Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Anniversary shrine and some memories

Love Gyre and two little wedding lanterns. Handmade ceramic.

Thank you, Margaret Fourie, for marrying us. 27th June 2013
"Let no one come between those whom God has joined together."

"Out of your words will pour the light from the lanterns I shall make for our wedding." 

"... across all these spaces of unlikeliness." 
Thank you to Ruth Woudstra for all the lovely wedding photographs - what a gift!

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Where to now?

This video clip was recently filmed by Riccardo Magnanini at Tor Doone above Hogsback. It shows a sample of the poems I read at High Riding to a small audience in January as a preliminary to my book.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

A forgotten letter to the Steppenwolverine

I actually don't know how it happened, but today I discovered a forgotten email to me from Norman, dated 7th June 2012. Here it is. (His pet name for me was 'Wolverine' - short for 'Steppenwolverine', a feminisation of Steppenwolf, which Norman called himself after Herman Hesse's figure of that name to express his isolatedness.)

My Dearest Wolverine,

    As someone who's been called
    a Master of Fire,*
    your log-blooms awe me,

    their architecure
    so sure,

    alert to the meaning of air-paths
    traced amidst the symmetries
    and crankinesses of wood;

    and these past days
    you have set me to sleep and meditate
    before such heart-warm blazes

    that today some ache in my chest that's been there as long as I can recall
    gave way,
    let me settle towards a peace of mind and body

    I've not known for years
    - took me into the arms of comfort
    that are your flesh and spirit

    laving over me,
    healing me
    of a life-long illness,

    letting me come safely into your company
    more closely than anyone's
    ever done before,

    thawing my self-denying fear of risking living
    into trickling
    like the first seeps of Spring

    really leafing
    into Tomorrow.


* My poem Master of Creation, which describes Norman as a master of fire, was published in New Contrast 152, Vol.38, No.4, Summer 2010.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Burrowing my nose into cyber-soil

Second draft begun today. The book is divided into eight sections. I combed through the first section today and managed to contract it from 65 poems to 53. It's a start. I feel pleased I did SOMETHING, but quite morose about the prospect of the massive volume of work still ahead. More than 400 poems AAAAARRRGH!

HAVE to stay healthy, drink less wine.

Decided to scrap the interweaving prose: good decision. It felt good just chucking the lot. Let the poems speak completely for themselves, they must tell the STORY of the first meeting, the love exchanges, the first illness, the move ... all the way to the CRISIS. ALL the poems that don't serve the flow of the story must go. Can't be sentimental, this isn't about me or my supposed voice, it's about ... About what exactly?

I thought it should be all Memento Mori centred, but the truth is there was so much healing. Necessary healing, inevitable healing. The sheer effort of healing. Healing taking itself upon itself. So how is this going to help people? DH Lawrence: Ship of Death. Must read that again.

Because there was so much that was so depressing, so difficult. Do people want to know about that? I suppose they might do ...

The question of the Butterfly poems. How readable are they? Should I just scrap the lot? They tell so much story. Can't make all the decisions in one go. Would people actually read the Butterflies?

This is a blog. Is it ok to use it as a kind of journal for jotting down stuff about my stuff? Not sure about that either. Maybe this is a mistake. What do I have to lose? Nothing. Nothing!

The whole of my life is one big experiment. Or maybe not so big. Maybe very small. That would feel more comfortable.

Maybe somebody is going to comment. Maybe not. Either way, THIS is an experiment. A kind of burrowing my nose into cyber-soil and taking a good whiff.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

The Whole Man

I'm going backwards,
to emailing your loved ones
asking them for poems

I endeavour to engrave
in clay or on copper.
A few respond at once

and I'm at the fire,
kissing your books,
your handwriting,

pressing my cheek
against that hard, blue cover (Strandloop)

of your spirit.
If each he loved 
send one poem, I said,

the whole man
will stand.

My heffalump and our friends

On Friday I completed the first draft of my journey of poems recording the adventure with Norman to death and beyond. It is a gathering of a great many poems, which I will now have to trim down significantly.

I sent notice of this state of affairs to friends, saying that I suppose I shall have to reduce what is currently the size of a Savannah elephant to the size of a Forest elephant - and one of those friends sent me this image.

Nothing could express better than it how I currently feel!

It is, once again, a confirmation of one of Norman's and my favourite quotations (adapted from Yeats) - "May we by our friends be known."

Friday, 8 June 2018

Out Of Our Passing Selves

How you made my coffee each morning,
with my pressuring you to let
the very last droplet drain

the dregs
in the filter -

I'd watch you,
that you didn't jippo
and that you didn't let it drip

as you scythed the filter
from the cup across the stained mat
to toss the paper into the bin ...

Yet you were one of the deftest
I knew
in your practical gestures -

where was my trust in you
for these petty things?
We'd sit outside over breakfast

you praised each day anew,
how it settled your stomach,
made you feel good.

And we'd talk, track thoughts
in bright, clear dialogue,
our spirits twined

till I got restless, cross even
- 'I'm not like you retired,
I must work!'

And you'd feel guilty like you were hindering me,
while I attended to things
somehow so much less important, yet I'd feel

they were urgent,
more deserving
than the time we had

for one another.
And that made you timid
to approach me for love -

you denied your desire
while I grew tetchy with tension,
overwork, and you'd berate yourself, say,

'It's my fault,'
while I tried to keep the house clean at the same time,
breathless, seeing no outlet for rest ever,

on and on driven
by tasks. How now is it possible
to miss you, to wish you back

into such unpleasant circumstances,
eroded by money worries, physical weakness,
utter absence

I wish it not. You earned your relief. Our human helplessness, our nonsenses, criticisms so marked

are redeemed only ever by
the sun, the coloratura of birds,
the nodding grasses

given to the faintest breeze of feeling
slipping in undeterred -
cool facts

taking the simplest gatherings

together of us
out and beyond
our passing selves.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Never Part

Never Part

Christine's rescue horse, Light,
got the first wadge of my anguish
into his thick mane;

the road home
(to make a police report for a burglary)
had to put up with stopped car for outbursts;

then, the hours in the months
under the thatch
were saturated at times.

I've been told there's no end
to grief, even though
by now I've been so utterly shook

I was thinking
maybe I can go now,
on, you know, somewhere,

somewhere on, some place
of innocence, free of these grabs
at my heart. But

apparently not.
Apparently grief and my soul
will never part.