A Secret

September 30, 2007

Preparing some poems to send away, so doing a spot of redrafting. Working on the suggestions of lovely Steve Carol and also, the exceptionally kind Ivory (who spent an entire evening with me the other day, looking over the material) I’ve come up with this second draft of ‘A Secret’. If anyone has any thoughts on it, please feel free. I’ve cut half a verse, abbreviated to the subjunctive, no ‘ands’ or ‘buts’…not sure if it needs any more minor tinkering though…

A Secret

If I don’t write about it
maybe it will die. If I keep my
fire away from its
tinder of words, maybe
that will be enough. Except-

what if a secret’s more visible
when being kept in, the neon
blue limbs of jellyfish, illuminating edges
of inky black piers – like mermaids,
shining torches.

Perhaps it’s better to share
the secret, halve the light of the load,
smother the glow – I think
I’ll whisper this secret
into a dozen places, dig out-

a small pit of soil,
murmur it into
the dark balls of roots. I’ll
draw it on the back of a bus ticket,
tie it to the foot of a –

sleek, black duck,
migrating for winter.
This secret will be told
to the pale pink cushion of a clam,
the canal running murky

and littered with leaves like ears
to the interior
of a plug socket, but still
I’ll worry. Will these keep it safe?
or has the stone said something?


September 30, 2007

Went to that gig. Was really, really, good. Here’s how it went:

Wicked cool jazz singer, Julie Dexter does her set. She wears a floaty, orange, silk of a dress, wafted over jeans and lacing low at the back. She looks and sounds amazing. Burnt orange light floods the stage, hits her shoulders, melts the dress and she just grooves it all together…and the women was witty. Besides the soulful lyrics, she’d intersperse songs with sung adlibs. In these she’d thank various members of the band-and when at her funniest, direct the audience to her on sale c.ds. Really enjoyed hearing her.

Now, I was at the gig ’cause my mate Sureshot (very sound poet) had invited me down to it. I’d actually heard of it already from elsewhere, but probably wouldn’t have made it had he not reminded me. This was a gig with a difference though. This would be a chance to hear the headlined artist – but also a range of others – depending on which others turned up. If you fancied it yourself, you could be one of them. Just before the interval Julie puts the word out: artists who are up for it, put your name on the sheet and in the second half, get it done.

I wasn’t going to. I wasn’t going to mainly because I’m not experienced when it comes jamming with a band. The other artists down were pro musicians. The other poet was Sureshot-and Sureshot knows his music – and Sureshot knows what to do with it.

I went with him as he signed up, all the time chewing my lip and muttering how I wished I could be braver about these things. How I’d like to do it, really, but.. well.. you.. know…but then came the women with the paper. The women with the paper was ‘just do it’. And so, in characteristic impulsiveness, I thought – Fuck it. Yeah. I will.

My name came up, I climbed the stairs, the band played, I read. I did ‘If I should ever marry’ and the one about the fishtail …and it seemed to go really well. I mean, I really, really enjoyed it! The audiance was pretty full and loads of people said nice things after. Sureshot went first and was really wonderful, so at the end I also took the opportunity to flood the place with WORD! flyers. Hopefully, we’ll have a few new faces on Wednesday…but of course now I’ll be going on and on about WORD! having it’s own band too! Definately a convert:)

I didn’t do the song lyrics from my last post, but am thinking might hone them into something else, and give them an airing soon in any case. This evening’s def been inspiring…


September 29, 2007

A guess this is a song. I’m going to record it and put it on my pineapster site. IF i make it to a jamming gig at the Y tonight. I MIGHT even try and do it…

My heart’s black and blue
like an angels tooth
that’s been broken up inside
My heart’s pink white
like some cinanide
that’s been rolled around in dew
my heart’s like a phone
it’s been ringing on its bone
it’s been
burning, burning, burning
it’s been burning in the rain
for answering,
ring, ring, ring, ring.
ring, ring, ring, ring.

My heart is burning in the rain
it’s burning like a name

My heart’s like a stone
that’s been made to moan
that’s inside a fire
that’s been
kinda mired

my heart’s desire.
my heart’s on fire
my heart’s desire
my heart’s a liar.


