Beats, blocks, and poetry

This week my dad went into hospital once again. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in February 2010. Heart failure. Where that organ – so attributed to romantic whimsy – cannot cope with pumping the blood around the body as the vessels are weakened. My dad has been smoking for about half a century – which has probably been the major contributor. On Wednesday he had a pacemaker put in – thank you National Health Service – and boasts about being “semi-bionic”. My dad has arrhythmia – where the regular dance of the heart is irregular leading to dizziness, the need for a rainbow’s worth of colourful pills. The pacemaker that he had put in on Wednesday means that this cocktail of drugs can be slimmed down, and that the device will “nudge” his heart into a more regular beat. He’s OK which is the important thing. For now.

This week, then, has been a bit of a write-off in terms of work; worry has lead to writer’s block. As an academic-in-training, there are large amounts of words to compose, papers to sculpt and script, a short film to edit. All are put to one side as the parent pops into the head…

So, not brilliant but that’s what urban nature is for – to help stomp out your feelings, to breathe the wind that slips through willow and silver birch. To walk off that grief. To share your tears with spring budding trees and the kingfisher that skims over a trolley dumped in the Mersey.

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A brief wander along a different route, followed by a coffee and writing session at Rhode Island Coffee. Forced to pick up a pencil and notebook in mental payment for this caffeinated treat. Using the prompt from NaPoWriMo day 16, this is a poem written in the form of a terzanelle – I’ve not written in this form before, it’s rather lovely to work with. (The poem isn’t one of my favourites that I’ve written, but hey, it’s an exercise!)

Insomniac Hours

Some things are better off said unsaid.
(I wish that I’d told you how much I loved you.)
Some things are better off left unsaid

or left in the head. I’m buried deep in blue,
there are oceans more shallow than this regret.
I wish that I’d told you how much I loved you.

Insomniac hours, eyes dried with sleep debt,
I lie on my back count the cars that drive past.
(There are oceans more shallow than this regret.)

Sleepless for decades? I wonder how long this will last.
The ceiling flickers with bright, coloured light,
I lie on my back count the cars that drive past.

The colours blend into a brilliant white,
I count the times that I’ve been tongue-tied.
The ceiling flickers with bright, coloured light.

I wish that I’d done more, I wish that I’d tried –
some things are better off left unsaid –
I count the times that I’ve been tongue-tied.
Some things are better off left unsaid.

NaPoWriMo #2 – Dreamless City (Brooklyn Bridge Nocturne)

Today a translation for NaPoWriMo day 2 (following someone else’s suggestion this morning)! I’ve been learning Spanish over the past couple of years, but started taking it a bit more seriously this year. Here’s a translation of one of Spain’s finest poets – Federico García Lorca. (I apologise in advance if it’s a bit surreal, this is all my own translation!)

No sleep for anyone

No sleep for anyone

Dreamless City (Brooklyn Bridge)
No sleep for anyone. Nobody, nobody.
No sleep for anyone.
The moon creatures scent and hover above their shelter.
Iguanas will come, living and biting men who will not dream
and what flees with a broken heart around corners
an incredible crocodile still low has the tender protest of the stars.
No sleep for the world’s nobody. Nobody, nobody.
No sleep for anyone.
Well a dream in the cemetery far away
they mourned for three years
because their knees were dry in the passage
and the boy they buried yesterday they cried so much
it was a necessary call for the dogs were silenced.
Life is not a dream. Alert! Alert! Alert!
We fall off ladders capture the humid earth
or rise and sharpen the snow with a chorus of dead dahlias.
Yet there is no forgetfulness, nor dreaming:
fresh meat. The kiss concerns the mouths
in a morning of recent veins
and what mourning, sympathise with the sympathisers without interruption
and what fear of death leaves their men.

