Saturday, 30 April 2011

day/poem 30

(so, actually i got home in plenty of time, so here goes - last poem.  it's definitely been an experience.  i'm glad i did it, but not sorry it's over - some days it's been really horrible, posting stuff that i'd rather toss, but overall, at least it's got me writing. not sure i'll be doing it next year though...)

-- the end --

this is the end
the announcement comes over every loudspeaker
echoes out of each carefully hung tannoy
no urgency voiced but the implacability of the statement
brokers no argument
house lights go up, smooth, just as the curtain came down
red folds drape a velvet silence over what has just come to pass
as though it's not yet quite blatant enough
an usher approaches, pale hand stopping just short of meeting her
elbow as he pronounces again the end of the show
he is not unkind, but offers no apology
beneath the regulation gold braided cap, eyes waver for a second
momentarily bewildered at the final turn of events
switch back swift back to unflappable detachment
the rogue emotion a pirate flicker of comprehension
in the stonewall white noise of his professionalism

shuffling out into the light of a day she'd forgotten existed
she misses her jacket, sees it spread on the seat neighbouring her own
keeping its plush bulk warm as the hall sweated
from heated opening credits to infernal denoument
she cannot remember the film itself, only flashes of faces
cannot recall whether in pleasure or fear
cannot muster the energy to wonder at

she turns back to retrieve forgotten garment
meets barred doors, padlocked from without
whitewashed windows bearing no legend but 'closing down'
wiped clean across each entrance, entertaining no doubts
she blinks perplexity, eyelids rumble closed in perfect slow motion
vision clouds to black to mist and back, split second blindness
and second sight brings impossibility so sudden it is easier to dismiss
than believe - where film house stood now only derelict awning over
gaping maw where once through doors cinephiles poured
a crumbling stoop, and splinter framed emptiness

she counts the seconds she knows will lead to waking
nightmares, she snorts, become so banal
the stillness settles, waits in patience for her numbers to run out
she counts
dust collects around her stubborn lips, as the sun descends and horizon winks out
she counts
earth tremors, cries out, its death pains trivialising those of birth
she counts
the cold becomes all there is
stars stopped dying, all black holes filled
and silence no longer holds its breath
she counts until she doesn't
and every number ends
final beat skipped
and then

day/poem 30 - probable delay in posting as am out again tonight.. and phone won't let me post in the body of the blog!

Friday, 29 April 2011

day/poem 29

-- dilemma --

i ponder and i vascillate
truth or spin, honesty or tact
sent a mail that told the truth
i never got one back

Thursday, 28 April 2011

day/poem 28

-- 40 home from Bang --

the bus driver is eating a pear
enjoying it too, every grainy, juicy slurp
at stops, he leaves go of the steering wheel
grips the slippery fruit with both hands
his eyes riveted on its sadly decreasing flesh
chomps and swallows
doesn't miss a single drip
no wash needed for that shirt
when he's done

and in between, as he traverses his route
he holds it steady in one hand
steering and stopping with the other
eyes ahead, but sneaking glances at his luscious prize

he lingers overlong at each shelter
and every late night punter that runs to board
waving manically to flag him down
doesn't realise this driver's benevelonce stems
only from the precious pulp in his palm
and once core exits window
and trousers clean hands
he'll be back to being
wicked once again

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

day/poem 27

-- but i'm a princess --

you can't always get what you want
the stones knew it, and my mum too
and so now i pass it down, tell it her
keep her wings trimmed so when she flies
as i also teach her to
she doesn't sail too close to where pride
becomes fall

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

day/poem 26

-- discovery --

read Rumi today
eyes and heart opened: have i
ever known real love?

