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Monday, 16 October 2017 18:13

The Teenager

Written by
She lies
Smooth
And sinuous
On the settee.

Her movement
Is rare
And then
Easy 
And Economical.

She likes 
The fleece
Because 
Of her cold
Blood.

A Red Spitting
Cobra
Looks serene
Until
It opens
Its jaws.

The raised
Hood
Is a 
Warning.

Snakes 
In this
Family
Cannot
Fold
Their fangs.
Monday, 16 October 2017 02:15

Seven ways to know the Sea

Written by

In the sea

I am almost 

Water.

 

Outside the Hotel Window,

The halyards

Chink and clink

Against the masts,

Singing us to sleep.

 

In the morning 

The yachts are gone.

 

Here were Liburnians,

Illyrians, Greeks 

And Romans, 

Straining to move

Heavy wooden ships

And change the world.

 

The leaky life raft 

Made to hold 35 people

Holds 50.

4 are dead already.  

One is a child.

 

High Density Polyethylene,

Low Density Polyethylene,

Polypropylene,

PolyethyleneTerephthalate,

Styrene.

We have turned

The World’s Oceans

Into plastic soup.

 

At home,

A piece of 

Pale green sea glass.

Listens to a shell.  

Can you hear the dying?

 

The distant sound 

Of a fairground Organ.

The smell of fish and chips

 
Monday, 16 October 2017 02:13

Shakespeare

Written by

OK.  

I’m having an affair.

I haven’t been keeping it secret

It’s just..

It crept up on me.

And you know what a tart he is.

And fickle!

One minute it’s all 

Parting is such sweet..etc

And the next he’s going on 

About car batteries.

He can talk though,

Knows about everything.

I can, I do

Listen to him for hours.

I find myself repeating 

Things he says,

Stories he tells.

Of course 

I know I’m not

The only one.

I knew him at Uni.

He’s always been popular.

Yes, I know,

He’s married.

He married young.

He doesn’t bother with her much.

She stays in the Midlands

With the kids.

I think he might be Catholic.

He never says anything about it. 

Probably the only thing 

He doesn’t venture an opinion about.

Meanwhile he’s been all over 

The world.

There is nowhere he can’t go.

We’ve had a few casual meetings 

Over the years.  

Last time was in London.

Well, the suburbs.

Alright. I went on purpose,

Engineered a meeting

And he followed me home.

Been a constant presence 

Ever since.

Turned up at the pub.

 

He says Cupid is a wicked bastard.

I love him with enraged affection.

