kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I think one makes belief as one makes love:
think drystone walls of balanced masonry--
think of the hand that fits and shapes the glove--
think every stone cradled by gravity
secured in place by virtue of its weight
and no two are alike, but each is key.
I find I shy away from all the freight
attached to "anchor" as a term of praise--
but still each kindness settles into place:
a piecemeal ballast for my listing days,
or bearings set toward a kind of grace--
something to trust when cast adrift in haze.
So: tell me who I am, as seen by you.
Tell me a story; I will make it true.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
The chambers of my heart are lined with mirrors
that repeat and multiply beyond perception
each and every scrap of poison gifted me.
Fuck self-reflection. If I were an oyster
I could coat this grit with self-recrimination,
employ it as a scaffold to support some greater truth,
some greater beauty, smooth the lines
of pain, the whispering self-loathing.
Even stone will, with sufficient patience, wear away.
And in the darkness of the empty cavern
drips echo as they filter in through cracks
beyond perception. Nonetheless they leave their trace:
these grim uncompromising monuments,
these fragile archaeologies of guilt and hate.
Or, from some lofty self-assured perspective,
an entirely different metaphor's presented:
cruelty exposed--diminished in its endless repetition, neutralised
through being bathed in light; and stalagmites
are evidence that love, like water, can create
not just destroy, in furious flood;
can fertilise; can bring new shape and life.
Nevertheless. From here it seems
that stalagmites and pearls and hearts alike
are simply evidence of our belligerent last-gasp defence--
the hopeless scars left by our dying dreams.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
It's all too easy to dismiss, diminish
your sharp-edged individual brilliance
as untidiness, as more work than
you're worth. Try this:
Needs direct sun with good support,
for preference, south-facing walls;
and well-drained soil and fleece in frosts
and water when the weather's hot.
Slow to flower, rarely fruits;
give the thing at least five years.
Mind the thorns, the strangling vines;
mind the poison the sap bears.
Grant me leave instead to make this promise:
yes, you're brash and loud and take up space;
perhaps you're snide, opinionated, lacking grace;
but darling, what you don't quite seem to grasp
is that your weaponry can be defence
and ornament at once; can, in point of fact,
be precisely why it is that you're beloved.

tomorrow

Jan. 30th, 2015 12:57 am
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
(An aside: I sent my mother one of the bits of Rilke and the translation I massively disliked; she e-mailed back agreeing it was terrible and had a much better stab at it herself. We were duly scathing about the bit of the introduction that claimed that the Robert Frost quote - about poetry being the thing that is lost when a poem is translated - did not apply in this case. I can think of instances where it definitely doesn't, but...)

todo )

tada )

bonus tada for today because wow )
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
painsomnia, noun, inability to sleep
arising from somatic symptoms.
insomnianger, noun, inability to sleep
because of rage.
insomnia, noun, inability to sleep
for reasons unclear, or perhaps uninteresting.
Deferential diagnosis is required.
Morpheus' border guards delight
in lengthy - endless - questioning.
O innocents, ye need not be afraid.
It is the rest for whom these gates are barred.
& so beware, be wary: caprice
is the only arbiter of guilt.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
  1. The sonnet about dormice.
  2. The villanelle about intimacy and mortality and flavours of love.
  3. The poem about love and opticians (with or without?).
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I have more-or-less finished reading the entirety of Michael Donaghy's work: three slim volumes. I first came across him (as so many others) in Staying Alive, with Machines. This morning I lost my heart to two more pieces; Poem On The Underground, which contains the glorious lines
But Harry Beck's map was a circuit diagram
of coloured wires soldered at the stations.
It showed us all we needed then to know,
and knew already, that the city's
an angular appliance of intentions, not
the blood and guts of everything that happens.
Commuters found it 'easier to read'.

Here is the other, in its entirety:
Midriver

- and is a bridge: Now to either then:
child to lolly: spark across the wire:
lover to the target of desire:
Lambeth to Westminster: back again.
Verb's a vector not a monument,
but someone skipped a stone across this river
fixing its trajectory forever
in seven arches after the event
- so stops halfway and, neither there nor there,
but cold and rained on and intransitive,
watches London switch from when to where,
why to silence in the traffic jam,
thinks I can see the borough where I live
but here is temporarily who I am.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
Probably no surprises here: I like forms that encourage being Clever, particularly with punctuation, hence my fondness for the poem in one of the collections of my childhood on the importance of punctuation that featured the lines:
PRIVATE?
NO. SWIMMING
ALLOWED.


