Your Name

August 30, 2007

Heard your name today.
Came from nowhere like a
sharpened pencil,
red and shiny,
coring through my gut.
The corer, she didn’t know.
Didn’t mean to startle.
She launched it
on an outward breath,
slipped it in
to a list of
other names,
tired,
inoffensive,
soft and grey,
just another set of
forenames,
surnames looped around the
more names
always more to know
columns grown and never
noticed, then with
yours in;
your name,
that once I pressed between my lips,
once I said to others
like the corer without blame
is saying now to me;
your name.
Did you know
the one you live with,
tell to callers on the phone
write on forms, sign on emails-
did you know –
to me it’s like elastic
wrapped around a wrist

Your Name

August 30, 2007

Heard your name today.
Came from nowhere like a
sharpened pencil,
red and shiny,
coring through my gut.
The corer, she didn’t know.
Didn’t mean to startle.
She launched it
on an outward breath,
slipped it in
to a list of
other names,
tired,
inoffensive,
soft and grey,
just another set of
forenames,
surnames looped around the
more names
always more to know
columns grown and never
noticed, then with
yours in;
your name,
that once I pressed between my lips,
once I said to others
like the corer without blame
is saying now to me;
your name.
Did you know
the one you live with,
tell to callers on the phone
write on forms, sign on emails-
did you know –
to me it’s like elastic
the wearer never feels it
and then it’s like a sling.

Coordinator or Creator

August 28, 2007

Earlier this evening, a phonecall from a good poet friend of mine.

“Hey Lydia, how’s it going?”
“Oh, hey, cool thanks, busy but good”
“blah blah blah”
“blah blah blah”
“So, Lydia, you had any gigs since the Showcase?”
“…er. No.”
“oh…”
“…have you?”
“well, yeah, a couple, I guess”

(I would at this point like to make absolutely clear that the poet in question, is a lovely person, beyond reproach and entirely incapable of malice.)

“Wish I hadn’t asked now.”
“No, it’s fine…I guess I’ve just been so busy…I haven’t really been focusing on that..”

And that’s where I’m going with this.

Lately, it’s not like I’ve been idle. No. Far from it. Since The Freedom Showcase, I don’t really feel like I’ve stopped. At the moment I’m in the middle of 3 or 4 major funding applications (for arts in mental health projects) whilst running around laying the ground work for numerous others. I’m organising a raft of things for World Mental Health Day…Ladyfest…National Poetry Day…and the emails keep on coming.

But not to offer me gigs. And that’s the issue.

One moment, I’m the creator of things-writing, performing…the next moment, I’ve become the coordinator. The one people call upon to set things up, devise, apply, organise. I’ve suddenly become the bridemaid.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I love my job…and I am afterall the Creative Arts Coordinator for a large NHS Trust (to be read with a suitable degree of self effacing irony;)-so, da, if I wasn’t coordinating stuff, I’d be in trouble…it’s just, well, when I came into post I thought I had a plan. It’s a part time position, so – Lydia – I said – Lydia, half the week coordinating, half the week creating. Only somehow, that appears to have slipped. The coordinating week seems to bleed into the space I’d made for my own creativity. And there’s only so much space. While I’m writing funding applications and emails, I’m not writing poems. I’m not wandering round the house reading my poems. I’m not even singing in the bath.

All this leads me to ask the question: is it possible to be the creator, if you’re also the coordinator?

I know, I know, designing projects, making stuff happen, it’s a creative business – but it’s not writing poetry is it? And I know, I know, nowadays, being an artist is not just about doing the art. Even high profile artist, generally, don’t pay the rent on gigs alone. They do workshops. They do lecturing. The really entrepreneurial ones go out and set up their own god damn projects. Being an artist is a complicated business.

I reckon I’m my own worst enemy. I like making things happen. I don’t like waiting for other people to. In some ways I guess that’s good. I’m proud of things that I’ve got going because of that. But, still, balance is balance. Maybe you can do both…but I reckon if you’re going to try, you’ve really got to keep your eye on both balls. The arms that are tossing them up are made of muscle, if you keep on favouring one, then the other’s going to get weak, and then the ball is going to fall…still with me?