 
Thursday, 12 October 2017 14:14

Raise your Eyes and Wave your Hands

Written by
Raise your eyes and wave your hands.
Every woman I’ve ever met has her own Harvey Weinstein(s) and we know that the only regret he has is that someone told and he got caught. I view his going to rehab as an act of aggression towards all the women he abused, as though he couldn’t help himself. As though this is about sex and not about power. Of course, he is only one piece of filth that has floated to the surface. Now the pond has been stirred, he won’t be the last.
I remember when I sat in women’s groups in the 1980’s, someone would inevitably bring up the subject of sexual abuse. There would be a wave of upset and lowered eyes. I wondered, in my naivete, if the degree of upset was corelated with the ‘degree’ of abuse. I didn’t know, but what I did know was that when the question was asked “how many women here have suffered abuse at the hands of men” there was always 90%-100% of raised hands.
I was 20 years old and had moved to the city from a country town and had arrived at the women’s groups by accident rather than by design. I was so ignorant that I once declared that I didn’t need to be a feminist because all the men I knew treated me with respect. The friend who had brought me along was mortified.
Hailing from a family of 5 girls and a matriarchal mother, I observed that men were treated simultaneously as kings and as nuisances. It was an amazing balance that was perpetrated non-verbally. The men were sent to the sitting room with the newspaper and the Saturday sport on tv, so that the women could hang out in the kitchen. Occasional cups of tea, sandwiches and freshly baked cakes would be delivered to the captive males on their comfortable thrones. My father was a reserved, catholic man, who was embarrassed if we saw him in his pyjamas. Whilst my mother and her sisters, and later her daughters, spent that time in the kitchen, cackling at raucous jokes about men and sex. They were very funny! But as a child I was confused. Men were to be pacified, like children, given toys and told to play in the other room. But they were ultimately the ones who were in charge, served by their women. Where did the power lie?
I guess it’s inevitable that in a family of girls, physical beauty becomes a value. I must emphasise that academic success was equally high on the list of values! But, in my experience there was the underlying message that beauty could bring danger in the form of unwanted attention from men. “They all only want the one thing.” I don’t think they knew then that that “one thing” wasn’t actually sex but was purely power.
 My first memory of inappropriate attention was when I was forced to kiss a male cousin who had cornered me in the hallway. The adults didn’t save me, they laughed at how cute it was, ignored my crying and told me to give him a little kiss. I was about 4 years old and that was the message I was given. I must kiss him to get approval and no one would protect me. Take a moment to think of the message HE was given.
It seems that in every neighbourhood there were men who were to be avoided. They were ordinary men, our neighbourhood’s husbands and fathers. They weren’t like my aunt’s flasher. ( My aunt was famous for telling a flasher to “put that dirty thing away”). I didn’t understand why the women in the neighbourhood were to be careful around them but I was warned not to be alone with them. It must never be spoken about. A secret. Their wives may have known. We don’t know.
When I was 12, my friend’s brother brought me into a room and exposed himself to me. I returned to the sitting room and sat watching tv with his family.
Because I was pretty and if I told them, they’d blame me. Maybe I’d led him on.
Soon after that I had my first kiss. A boy I fancied sat on me and said, “I could rape you now”. I replied, “I’d scream”. He laughed “Not if I was kissing you. You couldn’t”. At the time it seemed romantic.
As a teenager, I had no idea how to deal with unwanted advances.
 It was flattering to be desired. It was as easy to give them what they wanted. They only wanted one thing. And I had it. Having sex with men was how to get them to like you, to show them how sophisticated you were. I wasn’t a child, I was a woman. I could get approval.
Later in my teenage years, I devised a method whereby if a man was harassing me I would ‘accidentally’ burn him with a cigarette. I am frightened now that I felt that was a valid and safe action to take. Unfortunately, the instances I’ve given here are a drop in the ocean and this was me taking back what power I could.
When I was 16, a friend’s father harassed me so much that I had sex with him. He continued to habitually harass me when I stayed with them. I couldn’t stop staying there or people would want to know why and I couldn’t tell. I eventually threatened to tell my friend and he stopped.
But I never told.
It was my fault and it wasn’t “really abuse”. It wasn’t really rape. I must have wanted it or I would have stopped him earlier.
Recently, 50 years later, I got drunk and told his sister which I deeply regret. I’m still 16 and terrified she’ll feel she must tell. He’s her brother and I want to protect her and my friend and, of course, I’m still protecting him.
I don’t think I’m unusual when I say that I believed that my abusewasn’t as serious as the other women in those women’s groups in the 1980s. Their abuse was terrible, awful, unforgivable. Me? I had just ended up having sex with my friend’s father. We were only at the beginning of understanding the nature of rape.
But we understand more now. Don’t we? We instil feminist principals in our daughters. Don’t we? We raise sons who understand feminism, whilst maintaining confidence in their masculinity. Don’t we? We raise daughters who see value in themselves beyond their physical beauty. Don’t we? We raise sons, who don’t need power over women to feel themselves empowered. Don’t we? We raise daughters who are empowered. Don’t we?
At 56 I’m only now learning that in those women’s groups in the 1980’s my eyes should have been raised and my hand should have been waving high in the air.
 
Tuesday, 10 October 2017 15:12

Welsh Magic

Written by
Today we were challenged to try a plethora of writing - to explore games and flash fiction; short stories and novels. Manon Steffan Ros put us through our paces and we had the quietest writing session to date. Perhaps her Welsh magic has sprinkled us. We are now Writers - wordsmiths with enthusiasm and plenty of internal dialogue.
Monday, 02 October 2017 19:54

Thirty Seconds of Video

Written by
A poem I wrote formed from free-writing, pulling the lines I liked, and shaping them into a poem...

Thirty Seconds of Video

I press record
Pretend the reason I'm recording you
Is not because you're dying.
But you're no fool
You just always put yourself second
And now I have a keepsake
I shall never watch.

But I don't need thirty seconds of video to remember you
Cyberman lookalike with your headphones on
In your blue jeans and white t-shirt
Baring what few teeth you have left
In a half-grimace smile.

I don't need thirty seconds of video to remember you
Saying "Hello, my darling!"
In that slightly creepy way
That was so adorable.
Goon Show fan to the end
In your head, you were Moriarty.

I don't need thirty seconds of video to remember you
Like a dog on a leash
Tied to a stump
Panting through a tube.

I don't need thirty seconds of video to remember you
How your love healed me
And how I couldn't return the favour.
How being starved of your love
Made me ache
For what was once on my plate.

I don't need thirty seconds of video to remember you
Dying alone when you'd always been there for me
Your head flung back
Your eyes startled.
What you saw in your last moments
I can never know.

I don't need thirty seconds of video to remember you
Alive in my dream
When nightmare and reality became intertwined
Interchanged
And preferring to sleep.

I don't need thirty seconds of video to remember you
The morning after you died
Drawing back the curtains
To let the light in.
Subsuming the agony in sunshine
Never allowing the darkness it's freedom.

I don't need thirty seconds of video to remember you
To feel love
And, if not love,
Then something
Anything but keep my heart in a glass case
Like a pinned butterfly
You see in one of those dusty old museums
Never moving.

But I don't want thirty seconds of video to remember you
My heart going giddy with excitement
Only for it to be mutilated
All over again.
Even four years later
I am not ready for that.
Not yet.

So why did I ever press record?
Saturday, 30 September 2017 13:15

Dancing the Deep Song

Written by
This is the poetry excercise we did in class. It's meaningless but I like some of the phrases! 

Dancing the Deep Song

Whales dance in the light of the moon while
Small salty people clean footsteps
From the sand.
 
