Thursday, 14 May 2020

TODAY'S POEM -  15th MAY 2020

Our Tara - 1 year anniversary 14th May

As if there’s a hole
in its number 4 skin,
our home-bubble has
tilted off-centre
and gone askew.

The dog won’t get out of bed.
The cats don’t want their food.
I can’t settle, and pace the house.

We don’t know how
to re-arrange the space
to fill the shadows
of her silence; everywhere
there’s an empty space
where the shape and weight
of Tara, the Siamese, should be

no more apparent than now
as I sit down at my desk

for she’s not here, tapping
at my knee, asking for my lap,
then keep me sitting until
she says we’ve done enough
writing - time for a
stretch and a biscuit break.

My little Capricorn task-master
who shared my passion for pens:
for me they’re carefully chosen tools,
but for her, they were those
forbidden toys to hide and
play with later;
two are yet to be found.

Tara, who left us her baby, Millie
who is unaware of anything
other than the joy of being alive

and skitters around my feet
alternately pouncing and tossing
into the air, a bright yellow peg
asking me to get off my chair
and share in her game, with this
Outstanding. Fantastic. 
marvellous toy .

Monday, 30 March 2020

Today's Poem - 31 March 2020

My Little Angel 

On the kitchen sill
my little angel
struggles to get
her wings to sign
‘good morning’
to the autumn sun.

3 burnt pennies
under her heels
has her reach forward
and on tippy-toes
her wings are freed

-joy, joy - she’s off
wiggling and wiggling

as close to flying
as her little plastic
wings can go.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

POEM 22nd March 2020


      (Poem in 3 voices and finally ready to be born, in time for my coming birthday)


The Cat.

Do you think it strange how I,
an Obsidian Cat, will sit
and watch over these bones?
Look how perfectly they lie there
aligned from head to ankle
on the sleeping shelf.
The door and roof may have crumbled
and drifted away, but her bones
each day, only gleam more white

her spirit and mine are the one and the same

I still feel every bend and stretch
of her leg or hand – when I leave, I’ll forget.
I do not want to forget.
Not yet.

Look at the sky.
We lie here watching it, her and I,
through the slot of the doorway.
Glory, glory to Allah
for the wonder of it.

Sir, so tell me who you are
and why you sit there listening to me
like a domestic hunting bird of prey,
are you lost or have you run away?
( we did not run away – we just had to go.
First to live, then to die.)
Your feathers as you preen them
remind me of her oiling and tying her hair.

She wore it tight and sleek to her head.
Her hair was her only claim to beauty,
that plus her fingers. Her face?
If I answer she was never bedded
by the Lord of the Caravan – he who
kept adding to his extensive harem
such was his need for women?

No, external beauty was never one
of her attributes, survival had to come
from her using her wits.

Pawli replies

Oh! Stop our story there: even in spirit
I must protest and contradict you,
my perfect cat, my stone of memory.
The first night my beloved Master was away
training the army, The Lord of the Caravan
did have me brought to his bed.
But at nine I had no knowledge of the sensual arts
or bringing a man into the illusion of his virility.
I laughed at his soft podgy body, his impotent
fumblings. Each new ring I wore was proof
of a further year I kept my silence of that night:
not from the erotic songs I later taught his women
to entertain him.

The Cat.

I remember your first ring of turquoise and pearls;
you hid it from all sight but mine,
but that also was the day your head was turned
by coloured baubles and pretty trinketty things;
anything bright and shiny and you hovered
wanting to own it.

Tell me again of the beginning, the very beginning
when you stood and looked to the sky.

 Pawli replies.

The sky was paling. The stars were fading
and shining Venus rose early from her bower
from below the horizon to lead the sun,
her lord and master, up into the sky.
“Love me. Love me – Venus watch over me,”
I whispered up to her, before I lifted the latch
and tiptoed away from my sleeping home

             wearing – 1 cotton dress
                             1 braided belt with a golden thread
                            1 woollen cloak
                            2 leather sandals

           Carried - in a sack
                          1 carved obsidian cat
                          1 multi-coloured ball of wool
                          3 sticks of writing charcoal

             in my other hand a staff to fight off robbers

I was nine. I had dreams of a perfect life
ahead of my eyes. And Venus, my Venus
would look out over the land,
bringing me to the famous Caravan 
I’d heard was passing by.

My feet were skipping.
My feet were running
along the shuttered alleys,
through the city gate
and out onto the open road.

Was it Venus? Was it fate?
For already he was waiting there, my wondrous,
my beloved, my darling protector.
Black as black on the blackest horse
and his eyes! His eyes were not brown, nor yellow
but glittered down a most amazing green.

He laughed when he heard my plea, and
of my life-long obsession to become a famous scribe.
If he’d just take me with him in the passing Caravan
someone would immediately want to apprentice
a clever girl like me, and I could learn to read and write.

And then his arms, his arms, came down and swung
me up onto his horse, naming me Pawli – the found one.