Monday, 25 April 2011

day/poem 25

(i actually wrote this at 3.30 this morning, before i prayed and went to bed.  the router was turned off, so i figured i'd post it in the morning... almost forgot entirely)

-- seeing clearly --

she left no trace, no trail
no signs that she had gone
except a note
to one side, an afterthought
a last attempt
she left no apology, no story,
no explanation except
'i need to be where i can see the stars'
she left with no fanfare, and no forewarning
there were no witnesses, no farewells
she left with no preamble
she left with no burdens
she left with no history
she left

slowing down

i am sitting writing this in the sun, in a plastic chair in the back garden.  at my feet, one of the dogs is giving herself a wash, and the other is having a barking contest with the duck.  We've just had a chat with the neighbours about their tree - her mum's looking out for seedlings so my foster mum can plant one too. after a tour of my foster mum's greenhouse, and a pause to spot a newt in the frog pond, and marvel at how many tadpoles there are, and how big, we've sat down to chat about planting seedlings in the cardboard from toilet rolls (something i've heard from another friend), and how i've maybe left it a little late to plant seeds, so maybe will have to go for seedlings instead. still, it might be worth trying a few, and my foster mum promises to give me some runner bean seeds from her crop last year to have a go at planting. 'you've got up to may the 25th to plant your beans, as my uncle used to tell me' she says 'keep them well moist - they like a lot of water, beans'.
she is sitting, relaxing from a morning of working on the garden, extending the space they have for planting.  she wants to be able to grow more of her own food, she tells me. i spot a turtle-shaped pot plant i bought for her when i was still a child - she tells me: 'it has a plant in it every year - i always think of you when i put something in there'. from indoors, my foster dad jokes about needing 'grecian 2000' for his hair, while he boils the kettle for the day's 5th pot of tea.  he sits down with the crossword, stays in the shade.  i am sitting, wearing one of his t-shirts and cardigan - i did some cleaning this morning, and it took the last wear out of the one top i brought with me.  the dog settles, lays across my feet.  the pond waterfalls splash and trickle, and inside its pen, the duck quacks a reminder of its presence.

i have been reading a blog about minimalism recently ( and enjoying a lot of what it has to say, wondering how i can hold on to the calm and contentment of this past few days once i go back home, to london, and once i go back to work.  i've been ignoring my phone a lot since i've been down here, and the last money i spent was on saturday morning, when i bought an ice-lolly.  i suppose it helps that i've barely left the house since i came down on friday.

except for a friend's wedding.  it was the loveliest and happiest wedding i've been to in a long while - and being nigerian, i go to a lot of weddings!

on friday afternoon, i joined the bride and groom to be, along with a group of their friends, part of the decoration squad.  their reception was to be the next day at the local village hall.  over the course of the afternoon and evening, we hung bunting and fairy lights, prettified tables with jam jars of flowers from the back garden.  and all around their were other brilliant home-made touches: a giant purple heart, made to match the bunting, a present from the groom's sister; table names held in place by blocks cut by the groom's dad; a hand-made cardboard suitcase to hold wedding cards and gifts.

on the day, the bride wore a dress she'd bought on e-bay ('only used once'!), and the registrar was a friend of the family.  myself and another friend sang and read, and another orchestrated the photos afterwards.  the wedding breakfast was provided by a local caterer (delicious salads, some quiche and salmon, and three choices of praise-showered desserts - i opted for the double chocolate fudge cake…).

as the day became dusk became dark, the dj took over from the home-made music mix, people hit the dance floor, and the joy that had bubbled up throughout the day spilled over into un-self-conscious jumping and gyrating, shimmying and shaking - joy dance-onified.

and i'm overwhelmed by how much everyone talked to everyone else.  and how blatantly people enjoyed each others company.  it didn't seem ridiculous that i felt i left with new friends.  people i'd never met before with whom i now have plans to organise a piano based sing along at their not yet found new home.  people i'd never met before who i've arranged to meet for tea next time i'm in their town.  it was a brilliant, lovely day.

in the reflection of my laptop screen, i see a bird alight on the duck pen - look around, and fly off again.  and as i look up, i swear i see a swallow heading west.  the sun warms my ears, throws dark shapes across the lawn, and my foster parents discuss their grand-children as they pat the dogs.

i am not surprised by my contentment here, by how little i miss the movement and bustle of london.  i'm definitely not surprised by how little i miss work.  inklings of the possibility of packing it all in now (rather than sensibly saving and waiting until next year) play around the edges of my mind.  perhaps it's a short -term thing, but it feels good not to be rushing to this or to that.  it feels good to sit and not worry about  what next.  it feels good to have been able to put all the usual clutter and worry out of my head - for now.  i'm hoping i can hold onto this when i go home.  hoping i can find it increasingly easy to minimalise, detach a little more. just slow down.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

day/poem 24

(a little bit of a bitter rant tonight, not so much a poem as a long drwan out sigh with line breaks - at/before/after any wedding i attend, there's always one person that will ask...)

