When a spell goes wrong

Shapeshifter, Scryer, Spellcaster, Seer,
Wartcharmer, Water diviner and Wizard,
Prophetess, Sorcerer, Conjurer, Soothsayer,
Magician, Astrologer, Cunning-man, Witch:

Let us all call upon them to save us from goblins
And spirits departed who aren’t yet at rest,
Protect us from curses and corpses from hearses
Which haunt us severely because they’re unblessed.

We’ll cross palms with silver and pray them deliver
Us mortals from devil, from demon and djinn.
For now is the hour, and theirs is the power:
We fear we shall suffer what follows our sin!

Image credit: WordPress Free Media Library

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Day after day

Image: WordPress Free Media Library photo

Sunshine wall to wall day
Mind you stay in the shade day
Choose sun protection factor 30 day
When’s it going to stop day
Thirsty day
Frying under the sun day
Sweaty day
Sunburnt day

Week upon week

Careful what you wish for.
A proper summer? Hot days
with wall-to-wall sunshine?

False memories of winter:
cloudy skies, gun-metal grey,
lashings of rain curtaining down.

Was it always like that?
Or were there blue skies in between?
And now we have week upon week

of parched lawns, diminished rivers, moorland fires and painful sunburn, sleepless nights and short tempers.

Bring back a touch of winter:
promise-crammed clouds of black and grey,
replenishing streams, greening grass,

dampening moorland, cooling skin
and brows. Blessed, blissful rain.

But careful what you wish for.

Too late

I am the last of my kind, but what do you care?
There will be no more after me:
my offspring have all predeceased me,
persecuted to death, every one,
or fallen prey to pestilence, to poison,
to pollution, or just pig-ignorance

I sit here, waiting to die

Oh, don’t get me wrong:
I am looked after meticulously,
cared for by a dedicated team
who mollycoddle me, manage me,
make sure I am comfortable

But I am sad

I have nothing to live for:
my kind’s a fading memory,
soon to be another symbol
of a mass extinction that shows no sign
of letting up, each moment a wasting away
of another species, another branch
of a tree, another organism

I am the last of my kind, but what do you care?
You will only sit up, take notice,
when things start to fall apart, systems fail,
when that meticulous looking after
that you take for granted, that mollycoddling,
ceases to exist, when no one is there
to make sure you are comfortable

When you do start to care, it’ll be too late:
the polar caps will have melted,
the seas will rise up, the winds will blow,
the power will become intermittent
and then stop. The food will run out
and your kind will have fallen prey
to wars or plagues, to floods or droughts,
and all because of pig-ignorance

You may then be the last of your kind
and there will be no one to care;
and you too will be sad
and will sit there waiting to die
and it will be too late


A piece of dramatic monologue, a final homework composed for a creative writing class

Unprepossessing

or, Under the Surface

Dowdy. That’s how they describe me.
On the surface I’m nothing much to look at.
Nondescript is another word I’ve heard.
Terms like tatty, tawdry hurt.

Just what do they expect from me?
Uninteresting is their first response,
demeaning my essential self,
glancing once, ignoring twice,
each assuming that I’m lacking depth.

And yet, and yet.

Beneath my plain unvarnished outside,
overlooked by all and sundry, there reside
offerings of far more worth:
kindness, courage, human truths.

Between the sheets I proffer passion,
your senses driven to seventh heaven.
In my thoughts you’ll wander freely
thrilled by visions you’ve never imagined,
stimulated, challenged, even rewarded.

Can you guess now who I am?
Often people pass me by,
visiting a gaudy neighbour,
ever seeking good companionship,
realising – finally – it might be me.


Another homework exercise for a creative writing class
Spoiler alert: the form of this riddle is due to it being an acrostic

Troll

Starling, from an Edwardian print

It started with an observation, inviting easy conversation,
limited in character, with a limit to its characters:
a statement,
a sharing,
just casual information.

Anticipating backchat I introduced a hashtag,
innocuous I hoped:
this was no dissertation.
But what I got was cruel flak,
full of bile,
angry,
vile,
a tweet of hateful defamation.

A vicious far-right bigot preached a creed too awful to ignore.
I’d thought my fine right thinking speech would carry all before.
Joined by others, screeching, twittering,
startled starlings in a frenzied flock,
what choices did they choose to leave me?
Well, just one, which was to block.

