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The Rikweb Forum • View topic - NaPoWriMo 2007 drafts

NaPoWriMo 2007 drafts

Various miscellanea concerning Rik's poetic endeavours

NaPoWriMo 2007 drafts

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:01

Originally posted to the pffa websites - this thread is just the poems, no fluff.

Current status of poems (7 Dec 08):
Abandoned - 2 days
In abayence - 1 day
Untouched, awaiting redraft - 10 days
Undergoing redraft - 2 days
Redrafting complete - 6 days
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1 April: Renewal

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:47

We severed the band together, took a saw
to its dulled sheen and rasped atoms
of metal into the air. Soap had failed

to ease its passage. Later we shopped
for a larger token. I would not sacrifice
a single digit of yours to a mere symbol

of our expanding love.

Status: Redrafting complete
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2 April: Lych Woman

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:48

They've carried grandad Clegg across the stiles
and down the hill feet first, their misty arms
a sheen of moonlight joined around his box.

Eyes closed, she watches future histories
parade along the road, each witnessing
a source of strength. The bench beneath
the churchyard gate is damp against her legs,
now numb from sitting still. Old Clegg was good
for sharing gossip over steepened tea -
she'll miss his wisdom when he goes, she thinks.

Another coffin tops the hill, so small
a man can carry it alone. Her John
was four when Jesus called him home
so unannounced, an autumn drowning. Thumbs
of fog massage her shoulders; time to leave
the witnessing and take the straight road home.

The last to pass is fuzzy - just a shape
of light above the muddied path. A voice
behind her whispers: 'Tis yersen, old wife.

Status: Untouched, awaiting redraft
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3 April: John

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:49

I heard your news. There were birds
on the twigs of the sycamore today
where the spring has cracked the buds
to ease new leaves into the wind.
The sun was playing catch-me
with the clouds, who roiled images
of battles across the canvas. I kept
a photo of you from your war days
by my computer; I can look at it
while I type, but I never knew you
then and this fight will take
your breath away, too soon.

Status: Redrafting complete
Final version:
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4 April: Hemingway Ate Here

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:50

He starts to build the fire before the sun
sneaks out of the country. Two great beams
liberated from the railway track form the base
on which to balance the oil drum. Boys
from the school down the street watch him
break sticks for kindling, run when the aunts
take to pasting magazine strips onto strings
to weave between the balconies.



The new-wrought iron edging my balcony
is a border post: behind me, a tourist
destination, where food is delivered
with a surly smile and guides take us
in coaches to beaches. I have a maid.
Men with gold teeth would sell me
a woman - or a boy - as long my pockets
rustle with convertible pesos, enough
for them to bribe the officer with the gun.

Downstairs is a different Havana; one
the authorities have not yet fixed up
for my eyes. I smile at the fat woman
when she waves to me; she has not moved
from her couch for a week, her teeth
almost as rotten as the panels of her door.



The smell of roasting goat miracles
the fat woman from her couch, to lean
her heavy arms on her rust-woven
balustrade. You ask: "are you hungry?"
I nod my head in time with the salsa.
"We can eat at the Bodeguita, and take
a pen to sign the walls." I smile
and agree, though I know they whitewash
the restaurant annually. They serve goat
there too, which makes a change
from chicken, or pork, or fish.

Status: Untouched, awaiting redraft
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5 April: Joy

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:51

You're funny! Not as funny as the time
we went to the gay bar and watched
the drag act set off a toy cannon
which had, as his performance proceeded,
slowly drooped until its mouth
was level with the audience. "That
will teach queens to douse in hairspray
on a Friday night", you said. I burned

your hair, once, when we played
with candles and ropes. In those days
we used to play twice a day: we'd pounce
each other for instant gratification.
Nowadays gratitude comes in tea bags
and interrogations. I should have given
you up a decade ago, but somehow we found
a slow burn that keeps us chuckling still.

Status: Redrafting complete
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6 April: Snowdrop (the 50th bit)

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:53

"Please stop"

"Please stop! You talk in riddles, all of you!
The sailor with his song of cartoon cats;
the man who spoke of doom and hell. The acts
of madness I have seen: a sea that grew
to flood the Marsh, a church that built itself -
this tower! How the fuck am I to cope
without the facts? There's big black dogs that lope
across the haunted wastes of this cursed shelf
of land - I saw my mother! Spoke to her;
well, argued, anyways. I need to know
about the Tallyman today, like where he hides
and how to stop him. Should I burn the furs
on which he sits, or mumble verses? Show
me what to do so I can jump this ride!"

