Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Poem


This door you might not open, and you did;
So enter now, and see for what slight thing
You are betrayed... Here is no treasure hid,
No cauldron, no clear crystal mirroring
The sought-for truth, no heads of women slain
For greed like yours, no writhings of distress,
But only what you see... Look yet again—
An empty room, cobwebbed and comfortless.
Yet this alone out of my life I kept
Unto myself, lest any know me quite;
And you did so profane me when you crept
Unto the threshold of this room to-night
That I must never more behold your face.
This now is yours. I seek another place. 

 by Edna St Vincent Millay

As soon as I cut and pasted this poem, I questioned it. I'm leaving it up as my Tuesday Poem choice, but the issue of privacy is far more fraught for women! When you've contemplated what you'd do for a room of  your own, check out the Tuesday Poem on the hub. Today's poem, 'News from the Island' by Tracey Sullivan is a tribute to the art of weaving (appropriate after visiting the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show!) - or any art, really. I love the fact that the weaver offers news of the coveted weaving - as though it is (as it is, I guess) a mutual friend. Thanks to Claire Benyon, this week's editor, for showcasing the work of Tracey Sullivan.

I'm currently reading Candia McWilliam's memoir, What to Look for in Winter. Wonderful and sad. I keep meaning to blog quotations from what I'm reading and I so rarely manage that. We'll see what we can do later this week.

Today I ate yoghurt soup - so delicious, even in the middle of winter. I think it will appear as a staple on my summer menu!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Poem

There is nothing quite like a kitchen smelling of fresh bread and nothing quite like the alchemy of sourdough. These are my second lot of baguettes. Sharp-eyed visitors will notice the tea towel on which they rest features kiwis - I bought it in New Zealand when we visited there two years ago.

What poem would best go with a photo of crusty sourdough baguettes? Pablo Neruda's 'Ode to Bread', of course. It was his birthday and Bastille Day this week, so baguettes and 'Ode to Bread' feel like a good fit! I don't wish to break copyright, so read the Ode to Bread here.

When you've made yourself a piece of toast or cut into a fresh loaf, waltz over to the Tuesday poem blog and read this week's featured poem, 'Another Exile Paints a Spring Portrait of Kathleen Mansfield'. This poem, by Riemke Ensing, is brought to you this week by Kathleen Jones. I love the charming and telling details in this poem and the playful annotations in the poem's 'margins'. Just beautiful!

From the hub you can explore other Tuesday poems - and read a poem of mine - here -  which has been posted by Helen McKinlay. Serendipitously, my poem is a kind of ekphrastic poem, too.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tuesday Poem

On this cold Melbourne day, I bring you a memory a summer...


The summer screeches in with black cockatoos,
black tails flaring a yellow streak
as pale as battery eggs.
They sit in a tree we can't name
cracking something between their dark beaks
or sail above the swimming poll
into the blue eye.
There's a posse of six each year.
I look out for them now
the way I check the horizon for smoke
or the forecast for temperatures over the big 40.
On days when I long for cathedral cool
I look up from filling the bird baths
they're hanging upside down
above the scorched tree ferms
methodially feeding
and I stand a little longer
in the glare, an alien in my own backyard.

Catherine Bateson 2013

Warmed your hands on this? Hop over to the Tuesday Poem hub. There you can read 'Cracked' by Johanna Emeney, posted by this week's hub editor, Elizabeth Welsh.  Read more of Johanna Emeney's work here

Monday, July 07, 2014

Quote for the day...

It's marking season. Time to remind myself:

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy 

in creative expression and knowledge.

Albert Einstein


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Tuesday (Prose) poem - Russian Sandwiches

Russian Sandwiches

My father washed the kitchen floor the way sailors swabbed the decks of old pirate ships. That was his story. First of all he stacked the chairs on the table and then he opened the back door wide. He scrubbed with careless gusto and lots of soapy water. Then he flung buckets of clean water from the kitchen doorway towards the open back door. He chased the rinse water down the backstairs with a straw broom. For the finale, I skated across the lino, using two old towels to dry it. He had a list of words to describe how we did it; licketty split, pronto presto and snip snap. When it was finished it was always ship-shape.

