Showing posts from October, 2015
Bingley WMC
The men beer in hand Thumb tucked in belt loop Trousers slung below bellies Shirts and sports shirts, shiny nylon. Polo shirts with ancient embroidery from the 1950’s. Tan slacks made for men of a certain age.
And the raffle… Arthur reads, “number 650 - the road to Leeds” The band white shirted, white haired Survivors Surviving heart bypass, divorce, WWII, conscription, rationing Boom and bust British economy The wax and wane of Trad Jazz And wane And Wane.
Until all that is left is this WMC in Bingley A barmaid with blue plaits A scattering of older people Sitting in couples and groups of three A semi-circle around the guys.
Trombone, trumpet, clarinet, double bass, drums, banjo Most sit. The songs croaked And cracked in brittle beauty In fragile filaments Saw tooth songs.
The audience takes up the refrain “Down by the Riverside” “Lilly of the valley” It’s an old beaten drum patterning the blues and New Orleans Rhythms over and over.
I opened a draw and there was a box I opened the box and there was an …
Banana Skins for Mo Jupp:
Sometimes life is funny The wholeness of an orange Before peeling it, the unpierced skin, the layer of pith, the segments enclosed, all perfect. But it’s unbroken, so how do I know it’s perfect? Because when I’ve peeled it previously that’s what I’ve found. I was looking at edges today. The way edges are made, the way I have chosen to represent edges. Selvedges, the edge of a weaving, the edge of a newspaper, not straight cut like the Pudsey Times but pierced with a small pin made hole and crimped. Once Mo Jupp said to me that a skirt on a woman was an edge, dividing the legs from the body. When I paint an edge it’s about separating the paper, the support from the layer of paint. Mo was from the old school. Old school potter. I went to meet him in my best charity shop dress. And felt like I was in his category of woman. Being young and agog. Not yet ready to think, not yet ready to have an opinion, a question. In my painting I like to paint in layers, l…
Ashes on Ash Wednesday
Ashes on Ash Wednesday Brr of cold – but not today Blue of sky mottled with cirrus in peach, corn flower, baby blue Today spring is gently warming the wind And I working feel warmer than I have For weeks and take off jumper and tights And dress lifting and carrying my slip
All around us boxes and bags Stacks of frames, captain badge Beer mats, fountain pens Old watch batteries and the smell of Mahogany from a draw of the partner’s desk.
In a green bag on the desk Is a casket of ash And tomorrow, Shrove Tuesday Eat up the goodies, the egg The sugar, the flour for The 40 days of shriving.
Ash Wednesday – show the colours Wear the ash Be a believer A witness Carry the burden of belief For all to see.
The ash in the box to stay safely hidden Securely buried Like treasure Like the pearl of great price in a field
And we will stand around a dug hole We will make our final goodbye With the good earth of East Leeds In this piece of Catholics generations past In the p…
Anniversary poem
Eighteen years later we two By pools and sea, rivers and lakes Our love waxed and waned like the moon, full, gibbous, fingernail
extremes Deep stabs, to the heart many times Pierced by a sword Love, stab,
death, stab,
a new baby, stab.
Until perforated the hearts strength Squeezes on, pump, pump, pump Although tired and sore Although painfully exercised.
 in one time The gift, the fall, the walk of shame, the pain and sorrow.

Consequential – grown-ups now.

Angel poem
Angels and archangels Lift, lift, lift me up Malchus, Julius, Kiaus, Angelorum, Jonas lift me up, lift me up Cushion my steps with air Feather my air with steps Lighten my travel with your hands of love Lift me up, lift me up Soft lightness of light Beings of radiance Beings of prismatic light
And the glory of God.
And You my Poem.
And you my poem, born of imagination O Bless the Lord All you words in a row O Bless the Lord And you wild words and tame, O Bless the Lord  Bless the Lord And you holy and humble of word O Bless the Lord And you all you words O Bless the Lord Ananias, Azarias and Mitziel O Bless the Lord. To you be highest honour and praise. And you haiku and sonnet O Bless the Lord And you narrative and surreal O Bless the Lord And you saga and legend O Bless the Lord. To him be highest honour and praise for evermore. And you Sexton and Plath O Bless the Lord And you Joseph, Glück and Kay O Bless the Lord And you Rilke, Kan and Hillsum O Bless the Lord And you Atwood and Carter O Bless the Lord And you Dickinson and Bronte O Bless the Lord And you Barrett Browning and Von Bingen O Bless the Lord. To Him be highest honour and praise for evermore.

