Standing Tall

A new poem to share with you all today. It is one I wrote a few weeks ago on a sunny afternoon, whilst sitting outside. I was imagining the blades of grass as people and thought about the whole idea that we think of grass as natural and beautiful, yet refer to them as ‘blades’. I was inspired by Vernon Scannel’s Nettles with the same ideas of Man vs Nature. There is a link at the bottom to a previous post about some of these ideas and the original poem Nettles.

Standing Tall

A blade of grass,

fierce like a sword

standing its ground

in the millions.

A roaring sound,

blows the green soldiers,

not a natural breeze

but their own strong blades

to kill.

Nature cannot win.

Man’s power victors.

Slicing and chopping,

dead men falling.

All around.

But

Mother Nature cries her tears,

smiles her golden rays,

the army gain its strength

again blades standing proud.

Standing Tall.

I like the simplicity it can have: that is it really annoying how grass grows and we have to keep cutting it! I thought of this because my boyfriend has to keep doing ours! But, there can also be deeper meanings of Man destroying nature or Mother Nature winning overall. Hope you like it! Think of these green men as you mow your lawns ūüėČ

https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/that-stinging-feeling/

XSXS

A not so stupid Cupid!

A topical blog today (I do try!)… Happy Valentine’s day! That can mean whatever you choose. I think it is experienced in¬†three different ways: the completely insufferable loved up couples who completely embrace the commercialism of it all; the single people who also then stem into two groups of the cynical and the ‘couldnt give a damn’ ones; and the people who just use it as an extra excuse to appreciate and spend time with loved ones (well just the one ūüėȬ†)

I fall into the the¬†latter category. I didn’t always, as my boyfriend and I used to buy presents, go out for dinner and all that smoochy¬†stuff. I think when you have been together so long then you go from the that category to just appreciating each other. My boyfriend, incidentally, is with his true love¬†tonight (he does happen to have more than one!)… his rowing boat! No we haven’t spent the eve opening¬†loved up pressies¬†and having¬†a romantic meal¬†– he has at rowing and me? Well, I am sitting here writing about it! ūüėČ But, he is going to finish early – as to me ‘time’ is a more valuable gift than jewellery¬† – not that I wouldn’t happily¬†accept that too ūüėČ

Yes, a lot of people hate Valentine’s day because they think it another occasion that they have to remember, spend money and conform to. But as I say, it can just be an extra excuse to spend quality time together. I say ‘extra’ excuse because it should be in addition to other special evenings. You shouldn’t need Valentine’s day to arrive in order to have a ‘date’ or to spend some romantic time together….. love shouldn’t be an annual event! But you can receive the day with a hug and a kiss and feel blessed to have a loved one. Even if you don’t have a romantic loved one, you can still feel lucky and grateful to have loved ones in your life. Or just stick on the chick flicks/get drunk with other single friends/eat chocolate¬† – as you don’t have to share ūüėČ

Let’s remember¬†how Valentine’s Day began. Interestingly, it wasn’t associated with romantic love until the middle ages. Before this, it was a¬†date to celebrate¬†numoerous Christian¬†saints called ‘Valentinus’.¬† The 14th of February was the day they were ‘honoured’.¬† Then one particular ‘Saint Valentine’ was¬†focussed on when we look back to history¬†and he was¬† thought to be imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted¬†under the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius and before he was executed he left a note saying ‘From your Valentine.’ Which could explain why it is typical to sign your cards as that now.

But yes the romantic love idea came more into play during the time of Chaucer, where ‘courtly love’ was popular. By the 15th century, this date became a day to present loved¬†ones with confectionary, flowers and¬†hand-made¬†cards. It was from¬†the 19th Century that mass-produced cards replaced the ‘hand made cards’.¬†Sad really, but I am sure there are still some people out there that do make their own personalised Valentine’s.

Also, don’t forget Cupid, who is a symbol or icon¬†of Valentine’s Day. Cupid was the god of desire, erotic love and affection. Cupid carries an¬† arrow with a golden, sharp¬†tip and who ever gets hit with it, experiences¬†uncontrollable desire. What a lot of people don’t know, is that he also had a second arrow with a lead point and this was for negative purposes – it would cause the person to run away. I didn’t realise this until it was mentioned in Romeo and Juliet where Romeo says that Rosalind¬†won’t be hit by the right arrow and return his love. I love this idea about Cupid as it has a dual effect and shows that love is two-sided. It can be¬† lovely and amazing but also painful and hurtful¬† – reflected by his two arrows!