…Anyway, whatever. Should anyone have a poetry gig for me, you know where I am, yeah? In the words of  Ivory Fishbone,  universe, are you listening…?

Been doing a bit more on this, reckon I’m about 1/2-2/3rds through now…

The Family of Mr and Mrs Calico

The family of Mr and Mrs Calico, were not like other families. Mr and Mrs Calico (which was not their family given name, but just the name by which they were known) lived in a small, 2 bed-ed, semi detached cottage, discreetly positioned off a main road in Leicestershire. They moved there shortly after getting married.

Theirs was a marriage made in Calico, from the Calico dress and double breasted suit, made by Mr Calico, to the Calico bunting, cake frill and ceremonial marqee, made by Mrs Calico. When Mr and Mrs Calico each exchanged their vows, they gave thanks for Calico, and as Mr Calico lifted his wife’s, Calico trimmed veil, their well primed guests released a flock of Calico scarved, Calico white, doves. Such was the significance of Calico.

The Significance of Calico
When Mr Calico (whose real name was actually Bob) was a small child, he went with his family (whose real name no longer matters) on a holiday to Aberystwyth. It was strange kind of holiday, what with it being November and what with the family of Mr Calico, electing to camp in a rather bleak and frozen field, where even the largest mallet could not crack the solid, iced up earth. Still, the young Mr Calico enjoyed the break, and spent many hours of it roaming the hills and vallies of the surrounding region.

It was on one such rambling excursion that young Bob found himself far a field of his parents, divided by frozen mists and dark weather and fully lost, half way up a coastal mud track.

The boy must have sat on that mountain for hours. He watched the light fade from the kind of preternatural yellow (common in such places, at such times of the year) to a disturbingly viscous grey. There was no light and there was no sound, save for a booming crash of foaming tide.

So hopeless and resigned to the prospect of tragedy – in particular death by mountain lions (for Mr Calico was young and did not yet know that Mountain lions did not live in Wales) – so lost to all hope and reason was the young Mr Calico, that he was quite overwhelmed when the young Mrs Calico (whose real name was actually Elsie) appeared like an angel, to thrust her small and frozen hand into his.

***

Mrs Calico had come to live in Aberystwyth, shortly after her 10th birthday. She’d moved there with her mother and step-father. Married to her mother, not long after the tragic death of her real father, Elsie’s step-father hardly ever talked to Elsie. When he did, it was usually to suggest that she go elsewhere.

Faced with such circumstances it should as no surprise to discover that as a child, Mrs Calico became quite an accomplished explorer. She would often take herself off, away from the disapproving glare and brooding atmosphere of home, and into the craggy outcrops of coastal cliffs, lining the sea like so many rows of monstrous teeth.

What Elsie liked to do, more than anything else, was run away from home, climb into these cliffs and sit on their mossy pinnacles, even frozen – as they were in Winter. Perfectly happy with her own company, she would seldom take friends on such missions. In fact, as her step father didn’t believe in education (at least not for Elsie) she rarely saw other children. So, what else could Elsie do, when one day, climbing up to her favourite lookout, she found the strange boy; about her own age, curled against a rock and sniveling into his sleeve.

Taking the freezing bundle, by its damp and curled up hand, she led the boy down the mountain and to a place of safety. The exact and chosen place of safety was an industrious lean to, built by Elsie’s own fair arms and hidden inside a secluded alcove. The shelter was made of Calico.


The Family of Mr and Mrs Calico
After the wedding, redolent in Calico as it was, Mr and Mrs Calico honeymooned in Wales. They did not of course stay long. Leisure was all very well, said Mr Calico, but back home in the Midlands there was work to be done. And Mrs Calico agreed.

Back home in the midlands, there was the small, two bedded, cottage to consider. There was removing into the new born home of a house, the many possessions that each Calico had individually amassed. There was the picking out of carpets, and curtains, and fixtures and fittings. Mr Calico, who was (as you’ll know from his sumptuous wedding creations) a fabulous tailor, had plans for calico blinds, envelopes for cushions and even smooth, magnolia, calico wall coverings.