They remember the brightness
And the warmth
They have lost.
 
While Bubbles of sunlight
floated unseen at
The edges of their small shell houses.
 
They do not forget the
Rise and fall of promises
Made and broken.
 
But still they
Dance to the tune of the foam
In the dark salt wind.
 
They will always be
Dancing the deep songs
In the light of the moon
 
 

Saturday, 30 September 2017 12:53

Where's my Poetic Licence

Written by
I wrote this ten years ago, but I think it's still very relevant. It's a bit rusty but it makes me smile!

Where's my Poetic Licence

 

My thoughts are in verse with
iambic pentameter
I am speaking in sonnets with
an odd rhyming couplet
 
  Waking at night
    I scrabble to
scribble my dreams
forgotten by morning
 
I am the classic ear-wigger
         The shy drabble maker
The one who jots thoughts
  In my busy new notebook

Bought
  ‘specially
    for
     writing
 
When will I be a writer
Where’s the line I must cross
 
How many classes
how many courses
How many readings
how many stories
 
Until I can finally say
I write
 I am a writer!

Saturday, 30 September 2017 12:42

A Stroll on Shop Street

Written by
Slán loveen says he
Carefully Counting out her change
 In dirty 10 cent pieces
 
Slán go foill! says she
pushing the bottle deep
in her ragged red rucksack
 
Head down she tries to avoid
 
The two young bucks with clipboards
Smiling at her through rows of
Orthodontically sculpted teeth
 
They beseech her to help
To save the whales and elephants and
To tackle the effects of climate change
 
No change in the climate here she says
It rains all year
 
The Christians are out,
With rosaries waving from under
Their shiny golf umbrellas
 
She wonders do they see him
And his blanket and dirty wet cardboard
Slumped in the doorway beside them
 
 
 Sliding along the shiny wet cobbles
That reflect the street’s` colours
 of blue, yellow and grey
 
She marvels at the miracle
 
Of how your woman
 Stays upright when she kicks out her heels
In a wild slip jig
 
But The grand soft rain
Won’t stop her dancing while
The narrow street is shrinking
 
With fiddles and banjos and drums
 
And the dripping people who stop to listen to
 the lads with the dreadlocks
And grand woolly jumpers
 
I once saw a dog on a donkey’s back
And girls with ten hula hoops
 juggling fire
 
Well, says she,
isn’t it fine
What can happen on a small
 
Narrow street in the rain
 
Wednesday, 27 September 2017 17:21

Album Review

Written by
Following on from Laura's instruction to write a 500 word review, I've written this review for Phil Collins' No Jacket Required...

Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
Love him or hate him, today it’s hard to contemplate that anybody in the western world has not heard of Phil Collins. Of course, that’s not always been the case. In 1984, despite Against All Odds being nominated for an Oscar, the show's producers snubbed “Phil Cooper”(sic!) and had someone else sing his song. A year later, Mr ‘Cooper’ released No Jacket Required and everything changed.
With its title and front cover artwork of Collins bathed in a red-hot light, sweat pouring down his face, this album was marketed as his ‘club record’.
The reality, of course, is that Phil Collins is no Michael Jackson (even if he did parody him in Genesis’s I Can’t Dance video some six years later).
Take, for instance, the lead track (and number one smash), Sussudio. With its pulsating bassline, drum machines, synths, and horns it may seem an obvious dance track... until you actually try to dance to it. That is when you may realise that the skittish bass is in conflict with the gentle-paced drumbeat, rendering the pulse of the song pretty hard to dance to. At the other extreme is track three, Long Long Way To Go - a cold, minimal, song (featuring Sting on backing vocals) built around a funereal drum machine beat. It’s a song more suitable for modern ballet than a nightclub.
The subject matter of the songs don’t help either. Despite Collins being in a happy marriage (at that time at least), nearly all the songs tell of love affairs failing in one way or the other. Take for instance, Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore: a song berating the break-up of a relationship, or Inside Out: a song about inner-conflict. Do these strike you as happy upbeat themes that might get you dancing?
No, this is no dance album. Instead, what it resembles far more closely is a Genesis album.
Perhaps it’s too much to expect a lead singer’s solo material to sound noticeably different to that of his band... except it didn’t seem much of a difficulty for the aforementioned Sting.... nor even Collins’ forerunner, Peter Gabriel (who also features on this album). Yet, Only You Know And I Know is only one of a handful of songs that sounds like it could’ve featured on any of Genesis’s albums from the 1980s.
So why did this album with it’s miserablist lyrics, strange time-signatures, and Genesis cast-offs performed by Britain’s least likely sex symbol send Phil Collins’ career stratospheric? Why were four songs from this album – even those as peculiar as One More Night and Take Me Home – hits in the US Top Ten?
Maybe the answer is simply, “The Eightees”.
Or maybe the answer is even more simple: Melody. For one thing that can’t be disputed upon hearing No Jacket Required is that Phil Collins knows how to write a song that even your deaf grandma could sing along to. After all, what is music without a tune you can hum? 
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