-- friendly advice --

maybe you should look further afield
i've heard the states can be a good place to start
you know women's time is short
and you can't wait around for perfection
it's all about compromise
and anyway, you can always change him later
did we mention women's time is short
when i was your age i was having my third
and that was a difficult birth
you can't leave it too long
i have a friend
he's interesting - if you like that sort of thing
well, what is wrong with moving to nigeria
well, what is wrong with him not liking to read
well, what is wrong with him not being muslim
of course, we have your best interests at heart
just sometimes we know better
than you think you do
and remember, women's time is short

day/poem 23

(i wrote this last night, during the disco of the wedding i was at.  i was a little bit distracted. title is taken from the east17 song, and there's a line in there from james' 'sit down')

-- house of love (everybody) --

disco flashes - damn good night
and the dance floor rocks and shakes
to james and pulp and blur
reminds us of when we were
green jumper, tartan skirt, school colours clad
in love, in fear, in hate, in tears

heads bob, hands wave
and the pictures are red tint, green hue
all a blur and sparkle, fairy light lit, soft glow
and you can't believe you've done it
taken those vows
school-girl crushes given way
to love and support, care for as long as

disco ball flashes - what a night
couples the las to leave the dance floor
as bodies shake and sway, in time and out
we love you
and our joy is in every hair flick
every twist, every shimmy, every grin, every move

wishing you this:
happiness every day
and love

Saturday, 23 April 2011

day/poem 23 - delay in posting!

I'm at a wedding, typing this on my phone. Today's poem is written-and dedicated to the newlyweds-but will be typed and up tomorrow.

I thank you. Xxx

Friday, 22 April 2011

day/poem 22

-- good friday --

they've come in their hundreds, hundreds and thousands
come marching, come chanting, beseeching, demanding
come streaming, come huddled, they're hurrying, calling

come from their homes, come to the townships
come from obscurity, come into focus
come from their silence, come into protest

and the response - reports left me wordless

raining down terror, spiralling death-tolls
show of life taking, sweeping, haphazard
that as your answer, that as your warning

skin flaying, feet churning, arms raised, scant shelter
bullets and shrapnel seek homes for sharp edges
ripping their way in, forcing all entry

foreign bodies, such speed, no immune, no defenses
puncture bodies that stream with no room for the outpour
bodies that slump, smashed, grabbed away life force
bloody ballistics, sweat mingles with life streams
boots stamp their way home, prints trailing behind them
feet stamp their way, drag their way, find a way home

home to recoup, to recover, rekindle
home to reboot, to regroup, to re-engage
and again they will come, in their hundreds and thousands

come with their voices raised in defiance
come with their chants demand retribution
come for your answers, your response is lacking
come for your answers, come to be heard

Thursday, 21 April 2011

day/poem 21

-- not quite the one i meant --

this is not the poem i set out to write
these are not the lines i hoped to share
the ones that speak of awe and wonder
stanzas stuffed full of total amazement

this is not the poem i planned to type
these are not the words i wanted set here
not the expressions i'd hoped would come
as i stared at the screen's blank invitation

it should start out slow, understated
setting the scene
lulling the reader into a false sense of security
a few gentle metaphors
a couple of similes to add to the imagery

then wham, bring on the twist
the deeper meaning
what it was always all about
from the get go
tied up neatly in eloquence
and articulate verbosity

but this is not that poem
this is all that's left
since that one was imagined
since those lines were dreamt up
and discarded
that poem is trash waiting to be emptied
is scraps screwed tossed 
headed for recycling
this one made it though
and will have to do instead

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

day/poem 20

-- bricking it on the bridge --

i can feel it, you know
while everyone else goes about their business
commuters power pumping, briefcases banging
joggers pounding trainers to tarmac
tourists snapping, young mothers yapping
while their kids scream and squall in the latest buggies
all springs and vorsprung durch technik
they know at least

we're doomed
i can feel it in the sway
in the give of supposedly solid ground
the easterly 'breeze' has destructive aspirations
this bridge means to take us down

it's worse on tower bridge
walking across that the first time
i figured i'd have to turn back
not even hollie mcnish could distract me
from the fact of my imminent death
from the fact that we were never meant to cross wide expanses
of water on flimsy paths cracked in the middle
from the fact that it's falls, not heights,
that are my problem
that will be the death of me
that will be the end of it all

i'm not over-reacting
i'm not imagining things
it's definitely not something i need to get over
getting over is definitely the problem
let's not span the gap
how's about we all just learn to love ferries
or get us some dinghies
and learn to row
it's not foolish, it's not a phobia
it's not all in my mind
walking over bridges
is bad for my health