I have to share you my favourite love poem with you today to finish off. I have mentioned it in a blog before so that may be why it seems familiar (https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/that-stinging-feeling/). I think it shows what should be important about Valentine’s Day and realising the reality of love:

Valentine

Not a red rose or a satin heart

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

So there you have it. You may have flowers today. Or a necklace. Or some chocolate. But it doesn’t have all that emotion and meaning¬†to it like an onion does it?! I love this poem as it shows that love starts and stops like the stanzas and the lines. Love clings to you, whether you want it to or not, like the stench of an onion onto your skin. It is honest about love and a brilliant metaphor for love.

There you go, we have the history of Valentine, cupid and how the day has changed, all for a modern poet to say that love is a vegetable! ūüėČ

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day in which ever way you choose ūüôā

XSXS

A White Canvas

House-Covered-In-Snow-485x728

Snow is on the way and, you know what it’s like, everyone is talking about it. In shops, they are panic buying for food (that surely they can get from a shop within walking distance if the weather is that bad!) or concerned with getting home (I must admit I am a little worried about getting to work and more importantly back tomorrow!) and people always have to announce it too, don’t they? Like they are the first to see it, or have to have the first Facebook post about it. It becomes a boastful event – who has had the most inches? ūüėČ How long has it been happening whereyou are? ‘Oh really? An hour of snow? But has it settled yet? Oh it has here!’ This photo on Facebook made me laugh the other day:

So very true - and when all the statuses were announcing the 'amazing' news, I shared this!
So very true – and when all the statuses were announcing the ‘amazing’ news, I shared this!

But if we forget all the annoying things related to snow. Like how crazy it sends people, how it can ruin our plans or make us fall over and break our necks… and just focus on the beauty of it. Take a read of my poem:

White Canvas
The white sky is urgent and full
bursting at every cloud,
anticipation hangs in the air,
for precipitation in its frozen form.

As the sweet flakes begin to fall,
Like icing sugar onto a land of cake,
silence now hangs in the air
and all is calm and serene.

The ground eagerly awaits
as the icy droplets soak like a sponge.
but as the sprinkles become a shower,
The earth begins to refuse its drink.

At first a light covering gleams,
Then brighter, thicker, more defined.
The blank canvas untouched as a virgin
as the world takes a gentle pause.

I hope it helps to capture the feelings that we get when snow is about to fall, actually falls and then the moment when it is all pretty, untouched and seems so precious. There is a definite magic in the air when snow is in the process of falling. Then we just have to decide: what are we going to do with our white canvas? ūüôā

XSXS

Christmas Spirit

I do love an old spirit pun at this time of year. I am planning to put up decorations this week so I felt in the spirit to write this poem. It took me 5 mins so it’s a bit sketchy but sometimes I just like to write something straight out without editing.
Christmas Spirit
We only have four weeks to go,
until that special day,
presents to buy and food to get,
’til ‘Merry Christmas’ we say!
It can be a little stressful,
so you need to stay ‘with it’
so get out Baileys or vodka,
and get in the Christmas spirit!
Believe me, with a glass in hand, you feel much more like getting the decorations out or writing those christmas cards!
XSXS

Time Never Stops

Afternoon guys, thought I would share a poem that I wrote last weekend. It was when the clocks turned back and I wrote my post Time to Write https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/time-to-write/. I was inspired by Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Mean Time, which I discuss in the post. I thought I would write my own poem about how time doesn’t stop, it may change back and forth but it never stops – just like life. See what you think!

Time Never Stops

…the hands go into reverse,

for sixty whole ticks,

tick, tick, tick…

they stop.

 A whole hour gained

But light is lost.

Dark, dark nights

as dark as my heart

life is short and coming to an end

like the days

life ticks like minutes

every second is precious

and then the hands go up a gear,

we lose time,

but gain some light.

A fair deal; time for light,

we can see into the night,

clear and enlightening,

but time doesn’t stop.

It ticks like minutes,

Every second is valuable,

The clocks never slow down

and then….

Just a short one tonight, I have my hands full babysitting the Autistic Down’s lad and we are watching Postman Pat! Talk about time never stopping… we could watch the same episode over and over again and he would never notice!

