Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Who would not do without: a poetry post

Yesterday I set you a creative writing challenge, so today I'm sharing what I've come up with. Please do share yours too, stick your link in the comments, or just share what you've come up with.

I rolled a three so got the snippet from Sergio Ortiz' poem, Day of the Dead: "They married. Julia, carried down the aisle / by two old lovers, found the lost bottle of rum"

I was taken with the idea of Julia not wanting to marry, or perhaps she did want to marry but knew it was hopeless. That her former lovers would present her to her husband as if she were theirs to give. I was also fascinated with the merging of the funeral and the wedding.

At the moment I'm interested in writing in the first person plural, so I thought I'd explore the idea of a funerary wedding from the point of view of the bride bearers. I've given you six of them. I initially wrote this in the voice of the bride, but I kind of feel that the point of this is that her voice is irrelevant. That said I haven't gendered any of the others on purpose.

Who would not do without

She kissed we six for one last time,
we smelled her remembered scent,
her lips brushed kisses on our dry cheeks
and we remembered why
we had put her aside
(or learned to do without).

That done, in the peace of the morning
in the Spring breeze of expectations
the music came.
She held her flowers to her breast
and turned her back.

We six took our places, 
head and hips and hoist.
She is not heavy
and yet we find it hard
to carry her.

We six have practiced,
we walk sedate in time,
do not show the burden,
do not trip,
do not trip on her long white train,
we do not trip.

Ahead is the one who
did not put her aside,
who would not do without
and we carry her, calm and strong
to the fire of that love.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 20/8/17

Tbh I quite like marriage - I think it's very sensible to have a legal contract, and great that the families and friends should celebrate it. It has a problematic past for women, but that's because women weren't respected in patriarchal culture, not because of the institution itself.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Using prompts and dice: a creative writing exercise

It's been a while since I've shared a creative writing exercise with you. Something like this one I shared two years ago, which was inspired by weird lines I was saying for Vocal ID. Right now I'm mainly writing things inspired by other poems (plus lines of dialogue on TV and all sorts of other random nonsense). Today I'm sharing six bits of other poems with you. I'm keeping it to two lines from each poem, although of course, you might want to look into the poems a bit more. However, for this exercise and understanding of context is not really important, it's more about what it sparks.

Here are the six bits:

1) "And before the end comes, the complete / corrosion of all things beautiful..." from Ruin by Joel M Toledo - find the whole thing on And Other Poems here.

2) "that love, that life, that creation / is more than wanting." from Love by me, Cara L McKee. Find the whole thing here.

3) "They married. Julia, carried down the aisle / by two old lovers, found the last bottle of rum..." from On the Day of the Dead by Sergio Ortiz - find the whole thing on Algebra of Owls here.

4) "in winter, the swamp thickening / like the uterine wall..." from Taboo by Jen Hadfield, on the Scottish Poetry Library website here.

5) "Your voice marches on my head / Your death marches in my body" from A poem that is a cat by Sepideh Jodeyri, which is the last poem in the pdf here.

6) "How do you know I'm not / one of those women..." from The Fox Fairy by Pey Pey Oh (one of my favourite poems at the moment) - you'll find the whole thing on And Other Poems here.

Now there might be one of these that really speaks to you, in which case feel free to run with it. Or you could push yourself out of your comfort zone and roll a dice to choose one. That's what I'm doing (I use the dice roller at Random Org, but there are lots available).

Now take your prompt and write it down then spend five minutes seeing what it inspires - you could launch straight into a story or a poem or just find connected things. That's all you need to do just now. 

Hopefully that has inspired something which you can develop. If it's not speaking to you right now then keep your notes, put them in a place where you'll find them again one day, and move on. Maybe when you find them again it'll mean more.

I'd love to know what you come up with. Please comment and share.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Up here: a poetry post

I don't seem to be achieving much at the moment. I'm trying to write a synopsis for the Rose book, and in doing that I'm losing confidence in the story (which is me, not the story). My youngest stressed me out by tumbling all the way down the stairs and hitting her head (she seems fine if sore), and my middlest child is out of sorts, which is constantly worrying me. I am finishing up with very little useful brain. 

Anyway, I saw that Sara at Mum Turned Mom had suggested the prompt 'High' this week, and it reminded me of the song of the same name by New Model Army, which considers how irrelevant all our concerns are when seen from the top of a hill. There are lots of other songs with a similar feel, but I like New Model Army, so I headed to the top of my local hill to see and hear what I could see, singing to myself another one of my favourites by them - I Love the World

I've ended up with a poem inspired by I Love the World (for the structure), and (High for the message), but using my different viewpoint, looking out over the Firth of Clyde on a windy spot with gorse all around me. The bird was there, but to be honest there was neither heather nor bilberries. They're from other high places I've taken to in the past. I've borrowed a few words here and there from New Model Army and other influences (my friends will spot them I'm sure), but this poem is mine.

I was hoping for something uplifting, but I see that what I've written is quite dark in places. The truth is that whatever we do, however much we mess it up, it's ourselves we're hurting. Gaia/Earth will adapt and continue... quite possibly without us, for a very long time.

And I will be getting on with submitting the Rose book... any moment now.

Up here

Up here on high we over-look
our tiny lives. Foes are mistook
for friends. Enmities overlooked.
From here it all seems small.

The little boats we over-see:
the tiny people they carry
to little places 'cross the sea:
they're no concern at all.

And all of our society;
our business and our industry;
the institutions that we need:
just tholtans of power and greed.
Those buildings crumble into dust.
Time turns the metal gods to rust.
Up here there is no might or must.
Up here it all seems small.

And heather blooms and gorse does grow.
The rain it falls and wind does blow.
And up here life goes on the same
in sun, in thunder, and in rain.

A little bird takes to the sky:
a shrill alarm sounds from on high,
distracting from a nest that I
am not concerned about.

And if a god sits overhead
just as my daughter's teacher said;
for us he might as well be dead
for he can't make us out.

And women suffer in childbirth.
Men die without knowing their worth.
And children sicken and are hurt.
And some lead lives with sadness cursed.
But still the gorse will grow its spikes.
Bilberries ripen, small and bright.
And people fall and people rise.
Up here it all seems small.

And if one day should come our end,
to Gaia it's but shifting sand,
up here the life goes on the same
in sun, in thunder, and in rain.

© Cara L McKee 25/5/16

Please note, a version of this poem has also appeared in The Ham magazine. 

mumturnedmom    Writing Bubble

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Potential: a poetry post

Sara at Mum Turned Mom has chosen the word 'potential' as her latest prompt.

To be honest, I was stuck there for a while, but then I was thinking about gravitational potential energy and Wile E Coyote, and I came up with this poem, which I've also done a reading of on Facebook live (click here for that):

The Potential

This poem,

poised on the precipice
has potential
to kill you dead.

To whistle its way down

to a million-mile-away valley floor
landing in its own
mini-mushroom puff.

But it won't.

You'll just beep, and run on by
or maybe pause for a moment

wondering why it's poised just so,

was it put there on purpose?

Or has its context 

been whittled and abridged away?

Perhaps you see my design

in balancing this poem here
with all its potential.

Pause a while longer, 

and you'll see yourself in it.

Ⓒ Cara L McKee 27/4/17