Tag Archives: creativity

An Open Door

My friend and collaborator the artist Birtley Aris has just finished making some new drawings to illustrate a small pamphlet of work from the Rutland Friends of the Earth Earthwords 2 Writing Competition I helped judge with Clive Anderson and Jon Canter. They’d asked me if I might contribute a couple of poems of my own. These two seemed to fit with the theme and, as usual, Birtley’s images have added a fresh dimension. The whole business of collaboration, the conversation between poet and artist, word and image, an endlessly fascinating one. Where does one end and the other begin? How to describe that third element, what happens in between?

weather 4

Talking About the Weather

The gardener sat on the old wicker chair,

hands wrapped round a mug of nettle tea –

and even though the room was warm, curtains

drawn against the night, the way we hold

our breath between winter and what might follow –

snowmelt, rainfall, lambing storm, the words

she spoke flung open the door on water, a river

in spate, rushing and roaring between us –

her worst fears of flood and disaster,

an unstoppable lostness sweeping her away,

tossed in the current of truth, lies, testing

the strength of this earth we cling to – as if our lives

were leaves, whispering North, North, North.

parachutists 3 1

Parachutists

After Guiseppe Bartolini’s lithograph, Pisa

Jellyfish fall through the heavens above

the viridescent night of the Orto Botanico.

Count their drifting moons, skullcaps

for the duomo, just visible over the wall – 7, 8,

9.  In fact, they’re all parachutists: cumulative grace

at odds with their singular mission; that history

still untold. Let’s say today they wear the ruched silk

of angels, landing within the garden’s jurisdiction.

Watch them unhook their spent umbrellas and pick up

a spade to dig fresh beds or a rake to sweep paths

clear. They’ll unravel the hose to revive parched myrtle

or pelargoniums; reinstate tumbled ceramic, fix

cracked signs and screw the last bolt in new glasshouses.

As the city sleeps, they’ll delve till the trees toll

their boughs in exaltation, each one seen so hard

the people will wake up to the world’s first day.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Worthy Conspirators

Unknown

Robert Mapplethorpe

He came, in time, to embrace the flower as the embodiment of all the contradictions revelling within.  Their sleekness, their fullness.  Humble narcissus.  Passionate zen.

mapplethorpe_flowers_3_by_funkyjunky

He found them to be worthy conspirators in the courting and development of conflicting emotions. He also found it was as easy to hurl beauty as anything else.  Often they were symbolic of him; his processes.  Modelled in geometric shade.  Modified in a famous vase and inevitably turned in the realm of their own simplicity – the blossoming of the mystifying aspects of the pure.

Unknown-2

And the eye became a body, the murky heart of a rose.  The sinister shadow of an orchid.  Or the indolent poppy balanced behind the ear of Baudelaire.  All the finery, all the flame, distilled in the burning veins of the jack-in-the-pulpit, the blood of the spike surging upward into a buttery crown. In the foreskin of a lily.  In another lily military, erect.  In victory stems asymmetric, exact.  In the head of a tulip, the curve of a staff or in the unfolding flower’s face.

original

Words by Patti Smith

Tagged , , , , , ,

The Edge of Summer

photo

The Edge of Summer

Housed in the heart

of the sycamore

we’re recycling its green

*

loosening ties

to the ground below

*

a power tool

not a woodpecker

drills unseen

*

axis and rotation

halfway to full

*

all that buried life

bramble and dock

swelling spores

*

but how to write good verses

without a pot of oolong?

*

in the still air

flycatchers

dance their frenetic jizz

*

through the canopy

greying clouds and a chill

*

when this ash grows

past that sycamore

would you speak of win and lose?

*

fistfuls of Burnlaw berries

that never reach the bowl

*

our perimeter

protected with flames

and burnt sandalwood

*

oh to be a jaguar

slumbering in these boughs!

*

bark as skin

and like all skin

its own fragrance

*

on a cooler evening

easier to dream of woodsmoke

*

worry – a temptress

worry – a truthteller

impossible to say in the dark

*

caught in the lake

the bounce of borrowed light

*

to grow roots

or go and reinvent yourself –

the weight of choice

*

the spread of heather – August

woven purple into the hills

*

while there’s still light

we move inside

for warmth

*

the edge of summer

in reddening rowan.

 

Treehouse Renga

at Burnlaw,

22nd August 2015.

 

photo 2 

 Participants:

Ajahn Abhinando

John Bower

Holly Clay

Linda France

Geoff Jackson

Linda Kent

Anne Marron

Tim Rubidge

photo 3

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Seeing, Choosing, Being

…there is nothing more surreal, nothing more abstract than reality.

Giorgio Morandi

IMG_4624

Plant Sale

Because I have no roots to speak of
I choose a bulbous specimen
George tells me is indestructible

and if I lived in Mexico would grow
the size of my kitchen table. I carry it
home in the car like an adopted child.

When its blanket of gravel spills
beneath the seat, I panic, swerve;
it stays steady, stoutly anchored.

I water it and slip its tan plastic
inside purple ceramic, happily
matching the base of its leaves, folded

into each other, like family, where one
and many gather. These leaves, searching,
thinning to nothingness, sprout

from the scaly caudex in a topknot
of bright ideas that might make a difference
to the air it lives in, which I swallow,

changed already for seeing it there,
taking up residence on my windowsill,
elephant’s foot going nowhere.

IMG_4631

What’s writing really about?

It’s about trying to take fuller possession

of the reality of your life.

Ted Hughes

photo

Tagged , , , ,

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

20130326-143837.jpg

‘Look sharply after your thoughts. They come unlooked for, like a new bird seen in your trees, and, if you turn to your usual task, disappear.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tagged , , ,