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

day/poem 19

-- worth repeating --

you see things
given that awe
is your default

that pigeon's neck is green
you tell me
and shiny
i teach you the word 'irridescent'
tell you it means like a rainbow
and you shout your excited 'yes'
tell me how the pigeon's neck
is beautiful, how everything
is beautiful
don't i agree?

you wonder if dandelions roar
ask me because
of course
i know everything
i tell you of course
dandy lions roar
though they're always sure
to do so gently
so as not to upset their
carefully set manes

you agree that
have far too much time
on their hands

Monday, 18 April 2011

day/poem 18

-- the world on a plate --

her hands span from the horizon to forever
and the lines that etch age on her face
speak of the wisdom of the ancients
whose lineage she continues
dry hands that can never quite be salved
by the softness of petroleum jelly nor ulay's finest
and grey hairs, each strand a thousand worries
take precedence, each day advancing
no mercy on darker tresses that once held sway

she would give us the world
if only we knew how to accept
but our hearts can never stretch that wide
we are not made to accept that particular dish

instead strike out our own paths
prefer to learn from mistakes that have been made
since time began
which foolishly we claim
as our own

and when we see our own offspring
diving headlong into the error of their ways
not even that offer
will be enough to hold them back
from doing as has always been done
and likely always will be

Sunday, 17 April 2011

day/poem 17

(with a little help from my friend - thanks Mia)

-- they told me muslim women wear black --

cocktail coloured
peacock plumed
draped in sapphires, in scarlets, in pinks
headtie creations to rival any horse-race fascinator
arms ache from the pulling and styling
guinea brocade, diamante laces
you glitter and sparkle to celebrate
births weddings
even deaths don't escape colour
as you flock together
wrappers pulled firm round large behinds
to mark occassions
as they should be
not stopping at splashes of colour
total drenching preferred
asphalt irridescent
reflections in every puddle as you pass
defy this country's monochrome
bring back home to these streets

Saturday, 16 April 2011

day/poem 16

-- this i do remember --

they say it takes time
to heal. i can never find
the time to forget

Friday, 15 April 2011

day/poem 15

(mid-way through, and i have a feeling i'm going to miss this  when it's over... 
this is a true story.  the guy in question had been introduced to me sometime in the semi-distant past as a potential... he was a little miffed when i couldn't remember who he was)

-- was it that time when... --

i am not joking
when i say i can't remember
not  being modest when i tell you
i'm terrible with names
believe me when i tell you
i don't deal in false modesty
and all your pointers
'you know, the one'
'remember, that time when'
aren't going to help
there's nothing there to be jogged
i wish my retrieval system
was better equipped
to perform on demand
without error or glitch
but like i said, i'm not fibbing
no word of a lie
i just really, really, really
can't remember how i know you


Thursday, 14 April 2011

day/poem 14

 -- you probably think this poem is about you (you may be right) ---

i have a friend
he writes poetry
like he's having a conversation
with the world
in words that are easily understood
and phrases that cut like broken crockery
scattered on ceramic tiles
the unwary walk gingerly at his approach
lacerations at times unavoidable

i have sisters
they spit lines
that make grown women cry
and despite what people may think
that is no mean feat
their lungs hurl hurricanes that hush the room
they make believers of drunken revellers
they trade in truths, give voice to light

i know wordsmiths
who draw laughs from those
that attend them
unexpected bleats of mirth
appreciation roared, gurgling rivers

i aspire every day
inspired by those who surround me
working towards becoming
my own friend

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

day/poem 13

(just had a bit of a cinderella moment. went to an amazing poetry night, Poetree at the BBC, and realised as it ended that it was already ten past eleven, and i still needed to write today's poem.  which made for some odd non-sequitur goodbyes 'sorry, i've got to go, i need to write a poem before midnight'...weirdo! so i did it on the bus. it is an example of why i hardly ever even attempt to rhyme...)

