Here are a couple of little poems inspired by my cats. Sadly both of them are no more but their memory lives on.
out the attic window
the ridge tiles
always was a clumsy bugger
can imagine him slipping off
stock still until
is back inside
there done that
who simply watch
left to deal with our own stuff
This really happened. One day the cat strolled out of the attic window and onto the roof, needless to say I was more distressed than he was. This second poem is about the joy of having a cat sitting on your lap.
calmness of cats
on your lap
to heal your soul
I was given a new album by Manel recently and so I leave you with a song.
At the moment I've been working on a number of poems. This first one was prompted by a visit to some friends who have foxes living in their garden. They live in London. As I was leaving the phrase the fox garden came into my head and I spent the next seven days ruminating on it. When I sat down to write I got the bare bones down but it took another two weeks to get this serviceable draft right. By the way all I took from the conversation was the title, the words are mine alone.
were letting the garden rewild
was the thing to do
a dignified withdrawal
it back to nature
we had grown lazy
lived lives inside four walls
was inevitable they would annex the space
foxes saw opportunity brassy bold
gave up going out the back
as we were by the digital
out through the kitchen window
hide in plain sight
day a little closer
Some poems write themselves, the occasional one arrives fully formed and some like this one are a challenge. I have moved sections of the poem around like a cut up. Watch this space, I am sure it isn't complete yet.
like I’m relaxed
of body and face calm unwrinkled
then there’s this voice
my how it carries round the room
is not negotiable- right!
wake up now and you just do it!
carries in with his urgent hectoring words
my mother crossed with a surrealist
look around the dream command centre
the controller is pushing the button and
Conversely this second poem turned up complete, all it required was a polish. It is a simple poem that does the business.
I leave you with a recent live clip of Annabelle Chvostek and the Echo Choir. It looked like a really good concert. Perhaps soon she will make it back to the UK for some gigs. We can only hope.
I'm back from London now and enjoying the seaside. Here's a couple of poems I'm working on. The first just wrote itself from the memory.
it’s as far away now as it will ever be
mother said this every Christmas Day
she’d fed the family
my dad was asleep in his chair
have only adopted one of these two behaviours
after much exploration
life is best lived in the moment
will take care of itself
Most Christmas afternoons I think of my mother's words, though as I write, I do see the world in a different light. That said I also like to sleep in the chair as well!
The second poem is based on something I saw driving back to Torquay. By the side of the road was a convoy of two long vehicles each transporting half of a house. You know those wooden structures that look like they've been sawn in half by a giant. This is the resulting poem.
the run off the motorway
half house blew a tyre
the walls sway
the hard shoulder bulge
both halves stop
the tyre fitter
five hours on the road
home from the smoke
their drama unfolds
Obviously I could not stop and write as I wanted to get home, so the first line kept whizzing round my head for the rest of the journey. Both poems are mere sketches but I thought they are worthy of sharing.
Here's The Move. I think they were an excellent singles band in the 60s. Although Roy Wood's tabard is rather dodgy looking these days.
I've been cat sitting for my daughter in London and his has enabled me to take in the culture. I've been travelling by bus more than I usually do and was prompted to write this week's poem about my travels. When I was a child I used to always try and sit on the top deck of the bus at the front, over the driver, so as to see what they see and to imagine I was driving the bus.
When I get a bus ticket I always look at the ticket number to see if they total 21, if they do then it's a lucky day! When I showed this poem to the Secret Poets they had never heard of this superstition. I searched on line for references and could only come up with one. Apparently Matt Wharmby, reminded the blogger of the practice of adding up the numbers at the top of the ticket, (this was unique to each ticket), thanks Matt.
to all the people who
sit at the front of the bus
want from on high
see what the drivers sees
drive the bus by proxy
can only be one winner
that seat of majesty
here’s hoping the runner’s up tickets
all add up to
the ticket number lottery
way their day
be granted mystery
The poem is just a light slice of whimsy. May you all get a ticket that totals 21!
Here's a new band I heard about this week, Kingfishr.
Here's an interview with Totnes's own poetry diva. If you haven't seen her, then you need to, you can watch some videos here.But enough from me, let's hear from the legend!
Tell us about the new collection
haven’t put out a book. Instead, I’ve collected a few
spoken-word’n’beats’n’rhymes together in either an extended
EP or a short album and called it Funkinism.
covers a lot of ground: from comedy cannibalism to nature-funk, from
forgotten black women to people (like myself) who aren’t that good
releasing pieces one by one via my Bandcamp
and sharing snippets on Facebook
too. My Patreon
supporters got the whole thing as a free download for backing me
poetry or film? Which speaks the most to you?
it’s definitely in that order. I was a player of instruments and
then a singer long before I started writing songs and poems. Without
music my life would crumble to nothingness!
came to the fore for me around 2008, when I fell into hosting the
spoken word night Forked! In Plymouth’s B-Bar. I had a ringside
seat watching top wordsmiths entertain and dazzle and poetry began to
eclipse music for me, but now the pendulum’s swung back towards the
centre: I’m enjoying the marriage of the two (especially in the
hands of Langston Hughes and Kae Tempest).