Often, in the weeks in which it took the Calico’s to settle, Mrs Calico would find things. She would find notebooks and pages and the corners of random printed papers, spilling over with architects drawings. The drawings would be for Christo like wrapages.
“Dear” said Mrs Calico, on one particular occasion, “I love Calico as much as you do, but really, we probably shouldn’t cover the house.” Mr Calico had sighed at this and patted his wife’s gentle slope of a stomach.


The Significance of Calico.
Anyone would have thought the boy half dead. Used to lighting fires and making do, Elsie had set about doing just that, but the boy, balled up tight as a nut, rigamortised, almost, against a furry tree root, was silent as a thing without a tongue. Presently, however, the thing began to speak:
“Oww”
Thinking this some kind of signal for her to comment, but unused to comfort giving, Elsie just prodded more energetically at the firey embers, now glowing beneath her stick and looked furtively over to the source of the noise.
“Y’alright then?” she muttered between pokes.
Not much came back. She guessed he was though. Just what she needed, a whinger.
“Wriggle ‘em” she instructed, “Your toes, wriggle your toes” That should do it.
Elsie had of course known people her own age, before the move to Aberystwith, but this was different. This was a boy. She didn’t really mind them, just didn’t know what to make of them.
“You been here long? – in Wales, I mean” Elsie pushed out the words whilst priding herself on her sociability.
“No” said the boy.
The flames were starting to jump a little, throwing up a soft glow on the Calico lean to, arching gently out above them.
“My name’s Elsie, by the way.” Said Elsie.
“Bob.” Said Bob.

The family of Mr and Mrs Calico

What Mr Calico wanted, more than anything else, was a child. At night he would often lie awake and trace the shape of a baby, silently and using only his eyes. The baby would be suspended in the air before him. In these invisible moments, he would see the tiny curve of it’s head, the delicate round of it’s body, hooded and supported and swaddled, in Calico. Flying before him, it was much like a parcel, or a mysterious piece of delicate origami.

Mrs Calico would also lie awake at night. She would lie, quiet as snow, next to her husband and she would see it. Small and soft and perfect; projected on the ceiling, like a baby’s mobile. She would see it in the sink as she washed the dishes; on T.V, as she and Mr Calico sat down to watch the evening news. Sometimes, as she was bustling around their calico lined living room she would scoop up the sketches made by Mr Calico. She would look at the wrapped up chimney and roof of their cottage, turn it this way, then that, and suddenly see something different. She would see a child, wrapped up like a present.


The significance of calico

“So what’s with the Calico” Bob and Elsie were sat around the little fire, gazing at the awning and sipping tea out of two billy cans.
“S’just where I hang out” replied Elsie, half distracted and dreamy with comfort. She’d decided to give up on conversation, as of half an hour ago. The sudden coming to life of her companion was not entirely welcome.
“It’s cool.” The new found Bob was fidgeting with his fingers as he spoke. At least whilst warmed he seemed less inclined to huddled tears. He leant back against the billowing weave. “Where d’get the material from then?”
Elsie put down her cup and prodded at the fire some more. This was the first time she’d bought anyone back and she wasn’t sure that she liked all these questions.
“My dad.” she answered shortly. She stoked the fire some more. “He was a tailor. He made stuff. Used to teach me how”
“It’s nice.” said Bob.
“Yeah.” said Elsie.
breaking off from the fire, Elsie started to draw a series of circles in the earthy sand.
“You live round here then?”
Elsie waved one hand, motioning vaguely across the skiff whilst umming; yes, she did.
“I’m here for a few months. Till after Christmas; camping, with my parents.”
“Right” Elsie prodded at the fire some more, mentally setting aside the ridiculousness of wintering in Wales.
“You can come back; before you go. Y’know – if you want to.”
“Oh, O.K. Yeah, cheers.”
The two of them sat still a little longer, their shadows stiff against the off white background.

