of words and wild swans

Open mike nights are a chance to discover the words of other poets, writers and musicians and I usually sit with notebook and pen ready to jot down the ideas and phrases that appeal most, that capture my imagination or that challenge me to think more.

Last night I was a reader at a fund-raising event where the theme was homelessness. One of the phrases I wrote down was from local poet John Turner: “How to compare spring flower to crack den?” It’s a question that challenged me as it relates to why I wimped out of writing new and socially relevant poems for the event, instead reaching into my files, which overflow with spring flowers and poetry of place, to create a set based around the ideas of home, belonging and alienation.
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May Day

Of course it’s not May Day at all: it’s just May Day bank holiday in the UK.

May Day itself should have been last week, but passed unnoticed and uncelebrated.

The hawthorn trees and bushes have been in flower for several weeks, so it’s tempting to think that “may is out” and that it’s time to don summer clothing. But given the almost icy temperatures we’ve had overnight again recently, I think we would be unwise to pack away our winter woollies quite yet.
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predictable

The problem with taking pictures of plants is that they tend to be the same ones every year. Especially as we are creatures of habit and we take the same routes to and from the same places on a regular basis.

But even though I see these yellow fields from the train window in spring and early summer every year, as I travel from Gloucester towards south Wales, they never cease to impress. So here they are again.

Yellow field. Rapeseed flowers. Canola

At least I suppose the light reflections and the stains on the train windows are probably different each year.

dirty habits

When I left the house in Spain, I had to pack up all my books and put them in storage. I don’t know how many there were but, around twenty years earlier, fifteen boxfuls had followed me from the UK to Madrid. I’ve never been one for reading and abandoning a book, so in the intervening period the number may well have doubled. Perhaps one day I’ll be re-united with them.

Since arriving back in the UK, I’ve tried to be reasonable about acquiring more as I simply don’t have the space. But for some reason, I like to own what I have read and my few bookcases are full to capacity.
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snakes and lions

It’s April, but we don’t seem to be enjoying Chaucer’s “shoures soote” – the sweet showers that bring forth spring flowers. Yes, the parks and gardens are bright with blossoms and blooms aplenty, but the weather is as changeable as it has ever been.

I haven’t actually seen snow here this month, but there’s been hail and temperatures below zero, as well as heavy rain, brilliant sunshine, strong winds and days of constant grey sky and mizzle.
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à propos April

In the United States and in Canada, April is National Poetry Month.

Although we don’t actually celebrate the month in the UK, focusing instead on a single Thursday in October for National Poetry Day, the concept of “national” celebrations has become very blurred in recent years. With modern tech and global comms, it’s sometimes hard to ignore the sheer number and volume of voices taking it for granted that what’s true in their region must be true everywhere.

So there is a little bit of my mind that seems to think I should be writing or posting poetry throughout the month.
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small gratitudes

There’s been a lot written in recent years about the importance of being grateful.

The traditional definition of gratitude is probably focused on the recognition and appreciation for things we receive, or actions that benefit us, particularly when we’ve done nothing to warrant these.

The problem with that idea, though, is that it implies the existence of a benefactor – someone who does something for us, or gives something to us. There are so many things in life to be grateful for and many of them just seem to happen without any external intervention; if you don’t believe in a Higher Power, there’s no one specific to thank. Perhaps the thing to do then, is to convert gratitude into an attitude.
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