All For Your Glory.
Night and moon beams Golden wonder of it all Purple clouds Indigo horizon Brownest bread Reddest sky Purplest beetroots Orangest geraniums Whitest silk Greenest, greenest grass All for your Glory Your Glory All for your Glory As for myself what can I say Except thank you
El Shaddai
After psalm 137:6 “may my tongue cleve to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you”
May my tongue cleve to the Roof of my mouth if I praise Him not If I love Him not If I worship Him not.
That the best of all I do Be in honour of you May the striving of my Heart and energies all be in the service of you
May my best smile, kindest act Highest praise, most beautiful Art work all be for you.

After Mass. 
How come I’m sitting here; An amazing scene beyond compare. An alter, a chalice; God’s willing accomplice. A cloth a paten; not one word forgotten. A Bishop, a choir; incense rising higher. The Prayers, the psalm; The Word’s healing balm.

Thoughts on the Expulsion:  After Louise Gluck's Matins
"Exit by this gate" the Angel said Like an airport terminal We walked through and a door and it closed.
We never did go back in Although many times we looked and looked for it. It was beyond our perceptions, out of our reach.
We were home sick – the first people Ever To be homesick.
But no – we tried to make the Best of it – Adam farmed and I farmed  - I gave birth to The boys and what a time I had With those two. Always squabbling.
An egg for breakfast Milk from the goat Bread from the field wheat God provides – but its not like it Was once. God’s hand always extended Now we have to work for approval We are not our own bosses Anymore.
It's hard work – it is still give us a lift on your bike it’s back to work time. Nice chatting – Later!

In the Garden;  After Louise Gluck's Matins
And in that garden How so the first foot print Angels high and near to pardon The first frost, the first snow to dint.
We were there you and I My life was in your eyes Our hearts in God’s hands held high Together, present under sky.
Ahead we knew not what We were present to each other In our embrace none forgot Shoal of perch, flock of plover
Mountains, rivers, seas and shore Savannah, grass land, marsh Forests hedgerows, earth core. Hurricane, tornado, volcano ash.
A garden moist, lush, green Fig, grape, pomegranate, apple Through deep leaves, snakes green sheen Oh happy sin, oh necessary fault, leaves dapple.