The Family of Mr and Mrs Calico
It was not that Mrs Calico was unable to have children. Neither was it that Mr Calico was infertile. It was not that either of them had been tested; they just knew. The unborn child that was theirs and theirs alone was floating in the ether. They could feel it out there. On windy nights it would throw itself at the bay windows. They would hear it, tap, tap, tapping on the leaded double glazing. They both heard it. Neither said anything of course. Some things didn’t need to be said.

Mrs Calico, thought it was a girl. A bright skinned and dark haired, fierce and sharp as a thistle. Mr Calico, thought it was a boy. Of course he did. Noble, and sincere, but quick and canny too. It was a boy; one he could teach to shave and impart to his wisdom; one he could stand in front of the mirror and comb hair with in unison. Mr Calico, had grown up with Gilette. He knew how these things were meant to go.

Somehow, it was waiting for them. It was almost as if, all they need do was open up the window and lift it inside.

The Significance of Calico
“Wanna see something?” Elsie looked over to see that Bob was fumbling with his pocket as he asked the question.
“What?” It always paid to ask. It wasn’t like she had huge experience with boys, but she’d enough to know that secret things, would often end up being green and slimy things, which if not alive, would probably be a good deal wriggling.
“It’s just something I made” his eyes flickered back to the Calico “my mum makes stuff too- she shows me how sometimes, so…”
Elsie had stopped poking the fire, her eyes were now locked on the cheap flannel pocket of the boy with his hand in it. She hesitated then spoke:
“Go on then, yeah. Show me”
Slowly, but very deliberately, the outline of Bobs fist eased its way up, until it was held out, in full view before her. Slow as the bud of a lotus, he opened up the fingers…


The Family of Mr and Mrs Calico

In progress

Mental Lentil

August 21, 2007

Good Lord. I’ve just spent 5 hours of my life (including soaking time, I guess) attempting to make lentil burgers from scratch. Damien attempted to stop me. His line of reasoning (that I couldn’t cook) was of course utterly wasted. Once I’ve decided to do something, I’m afraid I cn be very stubborn indeed.

Earlier at the supermarket, shopping for lentil burger ingredients, I saw my friend Vicky, serving at the checkout:

Vicky: Hey Lyd
Lydia: Hey Vic
Vicky: How y’doing?
Lydia: I’m making lentil burgers
Vicky: oh…I tried to do that once…my family were horrified…even I couldn’t eat them…er..I’m sure yours will be fine though. Your
probably a better cook than me.
Lydia:….
Vicky:…

Of course, ingredients bought, I was not to be deterred.

By 8pm the lentils (green, in case you’re interested) had finished their soaking, so stage two commenced. Stage two involved, boiling then simmering lentils, whilst finely chopping 4 cups of mushrooms and 2 onions. Stage 3…stir into the lentils 2/3 of a cup of bulgar wheat. Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Add tomato puree. Add yeast. Mix the lentil mixture into the mushroom mixture. Allow to cool. Roll in brown flour (yes, the recipe I am clearly following, actually specified) and fry the burgers in a small amount of oil. Serves 4.

Bugger does it serve 4. It serves f*ing 84 ! What’s more, I’m really not sure about that yeast ingredient. Yeast? In a burger? The kitchen is covered in (possibly) dangerously yeasty burgers. It’s like some kind of alien colony. And I set the fire alarm off twice. Damo took refuge in the bedroom. Then in the bathroom. Hmm. Maybe they’ll taste ok?

Baby

August 20, 2007

When I was a baby I was born in a hospital.
I was laid in the arms of my mother,
gurgling and heaving and livid with air,
electric light, beating like a heart
from the bulb above my head. I was not laid
in an incubator. Not like my brother,
that windy day in Autumn.
I was born in May, with sun
and buds and flowers,
spilling from the table
on it’s casters,
at my mother’s waist.
My brother,
called dust-bin
when my father
murmered Lydia.
I was born in May.
I do not have a baby.
My brother is father to twins.