Hence: my fondness for sonnets, and for villanelles, and for whatever that form is that's palindromic, I'll quote you one.

Read more... )

-- and finally, as for favourite non-English poets, I am afraid I am not terribly widely read! However, I am very fond of Meg Bateman, who writes in Gaelic and does her own translations into English (especially Lightness/[NAME], which is how I first came across her, and is referenced in several of my own poems more or less explicitly); Rilke, in German; Neruda; Anna Akhmatova.
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
Per the tag, this year (after [personal profile] jjhunter) I aimed to write fifty poems, one a week with two off. The tag currently stands at 53, which is a slight underestimate (posts that contain multiple comment-poems only add one to the total).

Poetry is a thing I come back and back to. I fell in love with it, properly, during my GCSEs: Keats, who showed me how to write a certain quality of light; Carol Ann Duffy, whose poetry pointed out to me that I'm an abuse survivor; Stephen Dunn and Simon Armitage and Monica Ali and on and on; close analysis didn't kill the poems for me, it made them more alive. It taught me to look at the world differently. It taught me the value of saying & meaning two things on their own, and both at once. It made me more okay.

And then I picked up a copy of Staying Alive, and that was... more-or-less that. In it I found - among many, many others - Machines, which is significant enough to me that I'm going to get the final couplet as a tattoo; I met Mary Oliver's Wild Geese for the first time. The reason I am so drawn to "beloved" as a term of endearment is in large part due to Late Fragment.

We were encouraged to write poems during GCSEs, and I wrote a few. And then I... stopped, pretty much until the year I took off from university: I was scared of failing, to the point of shying away from making the attempt - but poetry (like so much else) can only be committed by those
Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.

Read more... )

The greatest gift of all, though, is this: how often it is, these days, that I find myself reaching for a poem to express my thoughts and emotions (because by using poetry instead of my own prosaic present I get to call on the layers and the nuance and the intertextuality, and the meanings that flourish in the distance between author and readers) I realise that the poem I want is one that I have written.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
1. Lunch was sourdough bread made from my breadpet that was identifiably sourdough, it was great, I will add more water next time; and leek-and-potato soup with bay leaves & lovage (Liebstoeckel) from my mother's garden, & the best parev chicken-style stock.

2. I continue to listen to Vienna Teng on loop.

3. I was rather irritated by the most recent poetry-in-translation I read (because of the translator, not the author!). I accidentally had a bit of a rant and consequently feel somewhat better.

4. My largest smallcousin is a fuckin' rockstar and I am so proud of her.
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
They say, I think, that moments
can hang preserved in drops of amber
suffused with bone-deep memories
of setting autumn suns.
In Mass I see the elderly &
think of my Grossmutti, who
placed sacrificial flowers on
the altar, very nearly til she died
& in so doing offered up
her blood, her knees, her strength;
I think of Papa, who still heaves
his way through grassy lanes
to kneel, to genuflect, to offer peace.
And in Mass I hear the children
as they whisper to their parents
having not yet realised just how well
the church carries their voice
(nor yet been taught: above all else is silence);
in them, and in the fretful babies
this strange unwieldy future
reflects me backwards to myself.
That imperfection is inevitable
is without doubt its greatest grace:
the same is true of love.
Take heart. Take strength. Take space.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I keep noticing that I am underestimating my relative competence at coding. I think this is probably because I hang out with a lot of highly skilled programmers, so I am very aware of all the things I can't do and much too ready to dismiss the things I can. Yo, self, you teach this shit and you write 4am scripts to do the thing you want because nothing else will and you would actually be employable in this field. You're good at this.

Twice this week more senior PhD students have asked me about chemistry (in at least one instance resulting in me going "... this really doesn't smell like hexanol" alone in a lift). I know I was good at organic chemistry; this is... a useful reminder of my skill sets.

And I'm writing poetry that is, however much it surprises me that this is the case, the equal of a lot of stuff that's been professionally published. This, too, I can acknowledge and be proud of.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
So! This calendar year, following [personal profile] jjhunter's example, I have been working on writing at least 50 poems, albeit with less strict criteria (e.g. I am happy to count anything I consider a poem; it doesn't have to be over 12 lines and it doesn't have to be "finished"). At current count we are Somewhere Over 40 (depending on how you count prompt responses I might in point of fact be over the 50 already) and given the number I have percolating and how many of my responses to the world at this point are framed as poetry, I don't think I am going to have difficulty reaching that goal wot I set for myself. Well done, you, you made a things!