Praline Elephants; After Jenny Joseph's warning.
When I’m an old bag lady You’d better shift I’ll never wash my hair or self I’ll have nits and fleas and be very Unsociable to be around.
I’ll sleep in the dog basket In a barn And eat things people throw in bins When I’m an old bag.
You will be an old bum An old hobo And wear the same set of clothes All the time And drink out of a brown paper bag Just for fun. And read all day and make fires And burn all the furniture all night And you’ll never call be darling But witch or hag or old cow.
And I’ll answer because sometimes There is glee to be got in being uncouth I’ll have big silver streaks up My sleeve where I’ve wiped my nose when it runs And old food down my dress.
Everything will be so mucky And will have a shine of worn grease Just right for keeping the rain off.
And we’ll never ever be cold because There is always furniture to burn And I’ll wear a sleeping bag for a coat And five socks and wellies for shoes And four skirts f…
After Hsu Kan floating clouds III
Floating clouds how vast, how vast Would that I could send a Message through them But we are at different ends of the sky
My mirror has grown dim Since you went away You sir are gone and nothing can bring you back
Floating clouds how sad, how sad And you and they are parts of the sky. Not a telephone or a mobile How can I message you Now that you have gone Completely And although you sit Ashen in a box on your desk I cannot receive an answer from the casket
Floating clouds how vast how vast Where are you? If only I could be sure You were in Heaven I’m just not – sure How can I know? No text connectivity in Heaven Anyway – you would have to have an invisible mobile
Floating clouds how vast, how vast So true – the sky is without Limit from here Standing in my garden and looking up Although I know there are satellites and space stations ‘up there’, if they are up-  where is Heaven?
Floating clouds how vast. How vast Maybe a cloud is heaven Maybe Heave…
After Hsu Kan Floating Clouds II
Sun and moon how far, how far The sea how wide, how wide The wind how carefree, how carefree Shooting stars how bright, how bright Crashing sea how strong, how strong Drifting boat how light, how light Starry night how bright how bright Rolling hills how rich, how rich Vast forest how tall, how tall Whispering grasses how loud how loud
Rustling trees how full, how full
Tanka Poem: After ‘Drifting clouds’ by Hsü Kan 3rd century
Drifting clouds, how vast Messengers ephemeral To send you my thoughts But you are quite gone away
And my mirror has darkened.
After Grace Nicholls ‘Thoughts Drifting…’
Thoughts Drifting Through a Large Legged Irish Yorkshire Woman’s Head While Waiting for her Daughter to Finish Piano Lessons.
Vaporous clouds Vaporous sea Vaporous mists Vaporous me.
Irish, Norman, Ancient Britton, Viking. All those cold-blooded North-Sea coracle paddlers. Windy wing moors subsisters. Earth scrapers. Low-stone-sod-turf-thatched dwellers. My ancestors.
As I sit in this cold, wintry, wet morning trying to be spring. Slate grey day in a centre surrounded by rooms. Shards, broken music, fragments with an overall Big Band underlay of ‘Hakuna Matata’ and two little boys playing shop with the books.
Is my lack of awareness of time, structure, being there part of turning my back on the ‘Authority’ of the ‘Father’ he said it – I will oppose and resist aggressively be angry and polite at the same time loose myself in the red mist of stupidity the anger haze that obstructs my life.
I let this great red anger distort and disallow. De-…
After Denise Riley – affections must not
This is an old new fiction, gingerbread Snapped by teeth, dunked in tea, softly mouthed One, two, three, gobbled.
And how on earth shall I know When in Heaven To stop the gobbling, the slurping, who’ll tell me?
You know what? I will not leave off eating when Husband can say, “I will not tolerate this bad example.” Children can say, “I will not own a gobbler for a mother, gutsy.”
And as I drift in and out of the kitchen Work undone, pots not washed Washing oozing out of smelly baskets Why all this domesticity?
F*** it.
What is dust to me? From dust we were Born And to dust                                 We shall return Ad infinitum – so toss it off boys
I.Reject.          The.       House-key.
Submerged Cathedral: after Debussy's 'La Cathedrale Engloutie'
The blue green light in the knave of the submerged cathedral.
How did it come to be under a reservoir of water? The drought of  '77 dredged it to the surface
clotted with mud and the surface clay
tiled in hexagonal trapezoids of baked  silt from the dregs of the waters.
The submerged cathedral would hold Songs and poems. Blue light, turquoise light, blue-green light. The day would be blue every day, the night would be black every night and we would never see snow or rain anymore.
Never see clear stars, they would always be constellations in geometric fragmentation and fractals as through dimpled glass.
The bottoms of boats would be our birds of the air seaweed would be our plants, coral would be our trees. And we would never cry. How can I cry underwater? How would tears show?
We must find an air lock of negative space. Up and under a bell, the last air. We can go inside the tenor and breathe the last air of the submerged cathedr…
The Small Pleasure of Folding Clothes: After Anne Sexton’s - Consorting with the Angels.
What has changed Anne? I am a mother, the spoons and pans are still here to anchor me to life And the parts of life that take time and are a bore, are part of the routine of Cooking, cleaning, washing, feeding, caring, solving problems, combing nits, cutting the grass, vacuuming the floor, feeding the pets.
Part of the joy of this manual labour is its simplicity Its rest from the poem, the painting, the teaching That occupies my mind and hands the rest of the time. There is a small pleasure in folding clothes and putting them into each ones hands. In a freshly made bed, in things ordered and put away.
God knows – you do know God How I have struggled with the house and all it entails How I have fought being needed by little ones And been disappointed by rejected caresses as they grow and change.
My head and hands yearn for Paint, a pencil, making, thinking creating Always some task asks for my a…
Polished Stones:
After Meg Bateman’s Lapidary.
I like the idea of creating poems of Hand polished stones Revealing the hidden depths of colour.

Trapped rutile, sparkle of quartz In the stone Grey or ochre Or black.

A window is ground With carbarundum Water Friction Force Until the poem is revealed Trapped slice of thought Suspended in luminous beauty In glowing colour and hue.

In oil medium glazing Layers of colour in the resin The slices of tints and shades in shapes Trapped in the layers of glaze.

The oil glazed painting Is like a hand polished Poem The painting in words The slices of thought Suspended in layers of time A polished window on the Grey exterior of lifes patina of repetition Show the inner light.