XSXS

Time to Write

I actually felt really excited to write tonight. That is the reason for writing a blog, I realised. The want to write. That yearning to get your ideas out there. I mentioned a few days ago that I had been thinking about rejigging¬†my blog or starting a new one. I am not going to do anything just yet as I am going to follow some advice that¬†I¬†read in a fellow blogger’s post. It is important to read blogs as much as write them. The advice that I read in Christian Mihai’s¬†post ‘The 7 Golden Rules of Blogging,’ that said no matter what you write or how often, you should stick it out for a year. So that is what I plan to do and then decided on an extra blog or whatever. I will reblog his post actually after this as there are some great tips for bloggers in it.

The reason that I get excited about, well words really, at this time of year is because the clocks change. Time changes. It reminds me of one of my favourite lines from a poem. Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Mean Time:

‘The clocks slid back an hour

and stole light from my life’

I love this and it shows how that one hour can make such a difference. Every year when we put the clocks back I look at this poem. I go into my study and¬†dig out my poetry collection also named Mean Time. I studied it at¬†A level¬†and it is a great collection of poetry. I sometimes get it out when the clocks go forward to and remember¬†the reverse of how we gain light. I always remember which way round with the old saying ‘Spring forward, Fall back.’ Using the Americanised¬†word for Autumn of ‘Fall’ helps me to remember that along with the leaves falling off the trees, the clocks fall back an hour. Yes, they slide back as Duffy so brilliantly puts it. They steal light from our life. The nights get darker. Funnily enough, the Britons always think of the positive in this case of ‘oooh¬†we get an extra hour in bed!’ The bright side of a situation?! Mmmm very unlike us!

Duffy’s poem is quite depressing really but has some very interesting ideas about life and time. She says ‘these are the shortened days’ meaning that in general life is short and her references to death; ‘we will be as dead, as we know’ and ‘endless nights’ tell us that death is forever. It is life that has the time limit. Very depressing thought in one way but makes sure we make the most of life, I guess. She also talks¬†about if the sky could lift one hour away from her life then that hour could have been full of angry words to her lover and that could have been the hour that was taken away; ‘If the darkening sky could lift/ more than one from this day/there are words¬†I¬†would never have said.’ It would be great if we could choose which hour of life got taken away… or which hour we gained. At A level we looked at the different¬†meanings of ‘mean time’. Like it can mean ‘mean’ as in average. Average time. Life is just average. Or it can mean ‘mean’ as in cruel and that life is cruel to us. Very interesting poem and I recommend you take a look.

But in the mean time, what will you do with your extra hour?

XSXS

Today, I saved a life….

Yes, today I did something amazing…. I gave blood.¬†¬†You know their slogan that says that? Well, it is kinda true, even if it isn’t directly. It is the only thing that gets me going down there and giving up my time anyway. I make sure I do donate the red stuff regularly¬†for a few reasons: I am fit and healthy, I feel OK after doing it and also I am a rare blood type (O-¬†, which not many people possess but it can go into anyone). The thing is though, even the people who have ‘common’ blood (sounds like a mud-blood typed character from Harry Potter doesn’t it?!) then they are just as needed because there are people out there who need different types. It is something I feel quite strongly about and I do think¬†that people who are medically and physically well should give. It should perhaps be a legal requirement to give. Because it takes an hour of your time just three times a year and yes sometimes I feel a little sore after an a little light-headed but that is all. In strong contrast it can save someone’s life just by giving something that can easily be replaced in 24 hours.

The statistics that go with giving blood are shocking. I had a leaflet delivered about a year ago (so apologies that the numbers may not be completely up to date) and it said that 5% of people who are able to give, do. 5%! I hope that that¬†figure has changed actually and increased a lot. My blood type O-¬†is only possessed by 7% of the nation. So I feel I need to do my bit for this small percentage!! Imagine out of the 5% who give with O-? 35% of the nation have A+ blood, this includes my boyfriend. I teased him saying ‘trust you to always get an A+!’ A- is also only 7% but the whole A group can go into half of the people out there so also just as vital. I won’t go into all the blood groups but I just wanted to give a taster of how important it is because no matter what blood group you are, someone needs it! So if this blog, encourages just a few people to give then I will feel I have helped a bit more.