Status: Untouched, awaiting redraft
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7 April: Snowdrop (the 51st part)

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:54

On the Nature of Things



The Captain answers her cry for help:
His eyes are closed, recalling the words
and lines of a poet long ago dead -
to her, at least. She hears the latin
in colours and shades surrounding her skull;
flickering frames of figures and shapes
collected together to grapple cadences
into scenes of a film performed just for her.



A girl dressed in white walks to the temple.
Her hair is braided with beads, her steps
are slow and precise; there's priests before her
and behind, chanting a hymn to please
their Aphrodite. The hour has come
for the girl to honour the goddess, to ask
for victory in battle: she unveils, abases
herself on the steps that stack to the altar.

Beyond the girl, the gathering waits:
a goat is hauled by its halter towards
the slaughter space. A silent priest
brings the coppery blade he concealed
in his shawl out; its sharpened edge
looks dull in the rust of the rosy dawn.
Murmuring prayers, he moves the knife
to the veins in the neck of the victim. The goat
still chews its cud as a column of blood
pistons from the cut he creates in the skin.



A mask of shock meanders across
the virgin's face. Her fingers grope
for the cut beneath the nob of her jaw.
Her eyes widen. A whisper of scarlet
dampens her lips. She levers her hips
and sits on the step, stares at the knife
and the man who holds it: 'how can this be?'
her forehead furrows in a final question.



Status: Untouched, awaiting redraft
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8 April: Snowdrop (the 52nd part)

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:56

The Gift of the Mist



A wall surrounds the roof's flat edge;
the flagstones rough on her feet. Her gaze
absorbs the sight of the surreal tide
covering the Marshes. Her mouth is loose,
yet closed in a line, careful to let
not a single whisper or whimper escape.
Around her the mists mutate, rendering
collections of shapes: a shoe, a lamp,
the face of a woman whitewashed with age.



She stares at the stars that stud the wheel
of the skies above the sunken lands -
something is happening to her: a thought
takes form in her mind, and forms in the shrouds
around the tower. She reaches and takes
the hilt of a knife in her hand, allows it
to cool and solidify, to craft its blade
to a line of sharpness. The line of her mouth
bends and tenses, bunching the tiredness
in her eyes to the edge of her anvil face.

Watching her learn, the lad backs away,
his foot-treads slow, unsteadily feeling
for the hollow of steps to safety below.



Status: Untouched, awaiting redraft
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9 April: Snowdrop (the 53rd part)

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:56

Decisions at Midnight

"What new horror is this? I see the knife
my Gran was using when I saw her last
here in my hand. What magic trick has passed
this blade through fogs to me? Maybe my life
is truly done and I'm in heaven, hell -
wherever. Maybe I'm a coma corpse
in hospital, my Gran beside me. Thoughts
have power here: I know this tower fell
before the Normans came, and yet it stands
as proud as men before the beer can choke
their pride away. Did him downstairs remake
it just by thinking it? I need a plan -
I need to learn to use this gift, so folk
will help me out of here for their own sake!"

Status: Untouched, awaiting redraft
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10 April: The Obligatory AZ Poem

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:57

April blossom comes
down early, fragile gloves
heaping into jaundiced kerb-lines;
my Nikes overstep pink queues,
rotting scars that undulate; vans
waft xanthic yardangs zoic.

Status: In abayence
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11 April: Snowdrop (the 54th part)

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:58

Stirrings

A crystal of water
caught in an anvil
of stalk and leaf
collapses, drips.

Cold granules
compacting roots
shift at the probe
of new white growth.

Within a paper
scabbard, a point
of leaf stretches
its lignin bones.

In darkness, guests
in their cells waken,
click their chemical
cascades, breathe.

A mess of flesh
deep in the bulb
forms: sepal, petal;
stamen, pistil.

Status: Untouched, awaiting redraft
Current version:
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12 April: Language

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:58

So when did we start speaking
a different tongue? That first night
of passion, perhaps, our grunts
new symbols for art and thought;
or afterwards, meeting in bars,
shifting sounds to build barriers
between us and the crowds
admiring our mutual lusts?