You think you’re altogether very clever?
You’re just a witless bullying clown.
You won’t defeat or even beat me, and you’ll fail to grind me down.

You unkind,
online,
soulless troll
with death cult insults and selfish goals,
I hope you learn the tide will turn
and send you crawling to your hole.


Another poem written for writing class, adopting another’s voice, but I add this advice:

Music speaks

Music score (credit: WordPress free media library)

When I tire of conversation,
when I want to be alone,
working or in contemplation,
one thing always sets the tone.

Whether solo, band or drone,
fugue, sonata, golden oldie,
folksong, classic (known, unknown),
jazz: each has the power to hold me.

Music, reaching to enfold me,
speaks directly to the brain.
Right from childhood music called me,
smoothing pain and soothing strain.

Music speaks, not words but phrases.
What it still tells me amazes.


A Spencerian sonnet written in trochaic tetrameters: homework written for a creative writing course. Its discipline made it quite hard to not sound forced while continuing to convey an authentic emotion. The rhyme scheme is abab bcbc cdcd ee

The unkind question

For E. L.

So when you asked if being deaf or blind
which one I’d choose, if choice I had to take,
the options offered hurt, made my heart ache
to realise I’d have to be resigned
to sight or sound; the question was unkind.

Not hear her voice? What, no, for heavens sake!
Or not see her each morning when I wake?
I think I would soon start to lose my mind.

Between the devil and the deep blue sea
or that hard place that stands against the rock
you’d have me lie. Well, I won’t take my pick,
I’ll have them both for surely both suit me.
Until the final tick comes out of clock
against such awful choices I shall kick.


The homework for the poetry writing class was to write a sonnet;
I chose to write a Petrarchan sonnet, with a rhyme scheme abba abba cde cde

He lay there

He lay there, there in the room
where he’d had his office,
where his papers, neatly filed,
filled the folders boxed up on his shelves

He lay there, there on his back
as though snoozing, skin so sallow
for all the embalmer’s art,
silent, chinless, still judgemental.

Did I feel bereft? Or merely empty?

Would I no longer suffer an appraising glance,
a carping comment or a critical silence?
Would I still be found wanting, a vaporous wastrel,
failing any potential I ever possessed?

He lay there, there in the room
where he’d had his office,
where his still body, sweetly smelling,
filled the coffin, a box to himself


Piece written for creative writing course on poetry, the brief being to compose a poem based on a personal experience

 

Doggerel days

So autumn comes to southern climes:
bid farewell now to summer,
the best of times. The worst of times?
When fingers get much number.


Dog days are the really hot days of summer when Sirius the ‘dog star’ briefly appears before the sun dawns in the northern hemisphere. Doggerel days can be at any other time

This piece of doggerel was inspired by a post on the blog Gert Loveday’s Fun with Books.

You’re having a laugh

You told us we’d be taking back control
But you were having a laugh
You controlled our media and our data,
Our posts, our shares, our sayings,
Our benefits and our credit ratings
For you were taking back control

You called it saving our health service
But you were having a laugh
You were giving it to your cronies
And offering them our monies,
Our wealth, our health, our bodies
And you were taking back control

You said you were strong and stable
But you were having a laugh
You were fuelled with lust for power
And you took what’s rightfully ours
You took the rights from all the people
And you gave it to your pals
For you were taking back control

We ask you lots of questions
But you’re still having a laugh
For you won’t give us straight answers
You nasty lot of chancers
Down a road of thorns, not roses,
You will lead us by the noses
And you’ll drag us to perdition
While you charge us with sedition
You’ll be laughing, always laughing
While you’re taking back control

But we’re not laughing


• Another piece — rather political, for a change — produced for a creative writing class on composing poetry, this time using repeating rhythms and/or rhymes. By the way, yesterday May 3rd was World Press Freedom Day

Welcome spring’s on its way

From March through to May
farewell hard frost, mists and storm;
welcome spring’s on its way.
Bye to sky’s steel grey!
Now freezing rain becomes warm
from March through to May.
Hail, lengthening day,
dark nights no longer the norm!
Welcome spring’s on its way.
Sun, slip in that ray
through the shutters each morn
from March through to May
so that each new day
makes us all glad that we’re born;
welcome spring’s on its way.

Hear now what I say: seasons reform, don’t conform.
From March through to May welcome spring’s on its way.


Another villanelle on the subject of Spring, this time the five tercets are in senryu form and the final quatrain written out as a couplet.