‘A Life!’ ‘A Lover!’ not ‘A Life!’ ‘A Husband!’

I haven’t written for a while here, mainly because I’ve been busy with grandma again; differentiating Acers from Oaks, peering closely at Hydrangeas the colour of your tonsils and patting St. Bernards called Marley on Headley Heath. Of all grandma has treated me to recently, the apex of our country forays has culminated in my dream for a while now- visiting the homes of my homegirl inspirations. Charleston and Monk’s House, the homes of Vanessa and Virginia Stephen.

Walking the rooms Vanessa painted by hand, seeing the round wood dining table, like that of King Arthur and imagining what wine they had; the fuchsias scrambling up Charleston’s stone face for sunlight above glitterings on the green lily pond and all the sunlight drenching time’s past canvases in her studio made my heart beat in a welcomed irregular rhythm. It felt familiar yet screened, like spying through a kaleidoscope of history warped and retold through the footsteps and talk of others. I think my favourite part of Charleston were the pink guest rooms Vanessa and her daughter Angelica painted. Pale candyfloss walls and miniature seats, paintings of wild women on the wardrobe formed of harsh, sporadic black outlines for contour, with a pale peach wash for flesh. I could imagine my sister, Daisy and me sleeping there- peering at ourselves in the large looking glass wearing summer dresses and flowers in our hair. So romanticised and impossible I KNOW, but still tangible there- in her house of art, ideas and beautiful defiance.

Monk’s House was particularly resonant with me, I saw hopes in reality.  A humble cottage with a garden, a bedroom opening out into dawn- a writing lodge of wood planks where ideas flourished from Virginia’s mind, butterflies born of ink; their wings assonance and metaphor, a lilting flight. Her home was not so washed in pattern and paint as her older sister’s, but still there was intent- her mind was the cement which composed brick into animation. The living room was mint green, flowers in jam jars occupied alcoves and a special design Vanessa dreamt up for her sister adorned the chairs there. My favourite part was her bedroom though, modest but perfectly formed- like a snail shell home. Books whispered plot, unwinding breath on their shelves; a tiled sink sealed the deal of magnificence for me. The walls were pale blue, I know she loved Leonard, but her pain meant she needed space; I understand that pale blue. The only difference I’d make though, would be to swap the single bed for a double. I’m no good by myself- I’d want to feel the security that if there was anyone else who wanted to be with me that there’d be enough duvet to share. We could wake up to watch dawn over apple trees together, read my poetry books and drink tea on the same pillows then go sit in the garden. Either lover or friends, it is besides the point- this is not my story or house, both are Virginia’s.

I have no poem to post today, but I didn’t want that to stop me from trying to write. Instead I’ll share a quote from Virginia that I love, from her longest love letter ‘Orlando’ dedicated to her lover and close friend, Vita. I know to understand her life fully, to encapsulate it is impossible- but what I write is done with love. Love and hope and admiration, and I can only will that that is enough. oxoxoxoxox

” Was it then to be admitted that Orlando was one of those monsters of iniquity who does not love? She was kind to dogs, faithful to friends, generosity itself to a dozen starving poets, had a passion for poetry. But love- as the male novelists define it- and who, after all, speak with greater authority?- has nothing whatever to do with kindness, fidelity, generosity or poetry. Love is slipping off one’s petticoat and- but we all know what love it…” 

Just because …

I’m not really sure what to write about, but I want to write anyways. I want to try to continue with this even when I feel bland and content with the facts my eyes process each second- because you have to. That’s it really- some things you keep going with even if seems like a scream in the dark.

Screaming in the dark can be fun I guess- like a game to see who will actually hear, or actually care once they’ve even heard you. It sounds depressing, and it can be; but that’s why you’ve gotta sit tight and wait for the silver linings to illuminate what you forgot again. We always forget, but the blessing is to always remember again and again and again.

Just because I don’t know what to write about, Here’s simply a little list of why I am so glad to be alive and exuberant and eternally budding and dying on this confusing and dirty gem of a planet:

1.) The look on my dog’s face and how their tails wag like protest flags when they see me put on my trainers and pluck on their leads ready for a walk.
2.) Those moments you don’t plan and will never be able to for how they linger on for no particular reason- making mugs of tea in filthy uni kitchens when the sun hits air motes in a 4pm golden wash, humming privately in odd socks.
3.) Dew drops on my grandmothers rose which she says opens out most beautifully; the way she calls me her “giddy kipper” and lets me get pints with lunch at the pub despite the fact it’s “un-ladylike”
4.) My loves, my romances minus the kisses. Flo being the human manifestation of how honeysuckle grows; makes my smiles twitch up at the corners by just only seeing. Zab and her boss ass bitch tenderest acts of riot along with Literati antics and sprees. Tough Sirloin and me, dancing whenever during the day, wearing our favorite hats in the bookie wing for absolutley no other reason than we are silly babygirls! My sister, with her outrageous banter and fondness for marmite and disciplined bitchiness.
5.) The fact I am free to read what I want. Dress how I want. Write how I want and fuck who I like (with consent DUH). I am free when others are not, and I have a chance to help others and help myself.

