Friday, 2 April 2021

Transformation

 

Not all the poetry in my new collection is about the sea and coast, some of it is about woods, moss, lichen, and .....   transformation.

This poem appeared on  my blog a few years ago when it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Now, it's a key poem in my latest book, 'Before we Breathe'. I'm pleased at last to see a copy of the book resting on the moss in the place that inspired many of the poems that appear in it.

Skin

A tiny sip of lichen slips

through skin

and creeps slow towards her wrist.

 

Algae emerge

from the purlicue web,

epidermis writhes into green

  

between the index and the next finger.

Moss extends over the backs of her hands,

a soft velvet caress

 

across her desiccated skin.

Anchored by rhizoids

this slithering layer

 

seeps out through pores,

spreads like verdigris –

a tight-fitting glove.

 

Around hair roots

cerotodon begins, small and tight,

and soon she is crowned

 

with a mass of fire –

red and fertile in spots of light;

orange embers glow under the forest canopy.

 

Liverwort breeds in the fossae above her clavicle

and tracks towards marchantia in the jugular notch.

Below, cladonia sprout their tiny

 

umbrella organs across her cleavage.

Mood moss, wispy while dry

is verdant and lush when moist

 

between her legs.

                Spores spread.

She flourishes.

 

Her nails gleam

with gloss from the thorax of bluebottle.

Her black eyes

 

glisten, reflect the green sheen

of a magpie’s nape.

Wet leaves around her grow cold,

 

slick in the shade. An odour of rot

from rank weeds touches the ends

of her olfactory nerves.

 

Her mouth waters.

She ripens

out of the Earth

as something     else.

Something          vivid

 

*Copies of Before we Breathe are available direct from me. £8 plus postage. Email for order info: jackienews@hotmail.co.uk

 

Monday, 29 March 2021

How to tell the time when we begin again


I know I write this poem from a privileged place. I am lucky to be able to smell haymaking on a hot summer afternoon, and do all the other things that I mention. I live in the country, not far from the sea on the western edge of Wales. But I have lived in big cities too and I believe that wherever we are we can all find our own special places, sights and sounds that help us to be more aware of the world around us. And as we emerge and begin again, let us all find ways to be slow.

 

How to tell the time when we begin again

Before we do anything at all

let us first breathe deep

be unhurried

let us not scuttle out into the world

only be quiet in all the places

 

that remind us of our place on this Earth.

Listen well to the robin’s song of joy

blackbird’s early morning trill

buzzard’s soaring cry

from clear blue sky.

 

Take one step, stop,

look up, turn around

breathe new air

 

truly fresh air deep into lungs

let the ribcage widen

smell garden scents of

roses, mint, honeysuckle

salty seaweed on the beach

 

haymaking on a hot afternoon

woodsmoke drifting

through an unruffled evening.

Meander in soft meadows

stroke tall grasses.

 

Take one step, stop,

look up, turn around

breathe new air.

 

Massage hands over tree bark

enjoy the weight and warmth

of a smooth round stone in your palm.

Sit still in fields that fade into distance

watch how slowly hills rise

 

wonder at rocky crags

that touch the sky

let wild seas and crashing waves

wash away grime.

Feel hot sand trickle through fingers.

 

 

 

 



Thursday, 18 March 2021

Before we Breathe

Welcome to my new poetry collection! It's my third and I am still a bit staggered that I managed to find a publisher and get another book out so soon. But here we are.

This poetry has nothing to do with lockdown or pandemic (people keep asking me, because of the title I guess). Many of the poems were written before that even started. Indeed, many were written even before my second collection, Breakfast in Bed was published in Autumn 2019.

Before we Breathe has been in my head as a collection of poems for a long time. Its subject matter is very close to my heart and it has taken me a while to put it all together.

Officially published on April 5th, 2021, by the very appropriately named Littoral Press, the book is available now direct from me. See info about ordering at the bottom of this blog.

The poems are mainly inspired by the beaches and coastline of west Wales where I live, and my love of sea swimming, but there’s more to it than that, as always!

This description is from the cover text: “These poems carry voices that speak of both the magic and realism of nature. They are rooted in a particular place and time, yet come from everywhere and tell of shifting shapes through millennia, both material and imagined.  From the sea, where all life originated, to soil and woodland and eventually to stone, these words weave through margins of time and space to tell stories of transformation. 

“The collection is structured with several poems in the voice of a particular character (Sibyl of the Cwm) who appears at intervals with her own magical-realist poem-tales.”

So, nature and the ocean, our relationship as human beings with earth and sea, all run through with threads of transformation.

I would love to do proper live readings to launch the book, and I do plan some, but they will have to wait until summer when Covid rules allow and when we can have events outside -- on beaches and in the coastal lands that I write about in these poems.

Dates will be announced as and when these come up. In the meantime I’ll be sharing some of the poems via this blog and my Facebook page, and if you want one, you can get a copy of the book now...

Before we Breathe is published by Littoral Press. Copies are now available by mail order direct from me. (Payment by PayPal or cheque, £10 including post and packing to UK addresses). Orders can be emailed to:  jackienews@hotmail.co.uk  which is also my PayPal link. Please choose the PayPal ‘friends’ option, and include your full postal address in your email.

Here's a sample poem from the collection:

How she calls 

She thirsts for me

and she calls,

 

whispers my name –

come dance,

 

sometimes loud –

come dive,

 

sometimes soft –

come breathe.

 

Lapping with little splashings

to suggest, persuade,

 

she draws the undertow

so I feel the overthrow

 

arriving and departing

leaving and returning,

 

spreading her susurration

far away and close by

 

turn by turn

tide by tide

 

surge and suck,

pull in, come swim,

 

dance in me,

so calls the mother sea.

(First published in Visual Verse, Oct 2017)