September 26, 2007

Something really exciting happened today. Around about mid morning, I went downstairs to check my mail and collect some drying from the laundry room. My mail is kept in a pad locked pigeon hole. I have a small silver key for the pad lock. I picked up the laundry, manhandled the basket into the post room and got out my keys to open the box. Unfortunately I’d picked up my boyfriends. No small silver key. No opening the padlock. But I could just about see inside. Through the gap between the box door and the box, there was this one darkened envelope waiting. Not enough room to get my hand in and round, so I left it where it was took the drying back upstairs. 10 minutes later, I left for work.

Later today, earlier this evening, I got back from work. Lift was up on the 14th floor, so I did what I usually do to avoid feeling too lazy to climb the two flights of stairs to my flat. I called the lift, and while it made it’s laborious way to the ground, I strolled into the post room to check my mail. It usually takes about the same length of time to check the post room as it does for the lift to travel back down, meaning it’s always miraculously there when I come out with the mail, and, well, at that point it’d be churlish not to take it, wouldn’t it?

So anyway. I’m in the post room, with the small silver key. I slip it into the padlock. It opens. I take out two letters. (Didn’t notice the other one before, it’s not important anyway, it’s from the bank and I’ve still not opened it, obviously). The second was from the morning. The second has my handwriting on it. The second is a self addressed envelope.

I have recently sent out several envelopes, each containing their own carefully folded, carefully stamped, carefully addressed, counterparts. And also, between 4 and 6 poems.

One of them has come back. It is this one. It is light. It doesn’t seem to have the poems in it anymore. This might not mean they’ve been accepted. This might mean that the editor has: a) lost the poems b) thrown the poems or, c) working on a different returning poems etiket. The envelope might still contain a rejection letter.

I’ve received rejection letters before. Two. One was perfunctory. Like the letter you receive from the army telling you that a relative has died. The other was so nice it was hard to distinguish from an acceptance. It was nonetheless, a rejection. I really don’t like rejection. There are no good rejection letters.

Anyway. I’m walking out the post room, fingering this envelope, just as the lift’s hitting the ground floor. I start to open it. Fuck it, I think. It’s not quantum mechanics. It’s gonna say the same thing no matter when I look inside I get in the lift, simultaneously pulling out the single sheet of handwritten paper.

It’s from The Coffee House magazine. The Coffee House is a well known poetry publication in these parts. It says:

“Dear Lydia,

Pleased to receive your work and thought it was great”


“I’d really like to have you as a featured poet”

AndPardonMe? It said the same thing the second time I read it… they want a picture and everything! I sent them Fishtail and Mfanwy and Mathematician and Black Coat and (hold on) yep, The dress that wouldn’t die…and it sounds like they’ll publish a good few of them if not all – if I’m being featured! I’m be-ing featured:) I’m be-ing featured:)

There is a small catch. They’ve got featured poets for till the end of 08, so I won’t appear till the 09 issue. But I can wait. I will be such a good waiter.

Good poems, kind poems, clever poems. I will feed you letters and stroke you till you turn iambic:)


September 23, 2007

How is it possible, that we have never done this thing before tonight.
How in all these years of autumn pressing leaves to swirl in gutters,
flapping orange, curling dry and blowing high around our forreds,
how is it only now that we have come to carry bags, contents made
from lists of gathered words. We always said we’d buy the book,
and then we did, and now we’re here. And my kitchen
is high above the city, spinning yellow in its turret and you are reading:
simmer slowly, chopping fine, remove from oven. And I am feeling
a fluttering of the solar plexus. With no one touching I am feeling
the small narrowing of lower back, hands brushing, hairs lifting,
and our kitchen has super nova-ed in the dark. Our clean cups,
our hot water, your body like a thing of fire and this thing-
I don’t know how it’s caught my breath. I don’t know how
it’s made me gasp, or how it’s pinned itself against our shoulders,
how it’s in the steam, how it’s written on the glass.
I don’t know how, this thing we’ve made
has lifted up the sky.

Domestic Life

September 23, 2007

2 days after your 30th Birthday
I asked you if you’d like a drink.
You said yes.
I went into our tiny kitchen,
removed the milk
onto the side board
and used an inch
to make myself a cup of tea.
10 minutes later,
you asked me if I’d like
some PG Tips
and then you noticed
the steaming mug,
freezing sculpture on my lips.
You made yourself
a cup of tea
and placed it on the table
next to where we’d come to sit.
I began to drink
both cups of tea.
I made us both another.

