Thursday Poetry Prompt

Hello!

This morning’s prompt was: write an invitation poem. For some reason, an invitation to my funeral sprang to mind.

I think I first fantasised about my funeral at the age of about 11. I used to walk to and from school every day, and the walk was a little over a mile. Over the months and years, that left a lot of time for my adolescent, Pre-Smartphone-World brain to fill with imagining. Mostly, I imagined some ongoing novels, short stories and soap operas which I plotted in daily, Dickensian episodes (and thankfully, considering their awkward subject matter, never wrote down). But – if I’d had a particularly frustrating argument with a friend or my parents that day – I would imagine my funeral. I’d imagine everyone crying and wailing to each other ‘OH THE REGRET, WHY WERE WE EVER MEAN TO HER’. Pretty self indulgent, I agree, but I’ve met plenty of adults who confess to doing the same thing. I also used to imagine myself murdering my enemies after delivering grand, Jules from Pulp Fiction style speeches. I’ve not met anyone else with this kind of fantasy yet.

Anyway, with this fun little insight into my psyche, please enjoy my poem. It’s named after my favourite Britney Spears perfume, which I’ve been wearing religiously for 8 years.

Emily x

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No thematic picture available for this one so here’s a lol one of Pete at the top of Win Hill in the Peak District.

Midnight Fantasy

Dear Love,

You are cordially invited
to my funeral
which I sincerely hope
you will attend
and which has been designed
with your greatest
sympathies
in mind.
.
I am not dead yet.
Far from it.
In fact I’ve never felt more
excruciatingly alive
than in these days
since your presence
has ceased to be a given
.
since you have endeavoured
to avoid me
and since my hoping
to pass you on the street
and say ‘oh hallo,
how nice to see you
you look good, I’ve been well’
has become an exercise
in disappointment.
.
So I hope you will attend.
.
My ex boyfriends and ex friends
are planning on sitting
in a row at the back
and sobbing tears of regret
.
and my mother is giving a eulogy
about how I always had
a good heart
deep down
and how any cruelty
or thoughtlessness
or reckless behaviour
were all in fact products
of my simple desire to
love
and be
loved.
.
And I think nobody would mind
if you stormed towards the lectern
with fire in your eyes
and boomed
‘stop it, all of you,
stop all these lies –
yes she was cruel
and thoughtless
and reckless
and she doesn’t need you
to apologise
for it.’
.
Then, if you like,
you could run out of the church
with hot tears in your eyes.
.
And it might not be until later
side by side
at the buffet table
over plates of sausage rolls
and triangle sandwiches
that you’d see me
and I’d shyly smile
and say
.
‘Hallo you,
I heard everything
you said back there.’
.
And from then on
I might find
fewer reasons
to be thoughtless
and from then on
you might find
fewer reasons
to care.
 

Poem A Day Prompt: Shakespeare

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Some not yet jaded mountain(hill?)eers – Lose Hill, Peak District. April 2016

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I picked today’s prompt based on the fact that I wasn’t feeling very creative, so instead of a topic/theme it was easier to pick a ‘rule prompt’. The rule was to write a poem with a title made up of two words invented by Shakespeare. The website I used for my word list can be found here. I added my own constraint that each line should be only 4 words long, since I’m trying to get better at being more concise and not overexplaining in my poems. I also ended up using a lot of language from the list in the poem, and have underlined the words in the poem that were Shakespeare-coined.

The content of the poem was probably inspired a little by Andrew Waterhouse’s ‘Climbing My Grandfather’, which I have taught this year as part of the AQA GCSE course. The poet in question was a keen mountaineer that went on to commit suicide; I found the idea tragic, since as mountain climbers hold a bit of a cliche status as ‘grab life by the balls perma happy sunrise chasers’. I put that in quotation marks but I’m pretty sure it’s not actually a coined term. Until now…

Emily Shakespeare x

Jaded Mountaineer

The jaded mountaineer climbs;
Vaulting upwards, vaulting through
a deafening noiseless sky.
Addiction to amazement drives
this jaded man with
moonbeams in his eyes.
.
Negotiating scree, securing handholds:
summit in his sights,
with frugal half movements,
dauntless bloodstained hands and
dawnlight in his eyes.
.
It’s lonely up there
in the obscene tranquillity.
No-one will listen to
his majestic coldblooded cry
as he surveys the
countless laughable discontents below:
.
“That’s all there is?
So let me die!”

Poem A Day: A Science Poem

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I kept this orchid alive for a year which suggests to me that this is a magic orchid.

Here’s an early draft of a poem I wrote as part of a ‘poem a day’ challenge I’m doing with my friend. We have a load of prompts and we pick one each day to write from. The idea is to send the results to each other by 10am. So far, so good!

The prompt for this one was ‘a science poem’. I thought about osmosis, which was my favourite thing in GCSE Biology, and is the reason that you should always put a layer of butter or mayonnaise between the bread and the salad in a sandwich.

