NaPoWriMo #4: “Heatstroke”

Hello readers!

Day four, and I’m tackling the tricky proposition of writing a love poem that is sufficiently… ahem…. hot. I hope you like it!

Heatstroke

It was like
I’d been fucking
the sun.

Fever-sweat massed
in the hills of my skull
and bore down,

as if each cell
of my blistered skin
wept torrents of rain.

In this wasteland
of Arctic night,
my body was jungle

that did not cool,
even wrapped in a
bandage of sheets.

Beneath them
my tentative fingers,
cool as aloe,

touched where you touched,
explored the soreness,
the corrugated skin.

And the prompt for yesterday’s poem was “and here am I, sitting in a tin can far above the world” from David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’.

NaPoWriMo #3: “Duty Free”

Hello everyone!

I’ve spent most of today (?) on a plane, and due to jet lag, I’m not actually sure if it’s still April 3rd. Nevertheless, here is my next poem!

Duty Free

Logos fluoresce on linoleum;
machines vend. Whiff of coffee,
perfume, stale sweat;

magazine racks
and the chill beige faces
of human animals

that queue in lines and vanish
through industrial doors.
A case of confiscated blades:

penknife, scissors, shears.
No sharp objects.
This is not an abattoir.

Computer navigation.
How many years since a pilot
held a compass, felt the wind?

The freedom of birds,
our ancient dream of
flight reduced to

bloodshot eyes,
and the effluvia of a place
where everyone’s waiting.

And of course, for those who were wondering, yesterday’s poem came from the prompt “we are the same, we are both safe, underneath the sycamore” from Death Cab For Cutie’s ‘Underneath The Sycamore’.

NaPoWriMo #2: “The sycamores lengthen like shadows…”

Hi guys…

Once again showing off my talents at what I like to call the Pearsonian sonnet: twelve lines of horribly depressing romantically-themed free verse followed by a rhyming couplet. Volta negotiable.

Can’t think of an appropriate title for this one just yet… on that note, suggestions are very welcome!

“The sycamores lengthen like shadows…”

The sycamores lengthen like shadows.
Last May it was himself he stretched
on the rack of a double bed
while she turned the wheel.
Does she remember eyes
diilated into monochrome,
the displaced creak of joints,
sweat creaming on skin?
The days telescope inwards;
October boasts itself like a fox fur stole.
He fears he is forgetting how to kiss.
But the tree still knows them both by names
scrawled with the pen of his knife
in a different season, a former life.

For those who are interested, the prompt for yesterday’s poem was the line “we’re just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl, year after year” from Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’. Come back tomorrow to discover what song lyric inspired today’s work of art!

NaPoWriMo #1: “Soultank”

Hello world, it’s good to be back!

As you doubtless know, today is April 1st, which means only two things: 1) it’s the start of NaPoWriMo, and I will be writing a poem every day for month and posting them on this blog, and 2) that it’s April Fools Day, so TRUST NO-ONE.

Are you feeling paranoid? You should be. Here’s my first poem.

Soultank

when we kick it (over)
spill ourselves at last, the full 8 pints
when fate stops shuffling our
mortal coil & cuts the pack

we face a millenium wait till beatnik death
can jamjar us from the pond of souls
gritty with the stagnant silt
of accumulation

would you be surprised
if hell was a fishtank
(backlit, pseudotropical)
a place for the unquiet dead
to squirm, wriggle, plop?

twice a day death comes with an urn
mingling the ash of her roll-up & earthly remains
on the mouthed water

(up we come!) euphoric rise
to the utmost edge of world
to gorge on the dust of ourselves

Oh, and a little postscript for those still reading… this year, all my NaPoWriMo poems are going to be based on a single line taken from a song. I’ll reveal each lyric and the song it’s from in the subsequent poem. Till then, have fun guessing!

Books I Haven’t Read

Now as an English student, I spend a hell of a lot of time talking about what I’ve read. This is quite natural, but I read a hilarious article the other day about how everyone lies about the books they’ve read and it got me thinking. Everyone has at least half a dozen books they know they should have read but haven’t, and I thought it was time to out myself. So here goes:

Having spent half a term studying William Burroughs, I feel like I know at least a bit about him. I know about his drug habits, his relationship with Allen Ginsberg and the fact that he blew his wife’s head off with a handgun. I know that his novel Naked Lunch is an important book in its own right, as well as being a crucial part of Beat canon. And I’ve never read it. Yes, that’s right. Never. I’ll get round to it some day, I suppose. At least I’m up to speed with On The Road and Howl.

Next up is Anna Karenina. I cannot get into this; it doesn’t seem to matter what I do, I never make it beyond the first couple of chapters. I’ve tried half a dozen times. It’s meant to be one of the best romantic tragedies ever, and I really love tragedy and misery and death and lost love and all of those things. I just wish Tolstoy would get round to them a bit quicker, because Oblonsky really is a knobstick.

And Jane Eyre. Oh God. That really is shameful, isn’t it, especially for a lit student? I got two-thirds of the way through, and I just had to stop; it was like listening to a hundred pages of One Direction covering Nick Cave. Yeah, I just reread that and have come to the conclusion I’m talking bollocks so I’m going to stop typing now.

Last year I read (and wrote an essay on) the fantastic short story Hills Like White Elephants, by Ernest Hemingway. It was so brilliant I swore on my immortal soul to read one of Hemingway’s novels, or ideally several of them. My immortal soul, sadly, is still forfeit; I think intended to start with his first, The Sun Also Rises. Like Naked Lunch up top, I didn’t put the book down; I never got round to picking it up. But I will. I will. I will.

I’m wincing even typing this, because this next one will make feminists everywhere rise against me. I never made it through Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, primarily because I read the first couple of pages and laughed at the whole ‘downtrodden girl with abusive, overly-religious mother who thinks that sex is evil’ thing. I then decided I’d rather just read Stephen King’s Carrie. I’m willing to admit that this is a) unfair and b) narrow-minded, but I really hate stories about people trying to come to terms with their abusive childhoods. I prefer the whole ‘murder the fuck out of everyone with telekinesis’ thing.

So there are my five. What are yours?

Poem 31) ‘The Raven’ – Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more,’

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.’

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.’

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never-nevermore.”‘

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he has sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

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