on poetry and puppetry

Sketch by Lance Tooks

If it weren’t for social media, I would probably have blithely continued to not update this blog. But today my Twitter feed is full of hastags trying to distract us from global concerns and help us focus on other, more enlightening and uplifting, matters and I have been nudged into action.

Without the reminder from Twitter, I would probably have forgotten that it was #WorldPoetryDay. After all, in the UK, we get a lot more excited about National Poetry Day, which happens some time in early October. But I haven’t written any new poems for ages, so why should that make me want to post here after months of silence?

Indeed, it probably wouldn’t have been sufficient if I hadn’t also seen another hashtag and realised that it is also #WorldPuppetryDay. That seems to me to be a day worth celebrating.

Of course, at this late stage, I’m not going to write anything new to celebrate either occasion, so I have, once more, dipped deep into my files to see if I could find something appropriate.

I don’t appear to have any actual puppets in my files, but I suppose the narrator of this riddle verse comes close, as she’s performing in public through no will of her own.

Danse macabre

How does it make you feel as I spin round this pole of steel?
My skin is oiled and tanned, and I’m sure you understand
that I’m lean as well as curvy but there’s really nothing pervy,
though I see you salivate as I gyrate.

I hope I can assume you want to take me to your room;
I’m waiting for the word: will you choose me for your bird?
For you, I’ve lost my head and heart; claim me! before I fall apart.
I’m not a strip-club dancer, so: who am I? Can you answer?

Presumably, given the recent closure of pubs and restaurants here in the UK, she’s in a take-away establishment not a sit-down eaterie.

forsythia blossom

The thesaurus gave me a few ideas for synonyms for puppet, including “doll”. And I wonder if perhaps a voodoo-style doll is closer to the mark?

Alternative medicine

Dr Wo sticks needles into my hands,
my feet, my shins. I take
deep hatha breaths and relax
into the pain; bees drone
as I picture energy flow
along meridians to join the dots.
Thirty minutes later, the needles
draw blood. Wo’s face tells me
it’s my fault. He burns mugwort
against my skin and I swear
quietly in an unshared tongue.
I focus my thoughts.
A wax doll screams
             then melts.

Again, I suppose the current situation will mean that such intimate practices as acupuncture will not be officially allowed for some time to come.

pink hyacinth with reflection in water bucket

Another potential synonym was “mannequin”, though perhaps not quite in the context of this piece.

Model love

We thought that time was ours
for the taking, but instead of taking time
to explore, investigate, hoard up
discoveries in memory, we wasted it
on petty arguments, unnecessary doubts.
Now I find particulars elude me,
specifics, ins and outs: I can’t recall
the details of your body, never learned
its nooks and crevices, its curves
and folds. I’m sure the basic structure
is the usual – the thigh bone connected
to the hip bone, five finger bones
connected to each hand – but cannot visualise
your thigh, your hip: the forms I long for,
those fingers whose touch haunts me,
are as unreal in my mind as the body
of a dress shop mannequin.

Now I come to think about it, that “love at a distance” is going to be the case for the foreseeable future for many people.

So it seems that I have found some poems for World Poetry Day that are relevant to World Puppetry Day, as well as not being entirely disconnected from the current world situation.

As for the pictures, in the top one – a sketch by Lance Tooks – I suspect that the two books the young lady is undecided about are books of poetry. The other two photos – the windswept forsythia and the hyacinth who is playing at being Narcissus – are not only relevant because they were taken today, but also because they seem to bring the scent of springtime to the page. Many people will have looked at the calendar this morning – March 21st – and wondered if it was the first day of spring. It isn’t, as the vernal equinox happened in the early hours of yesterday, at least where I am, but that seems to have been mostly overlooked amongst the other news.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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