Postcard

August 20, 2007

It’s a beach
and I can see the grain of the sand
through the paper,
and the sea is encroaching
onto the sand – lines of blue,
like the dune’s being framed
by solid slithers of water;
like an artist
has been thinking out loud on the sand,
like it’s paper.
I am thinking of turtles.
I am thinking of turtles
because my friend Tim,
was talking about turtles,
turtles being born on the beach
and crawling on fins to the blueness.
The sea in this picture
is a ribbon of blueness.
The sky is in circles
of blueness.
I wish I was a turtle.
I want to fly into it.

The family of Mr and Mrs Calico, were not like other families. Mr and Mrs Calico (which was not their family given name, but just the name by which they were known) Mr and Mrs Calico, lived in a small, 2 bed-ed, semi detached cottage, discreetly positioned off a main road in Leicestershire. They moved there shortly after getting married.

Theirs was a marriage made in Calico, from the Calico dress and double breasted suit, made by Mr Calico, to the Calico bunting, cake frill and ceremonial marqee, made by Mrs Calico. When Mr and Mrs Calico each exchanged their vows, they gave thanks for Calico, and as Mr Calico lifted his wife’s Calico trimmed veil, their well primed guests released a flock of Calico scarved, Calico white, doves. Such was the significance of Calico.

The Significance of Calico

When Mr Calico (whose real name was actually Bob) was a small child, he went with his family (whose real name no longer matters) on a holiday to Aberystwyth. It was strange kind of holiday, what with it being November and what with the family of Mr Calico, electing to camp in a rather bleak and frozen field, where even the largest mallet could not crack the solid, iced up earth. Still, the young Mr Callico enjoyed the break, and spent many hours of it roaming the hills and vallies of the surrounding region.

It was on one such rambling excursion that young Bob found himself far a field of his parents, divided by frozen mists and dark weather and fully lost, half way up a coastal mud track.

The boy must have sat on that mountain for hours. He watched the light fade from the kind of preternatural yellow (common in such places, at such times of the year) to a disturbingly viscous grey. There was no light and there was no sound, save the increasingly booming crash of foaming tide, far below.

So hopeless and resigned to the prospect of tragedy – nocturnal hyperthermia, permanent loss from the memory of his family, or death by mountain lions (for Mr Calico was young and did not yet know that Mountain lions did not live in Wales) – so lost to all hope and reason was the young Mr Calico, that he was quite overwhelmed when the young Mrs Calico (whose real name was actually Elsie) appeared like an angel, to thrust her small and frozen hand into his.

Mrs Calico

Mrs Calico (Elsie) had come to live in Aberystwyth, shortly after her 10th birthday. She had moved to Aberystwyth with her mother and step-father. The step-father, who was the kind of man on whom fairy tale villains were built.

Married to her mother, not long after the tragic death of her real father, Elsie’s step-father hardly ever talked to Elsie. When he did, it was usually to suggest that she go elsewhere.

Faced with such circumstances it should as no surprise to discover that as a child, Mrs Calico was to become an accomplished explorer. She would often take herself off, away from the disapproving glare and brooding atmosphere of home, and into the craggy outcrops of coastal cliffs, that lined the sea like so many rows of monstrous teeth.

Other children may well have found such places dangerous and frightening to explore, but not little Elsie. What Elsie liked to do, more than anything else, was run away from home, climb up into the cliffs and sit on the mossy pinnacles, even frozen as they were in Winter.

Perfectly happy with her own company, Elsie seldom took friends on such missions. In fact, as her step father didn’t believe in education (at least not for Elsie) she rarely saw other children. So, what else could Elsie do, when climbing up to her favourite lookout, she found the strange boy; about her own age, curled against a rock and sniveling into his sleeve.

Taking the freezing bundle by its damp and curled up hand, she led him back down the mountain and to a place of safety. The exact place of safety chosen by Elsie was an industrious lean to, build with her own fair arms and hidden inside a sucluded alcove. The shelter was made of Calico.

Mr and Mrs Calico

After the wedding, redolent in Calico as it was, Mr and Mrs Calico honeymooned in Wales. They did not of course stay long. Leisure was all very well, said Mr Calico, but back home in the Midlands there was work to be done. And Mrs Calico agreed.

