Friday, August 5, 2016

This week

Too much happening this month! Luke off to America, ,Danielle back from UK.,Launch of McGregor anthology. McGregor Poetry festival. How to fit it all in? But then I always  am quite busy. I used to think that when I was as old as I am now, I would be leading a dull and quiet life. How lucky to be living in the 21st Century! So many new and exciting discoveries. (I have just been reading about the discovery of two earth-sized planets in the Goldilocks zone of a cool (in temperature ) star only 40 light-years away.) So many new and exciting gadgets( although the technology is a bit beyond me) Of course the world is in a mess, with all sorts of disasters threatening it, but then hasn't it been threatened by  disasters for most of my life?  The difference is that now I am unlikely to live to see them come about. At McGregor Stephanie and  are doing a presentation entitled It's only being so cheerful..  At our age we might as well be cheeerful. There are not many years left. We should enjoy them as long as we can.

One of the exercises in the poetry course I have just completed, was to write an imagist poem describing a certain  object. I am not sure whether this poem fits the criteria and can be properly called imagist, but after making the  changes suggested on the course, I am quite pleased with it. The changes were mostly to do with the form -- splitting it into three stanzas and changing the line breaks. I was very surprised at how much such small alterations improved the poem.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sharpened Visions

I have not visited my blog for more than a month. I have been so busy. with this Mooc, (Sharpened visions on Coursera). I can recommend it to any aspiring poet. Douglas Kearney, who conducts it, is a noted poet himself.  Although I can't make head or tail out of poems of his that I have read, he is an excellent teacher of poetry. He does not dictate,or criticise, but rather provides inspiration, by means of prompts for poems and suggestions for writing them. The most useful of his suggestions are those for re-writing and improving your poems.. As with all Moocs, peers review  your work and give feedback. In my case I found nearly all their comments were helpful and made for better poems.

Here are some of the poems I wrote on this course.


This is the place where single people come
from bed-sitters and rented rooms.
They sit on slatted wooden benches.
and listen to the whirring noise
of wash machines and tumble driers.
Avoiding one another’s gaze
they bury noses in worn paperbacks,
while faded towels and pillowcases
whirl round with unpaired socks and
threadbare underclothes.

A shriek from Gairo, my domestic worker
A frog!  a frog! It’s in the shower room.
I run to see compressed there in a corner
a little shiny, round medallion, yellow
with blotch of  black and spots of scarlet.
 It is a tiny baby leopard toad.

A species, rare, endangered by the shrinkage
of habitat and threatened now by us.
We cannot leave it there, but do not wish
to squash with careless hand its softness
or let our fingers feel its slimy, toxic skin

I take a floppy, large spaghetti mop
and try to sweep the creature out the door
It doesn’t work; the mop is far too soft
I poke it with a canvas covered toe.
My foot is much too big to fit the niche
the animal is using as its shelter.

I take a kitchen towel and as it leaps away
I fling the towel over its elongated form,
grab it and wrap it tight, and then
I take it to the garden pond and let it go
and Gairo stops her shivering and startst
to clean all trace of frog out of the house


Boss off to loo
Frog on loo floor
Boss cross.
Oh! Oh!
Frog on loo floor
not cool.
Frog got to go.
Mop no good,
too soft
foot no good
too gross
Throw cloth on frog
fold hold
boot frog to pond
Look Boss
Look Boss
No Frog


We see the boiler and the rudder of the wreck
Between the ribs sand covers all the deck.
The rest of it lies buried far below.
She ran aground a hundred years ago

There was no loss of life, no dead.
The crew just jumped onto the sand and fled
The captain stayed for months alone on board
He hid for shame. He would not say a word

The captain knew that everyone would say
It was his fault the ship lay where she lay
He should have kept her safely as a son
Not see her wrecked before her voyage was done

The captain beat his breast; he tore his hair,
quite overcome by sorrow and despair.
Always as long as he drew breath
he would regret this day until his death.

That stormy day, the waves were big and wild
The wind wailed loudly like a tortured child
The surf pounded the shore, thundering aloud
The gale shook masts and rattled every shroud

To port a cliff was seen to rise up high
It’s shape was clear against the sky
The captain cried above the storm’s harsh sound
“Good helmsman, turn the ship around.

I see Cape Point behind it is False Bay,
and a harbour where our ship can safely stay
(but no one could have been as wrong as he)
Full-speed ahead the ship rushed from the sea

She dug herself into the sand so fair and square
That a century later she’s still sitting there
of Cape History just a tiny part
a ship’s wreck, a captain’s broken heart

(Note: In the Old Age Complex where I live we are required to have only neutral colours at all the windows.)

Twin censors of sight,
two lengths of  calico,
three metres up and three across
cover my bedroom window.
They cut out light and block the view
of trees and sky.

At the ceiling they deform
in pebbly gathers,
dirt-road corrugations from which flow
beige mudslides,
Cascades of silty ripples undulate sideways,
grow into waves and
billow at the floor

But at the centre where they meet,
they grudgingly allow
slivers of sunlight
to sidle through
and make the dust-motes