I also Did A Reading and submitted bits of creative writing to 2 or 3 places. I have not thus far got my act together to either be submitting regularly or to be going to regular open mic nights; I am however unsure that open mic nights are a thing I want to do, in part because energy; in part because dudebros; and in part because I take comfort in the fact that Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, is terrible reading her stuff out (I saw her perform before she was PL). However, More Submissions is probably a thing I wanna aim for.

For next year - I keep wanting to Have Written more sonnets and to have learned to villanelle; and both of these are things I am scared of, and suspect I will improve at by Writing Some Number Of Them and expecting that they will start off graceless and get better. Sonnets I am more comfortable with in concept and suspect will take me less long to write, though getting the grace in remains interesting; villanelles I have never even got past the beginnings of an attempt at and I know they will be harder work, so I am kind of tempted to do this the way round where I go "20 sonnets, 10 villanelles" while simultaneously being aware that to some extent that's intellectual cowardice and the villanelles will get easier the more of them I write... nonetheless, something I am going to be Contemplating over the next few months.

(I am interested in structure in general! It's just that even if I tried to make a list of e.g. 50 structures to write in, (1) I'd somehow have to choose which 50 and (2) I'd not get enough practice in any of them to be comfortable. So playing with a range of rhyming schemes/structures in sonnets it is, and ditto villanelles, along with giving myself some space to count The Poems I'd Write Anyway as toward a less-daunting-this-time-round 50-poems-in-a-year goal ;) )
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
How is it that so very great a gift
can be as fragile, tiny, tenuous as this:
this sun-bleached bird skull, feather-light,
caught in protecting nets emplaced
from June til autumn (dawn til dusk).
Nearby: a poised and outspread wing,
tenacity of tenderness made flesh.
Unwieldy metaphor, perhaps, and yet--
and yet. O best belov'd: take flight.


(It is the lightness of your embrace
that will let me go adrift.
-- Meg Bateman)
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
  • Despite not even a tiny bit being in MCU fandom, I look forward enormously to [personal profile] recessional's Winter Soldier shortfic snippets - they seriously make my day; they feel like a gift every time, as does Mia's art, as I've mentioned, and a whole bunch of things the rest of you do, that just feel like moments of grace. I was feeling slightly wistful about wanting to be able to provide that, those bubbles of joy, and then I realised that probably actually I do - probably some of you do react to my poetry the same way, and that is a wonder in itself.
  • I had an excellent conversation with @taliskimberley at WorldCon about craft vs inspiration wrt poetry/lyric, and about how the 50-poems-in-a-year project I have going on is about teaching myself to trust craft more.
  • I was at a poetry event a few months ago, about mental health and poetry, and one of the participants - I think one of the support acts? - made a derogatory comment about "confessional" poetry. It's been getting to me; I'm struggling with the fact that most of my poetry is very short, is intensely personal, and is about experiencing the world as myself in a very direct sense, rather than having... grand sweeping scope? And I'm mostly okay with that, but occasionally I let the thing rattle me (and, surprise, it was a middle-aged white dude being all "pfft who needs confessional poetry anyway it's just DULL"), and I'm trying to work out how to work with that.
  • On an entirely different topic, while drifting off to sleep the other night I had an obviously brilliant insight about why we're so drawn to narratives where a protagonist has a destiny to fulfill (into every generation, The Boy Who Lived, etc), and then I fell asleep before writing it down, and now I am managing to reconstruct it only piecemeal - something about having purpose, about external executive function, about finding a place in the world, about what it means to turn away from manifest destiny and why we seek it out, and so on. Perhaps I will be able to put it back together at Some Point; perhaps not.
  • One of my bits of brain-homework that I've been stuck on for a while is "It’s easy to ignore our talents when we measure them with the wrong yardstick. Not everyone is good at public speaking, computer programming, or heli-skiing—and not everyone should be. This diversity of talents is what makes the world so interesting. Ponder: Which of your own natural talents, preferences, and abilities have you been judging by a faulty yardstick?" Now I reckon I'm pretty good at knowing my capabilities and ways I want to improve them in; I don't think are many things I'm actually good at that I'm overlooking/ignoring. So, er, would you all mind saying if you think there's anything that meets this? Because I suspect finding it this difficult is a good reason for me to keep staring at it. *chinhand*
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
1. Two poems finished up, for the time being, which means I've completed all prompts from the last round of mass spec theatre - one tiny little love poem for [personal profile] jjhunter, and Pyrrhic Failure, around which prompt crystallised something I'd been trying to say for a while (or, looked at another way, which prompt gave focus to some lines that had been trying to happen).