Or did we develop our idiolect
browsing shops for furnishings,
partners in fashion crimes? I speak
you as well as you speak me,
and sometimes we even chat
silently, commands conveyed
by touch, look. Observe how
my shoulders type: 'I love you!'

Status: Redrafting complete
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13 April: Snowdrop (the 55th part)

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 20:59

Something Watches

Something watches. The woods are silent,
no strand of fern disturbed by footfall,
no talon of twig tugged out of place
by the passage of flesh, or fur, or cloth -
something watches. A whiff of the Marsh
mingles with the mist, mesmers the birds
in the trees to quieten the taps of their quills,
their beaks: something - stirs the leafmould:
a finger of mud fruits a hand-palm,
an arm, an elbow, an outline of shoulder
sprouting from the soil; silver moonlight
reflects from the clay as it forms a shape,
a scope of a man. Someone watches -

a girl in a glade. She gathers the mist
in her hands and styles it to the sights in her head:
the pleat of a skirt; the spin of a ball;
the heel of a shoe that she hangs on her toe
as she sits on a rock that rose to her call.
He watches her brush bracken from her hair,
noting the dirt that dapples her knees,
the white of her wrist. When she reaches
her hand to the ground, he hears the gasp
of the bulb as it spindles, blossoms: a snowdrop
for the plucking - a rare, precious treasure
discovered in the depths of this displaced wood.

Status: Untouched, awaiting redraft
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14 April: An Office Acquaintance Offers Advice

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 21:00

He said: "love
is a game
of both skill
and chance,
strategic planning
must become
your friend."


I said: "why
turn these chemicals
into a game?"


He said: "you have
to compete, mate."


I said: nothing. I watched his tongue
moisten his underlip, a quick slither
of spittle between words to gloss
his good looks. He smelt of sharp spices
mixed with soft conditioned cotton.
When he cocked his head, his eyes
remained symmetrically blue, electrodes
pushed through my forehead; lobotomising
me. I watched his throat form thoughts -
a rhythmic rise and close, rise and close.
There were curled hairs caressing his larynx.

He said: something or other.
I was not listening.

Status: Redrafting complete
Final version:
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15 April: Snowdrop (the 56th part)

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 21:01

The Hoodeners

She sits in the boughs of a birch tree
alert, listening to the litany of profanities
growing louder: a lurching draggle
of men scratching an unsteady path
through the moonlit muds of the wood.

Beneath her feet they file in line:
their leader a lad who limps with a stick;
then a man in drag, his dress a mess
of rags and patches - he repeats a tune
of whistles and hisses through whiskers and teeth.

The troupe behind him trample and stamp
their heels the beat. At the back trails
a terror of bone and broken feathers
impaled on a pole - a painted skull
with a metalled jaw. A man the size
of a sturdy house is heaping a stream
of abuse on the rider - a boy who lies
on a bed of bramble with bouts of laughter
bubbling smears of snot down his chin.

She smiles at the sight, suppresses a giggle.
The boy in his mirth marks her presence -
he shouts and points: "A pox on the saints!
I've found us an audience! Let's entertain her!"


Status: Untouched, awaiting redraft
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16 April: Snowdrop (the 57th bit)

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 21:02

The Betsy

"There comes a time when ice defines
the fields, and ditches freeze
as solid as the stiffened corpse
swung high to tease the breeze.
The snow will gather in the streets
and cattle in their barns
and folks will gather round the fires
to watch the hooden dance.

"Now I's the Betsy, can't you tell?
My dress is made of silk!
my stocking cotton comes from France,
my gloves is white like milk.
My hair is fair, my heart is strong,
my honour is intact -
and I'll be first to clump the arse
of those who doubt these facts!

"This troupe of vagabonds and thieves
is here to tell a tale
of how the Lord our God Above
became a man so frail
that He could die upon the cross
in anger and in shame
and in His death to bring to us
forgiveness in His Name!

"A thousand years and more ago
around this time of year
a woman dressed in blue became
a mother, blessed from fear
and at that time the farmyard swine
and horses, sheep and kine
raised up a din to keep away
the Devil and his kind.