Today’s poem is about a simple and fundamentally important emotion/ action in life, I hope you enjoy it xoxoxoxoxo

Laughter

Sherbet tastes and
raspberry colours.
Exposing truth in the face
of grey Friday afternoons-
Exposing teeth. Side-effects include
aching stomachs, crying and
breathlessness;
the holiest malady.
A worldwide miracle-
bus stations, airports, supermarkets and
streets are all
drenched in this alibi of life.
We are all of us tyrants,
all hurting-
But listen, listen…
The people love each other.
The world is not desolate.

In favor of the ‘poetess’

Today has been yet another laurel in the wreath of my life spent in the sunshine smelling roses and honeysuckle with my strawberry girl grandma. This morning I helped her shop at Waitrose; made sure to put the sugar snaps on top of the tins and the mint leaves above all else. Then we drove down to Morden Park in her car Freddie.

There was a bookshop there, and I did damage! YAY ALWAYS SPEND MONEY ON BOOKS IF ANYTHING AT ALL!!!! I brought a novel by Eurydice about the loss of her sexuality in Manhattan and how she must reclaim it; a book by a native American woman of poems and stories about her Arizona planes and heart aches; and finally, the Penguin Book of Women Poets.

Reading the Penguin introduction, something inside me twisted a pale knot of shame to know some women poets loathe to be called a ‘poetess’, and refuse to be put in all-female anthologies due to fears of being over-romanticized into fragile dilettantes.

Yes- I totally understand the frustration and complications of trying to reach the truth of emotion and feeling in poetry without anxieties of being labelled as cliched, love-lorn and over-sentimental. Let alone actually trying to get people to read the actual poems themselves, and not my ego without getting fraught up in generalizations of gender- that all woman poets tackling the erotic are somewhat too sluttish to prudish men whose dicks are as uninspiring as their grey pencils; or women writing of war as being purely fantastical- for, how could a women know anger and pain the same as man with a nation’s blood in his hands and ready to press the nuclear button?..

NEWS FLASH!!!! THE FEMININE DOES TOO!!! THE ONLY DIFFERENCE (in my opinion) IS THAT FEMMES ARE TAUGHT TO EMBRACE AND ACCEPT THE CONCEPT OF FORGIVENESS AFTER HURT A LOT MORE THAN THOSE ALIGNING WITH MASCULINITY ARE!!!!!

I have no qualms being called a poetess- i fucking love that beautiful word; it’s “ess” a kind of flowing robe of flowers or claret silk to its blunt, yet essential prefix. If people want to reduce the soul of a poem into merely human attributes and labels, then I shall let them do so. But, the life span of poetry is so much stronger, so much more mutable and deep than one single author’s gender identity could ever contain, be them poet OR poetess.

I know all my views are coming from the ‘luxury’ of my 21st century western and liberal education- but no one can lie, gender bias in all sectors, not just the arts still dominantly prevails :((((

ANYWAYS!!!!! Today’s poem is from the penguin anthology. I just felt such a tender entwining of moth in my rib cage that the writings of women, from across the globe and still centuries ago could reach out to me now; with  iphone fuckboys replacing gallant knights, and words inked on blanched paper, not papyrus xoxoxox

What She Said to her Girl-Friend

On beaches washed by seas
older than the earth,
in groves filled with bird-cries,
on the banks shaded by a punnai
clustered with flowers,
when we made love
my eyes saw him
and my ears heard him;
my arms grow beautiful
in the coupling
and grow lean
as they come away.
What shall I make of this?

–  Venmanipputi,
translated from Tamil by A.K Ramanujan

 

Perambulating minds

I’ve traveled down to Surrey again to stay with my grandmother for a few days. Our closeness really does make me believe that time as some linear chronology is a bit twisted- I’m not as old as her in body, no- but we get along so well and talk for ages, understanding things and feeling in similar ways that when I’m here, I don’t worry about clocks. The hours to be lived have already been spent; I feel unafraid of my smallness.

We walked through the woods near her house, and saw silver birches with branches gnarled the same twist as lightning bolts jagger. Grasses swaying golden, tapering off the same formation as paint brush bristles do. My imagination was expanding like hot air trapped in soil, emanating out that fragrance you can smell in evenings sometimes when the plants’ lungs are singing their silent language. I thought the horizon of thin trunks all sacred in their mundane leaved green clouds looked taught as violin strings reaching harmony, climax-pulling tightly up against gravity to tug their blue. Or as tendons, the xylem flexing inflorescence in their synchrony of muscled bark.  I pictured body- my body in this world, enveloped by galaxy of twig and mulch above; then beneath. Like veins of gold through rock do these roots dance and twine darkness. The bluebells were dead and hollowed of fat petals oozing cloche shaped nymph colours. They were skeletal and serene, like they could be used as fairy wands- they just looked alien, like they belonged on another planet where spirits wove sunlight and shadow in filigree movements, similar to how the wind was running above our heads in the canopies.

Today’s poem is not my own, I actually don’t know who wrote it- so if any one does please say! I just think it fits quite snug with my feelings of elevation right now in being able to feel so sure with my grandma in her pink T-shirt whilst we perambulated in the blossomed bossom of Mother Nature xoxoxoxoxo

Women, You Must Learn to Be Warriors

Women, you must learn to be warriors
Now when times are dark and our men
Are afraid to tell us what is in their hearts.
There is so much trouble in our land
That it is up to you to decide
Which direction the wind must blow.

Women, you are our tree of life
Just as you were a long time ago
When a man said: Carry my seed.
If you go forth from this darkness,
Telling our story of courage and survival,
Then our tree will grow strong with your words.

Women, do not worry about tomorrow
Even when daylight is long in coming.
The sun remembers its place in the sky.
Take this blue shawl of knowledge and
Wrap it around your daughters, telling them
That women must not be afraid to be warriors.

“so sharp, such fun, so naughty…”

Today was a beautiful day of pink roses and sunshine and small importances. My grandma and I visited Polesden Lacey today, and with the air heavy with bee wings and dusted with pollen- sticky children smiles made of ice cream, we talked about how much she hates Michael Gove and why love does not lead to tragedy. She told me about her gone bunch of 12 red roses; how they grew to 24, replicated on his coffin this month past. She quotes Elizabeth Barrett Browning to me in her familiar brummie accent- “what words can ever speak affection so thrilling and sincere as thine?”; and I can see the streets she played on when her father was in the factories, feel her feet, young again through mine running hard on the pavements.

My grandma teaches me the importance of care- her insistence on my eating lemon cake. I understand the importance of fighting for what we aren’t born with but deserve. We aren’t born knowing how to read, or how to make strawberry jelly or how to grow parsley- but we teach each other, over and over how to spit in the eyes of hate and survive without tearing our hair out. Caring doesn’t have to manifest in big, powerful “STRONG AND STABLE” ways. Caring is talking to strangers about Women’s Institute raffle tickets. It is seeing those around you and wanting to feel with them, regardless of whether they were a Maharajah or not.

Today’s poem is about my granddad, as this poem is my grandma’s favorite that I have written. Long live love xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxo

Grandad

It was New Year’s Eve- red dragons fringed jade,
gold. The whole Beale clan Dim Sum stuffed
with Ned’s favourite kind of rice. Pandemonium
formed of us scuffedkneed, bath scrubbed Masters and Mistresses:
chasing each other through Pokémon slot machines
and freaky apothecary shops. Mr Po and
old patriarch in cahoots over duck pancakes and wine.
He bade me not taste the pink rice paper petals, for once to be a
good girl. Smirking I gulped lotus shapes whole. One memory
of many relating how grandad tried to be
our kind of king of kings; what men or gods are these?

This must sound barmy from me-
Chumbler, his bolshy arch nemesis Malone.
Grumbling low over his glasses that there’s no need to be obstinate
Those gutwrenching dinnertime fables
of convent girl kisses making me want to puke up grandma’s jelly.
I refuse to recall before or after her, our banana split lady-
us Beale’s are not raised for such lifeless things.

I can conjure a Liverpool street now-
Feeling dandy as you Beatle pleasepleasing your Birmingham Brightstar;
A blonde haired stunner shining strawberriy fields from
your CNA shop window displays. Still steadfast,
still unchangeable after Belgium, now Banstead. Sat
together each morning, night-
spilling cornflakes perusing the Guardian;
competing who can mumblemoan about some sport show the longest,
then snoring asleep
to the Archers.

20 Ashley Drive and its crazy
stoned streetgarden hosted so many childhoods- blue smurf armies and Obelix comics.
Muppets or sooty upstairs and our pillowfight midnight feasts;
those giddykippers, silly boys and girls.
Pog, Ozymandias, Big Al, young Masters Tommy and Ned-
Perhaps it was us who drove you to this-
or our fathers before- butterball, stretch and Nicky-  who knows?

Another New Year’s, another showcase of my stubbornness,
inherited I wonder from where…
Refusing to dance and Old langsyne with you all,
downing champagne with regal indignation,
only 13 year olds and you in your armchair know;
I never understood why you huffed and puffed for my singing,
now, I’ll not have any chance to vex-
or take your hand, the heart that fed or see a face
smiling red- your safe for a while at least. Perhaps
I should have sung that bloody song, held bloomin’ hands;
but all the harm that e’er I’ve done,
Alas, it was to none but me….

Us remaining Beale’s lift up this parting glass-
oh, a beaker full, warm from your wine sauna-cellar;
full of the true, the blushful grapes of claret memory-
your blue bound book of Keats, Peanuts love tokens and your own lost flying father-
Love is letting him win- even though you know you could destroy him;
is having a special song, oh please stay Chrissy’s Teddybear, cause tigers play too rough-
Love is hating to say goodbye.

We lift up the parting glass,
you do not leave this world unseen; we drink with thee, you cannot fade away
into forests dim; Now stretch that low chuckle and kick about where you’re happiest-
the pub, cricket pitch, Sri Lankan trips or your three boy’s company;
Stillness. Pillowed next to grandma each morning…

Grandad, why is your sandwich shaking?