2. Preposterous hot chocolate. ("Gingerbread hot chocolate" - dark chocolate with misc spices; it's fab.)

3. Always and always and always, Mia's art, which is always and forever a blessing. (I have some siblings to that piece on my wall, one of which has hair of autumn trees and bluebirds; I should tidy that section of my room a little and give you all photos. It is the wall that contains art from Mia and art by [personal profile] elisem and other bits and pieces I've collected along the way, including a bundle of bay leaves from my mother's garden tied with a piece of gold-edged white ribbon, blessed by a priest on Palm Sunday, because Austria. It sits next to a photograph of the Moon and a scattering of rocks and my tiny sun and my most extravagant aloe vera, and I try to remember to incline my head before it every morning and say I will try to make good choices.)

4. I have read a small heap of short stories today, including Nghi Vo's Tiger Stripes and Song of the Body Cartographer (the former author I was introduced to via Long Hidden; the latter I hadn't come across before LonCon3, but she ended up being a deciding factor in whether I felt like attending a particular panel because she is that good).

5. I have Scalzi's Lock In now on my ereader, and I am looking forward more than quite makes sense to Ancillary Sword (which is still like a whole MONTH away, wow). Also super-endeared that someone's already started predicting that AS is going to be on the Best Novel Hugos slate for 2015!

6. My household. So many good things about it, including the general stream of amazing queers who do not give any fucks about any of the things. (Housemate's guest tonight was completely cool with me wandering out of my room wearing mostly a blanket, acquiring a plate of food from the hob, and disappearing back into said room having mostly gone "I AM WRONG NEW MEDS ARE NOT AGREEING WITH ME". It was pretty awesome.)

7. I am pretty damn stressed at the moment but my reaction seems to be "I need to grit my teeth and pull through this and This Too Shall Pass", rather than anything more... histrionic? Which, given my history, is an achievement of which I am very proud.

8. aaaaaaaaaaah mine's a size 40 (why are these classified under "Swimwear" WE SHALL NEVER KNOW) (on which topic, I only in the last few weeks realised that the "beachwear" vs "swimwear" distinction is one of function - one of these is not expected to actually be useful for anything involving physical activity beyond stretching picturesquely on a towel...)

9. I have been pretty good about Just One Thing-ing today - I got laundry put away, I got a significant amount of stuff moved through to recycling/bins as necessary, watered the aloe (which after nearly 2 months without was starting to wilt a little in places) etc.

10. More reading, I suppose - I have finally today got around to reading several poems I'd had open in tabs for ages, including a thing by Borges the title of which is translated as You Learn/Learning, and a thing by Rilke. (I am, I swear, going to get around to reading all my Rilke ebooks one of these days.) Nom, poems.

And now a tiny bit of python, I think, and then attempting sleep...
kaberett: curled decorative end of curtain rail casts a heart-shaped shadow on a wall (heartfruit)
If the highest calling is utility
then show me I am useful
by using me.

Make of me a book,
vellum of my skin,
a vessel for your stories and your selves.

(art is good if it arises from necessity
ein Kunstwerk ist gut, wenn es aus Notwendigkeit entstand
I am good if I am necessary--
or at least I am sufficient)

(fill me with your breath your hope
your need
your dreams of being as sufficient
as beautiful as necessary as all
that we must be)

(o please gift me belief)
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
for [personal profile] jjhunter, in response to Linkspam Feels Tectonic

(even if you feel the slow & endless grinding--
even if you feel your edges worn away to nothing--
even if all you can hold onto is the idea of stopping--
you are alive you are whole you are
exactly as you are meant to be you are moving
you are sloughing off old skin, revealing
the brightness of your new scales, your new plates
of armour, born of fire and you
have kept going kept crawling
kept living
again and again and again
and every single one of your earthquakes
everything that wrenches at your seams & scars
reminds you
that you are alive
that you are here
that you are connected

you are beloved:
most of all, you are beloved)

[poem]

May. 24th, 2014 03:12 pm
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
(precise imprecision is the power of poetry
we layer our meanings without obscuring:
these are not shifting sands, deceptive
these are not translucencies fading to opaque:
these are our simultaneous truths
and every single one of them is true)

In response to JJ.

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kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
kaberett

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