New haiga: Rachel Green is keeping time

* Rachel Green is a novel writer who will shortly become an
novel author but she starts every day with walking her dogs and writing
poetry. She has also started 'tweeting' an early morning haiku from her
Twitter account – you can find her here

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Helen Mort is carrying on

The Lovesick

Written in response to the Carry On film 'Follow That Camel!'

We're just like Bo and Nocker in a 1960s film; two mugs
drawn in by something like a belly-dancer's tasselled hips,
kidnapped the day we pause to shake out shoes
and underwear (the desert sand gets everywhere).

Watch: in a blink, our efforts melt to farce
and inexplicably, we're naked, clutching shells,
or improvising combat with a cricket bat.
We're a sandcastle-building contest gone to pot –

the tragedy is less the palaces knocked down,
more the earnestness we built them with.
No matter if the set's a beach in Camber Sands,
the dunes still tipped with snow, we strip sincerely

in the Sussex afternoon and throw our teatowels
to the wind. It's love, we say, this carrying on.
We must not think beyond the final, scripted scene.

*Helen Mort has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, the most recent – A Pint for the Ghost – was a Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2010. She is currently Poet in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere.

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Geoff Stevens says TFI Friday

Yes, bad timing, this should really be used tomorrow…

Fuck she said
no hot water
Fuck she said
one earring rolling
beneath the bed
Fuck she said
it’s half past eight
I’ll be late
Fuck she said
the car’s stalled again
Fuck she said
the petrol’s low
Fuck she said
someone’s nicked
my parking space
Fuck she said
Miss Evans is sick
“Can you take 2B?”
Fuck! Why me?
Fuck she said
must these kids
play up like this
Fuck she said
all day Miss! Miss! Miss!
Fuck she said
enough of this
Oh!Fuck she said
detention duty too
Fuck she said
got nothing in for tea
Fuck she said
why am I always hungry
Fuck it she said
I’ll get fish & chips
Fuck she said
got nothing for the cats
Fuck she said
they’ll have to share
with me
Fuck fuck fuck she said
forgot he’s coming tonight
Fuck she said
why are you so early
Fuck she said
you look a mess
Fuck she said
haven’t washed your hair
Fuck she said
you know I hate that shirt
Fuck she said
nothing on TV
Fuck she said
what we going to do all night
We could…
You can forget that she said.

* Geoff
is a
painter and poet who has run the Purple Patch magazine for many years. Last
year he was awarded The Ted Slade
Award for
Services to Poetry.

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Fiona Sinclair reviews 'Circling the Core' by Myra Scneider

Fiona Sinclair reviews Circling the Core by Myra Schneider, Enitharmon 2009,  ISBN 9781904634669, £9.95

Many of the poems in Myra Schneider’s collection Circling the Core are meditations. Her great achievement here is to allow her female personas to find amongst their domestic world of cooking, kitchens and gardens the inspiration for meaningful deliberation. Although such poems focus on personal contemplation Schneider employs her considerable technical skill to draw the reader into these reveries. The ‘I’ may well be isolated in a pantry or before a mirror in her bedroom but the poet’s use of a conversational style packed with detail creates an intimacy between persona and reader.

At the heart of these reflections lies a metaphysical desire for the speaker to capture eternity in the face of a fragile and unpredictable world. In many poems Schneider introduces hints of danger often in traditionally safe places such as home or a natural setting. This has a powerful effect on the reader suggesting that no where is quite as safe as it seems.  This is particularly effective in the poems ‘In the Forest’ where the woods develop a Hopper like menace and ‘Vision’ with its references to mastectomy and by extension, cancer.

The meditative poems frequently follow an elegant pattern that skilfully mimics the character’s thought processes. The narrator finds herself alone in a natural setting such as catching sight of a King fisher, or in a domestic situation like a  larder unearthing old cake tins,   this leads to detailed observation of the moment,the description of the gorgeous bird, memories evoked by the cake tins which in turn lead to metaphysical contemplation that is either resolved by the poem’s conclusion  ‘‘What is life if it isn’t a series of small makings to stack up in larders against death?’’ or in some cases is left unresolved ‘‘Often I pick up the word safe, ponder its precise meaning.’’

