No one knows how to heal our broken world,
barely held together by twisted concertina
wire. We made enough to circle the night.
Several times. How else will we protect us
from ourselves? How will we decide which
side is free? Truth burns blue on the pyre,
it’s final act of resistance is to choose if
it should turn into smoke or ash. Then why
does the air still reek of toxic optimism?
Aren’t bright eyes and unbidden cheer
frightening in the dark? I push his hand away. Hope, I tell him, is just another four-letter
word. He laughs, his breath oddly warm,
frankly, what other option do you have?
Poetry is dead. Long live the poems.
Does the poet still bears the burden of dissent,
of finding new words for a retro revolution,
when there are none left?
Let the seas rise, the cities fall. Let the snow melt.
Let the last of the evil fly one-winged, out of that box.
Let the chasms widen until
there are no more rivers to run through them.
Let people be divided over and over and over again
till they fit in tiny spreadsheet cells.
Let me be gathered as a data point by a factory of
algorithms that build a bubble around me.
Wasn’t it the scriptures that said that the world is just
perception. (And that was before Facebook.)
What do you want to resist most, today?
What outrage fills your coffee cup this morning?
How many odd tweets does it take to draw an even breath.
Because I have no poem for you to declaim.
No verse for you to hang your mask on.
No couplet. (What rhymes with orange or against?)
Go stand upon your upturned crate and say to the
three-and-a-half people around you that
poetry is long dead. Gone. RIP.
Now kneel for a minute in silence.
Why does it seem like more has happened in 11 days of this year than in 12 months of 2020? Sigh.
Am grateful to all those who have been reading and responding to my chapbook “The night is my mirror”. It has given me the momentum I need for a couple of new projects this year. A book, perhaps, and an anthology, maybe. Fingers crossed!
Meanwhile, I read this beautiful collection by Susan Chast. I posted a review on Instagram (@tp_poetry), but here it is again for those who don’t do the ‘gram. The book is available on Lulu.com and I totally recommend you grab a copy.
Grieving into love: Friend, Family, Neighbour – poetry by Susan Chast
An ode to grief, a handbook of acceptance and healing, a heartfelt record of love for self and family and community, this collection is a cathartic expression of the medley of emotions that comes with loss. Susan both enthrals and educates with standout lines like these that will forever become part of your everyday lexicon:
“But birds,birds! I’ve opened the window/ and thrown out the dead. Now you must leave, too./ I’m cleaning out the nest, longing to fly.” -Trying to move, but birds are in the way
“Last time it rained, I stood arm in/ arm with a white pine to feel drops/ glide on skin, to drink with my fingers.” – Becoming a weather Vane
“…Nothing is fuller than this moment/ of life caught in the lens of emergency.” – The metaphysics of family emergency
“Timber. Timber. O!/ Call loud for the fallen whose/ roots still feed the earth” – Timber
“Judas moaned. Ah, rope. Was I ever in control?/ Who profited when I took money for my soul?” – A very good deal, maybe
“So, friend, let’s talk about making Black Lives/ Matter while we walk six safe feet apart.” – I am white
Wish you a year of fruitful reading and writing. Stay safe, while virus vs vaccine plays out!
Through the lockdown and the near-isolation, words were hard to find, but this came together in the last few weeks and I am delighted to close the year with relief, gratitude and hope.
I think the poems are real and personal and have been churned out by the silence, unease and reluctant acceptance that was 2020. If you’d like to read the chapbook, do give me a shout and your email information. and I will send you a copy. (leave it in the comments section or write to email@example.com)
Happy holidays and a very happy new year.
This micropoem was selected by a reader from Ireland, Jane Carson, who reimagined it and posted it on instagram with a beautiful soft background. I love how poems resonate differently with readers and grow bigger than the poet’s imagination. The original melancholy has somehow morphed into a kind of optimism.
A little chapbook to end a year that has been challenging in so many ways. This collection of poems came from the long months of lockdown and silence. The poems are personal and were hard to write. I hope you can connect with them in your own way.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for your free PDF copy.
Warm wishes for a better, hopeful, safe and healthy 2021.
Rain is louder than thoughts, but only in the first four three minutes.
Our Your shadow is still stuck to my wall, where it was cast, without care, that last weekend before the first lockdown.
At some point, I turned this year into a convenient excuse. Like you did.
Probability is inversely proportionate to the length of silence. Words however cannot change the outcome.
If so much pain seems senseless, a little little happiness, by extension, is senseless too.
Every existential equation is solved in the songs the birds made up when humans emptied the streets.
The thing is, phone calls end. Like life. Like time.
It doesn’t take that long for “every day felt like a year” to become “a year that felt like a day”. (It takes a day. Or a year.)
Isolation is terrifying without a secret preoccupation. (Unless you are secretly preoccupied with the terrors of isolation, in which case the preoccupation is terrifyingly isolating.) (Why secret?)
Being a poet during a pandemic is a test of brevity. How best can the endless void, the featureless grey wrapped sky, the road that bends into the horizon, the distance that is measured in everything other than distance — how best can the infinite be compressed into neat lines that in the seventh reading still make some sense.
Size has swapped meaning. Big has turned small. Little is too much. Consider. The Universe. One word. Forever. Now.
Mostly, just #11.
Truly, just #4. But concise is always a verse, thirteen verses too long.