Back home in the midlands, there was the small, two bedded, cottage to consider. There was removing into the new born home of a house, the many possessions that each Calico had individually amassed. There was the picking out of carpets, and curtains, and fixtures and fittings. Mr Calico, who was as you’ll know from his fabulous wedding creations, a fabulous tailor, had plans for calico blinds, and envelopes for cushions and even smooth, magnolia, calico wall coverings.

Often, in the weeks in which it took the Calico’s to settle, Mrs Calico would find things. She would find notebooks and pages and the corners of random printed leaflets, spilling over with architects drawings. The drawings would be for Christo like wrapages. Dear, said Mrs Calico, on one particular occasion, I love Calico as much as you do, but really, we probably shouldn’t cover the house. Mr Calico had sighed at this and patted his wife’s gentle slope of a stomach.

Mr Calico

What Mr Calico wanted, more than anything else, was a child. At night he would often lie awake and trace the shape of a baby, silently and using only his eyes. The baby would be suspended in the air before him. In these invisible moments, he would see the tiny curve of it’s head, the delicate round of it’s body, hooded and supported and swaddled, in Calico. Flying before him, it was much like a parcel, or a mysterious piece of delicate origami. Mr Calico had always been fond of art.

Mrs Calico

What Mrs Calico wanted more than anything else, was a child. At night she would often lie awake and see it, small and soft and pefect, projected on the ceiling, like a baby’s mobile. She would see it in the sink as she washed the dishes; on T.V, as she and Mr Calico sat down to watch the evening news. Sometimes, as she was bustling around their calico lined living room she would scoop up the sketches made by Mr Calico. She would look at the wrapped up chimney and roof of their cottage, turn it this way, then that and suddenly see something different. She would see a child, wrapped up like a present.

Mr Calico and Mrs Calico

It was not that Mrs Calico was unable to have children. Neither was it that Mr Calico was infertile. Of course, it was not that either them had been tested. They just knew. The unborn child, that was theirs and their alone was floating in ether. On windy nights it would throw itself at the baywindows. They would hear it, tap, tap, tapping on the doubleThey both heard it. Neither said anything of course. Some things didn’t need to be said.

Still in progress…..

The family that always sees calico.
Climb for me.
Quiet is almost more cunning
Who could have the sense
Who could have the grace
Who could know
Drink fish full leap
They ate her cat.

The Family That Always Saw Calico

The family that always saw calico
They ate her cat.
They waited till it’s owner was out
the woman next door,
who didn’t believe in neutering pets
and so who had a pack, a tribe, a troop
a gang, roaming through her house,
they waited till that woman was out
and then, with grins like knives,
cut out curves of juicy melon,
magic markered wicked murders,
rasberry coloured toothy smiles – then
they coaxed the kitty in their house.
And the family that always saw calico,
they really hated cats.
Cats who like to play with calico.
Cats who like to shred with energy –
no respect for thought and planning,
no respect for curtain linings,
cushion covers, table finery –
the family that always saw calico,
they coaxed it through their door
they led it down the hall,
they saw calico.
They ate her cat.

Sitting in Ice Mango, trying to catch up on my stupid backlog of invoices. Am owed lots of money, from 3 different sources, for all manner of poetry gubbins. For some strange reason I seemed to think said monies would just magic themselves into my account without me having to lift a finger. I know this sounds unlikely. Nonetheless, evidence would seem to suggest that this is what I actually thought. Eventually however, one must admit defeat. I am now doing the beastly things.

Mmm. Not an amazingly interesting anecdote. Not really. The story of Lydia’s finances. The minutiae of payment methods. I’ll be on tax returns next. No, really, I will. Don’t get me started.

Moving onto other fascinating stuff, I’m also here in Ice Mango waiting for it to stop raining. I and my fellow arty man in crime, Tim Sayers, are organising an Arty Barby this afternoon. Bring your own food. Bring your own barbecue. Did I mention the rain..? Don’t think the Park Cafe will let us start fires inside.

Fascists.
Will let you know how it goes.