The prompt today on the official blog was to write a rhyming charm, which got me thinking about traditional forms, or any forms at all really. My favourite of all the “restrictive” forms of poetry is definitely the sevenling, which I think may have been popularised by Roddy Lumsden. The rules are this: 

Seven lines. The first three express three ideas that are connected. The three ideas can either exist on each separate line or not, that doesn’t matter. The next three (next stanza), has to have three more ideas that are slightly moved away from the first three, but still connected to eachother, and the mood of the poem overall. Finally, the seventh line has to be the unexpected punchline that ties the whole thing together. So here is mine, and it’s called Letters to and from a murderer. 

I was high on speed, the kitchen raining.
Three weeks late, and he’d been gone a month
so I drank enough scotch to flush his memory out,

and write on walls to work out how I’m feeling, and
tell that to the doctor when he comes to check my
pulse. “My best friend’s cut off my supply” I tell him. 

A letter drops. Finally, a reply from my murderer. 

 

 

NB – This poem is not a rip off of Luke Kennard’s FANTASTIC “The Murderer”. I did actually once write to, and receive a letter from, a convicted murderer called Michael Alig, so that’s what this is about. 

This is my second, it’s a prose poem called Catherine. The prompt was mythology, so I’m writing to my daughter who does not yet exist and may never. 

Dear Catherine,

You have the bigger room, not because I love you more than I love your brother, but because you got born first and you’re called Catherine, which is my favourite name. I don’t want to paint it pink. Or blue. We’ve been having arguments about gender-neutral colours. We’re going for white. Your Dad joked about the race implications of this. You are one sixteenth Kashmiri. That’s why that’s funny. I’m sorry that you’re probably ill. I’m sorry that you probably are a bit more human than by human I mean maybe that your bones are more exposed than your friends’. And when I say friends I mean the people that die.

Across from our house there’s a bus stop advertising Tom Ford cologne for men and in the advert a woman’s legs are visibly hanging out of a car boot. Girls of 13 are handing out blow jobs to make friends, practicing on cucumbers and Fruit Pastille lollies. Don’t do that. Look hard at those that do, and then decide not to. And now the clock in your room is advertising bed time. And now your head on the pillow is promoting sleepiness. I’m not tired yet so I’m just going to sit here a bit longer and carry on writing this. 

 

We should get you a red, hooded cloak. You should watch the Wizard of Oz. I wish I was used to sleeping on my own already.

Oh god one day you’re going to call me from a nightclub at three in the morning, aren’t you. You’re going to be your mother’s daughter aren’t you. Well, perhaps not, because I don’t know your mother, you’re sort of on loan to me. The agency said I’d always have to be open about these things to you so you don’t throw it back at me any time. This whole process is a migraine. And the migraine is a bus stop advertising rape. And  a nightclub. And the fact you don’t have your father’s eyes, but someone else does now. What they call a real woman I guess.

 

I told you I was a bad writer, didn’t I Cathy? I’m resorting to writing a letter to you because I’m all out of ideas. Why did we move to London? This is not how I imagined this going. At the bus stop three young men and a young woman who is one of their girlfriends have arrived and they are smoking. They are participating in my migraine. They are unwelcome guests in my head and I am having to look after them. As well as you.

 

Become friends with people you don’t necessarily like because eventually you will come to love them more than you love anyone. In fact, fall in love with someone you fucking hate. It will be such a riot and you will love it. Live up to your name for God’s sake Catherine.

I dedicate this poem to Elliott Smith and I give  all of my artistic integrity to the night I got bad news whilst drunk, to the affairs I had, to the knives and men with wives and heroin. I dedicate this poem to a dark street at night when I’m pretending to use a phone because that might help me to not get raped.

 

It’s getting late, Cathy, and this poem is going absolutely nowhere. If you need me I will be in the next room and you can scratch at the wall and I will hear that orchestra of you needing me. That orchestra, next to this pitiful first draft of what was only going to be a piano piece. That’s a metaphor and a terrible one at that. Tomorrow we will go to the park. Or a patch of grass.  I don’t know, I’m not feeling great. But I want you to hear and see everything. Catch up. I wish I didn’t talk to you like this. I can’t afford therapy though.

 

I should have carried you for the requisite 9 months,
not filled out forms and smoked cigarettes for 7.
I should have listened to what the doctor said.
Ever since Dad left I’ve just been so, so tired. 

Hello old friends. I haven’t posted here in a really long time, because I’ve found it really difficult to write this past 9 months, as it’s been a time of recovery for me (you may remember that last Summer, I was completely insane). Because I have found it difficult to write, I am keeping up with Napowrimo again. This is my FOURTH year of participating so I’m going to really try this year.
This one doesn’t have a title, but it’s sort of taken from the prompt and it’s sort of personal to me but at the same time you may notice some sly references to old poems by famous writers. The poem is about killing, essentially. The killing of traditions, relationships, friendships, disease, and things that can kill you. 

 

“You are afraid of everyone. Your nickname is hermitcrab.

Come out of your shell, they say”
from Starfish by Leah Horlick. 

and then they gave me your hand
to hold my hand because it wasn’t
wearing a latex glove and I needed
the skin, even if it was your skin
familiar, I thought, but was foreign, 
clammy. The nurses come and go
and only you mention Michaelangelo
because you haven’t noticed the date
or remembered to move on. I remind
you, it’s 2014, and some of us have
moved on. “Yes” you said. “And now
it’s my turn”.