Making Love

September 22, 2007

How is it possible
that we have never done this thing
before tonight.

How in all these years
of autumn pressing leaves
to swirl in gutters,

flapping orange,
curling dry and blowing high
how only now that we have

come to carry bags,
made from lists
of gathered words.

We always said we’d buy the book.
And then we did.
And now we’re here.

And my kitchen is hanging
like a hot star,
and you are reading:

simmer slowly for 5 minutes
and we are learning
the ways for making stock.

I am feeling
a fluttering
of the solar plexus.

With no one touching-
I am feeling
the small narrowing of lower back

hands brushing, hairs lifting,
a hand around my heart.
And our kitchen

has super nova-ed in the darkness.
Our clean cups, our hot water,
my body feeling like it’s made of fire-

and this thing
is something that I don’t know how
we’ve come to learn the art of making.

This thing,
that in the end has happened quickly –
I don’t know how it’s caught my breath,

I don’t know how it’s made me gasp.
It’s pinned itself against our shoulders.
It’s in the steam, it’s on the window.

It’s lifted up the sky.

Independence Day

September 10, 2007

Goodness me! Regular blog comers will note a recent frenzy of post activity. Two days 58 posts. Ok, not quite 58, more like 4 or 5, but still…

Today, it is Monday. I am not working. Hurrah! For all my new job griping (see the post where I bitch about being a coordinator) the flexibility of this post has it’s advantages.  It’s not that I hated my old job. It was great. Very satisfying. It’s just, I did occasionally feel like an overlocker at the turn of the industrial revolution. Clock in, clock out, reporting for duty, sar! Sar! Have successfully left any independence and pretensions to knowing what I’m doing at the door, Sar!..I’m not really being fair of course (especially with that last piss take) but just trying to get across the point. I had a manager.

In this new job, I have a supervisor. This makes a difference. Pretty much, I’m left to get on with things. I’m treated like an adult and trusted to manage myself. I can vary the combination of days I work (making up my 2.5). If I end up booking meetings in on x, y, z..instead of a,b,c that’s fine. No ringing in for permission, no feeling like I’ve executed a small animal. I can work from home, I can work from the nice Internet cafe down the road. The main thing is being effective. Getting stuff  done.

So, today is Monday and I’m at home. To be honest, I’m not actually meant to work Mondays, but I ended up doing so last week and the one before, so it feels like this is a day off. To be honest, recently I’ve been working through the whole week,.Still, I’m getting back on track with it now. Not working today. No. Def not. Gonna do poetry gubbins today. Gonna (maybe) even hoover today. And put a laundry on. MOST IMPORTANTLY, TODAY I WILL DO THE INVOICES I CONTINUE TO PUT OFF! And I will be able to listen to Woman’s Hour.

Woman’s Hour is on the radio as I type. I am listening to it! This is feeling like a very good day:)

Damien, take note.

September 10, 2007

Doing a spot of blog browsing just found this wicked poem (Damien, read it and take note, you will never take me alive!)

It’s by Karen McCarthy, whom though I don’t know much about, I heard of through Malika Booker. Went to see Malika do ‘Unplanned’ earlier this year (just after the Freedom trial) and narrowly missed the special ‘Malika with friends’ version of the show. Had really wanted to make that evening ’cause Jean was performing too. Anyway, you’ve probably guessed by now but K.M was also one of the influencing friends I missed. It said she had a blog on the (missed) event marketing. I occasionally visit. By way of taunting myself.

Where Now?

September 9, 2007

Where now? Now, up the stairs.
Where now? Now on the landing.
Copper planter. African violet.
Now along the hall.
Now in the bathroom.
Now on the seat, in the night
in the mirror, legs drawn up.
But what I meant to say-
was just a running streak of brown fur
What I meant to say-
I wish I hadn’t screamed,
parents in the other room,
brother down the hall.
I wish I could have found a glass.
I wish I could have found a bell.
What I never meant to do
was kill it. I didn’t mean
to squeeze the blood between the hairs
I didn’t mean to carve tomatoes,
count out peas, I didn’t mean,
I never meant, with my mother
darkened brawling down the hall.
But in end, when things are over,
this is where I never go.
Where years are drowned,
and things are finished
I never move to dance in headlights.
The keys are made of skeletons.