The icon luminosity No external light can produce this No blonds or redhead spots No halogen desk lamp Can throw internal light on These images and words.
The poems hewed from dreams Abstracted and fragmented thoughts The paintings pulled through Fighting presumptions, fear,…
Throw off the Wet Gloves After Anne Sextons  - Consorting With Angels
I was tired of the early mornings I was tired of the computer screen I was sick of the drive around the gyratory Day after day, after day Meaningless – days sliding by And I said to myself Where is the meaning in my stale existence?
And the answer came – “look up”. And as I looked up, snow fell like angel feathers And a voice seemed to say ‘Be playful’ When the snow falls it’s a game, a full stop. A clean slate as the Symbolists say It’s fun, let go of troubles Cares gone to the drifts of snow Climb inside joy Igloo up misery and disdain Throw off the wet gloves of being a wet blanket,
A View from Saint Joseph's

Home from Mass Bowing, processing, catching up. Cups of tea from an oversized teapot Pancakes with sugar and lemon. Through my most grievous fault Chocolate spread I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof Money in this glass bowl Money in this collection bag Buns for Nepal Confirmandees writing their own creed Singing from the back Romeo on his Grand dad’s knee Agnes so watchful and serious Luka happy as a bean Nathaniel running for the candle His St Stephen’s medallion Banging against his chest As he only just makes it to the lectern Before Fr Richard reads And next to me Naomi all in black Watching a baby who plays on her Dad’s shoulder And I remember Naomi Quiet baby on my lap On friend’s laps through Mass Josie, Helen, Tim Quiet and observant, trusting and waiting My baby girl so precious So nearly snatched away in the hospital as a baby Every corridor appeared to be ten miles long Don’t touch my baby I silently scream Don’t hurt her.
One, Two, Three, Skipping Song

One, two, three, stitch Everyone get in the ditch Follow the piper into the hill Hide in the cupboard be very still
Three, four, five, delve Cash in the teapot on the shelf Rainy day money For when the wind blows And knocks down the house When the bomb explodes
Five, six, seven, pop Corn in the pan on the stove top Safe here together Now don’t say a word Papa’s gonna buy you a mocking bird.
And if that mocking bird don’t sing Then t’worms will come And eat thou up, eat thou up Hey death where is thy sting?

A Hardy Tragedy of Sorts
I’ve given all my barley for a single silk purse My bonnet drenched wet, my face white and terse.
The inn is bolt-up and my horse is dead. Take that look off your face or on you I’ll tread.
The barge is smashed up, the house did fall down. I’m leaving you now to step into town.
Don’t dare follow me, I’m going right now.
A farm hand I’ll be and follow the plough.
My mind is a bag of marbles II 
My mind is a bag of marbles. Thrown, rolled. Dropped in haste and rolling off everywhere
I said to myself in my distress
“in” “Gather together”,
"focus, centre in"
I point to the place below my rib cage And visualise the marbles rolling
As a film played backwards the marbles curve And plop into the place of the pointing
I breathe and take a moment. It’s going The marbles are all back
and all is well with me.

(photo, taken by F.Norton, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Not Vital Jan 2017)

Harvest Home
The afternoon Spent luxuriously In a plastic chair At the bedside of mum Dozy, pale, frowzy
Her legs just like mine Under cellular blankets The kind I look at and think “that won’t keep you warm” But turn out to be toasty
Drip and cannula, blood pressure Cups of sweet tea Dry air, warm air Nurses chat
I tune out Who knows if this is normal? We close the door and The quiet envelops us I close my eyes to pray
Apart from kind nurses popping in It’s a flower centre With petals closed It’s a cocoon of blissful rest It’s a four poster feather bed With the curtains drawn.
Its enwrapment of love And one, two, three hours go by In quick succession And I with my book reading A poem at a time.
The costa guy asked what I was Reading – “Modern Women Poets” And he said “Nothing there for me” Why not? Men can read Poems by women.
And the time runs through a sieve And the next thing the nurse says we May go Luckily we haven’t been fed The institutionalisation Hasn’t set in yet
We feel n…
Lost in the Middle
Mum in hospital How did it come to this pass
At last?

Once there was Childhood Now Its all grown up stuff Is this play?
Her face on the pillow With an arrow drawn On the right hand side In blue felt pen The gown with a missing tie
The support socks British racing green
The dog alone in his basket The time Like when we were babies The house is the spot
The house is the place Not to leave Not to go from
And mum lost in the middle of Two lives Lost in the middle Between her mother And her daughter.

And she So long lost, so distant, in exile from Her mother’s world from the workplace From my world Work for joy, pleasure, necessity
And she Lost in the middle Between two worlds.

In a small boat for one Floating on a pink and gold cloud In her coracle.
My spirit leaps At the thought Of her safety.

Of her insulation from the waves And rude wind Chapping her cheeks
May I be her Cordellia?