Emily x

Basil

You cost us eighty nine pence
a whole life in a pot
with change from a pound.
You sailed along the conveyor belt
between loo rolls and baked
beans. Behind toothpaste
and cheddar cheese.
.
And we killed you within a week.
.
You brought
your whole life
with you
to bloom out on our
windowsill, offering up
aniseed scent
redolent of Italy
.
where you
might have sun basked
in Venetian window boxes
or whiled away Seville
evenings with buxom
beefsteak tomatoes or
become stickily consumed
by the heady liquors
of Modena.
.
But instead
you were seed freighted
to a warehouse nursery
in Somewhere on Trent
or Nowhere under Lyme
lorry loaded and forced
to shoot up behind
stainless steel walls.
.
Stacked and
bagged and
shelved and
plucked and
crammed and
scanned and
bagged and
dumped
.
on our windowsill
to die because
neither he
nor I
remembered
to water you.
.
But you lived until you died.
.
You smiled
until your last –
always looking
outwards with
garden dreams
in your eyes.
.
Emerald rich with
shamrock luck –
plumped up with pride
until the soil dried up
and took your pluck
with it.
.
It wasn’t until I
saw you like that
– distressed and deprived
and drowning in sepia –
that I mustered the drive
.
to plunge you under the cold tap
to jolt your heart –
to tear out your dead leaves
to give you some air –
to move you into the sun –
to sit you in a saucer of water
so you might sip at your leisure.
.
And to my surprise
you got better.
Plumping out your
leaves and growing
taller by degrees
and turning your
face to the sun and
unfurling new ideas.
.
Now you’re three
months old
and twice as tall
as when we met.
A little fuller in the face.
More relaxed. Evolved.
Less contained than
back then.
.
I won’t ignore you again.
.
But I won’t use you either.
.
You’re no longer
an ingredient.
A monument to life
instead.
.
For living, not consuming,
since you returned
from the dead.

Lost in Translation – A Villanelle

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Here lies inebriated Emily, NYE 2015.

A villanelle is a poem form with some strict rules. It has 6 stanzas, each with 3 lines (except the last which has 4). The first line of the first stanza is repeated as the final line of the second and fourth stanza. The third line of the first stanza is repeated as the final line of the third and fifth stanza. Then they both get repeated in the sixth stanza. Oh, and they have to rhyme. I only learned all of this today, when I had to write one for my poetry class tomorrow. It was, as with all of the poetry exercises I’ve been doing, at first frustrating, then restrictive, then fun. And the results are… I’m not sure.

So here’s my own example and, underneath, a beautiful villanelle by Elizabeth Bishop. It’s a poem which I’ve liked for a long time but only just discovered was a villanelle (seeing as I didn’t know villanelles existed until today.

Emily x

Lost In Translation

There’s no poetry in sobriety,
only the algorithm of being clean.
Only the cold mirror of chastity.

I inspire your animosity.
You find me now too prim; pristine.
You see no poetry in sobriety.

Your Merlot mocks my earl grey tea.
By spilling. You wish to make a scene.
Confront the cold mirror of chastity.

I mop the mess with efficiency.
You find my earnestness obscene
and see no poetry in sobriety.

I wait. Hands clasped. Sit matronly
as you take to the streets for nicotine.
But the cold mirror of chastity

awaits. And I watch warily
As you light up: daring me to intervene.
To prove there’s no poetry in sobriety;
To crack the cold mirror of chastity.

*

One Art – Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
 .
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
 .
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
  .
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
  .
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
  .
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Song of January

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Amsterdam, 2012.

And here’s another poetry exercise. I like the results of this one less than yesterdays, but the premise was pretty interesting.

  • List 10 verbs at random and then perform two rhyme operations on them. These could be full rhyme; however, I encourage you to try slant rhyme echoes using assonance, alliteration, syllabic similarity (the way the words “window” and “finger” share the syllable “in”). You now have 30 sound shaped words at your disposal. Use as many as you care to include as you go along.
  • Include a reference to pets, food, or cigarettes.
  • Write a “song” or name your poem “Song” or “Song of . . .”

I can’t remember what my 10 verbs were, exactly, but most of them are in the poem below. Again, this is a rough draft (20-30 mins writing). I should probably start spending more time editing.

Emily x

Song of January

You prance and glance around the living room
Restless
you sit on your hands
shy away from the fingers
that last month
held the cigarette.

You tie logic in knots
Cold turkey.
I am stern
As you upturn my reminders:
This was your idea
I’m not overruling you
I’m not being cruel
This was
your
idea.

Remember?

Just one won’t hurt
I’m afraid I might snap
If I don’t slip once
If I don’t let go
I worry for my health

Your smile is wry at this
Your overt motives
fooling no-one
But you’re into your flow now –
Skipping or slipping
toward the amber amulet
in your mind.

Poised to fall,
Poised to fly.