Outside in the hospital gardens we spot
anaemic daffodils; not golden, nor a 
host, I remind you, we are moving on.
I feel the bastard child of cancer kicking. 
I tell you I want to kill all of the doctors
and become a Greek god. The surgeons
have my tissue and I’m coming down 
from ether; what did I once say? When 
I saw you, with a robe pressed up against
your face thinking I hadn’t seen? I do
not have to kill you, Daddy, for when I was
deep under, I knew such wistful pictures. 

I haven’t updated in a while, so here is a brand new poem for you to decide if you like it or not. It’s called Should I Be Happened Upon.

You have measured out our time with small gadgets
That begat even smaller gadgets used to communicate
Your 17 ideas tonight and my 24. I am the new wave
Of witches converting Christian men to curious ones
With my millenia of magic to disprove your faith
So I can then dissolve your marriage. You have read
Our emails again and since then they’ve invented ten
More gadgets to get across your 28 ideas to my 100.
You just learnt how to lock your home screen and your
Computer is now so old it has become your ancestor
And they have buried it, coffin shaped, underneath artisinal
Soils. You have noticed the melting ice ploughing
And undulating through the South, the Midlands, and now the North West
It’s a new age, baby. We have grown beyond the means
Of a new friendship with speed; the gadget they
Just invented takes our salience and realises it.
The heatwave is come and the clouds make a fuss of
Being ushered backstage. You are now a Pavlovian response
When I hear the zing of your 45 ideas and my 32.
The new gadget pops and I know you. You have the smarts to think for
The two of us, so do it now: give me your reflection
That I might reach the intangible under his shirt. They
Invented a new gadget this morning that can do that.
Catch the train, you grip of spine,  and then a rattle-dry
Angel, see the secrets roll below us as the train steam
Meets our ankles. A gadget told me someone said
You’d been asking after me. I don’t think you are a hypocrite
But I think I could well be. There was a day
I would have killed for this; hearing your potential
90 thoughts to my rampant 16.once I would’ve  have taken you
And prayed my madness on your body, an electrical storm
Shorting out the grid of you. Last night I imagined
Heretic storms, bursting through your ribcage, the Super moon downloading howling out from your mouth.

Today, I imagine a quiet time instead.
Staying as friends, rightfully, laying back on the grass in the park, in summer

Drinking cans; our lazy bodies separate, and singing our names like drowsy flutes.

image

I have recently moved house again. I’m now I’m a small village part of Todmorden, officially the strangest and most fascinating place I’ve ever lived in. Already odd things have been happening and the weather has been freak, but on the upside I am writing a LOT. I can’t share too much with you because I’m not really at liberty to but here’s a sneak peek.

I have a book to write and recently, I’ve lost the ability to write. I read my recent book tonight, and it was almost as if I was reading the work of someone I admire, and can never be. This upsets me a little, as I know I wrote that book severely undermedicated. Since that book came out, my medication was increased and more added. Writing poetry has been hard, but here is the first full one I have written in weeks. It has no title yet. I’m trying to marry alternative spiritualism, psychology, and the pastoral, whilst trying to remain contemporary and I’ve set myself a stupidly high standard. My inner editor is a real cunt right now, but I’m actually happy with this one. I hope you are all happy with it too, and thank you to those who are still reading after the dramatic posts of this summer.

Trimming your beard
Neglecting the top button of a
Second hand shirt, to be a trip
In the mirror, for me- you are a
Separate you, seeing things afresh.

This man who knows – you,
Who knows – is the man who sees
Several parallels at once:
One world and its ten imposters
And suddenly

Soil and river heights, his
Girlfriend’s silly witchcraft
And newfound earth study

You do not know
That you, and only you,
Illuminate me as a Goldstone.

Forgive me internet, for I am drunk. Thee nights on the sauce and I am now exhausted. Gone are the days that this behaviour seemed normal and now I am ready for a hot toddy and a good book before bed.
Tonight  I was with some friends, one of whom is also a poet. We were challenged: who can write the best poem in ten minutes? I rose to the challenge as I’m super competitive and going through a dry spelled regarding poetry right  now, so an excuse to write was fantastic. The other poet was bragging he writes every day. So, I put it to you, internet. Which poem is better? Both were written in the beer garden of a village pub, both took ten minutes. Comment on this with your preference to settle a bet. Here is poem one:

Remember your secret name?
A day
You forwent
For want
Of being both jeweller and appraiser
What are all these stones
You gather in those tusks?
It went dark tonight. A secret shade
Discovered only by
A secret name.

Do I worship mundane things?
Overwhelmed by the gone ones?

I don’t know me like you do.
I’ve no framework or reference
Divorced: I run the basin
Watch my own eyes on the pool
A muddied brown
And morning frown
Permanent
Whilst yours sing of a youth

I’ve been losing sleep since June.

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, for poem number two.

I am the most faltering of bedside manners
My psychopath wakes up and wipes the wakey dust away
And whistles nonsense tunes
Imbedded by his parents
Moving diatonically around.

There’s Opera in his croaking marsh
Voicebox
Whose Voicebox was a raindrop
Descends a crooked canon
Falls into plagal, false endings
From the Bedroom to the kitchen
Then the parlour and the Library

Like it was something to be proud of
A note suspends in steam
My psychopath sings in the shower

A silverish sound when partnered with
The cascade of shampoo bottles
The jam red flood of the hot tap

I lie in the bedroom
Alive
Aware that one day I will be found
Drowned
On the floor in the wet room
Ten years after
My psychopath died.

ALL VOTE NOW

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