You never understood cat, how on that day I gave my love
and never would, never could, love another.

The Cat.

And then? And then? You were only nine
What could you expect from your love?

Each night as you lay deep in your bedroll
guarding the door, you turned your back
on the passionate love-making inside
between master and his beautiful wife
and you repeated over and over
vocabulary lists into my stony ears
as you tried, and tried not, to hear.

And Master kept his word.
Every afternoon a soldier
delivered you to the teachers
and every evening you were called
to stand by his knee and be tested
on what you had learnt.
He loved you the same
as if you were the blood of his family
rather than a waif he had found
on a foreign plain.

Tell me the story again of why, all of a sudden,
he sent you off to the Lord’s harem?

Pawli replies.

Oh cat, I’ll never forget that day of my greatest
fortune and also the day of my greatest shame.

It was my fourteenth birthday and he came home
to find me both smiling and naked in his bed
– but he pulled me from there and threw me down
like some thieving dog to the ground outside.
Yet he did not beat me – I gained hope in that.
Then he called to a soldier to pick up
and deliver me unharmed into the harem
of the Caravan’s Lord.

His first son was born the same day.

Each time he looked at his son,
I daydreamed he would also remember
me naked, the feeling of my bare skin
in his arms when he lifted me
from out of his bed. I could wait until
his desire for me would grow - like a seed
grows to a tree in an desert oasis.
As his wife aged so I would blossom.

My Master’s protection also ended that day.
There was now an urgent need to survive.
Learn how to co-exist among a hundred women.

The Cat.

And don’t forget.
That day also signified the end
of your teachers and training.
The opportunities you were given, all gone.
Never:  to master the Scriptures.
Lost:  your fate to become a scribe.

The Laws say you must re-incarnate and start again.

Pawli replies.

Cat of mine, you must remember how quickly
I came to realise I was not clever enough
to become more than average in my studies?
How their languid language full of rounds
and swooping syllables would not turn easily
on my stubborn tongue?

Remember those first months the traitor tears
I cried for a return to our abandoned life
with my mother and sisters?

But cat, you and I were thrown into great fortunes.
I could read and write, and I could do it exceedingly
well when I combined those skills with the memory
of whispered words and phrasings of love and passion
I’d heard between Master and his responsive wife.
The harem women crowded me to write their letters
and songs - together with my reputation for secrecy,
our survival was sealed.

The Cat.

And yet, when it was expected you’d end your life
surrounded with love, safe within the pomp and splendour
of a famous harem, one evening you packed your sack
and walked one way, when the Caravan folded its tents
and went the other.

Tell me again, why you left.

Pawli replies.

I felt envy.
And envy is terrible how it corrodes a heart.

Though the women may have envied me for my power,
for my ability, with words and ledgers – for my homeliness
that kept me from being sold into the beds of men – for the
secrets I would not share; not even disclose the name
of the man who fathered my stillborn sons.

I envied them more.

And often my envy of them was overwhelming:
for their beauty they accepted as casually as being born
with two eyes. Their sexual intrigues with lovers
who defied death to be in their arms, and the gifts of silks
and rare jewels they received, in return for their favours.

But I envied them most for their easy intimacy
with each other, for their living children.

The day I left was the same day I felt my death
closing in. I could hear my old name being called
on the blowing wind. Awakening my thirst for freedom,
a thirst to return to a simple life. I was tired of having
to go to the persistent ringing from the silver bells.

Venus, my planet, shone brightly in the evening sky.
“Love me. Love me. Show me the way,” I whispered up
as I started walking

             wearing -  1 heavy cloak
                             1 woollen dress
                             1 braided belt with a golden thread
                             2 leather boots

           carried in a sack
                             2 cotton dresses
                             1 pouch of rings
                             1 scroll
                             1 carved obsidian cat

and carried a smile
that would scare the bravest of robbers

Pawli and the Cat in unison

The goats arrived                                                   The goats arrived
the day I shifted in                                                 the day I shifted in
to the abandoned room                                           to the abandoned room
of sun-dried bricks -                                               of sun-dried bricks
a week’s walk to the markets                                  a week’s walk to the markets
to sell a ring                                                          to sell a ring
when I needed money                                            when I needed money
to buy my simple needs                                         to buy my simple needs
 Some rings remain with my scroll under the stone where the washbowl sits

And I lie to look at the sky.                           And I lie to look at the sky
At the stones.                                             At the stones.
The colours in the gritty land.                       The colours in the gritty land.
The wind is always here to talk                    The wind is always here to talk
with me. - I learnt of God                              with me. - I learnt of God
who lives without the need                           who lives without the need
of letters or numbers                                   of letters or numbers
and my peace is overwhelming                    and my peace is overwhelming

The sky. The sky.                                        The sky. The sky.
Glory, glory to Allah                                    Glory, glory to Allah
for the wonder of it.                                     for the wonder of it.

The Angel Answers.