"And that's what we must do tonight:
a play we must perform
to keep at bay this winter's bite
and keep our bellies warm.
Our laughs will make the Devil's head
explode in blood and bones;
our dance will stop the Devil's legs
from straying near our homes.

"So meet my troop of merry men
who've travelled far and wide
to keep this hillside safe and hale
and true to God's own side.
I'll start with Carter, built of stone -
a solid churchman, him,
who keeps the dancers out of harm
and also very slim.

"Our Carter's staff is like the wrath
of God when riled to fight
and useful too for keeping safe
our stocks of food each night.
But who would steal such frugal fare
from honest folks like us?
What kind of beast would bust the reins
of friendship, love and trust?

"Beware the hobby! He's a fiend
a feral animal
with bones for skin and nails for teeth
and ribbons round his skull
He'll eat your babbies, steal your bread,
demolish house and hearth.
He'll drink your beer and then he'll piss
right in your old mum's bath!

"Beelzebub's own horse he is;
a fearsome sight to see
and even Carter can't keep him
away from you and me.
Can no one save us from this beast
now savaging our homes?
Is there no saint to hear our prayers
and slay this bag of bones?

"But ho! I hear a trumpet blare
from high up on the hill -
a fair haired lad has come to bring
this evil bane to heel.
He wears a breastplate bright as noon
and carries a great spear,
and even though he tumbles down
the hill we give a cheer!

"For he is England's own Saint George -
a little short, we know -
but even so he's not afraid
to battle monstrous foes.
He fights for Christ and Christendom
and our own mortal souls
(however tarnished they may be,
though mine is solid gold).

Just watch him take his great big stick
and wave it at the horse
and how he thwacks the Carter's head -
a practise shot, I'm sure!
They circle now, a courtly dance
of chivalry and shame,
but just before he kills the beast
we'll break for bread and ale

"For it is said, and truly so,
that godly work is tough
and harder still when hunger knocks
our bellies like a puff.
So bring us beer, and mead, and bread
and maybe some roast duck.
Then once we've supped we'll see just how
our saviour rides his luck!"

Status: Untouched, awaiting redraft
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17 April: Economic Migration is an Eighty Mile Trek

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 21:03

Behind the wall, a wilderness
of ditches dug to drain the soil,
their looping routes layered in arches
of brambles and bushes, blossoming hawthorn.
It's easy to amble aimless across
this unmapped world, its whorls of growth
a narrative of nature's nascent charm
smothering the steel and stench of life
beyond the fronds of the fallow soil.

My walls are packed with the produce of lands
that span the globe, spirals of goods
freshly jetted from fields to joust
in polythene packaging for my pocket change.
I buy tomatoes from Mexico, break them
free from their prison, pinch and fondle
their standard-sized, unsullied flesh.
In the street, I bite, assert my right
to consume the fruit of foreign worlds.

Someone penned a protest note
to a national rag, to rage at the plans
to erect an arc of energy mills
behind the walls of the wilderness:
'it spoils the views', they vent; 'it threatens
the natural world'.
I wipe some pips
from my chin as I read: 'it wrecks the charm
of this special place, and the price of my house.'

I turn the page, pick at the news.

Status: Undergoing redraft
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18 April: A Story With Morals In It

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 21:04

Chlorine Cassie caught a train
and went to see her friend Lorraine.
But when Lorraine came to the door
she slipped and fell down on the floor.
So Cassie took her friend to church
to see the vicar, Lithium Lurch -
a barge of a man with tiny eyes
that hid in his brows like furtive spies.
He preyed for the soul of poor Lorraine
ignoring her moans about the pain
in her knees and hips; he shared a sip
of wine with Cassie, brushed her lip
with the back of his cassock, stained it red -
and then he took her home to bed,
leaving Lorraine to die of thirst
under the alter, cold and cursed.
So when you hear a friend come a-knocking
don't answer the door just wearing your stockings!

Status: Abandoned
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19 April: Slumber

Postby Rik on 03 Dec 2008, 21:04

I saw you dead, a smorgasbord
of flesh arranged in a box, pine,
a Blenheim I think, with loose-screwed
handles for decoration. But the dead
don't smile unless the corpse-artists
overstuff the cheeks, and your snores
were breaking my dream-threads.

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