion, and ask
after my mail, and the purchase of ten stamps.
And ice cubes, I suggest, for removing that gum.
“Found” text remixed from “Bleak House” and
recollections from my diary of January 1991,
Butterflies, Buddleja and Lilacs
Of all the streets where I have lived,
This is by far the dimmest star,
This village nearer to small than priceless,
But the lilacs are sweeter nowhere else,
So I shall dream of butterflies and Buddleja,
Until the snow shall cease to fall.
Written for NovPAD 2014, and inspired by
Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, and recollections
of January 1991, Bletchingley, Surrey
Remixed Found text from “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”,
and my recollections of December 1990, Bletchingley, Surrey
Treading on Broken Stairs
There’s a clattering of words
between them, sparks flung in the air
and falling without sense.
She’s the more vocal, an old woman
with thick-socked ankles.
She takes the uneven steps
from the post office with care.
Still a’mutter, the man on the bench
drowsily gropes his way toward sleep.
Both of them, tread broken stairs
into dreams tight and squat
and smelling of rabbit hutches.
But he’s the more jaded traveller.
Inspired and Remixed from:
The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens