Canines and Hijabs

I keep thinking how remarkable it is that a being with no audible voice in my life, with no tangible dexterity of any human language is capable of teaching me so much of Love. I am referring to Flush, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s pet spaniel who Virginia Woolf wrote a book about after reading the Browning’s love letters.

I watched many interesting talks today about Muslim women; whether the hijab is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (Personally, I no longer believe in ‘right’ or ‘wrong’- just kind and unkind, happy and unhappy- these things warp and change day to day, but they do not pretend to be as monolithic and grand as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ try to be), about the visibility of Muslim women and what it even means to be Muslim anymore in all the lies and stereotypes we are fed every day for the ends of perpetuating profit, blood money.

Just in case anyone’s interested, here are the talks I listened to-

  • What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  • What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids and Why We Should Care | Deeyah Khan | TEDxExeter

  • The Muslims You Cannot See | Sahar Habib Ghazi | TEDxStanford

 

  • The Muslim on the airplane | Amal Kassir | TEDxMileHighWomen

I think we should all try to be a bit more like Flush in these times when myth pervades over smiling at strangers in the street. When I watch my dogs on our walks, they never slow down to a pace of shyness when a new puppy lollops out on our horizon- my dogs sniff, they they circle and play; I like to imagine in human terms they would be saying “Hello fellow Soul, how do you do?

IMG_6036.JPG

The only reason monsters exist is because we make them. Which means we can also un-make them, and I guess that must start with ending fear. Understanding that each human, regardless and yet resulting from colour creed gender age etc ect, is a plethora of nerves and arbitrary intellects. No one is a closed book ending, we must stop conducting this society as if we are robots; we must think like dogs. I treasure what Virginia says: “Flush knew what man can never know- love pure; love simple, love entire; love that brings no train of care in its wake; that has no shame; no remorse; that is here, that is gone, as the bee on the flower is here and gone.” 

Today’s poem is by a Farsi poetess, Forough Farrokhzad- an Iranian modernist thinker whose poem ‘Born Again‘ is so beautiful and strong she gave me shivers, my arm hairs stood up on the tube. ‘Born Again‘ is rather long, so I didn’t want to include it here; instead here is ‘Gift‘… xoxoxoxoxoxooxox

Gift

I speak out of the deep of night
out of the deep of darkness
and out of the deep of night I speak.

If you come to my house, friend
bring me a lamp and a window I can look through
at the crowd in the happy alley. 

Forough Farrokhzad

‘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…” 

Spectrum Hearts

Today is when love was first legalised in glorious Britannia. By love I mean freedom- I mean not being afraid if you wanna kiss your neighbour’s lips- the boy who likes cricket and has freckles like strawberry seeds. Or your girl next door; her hair crimson at dusk and webbed topaz at dawn lolling shoulder blades. Love means bodies without fear: it means we see ourselves truly, without pretence or glamour.

It makes me feel such shame that we locked this away and threw away the key in ‘honour’s’ name for too fucking long. The glitter was dulling behind bars, and feet that should have been slow-dancing on wedding floors were stagnating in cells instead.

I am of the opinion that we are all a little bit gay on the inside: that people who deny themselves a little taste of colour are so mopey and angry at others because they’re jealous. So the old saying goes- happiness is the best revenge. What happier revenge than love; what do people try to stifle more in this world than compassion? I am only young, but I have my opinions. Thus says my brain: Love, desire; they’re persecuted because they are needed more than wanted, they are powerful beyond definition of language.

I am so proud with of the punk/prog/ gay pride progressions my country has made since it’s (fluctuating and never truly ending) dark ages. But other countries still deny their citizens the right to hold hands with beloveds in summer bloomed parks. To kiss in front of cinema screens; or to wed, that gold ring and memory forever. My love and thoughts go out all the way to those still trapped and afraid- I use my freedom of expression to hope, to will for yours. LGBTQ+ community: you are loved, please don’t feel ashamed or wrong or deadly. You are beautiful like festival colours and flower smells. You are beloved unto this soil, and please don’t let yourselves go down due to ignorance. You are seeded strong- will last out all winters.

Today’s poem was written when I was 16 and at a Pride March with all my friends. I remember feeling so alive, so liberated and joyful to be in the sun without fear on that pavement, holding up banners and shouting aloud into the sky and shop window faces. Happy LOVE. That’s all there is to it; LOVE, LOVE, LOVE xoxoxoxoxox

 

IMG_9539.JPG

PRIDE

I belonged there, dancing.
I belonged there- in the sherbet
fizzing July sun; laughter
and drums spectrumreaching
ears as second nature.  Pavements
baked in this crowd, excitement.

A carnival of colours marrying hope
with young fuckery on London’s
summer seasoned walkways.

Gimps and holy men and
inflorescence of old dykes holding
hands- our people glittering.
Mirages of possibility finally conjured
into warm heavythumped blood.
Souls sing “FUCK YOU”
and peace- no longer a classroom fantasy
but flesh, a commitment or kiss.

Dancing did so I whole
belong. Sweaty palms agripped
placard as grail- awakening,
awakening childlike loving
glee and must never be lost.
We shuffle with crowds, not noticing
how every step, each movement
is only a dust-breadth;
resembling twigs floating down
greenweeded river in this concrete
jumble- we pay no mind to swans staring
out shop windows or the dwindling
of scaffoled hours. The present was a
Present- and that’s where I
belonged.

The repetitions of her in my life-
collapsing yet again into crossed legs
on park floor fuzz in old trainers,
smiling as she starts off the roll-up,
sunning ourselves as strawberries
would. (If we had time to contemplate
such metaphors.)

We are enraptured in NOW,
this gay teenage fantasy-
warm wine swigged straight from the bottle
and we not yet 18, sparkling giggles down
our throats; rucksacks
smuggled on rails.
Face-paint smudged by
caresses- smiles and shouts;
this delicate stasis.

No worries of beating red
sticking to teeth like glue-
No terrified of myself dissolving,
dissolving…

It was my pride-
our pride of all hopes,
We belonged there
all the heart long.

Perils of hope

“I’ve been a romantic for so long
All I’ve ever heard are love songs
Singing oh-oh-oh, go on, I dare you…”    – The XX, I Dare You (from ‘I See You’)

I’ve fucked to this song, it seemed romantic at the time, but now the thought of being in such close proximities is frightening- a fluttering kind of fear. In fact, when I was in that ill-timed romance, I would listen to this whole album on repeat. Now all I can stomach is ‘Lips’, with its echoes and cloistered hopes. It makes me feel beautiful in my hurt at what’s past and my hope of repetition: that I am not a mayfly. I still haven’t brought myself to play ‘Say Something Loving’- the melody is too cruel for now. All I remember is what I thought young love was meant to be and then how disparaging realities cut our short known thread: first slow dancing to Eric Clapton and kissing his eyelashes when dawn scattered filigree patterns across our bodies in bed, then stood alone on the pavement- denied one final hug.

I keep thinking what I did wrong, because it seems ridiculous but so predictable to me that despite all the love songs I listen to, and all the sonnets and ballads I memorise the first boy to buy me pink roses should end it all with “fuck you”. I feel like a scribble of rose. I feel so sad and confused that it passes for my feeling alive.

I am being dramatic I guess. Too open and slutty with my foul desires- but I miss hugging; I miss feeling secure not with words but with touch. It was beautiful and primal, and absurd and pathetic. But it’s better than this, not that I didn’t partake in such sordid pastimes when we were together- I think that’s why he dumped me. I get sad and then I get drunk and then I get sad again; the cycle of life.

I know I have to be hopeful; but it’s the beautiful things that are hardest to hold. Loneliness has put up a barrier between the world and my heart. I wan’t to love it, like I wanted to grow to love him- but my lungs are filled with pesticide and the body is already compost. All I wanted was inflorescence, to see spectrum in bus windows and each millions of pores in my wrists dancing. The world as it is but seen; seen and felt to the ledge of infinity.

I don’t know what to think, relying so much on the whimsies of strangers; I am floating with motes and negative space and it must mould my home. To observe and take nothing.

Today’s poem I wrote when I still had florets of spring under my fingernails and pulsing flush through heartlines. I value my life to the stretch of my limbs, but it is so hard with this green light of Gatsby’s- the belief I can craft dreamings flesh.

DSC01353.JPG

 

Morning poem

I did not see the iris move,
I did not feel the unfurling of my love…” –Anne Ridler, A Matter of Life and Death

Eyelids petalvein a light crafted birdsong in this morning unhampered by curtains-
His arms drawing closer, new details culling sleep.
I nudge old night sand into focus; no
dreams to report;
he kisses my angelsprout
bones.

That’s what lovers do-
fuck before breakfast, outwake the alarm and
be late for responsibilities.

I don’t care about grades.

Two mugs;
sunder statuesque sun in their infancy; unhunkering
corporeal heat, held in by shut windows
towards pale blonde slightness.
We both fold awake before the buses
will come-
we render primal intimacy;
he blows raspberries all over me.
I notice light motes small as
our toast crumbs painting his room
this day’s air daffodil.

I am learning softness-
“Farfalle”.
If dawn could undulate down in the body-
where would I feel it first?

Instincts recalibrate, reconcile those
hours spent dumb to news reels. He put
peanut butter first; then
strawberry jam like our duvet covers
on top- he is growing into
my small mercies.

Two mugs,
not one to wash up,
later on- we
tasted the same
sugar dropped,
silverspooned tea.

I’ll clean them whilst he coos
in protest.

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.

Teenage diaries

Keeping up inspiration for what to write here is stretching and pulling at the fabric of my mind in ways that are daunting but not impossible to defy. I want to write about things that I and other people feel they care about, not just vacuous sentences filled with scraps of my life that I am willing to be seen. But I keep forgetting how important little scrappy things are. It is the little scrappy things that make a person build up and be capable of important ideas.

Today I’ve been going over old diaries and typing up my adolescent poems- it is wierd I’m not a teenager anymore. I was so scared to grow up, and yes it is hard but I’m pleased with how its going so far (pretty muchhh). I see similarities with the people who I have been- yung mgb loves peaches and flowers and Virginia Woolf just as much as the mess of ‘me’ now. But I am braver. I will look boys in the eyes without blushing and being a wallflower is no longer such a dream. I am brave not broken- not perfect but I can still dance like i’m 17.

The poem for today was found scribbled next to a pencil drawing I did of people at a house party with fags and beer bottles under graphite pointed stars. Being young is golden, but being alive is better and I’m learning that change and fluidity are SO IMPORTANT to human survival. PEACE OUT BLOG THAT’S ME OUT FOR THE DAY NO MATTER HOW MANY WRINKLES DON’T LET THAT CHILD HEART WITHER xoxoxox

17

Being 17 is weird
like floating the ocean on an island.
Rhythmically hit with sighing
waves- on shores of a feeling,
I’m feeling something.

Will I ever grow up, can I
always be young?

Will I find love?
What are taxes?

Why do adults look so broken and
crumpled all the time
when they can legally buy alcohol?