The poems are not over burdened with imagery which would arguably jar with the idea of contemplation, but Schneider does create some arresting images often restricting herself to one per poem that are all the more powerful because of their rarity. The most memorable for me came in ‘Heron’ where a courgette was described as being ‘‘solid as a baby’s head.’’ It is noticeable that Schneider does make effective use of personal symbolism throughout the collection. This includes references to the sea, rocky shorelines and the sky all of which represent eternity to her.

A collection containing only meditative verse might perhaps pall after a while so the poet judiciously adds variety by including poems about memory, vivid character portraits and dramatic events such as the confrontation between a group of youths and an elderly lady on a train. I found the poem ‘The Red Dress’ a refreshing take on the relationship between women and clothes, especially the effect some garments and indeed colours have upon the female psyche.

…reviewed by Fiona Sinclair

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Melissa Lee-Houghton says she's yours

She’s Yours

One version is that you went to prison, and
nobody knowing why only makes it all the more glamorous
to a seven year old with a giddy imagination.
Out picking daisies and dandelion clocks,
scabs all over her knees, the girl imagines you
rattling your tin cup along the prison gates,
take out a photograph all crumpled and greasy
of her, and cry all day. She is only waiting for you
to be good again. If you can master that she’s yours.

* Melissa Lee-Houghton says “I write reviews for the Short Review, fiction most recently published in Succour and poetry most recently published in Tears in the Fence. A full collection of poems is due out 2011.”

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Andrea Porter on trying not to be seen

Dementia Perpetua
(i.m  M.A.P)

If you keep looking down they can’t see you. I don’t want to catch their eye again. It’s like playing Peep-O with a baby, if they can’t see your face it’s as if you are gone. They can read your mind. I’ve seen them moving. The Virgin’s eyes have been following me ever since I came in. I can hear her blue skirts rustling. You could hear them coming down the corridor, that swish and some had squeaky shoes. We thought they oiled their shoes sometimes so they could creep up on you and catch you cheating in tests or talking.
Christ is shifting on the cross, cramps in his arms and blood that he can’t wipe from his eyes. The Virgin’s watching me and him. Must be hard on his feet, those nails. They are made out of plaster but they have a secret life, every object has a secret life but we don’t watch them hard enough to see it. They are just about to move, say something and we get distracted. I’ve been listening and looking harder these days. Those meerkats on the television know it. They stick up their heads and you can see every bit of them concentrating, listening and watching.
We’re all animals, we’ve just lost the knack of how to do it, watching for secret lives. These people are all watching me too quickly and muttering. I could be plaster and it would all be the same to them. One of them is grabbing my hand and pumping it. Peace be with you, she says. She has twitched and fidgeted for hours beside me, she wouldn’t know peace if it came up and bit her on the arse.

It’s dark outside and they’ve put the lights on. There are corners where it doesn’t reach and I’m trying not to look into the dark corners in case the figures have scrambled down. I’ll look up and Christ will suddenly stick his face right into mine, that big bleeding face, and he’ll know what I’ve been thinking. The Virgin will rattle her rosary and get out the cane. Sister Perpetua keeps hers in a bucket of water to make it bend more. It stings more that way. They are made out of willow, weeping willow, going back to the water. The canes have a secret life. They should have been baskets or bent to make picnic hampers for posh people. Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard should take them on picnics and sit on tartan rugs and drink champagne.
The wooden figures on the Stations of the Cross wanted to be tables and chairs or doors. Sister Perpetua wanted to be married to a farmer with eight strapping boys but they gave her another secret life. I should watch her more carefully. She could hitch up her plaster skirts, get down from up there and whisper in my ear. You’re heading right to hell, Joyce Bull because I never had a fat farmer husband and rosy cheeked babies. It will be out in the open then, her secret life, skinny and raw from lack of fresh air and sunlight. She’ll hand me a willow shopping basket to put my devil in. That cane is tucked behind her back, dripping fat tears on the tiles.

*Andrea Porter has a collection out with Salt Publishing (A Season of Small Insanities). She has made it into the Forward Book of Modern Poetry twice. She thinks she knows a few things but knows far fewer than she thinks.

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Sarah Ahmad has a poetry/art broadside for us

* Sarah Ahmad lives in Pakistan. She describes this piece as poetry/art broadside.

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