He would sit the chairs back around the table and make a pot of tea in the battered aluminum pot. He would make me Russian sandwiches to celebrate. These were eaten all over Russia, he said. Little girls came home from school and their fathers, called Ivan or Boris, would make them sandwiches just like the ones he made me. They ate them in Moscow, St Petersburg and Siberia. The sandwiches were made from Tip Top white bread. One piece of bread was spread with crunchy peanut butter and the other with vegemite. Cheddar cheese was place on the peanut butter side and slices of granny smith apple on the other. The resulting sandwich had everything - sweet, salt and crunch. I always ate them imagining little Ivana in her clean kitchen, sitting up to a plate of Russian sandwiches. My father knew everything about washing kitchen floors, sandwiches and Russia. Everything I needed to know.

Catherine Bateson, June 2014 

I love little pieces of flash memoir, prose poetry or flash fiction. I'm currently revising a Life Writing course for my TAFE students and that's made me interested in flash memoir. This slides between flash memoir and a prose poem for me - but the boundaries between flash and prose poetry are often fluid. I'm really enjoying writing these little pieces! 

Sit down to your own comfort food and peruse the rest of the offerings from the Tuesday Poem blogs. If you start at the hub, you'll find a wonderful poem, coincidentally also about parenting, 'Cloudboy' by Siobhan Harvey, posted there by guest editor, Helen McKinlay.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday Poem - 'Without You' by Adrian Henri

At some stage the Poetry Circle was discussing - more or less in passing - the work of poets like Roger McGough and Adrian Henri. I can remember where I was sitting in Ipswich Girl's Grammar School library when I first discovered Henri's poem, 'Without You'. What did I love about it? It was both real and surreal.  The language and imagery changed from jokey 'Without you there'd be no colour in Magic colouring books' to melodramatic, 'Without you Mahler's 8th would only be performed by street musicians in derelict houses' to poignant, 'Without you blind men would sell unlucky heather'. I was twelve and had a crush on boy, a young man, really, well out of my reach. I had only been kissed inexpertly, but the fear and yearning behind the wit, and something else, too - a vitality - in the lines sang out to me.

I don't want to break copyright but click here to hear Adrian Henri's 'Without You' read by James Haddow. You have to scroll down a little and be patient.

In other poetic news? The Poetry Circle explored a number of poems at our last, sadly triangular, meeting. With only three of us present we zoomed through the following:

'Earth Hour' by David Malouf
'Aquarius' by David Malouf

'The Ikons' by J K Baxter
'Olduvai Gorge Thorn Tree' by Sarah Lindsay
'Evaluation of an Unwritten Poem' Wislawa Szymborska
'No Title Required' by Wislawa Szymborska
'Taliesin and the Spring of Vision' by Vernon Watkins
'Music of Colours: White Blossom' by Vernon Watkins
'Solomon Grundy' by Alice Oswald
'Dart' by Alice Oswald

I loved the Alice Oswald poems - and I hadn't struck her work before. They had a lovely energy and unexpected twists and turns of imagery. 

More poetry on the Tuesday Poem page and from there you are only a click away from many other poems brought to you each Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday Poem - Bear Cloud

Bear Cloud

We saw it in the sky – a sign.
Some said of abundance,
promising bounty and a long life.
It galloped  towards the horizon
lifting feet too delicate for the
white bulk they carried so swiftly.

We’d seen it before carved into rock
a quiver of crude spears
decorating its hide
and something like it
at the edge of the world
prowling between snow and stars.
Now in clouds, it announces
its own death –
ribbed like a slow ship
lumbering landlocked
or rolling in endless water
beyond reach.

For a moment it hung above us
shadowing the land beneath –
and hunger soured the ghost breath
that knuckled down our spines.
Catherine Bateson© from Poems from the End of the World. 

Check out the Tuesday Poem blog for other poems from all parts of the world. On the hub, guest editor Andrew Bell brings us 'Bad Housekeeping' by Emma Neale - a delight of a poem! Do read it.