I prefer ones with spaceships in them, but I guess I watch a film
about every 2 or 3 months. I just can’t fit cinema into my packed
life! And I’m likely to drop off in a warm, dark room, not gonna
do you want your poetry to do?/what do you want to evoke in the
I like it funny. I tend to write humorous stuff – even if it’s
about serious matter, because I think messages can get delivered
said, I also feel an urge to edify and educate. I come from a
background as a local newspaper reporter, so telling people
interesting, useful stuff is in my make-up.
day’s a school day with a Mama Tokus set!
the typical career path of a poet?
think Pam Ayres had a good run at it…
has the poetry business/scene changed over your life time?
think the arrival of the spoken word/performance poetry scene has
given a big boost and a youth-injection to poetry, which is great.
Actually, before that in the 1970s, the rap scene began with street
poets battling it out verbally. Rap is poetry and hip hop is massive.
So I guess I’ve witnessed rhyming words becoming super-popular and
travelling right around the world.
century, social/digital media invites poets to reach audiences they
might not have (although we find ourselves shouting into the void
unless we spend some advertising dollars). It also invites us to
spend a lot of time learning how to use these digital tools. Time
that could have been spent doing your do. I’ve definitely succumbed
to too much tech, not enough artistry, which is why I wrote this
piece, called Watchin’
It or Doing It.
seen festivals increasingly offering poetry tents (which are packed):
a brilliant antidote to atomised creatives performing snippets of
their work to a camera screen, only for that worked to be watched.
you could become a character in fiction, or film who would you be and
Panther so that I could be at the apex of the acceptance by the
mainstream of Afrofuturism. Wakanda!
the state of society at this point in time what is the role of the
have and share ideas, encourage community, to kick against the pricks
– whilst bringing audiences with them on the ride.
has your work changed over time?
think it’s got more urgent and strident, actually. I started off
being silly and absurdist and while I love that vibe, I feel a need
to educate and get stuff across to people. I want to radicalise
far does real life creep into your work?
that’s where the funny is!
said before that I was a local newspaper reporter in the past, and so
I’ve got a lot of experience in picking out the jewels from daily
life. Also I want to comment on today’s events and ideas.
said that, I think my work could also benefit from having some
fantasy life creeping into it…!
something you love and why?
I’ve fallen in love with birds. They are the messengers of the
gods, those little feathered friends. They sing, they fly, they do
battle and they look outstanding in their liveries.
need our love. What with prolific cats, cars, pollution, habitat
loss, rising temperatures, industrial agriculture, ruined rivers and
suchlike, they need love.
musician pal Marcus Vergette recently wrote a piece
about the horror of a world without birdsong, which only stoked up my
would be your dream project?
a highly-remunerated suite of works over several weeks and months
about how brilliant birds are with a divorced George Clooney at his
Lake Como holiday home.
do you navigate the poetry world?
don’t much at the moment. I haven’t been to any poetry gigs for
ages, because I feel like writing – when I’m in that mood, I feel
like I need to concentrate on what’s coming out of me, as opposed
to receiving someone else’s stuff.
you were not a poet what would you be?
musician. Oh. I am.
you ever doubted your talent?
goddess, yes! Regularly! Not enough to stop writing though…
I’m working on performing my words’n’beats fluently via my Loopstation – it’s where I can make beats and sounds that back up my words. I’m a musician first, a poet after, so I’m interested in being able to play my ‘instrument’ in order to support the words. I’ve found that it’s quite tricky to, er, play an instrument…
Thanks Mama. If you like to buy Mama a cup of coffee you can here.
When I started this blog over eleven years ago I had a life time's backlog of poems, I've worked through those in the intervening years and these days I tend to post work in in progress. Here's a poem I've been revising. You can read the original here.
HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE
marker is a frozen
denies us access stalls
us out of the digital cornucopia
reminders are placed strategically
across our lived experiences
we have to want to read the signs
we choose not to
tuesday afternoon can be long enough
wants to think in planet time
alone attempt to imagine entropy
the last night in the life of the earth
before all the atoms are scattered
across the expanding universe
fleeting eternity we live every day
are here now that’s enough
The layout has changed and hopefully I've clarified the opening. The Secret Poets thought the start was unclear. What do you think?
Here's an unexpected joy. I did not expect any other videos of Michael Stipe, Natalie Merchant and Billy Bragg to emerge [the one of them singing Hello In There is superb], but one has. Enjoy.
Poems arrive by many routes, an image, a word, an idea that you catch and shape or in the case of this post's poem, a single line: the trouble with time travellers. It was an arresting statement, what are the difficulties of talking to people from the future? Apart that is from the practical ones like how do you do it? Putting that to one side I thought about how they would probably want information, for you to confirm a theory, for your words to grant them academic status.
you have to answer
looks they exchange as you talk
told you so all over their face
I hate about time travellers
the words they use to each other
incredible they lasted this long
can see why they died out can’t you
I also wanted to infer that the person speaking might be talking about power imbalances in general. How do you think I have managed it? One to take to the Secret Poets if ever there was. Watch this space.
I've been listening to a lot of Iron and Wine recently. He is such a good songwriter. I have been especially taken with this song.