-- after fool's --

out of time and
chasing rhyme and
searching for a piece that aches to be sublime
attemptng genius, attempting smart
looking for some lines that justify the term 'art'
as i scribble, pen scratch
graze ink onto the page
writing as a fool aspiring to be a sage
never for a wage, rarely for the stage
fingers fumbling, poem rumbling, tumbling from my my mind cage
the padlock's got stuck so all my lines suck
and the rhyming scheme i've started's run completely amuck
but i don't give a hoot about the lines i unroot
only care about the scare about the chimes that cut the air
of the night, bus speeds as it hurtles me nearer
to the silence of my room, to the space where i think clearer
so the stops count down, and i'm almost back home
30 minutes to the deadline for this napowrimo poem

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

day/poem 12

(this is possibly another unfinished one, and doesn't mean very much at all, but makes me smile all the same)

-- running circles --

i see your lips curve up
rise to one side like a swing
at full tilt
but no danger of it hurtling down
to where i stand
smiling back up at you

and my hips bloom
and my belly blossoms
til small children could walk behind me
on summer days
grateful for shade that billows
a me-shaped shelter
cool as hell

and this is how it was always meant
to be
no crazed saviours
or burning femme fatale
just the quiet craziness of the everyday
and you holding my hand as we
let our magnums melt onto diamond cut grass
and consider paddling
in the algae-clad duck pond

Monday, 11 April 2011

day/poem 11

(i am both busy and distracted. i apologise)

-- unsure --

i'm never sure why
i find it so hard to write about happiness
why is it so difficult to document joy
every other line is love-lorn, love lost
or some other such lament,
and the rest, feeble rants or deep complaint
and somehow, happiness escapes

a friend asked once
why this was the case
and i wrote a reply
claiming darkness needed epxression
but that joy was too busy being experienced
to make it onto the page

but now i wonder
at the truth of that
unsure if the real reason lies
in a basic lack of skill
the elusive brevity of happiness
or simply in the joy of being miserable

Sunday, 10 April 2011

day/poem 10

- - walking on water - -

laying you to rest in the morning
and all i can think of
is that last trip of ours to brighton

bus down early morning, 
yawns and marmalade crumby fingers
arriving with cricked neck and creased shirt and foggy head
early enough that even the gulls weren't out in full swing

eager to walk the pier
despite us both pain-puffing, gammy leg a-piece
rocking and rolling our way across the sea
heading for the end, fair rides and slot machines

back on dry land, fish and chips early lunch
you laughed at my shock at the size of it
battered cod easily as long as my forearm
and enough chips to feed a small family
for at least a week

stuffed and ice-creamed
sea life centre final stop off
and somehow you convince me to pose with an oar
attempt to outpaddle a shark
and your guffaw as the flash bulb popped
me gurning earnestly
trying to hide my delight
at the cheesiness of it all

so as we walk away, dark suits and sighs
remind ourselves it's past tense now
and wonder how things will be
i'll still think of us, landlubbing pirates
walking on water
planks in-between

Saturday, 9 April 2011

day/poem 9

-- rewrite --

sitting in those plush seats
popcorn adorned, drink stain sticky
the lights go down, screen comes alive
opening credits roll

and he strides onto the scene
the hero
all swagger and iliad defined
every bad boy image that ever was
silver screen perfect, impossible

and i can feel you wishing yourself into his shoes
momentary bicep flex barely brushing your sleeve
your sleeve barely touching my arm
your touch barely reaching my heart

or maybe it’s me wishing you into that role
wishing you wanted to be more
than you ever really could
wanting your wishes to be
unrealistic and worth dreaming of

or maybe it’s me wishing us into some scene
technicolour sunset, all perfect reds and shimmer light heat haze
walking into it, arms entwined
using words like ‘love’ and ‘forever’
as though they hadn’t been learnt by rote
all our lines learnt by heart
perfect take every time

sitting in the cheap seats
silence as the story plays out
and i can feel me wishing us back to the casting stage
first read of the script
and taking it back to the writers
our red penned dissatisfaction
at the death of us before the final scene

closing credits role
and through the applause of others
carried away by the lies they’ve been fed
i can feel us wishing away
i can feel us slipping away
i can’t feel us