One day
the horses living in the bars
and the furious ants
attack the sweet, yellow heaven of refugees with cow eyes.
Another day
we go and resurrect preserved butterflies
along a passage of grey sponge
we go, our wedding rings sparkle and well the roses on our tongues.
Alert! Alert! Alert!
What guarded footprints claw and the downpour
those boys that cry and don’t know the invention of the bridge
or those dead where they had a head and a shoe,
the wall has leaves has iguanas and tills hope
where hope is bear teeth
where hope is the mummified hand of a boy
and the camel skin the sea urchin with a violent blue shiver.
No sleep for anyone. Nobody, nobody.
No sleep for anyone.
But whether someone closes their eyes.
Whip! My boys! Whip!
The beech tree is a panorama of open eyes
and bitter wounds alight.
No sleep for the world’s nobody. Nobody, nobody.
No the good say.
No sleep for anyone.
But yes, whether you have a surplus night of temple moss,
open the scuttle see under the moon
the fake cup, the poison and the theatre’s skull.

—-

Ciudad sin sueño (Nocturno Del Brooklyn Bridge) – de Federico García Lorca

No duerme nadie por el cielo. Nadie, nadie.
No duerme nadie.
Las criaturas de la luna huelen y rondan sus cabañas.
Vendrán las iguanas vivas a morder a los hombres que no sueñan
y el que huye con el corazón roto encontrará por las esquinas
al increíble cocodrilo quieto bajo la tierna protesta de los astros.
No duerme nadie por el mundo. Nadie, nadie.
No duerme nadie.
Hay un muerto en el cementerio más lejano
que se queja tres años
porque tiene un paisaje seco en la rodilla;
y el niño que enterraron esta mañana lloraba tanto
que hubo necesidad de llamar a los perros para que callase.
No es sueño la vida. ¡Alerta! ¡Alerta! ¡Alerta!
Nos caemos por las escaleras para comer la tierra húmeda
o subimos al filo de la nieve con el coro de las dalias muertas.
Pero no hay olvido, ni sueño:
carne viva. Los besos atan las bocas
en una maraña de venas recientes
y al que le duele su dolor le dolerá sin descanso
y al que teme la muerte la llevará sobre sus hombros.

Un día
los caballos vivirán en las tabernas
y las hormigas furiosas
atacarán los cielos amarillos que se refugian en los ojos de las vacas.
Otro día
veremos la resurrección de las mariposas disecadas
y aún andando por un paisaje de esponjas grises y barcos mudos
veremos brillar nuestro anillo y manar rosas de nuestra lengua.
¡Alerta! ¡Alerta! ¡Alerta!
A los que guardan todavía huellas de zarpa y aguacero,
a aquel muchacho que llora porque no sabe la invención del puente
o a aquel muerto que ya no tiene más que la cabeza y un zapato,
hay que llevarlos al muro donde iguanas y sierpes esperan,
donde espera la dentadura del oso,
donde espera la mano momificada del niño
y la piel del camello se eriza con un violento escalofrío azul.
No duerme nadie por el cielo. Nadie, nadie.
No duerme nadie.
Pero si alguien cierra los ojos,
¡azotadlo, hijos míos, azotadlo!
Haya un panorama de ojos abiertos
y amargas llagas encendidas.
No duerme nadie por el mundo. Nadie, nadie.
Ya lo he dicho.
No duerme nadie.
Pero si alguien tiene por la noche exceso de musgo en las sienes,
abrid los escotillones para que vea bajo la luna
las copas falsas, el veneno y la calavera de los teatros.

NaPoWriMo #1 – Hollingworth Lake

The first prompt from NaPoWriMo’s is to write a poem of negation. So, here goes…

Hollingworth Lake, image from Friends of Hollingworth Lake (links to website).

Hollingworth Lake, image from Friends of Hollingworth Lake (links to website).

Hollingworth Lake

It will not drain the sun,
nor spill over from the moon.

It’s not made from your heart
nor from your darkened lungs,

the cillia fanning out
drifting in a flesh vacuum.

The breath from your body
doesn’t even leave a ripple.

Its tide is not pulled by birds
and words are not enough to make it

language is not deep enough
to skim the bottom of the lake.