This brings me onto another problem though, which brings me onto a bit of a catch 22 situation. They want people to give, need people to give and encourage people to give, yet there isn’t always the facilities to give. Today, I actually went to my old school (where I did my A levels and worked for 3 years too). I have donated at many different places in our small town, mainly because places stop doing it after a while and find another building. Really, we need all the buildings putting on regular¬†sessions and the nurses to staff it in order to cater for these extra donors that they want. They encourage¬†you to make appointments so that you don’t have to wait but then people who do not have an allocated time, get turned away. So really the appointment system is just a first come first served basis. New donors¬†are then never going to get to donate. More places need to exist, certainly in our town anyway. I don’t know if anyone has experienced that in their towns? So, I could be encouraging you to donate your blood and you could then get turned away.

Today, there was six beds and 47 people had appointments in the first hour. Each donations takes roughly 20 minutes. Does that add up?¬† My maths isn’t great but people would be waiting a long time I imagine. The sad thing is some would give up and go home after the long wait and those appointment free people, who got turned away, could have given. Hopefully, this will improve eventually.

The process of giving blood has changed a lot in the ten years that I have been giving. It’s funny how they change how they do certain things but that is the world of medicine improving and developing all the time I guess. It’s little things like them wiping you with an antiseptic¬†wipe before hand. It used to be¬†a quick wipe and now they have to wipe you vigorously for 2 minutes. you have to hold your fingers firmly on your wound afterwards for 3 minutes after to ensure it is not still bleeding. Everything is about time. The main change this time was the chairs/beds. They discovered that it is better to sit upright to give, yet they then found some people were getting dizzy so they recline people back in them anyway. Good to have the option though. You also used to have to lie there for 10 minutes after before you sat up but now you pretty much do straight away. Oh another change is that you have to drink a pint of water before you give now. To make sure you are hydrated. With this and the teas and biscuits (which happily have never changed!!) at the end, I am always dying for a wee! So I normally donate two lots of liquid in the building haha.

The hydration thing¬†is a great thing. My friend once fainted when we went to give. This was a few years ago and me, my boyfriend and our friend went to donate blood after a night out the night before. Our friend was dehydrated from lots of drinking and hadn’t had a drink that morning. He gave blood and we were sitting having the tea and biscuits after and mid-sentence he fell to the floor. I thought he was messing about because it seemed to comical. He had fainted though. He was fine in the end but that is what can happen when you aren’t hydrated.

My main problem when I give, is my small or very hidden veins! They always struggle to find a juicy one, which means they have to probe and poke at me… sometimes both arms…. in order to find a suitable vein. This makes it very uncomfortable and my arm has been sore all day actually and I bet I will get a nice bruise. But it is a badge of what I have done and I won’t let it put me off. And you do get a real badge too if you do enough donations. I received my bronze award badge last summer, which quite frankly could be¬†a silver or gold by now because there have been periods where I haven’t given. I didn’t give during my Uni years because quite frankly my blood was pure alcohol haha! No, seriously, I couldn’t give for 18 months after going to Dubai because there was a reason that ou couldn’t give back then if you had visited Asia. (I don’t think that’s so anymore.) Also, I had a tattoo so couldn’t give for a year and sometimes I have missed donations. So I feel guilty for missing the odd one, do you feel guilty for not giving at all??

I actually drafted a couple of poems a while ago when I received that leaflet. I wanted them to be persuasive¬†poems and I was going to send them to the newsletters. A flaw in the plan though; only donors receive the newsletter! It is the non-donors that we need to get through to, so any ideas where I could re-post this blog or send my poems would be great. I haven’t actually finished the poems either¬†but see what you think of what I have written so far:

Giving Blood – (orginal title I know! needs work)

We cringe when we see it,

in its deep red form,

but we need it to be fit,

from the second we are born.

You can be positive or negative,

you can do the right thing,

(That’s it so far of that one.)

I like to Give

Yes, I work full-time

do the housework too

but I never commit the crime

of not saving a life or two.

I remember birthdays

sometimes presents as well

I never forget those other days

when¬†I give another gift … (needs work to rhyme)

It doesn’t matter what the type

A, AB, O or B

you need to listen to the hype

your blood is precious, you see?

Only 5% are generous

out of those who are able

so do think about it

and get up from the table.

Any feedback would be good. Today is a long blog, but it is a subject close to my heart (just like my blood is!) so if I have persuaded just one of you out there to find somewhere to donate then this blog has done some good. Go on, do something amazing!

Now, I will bloody well shut-up ūüėČ

XSXS

Off with your Head!

Hey people…

Since my day so far has been pretty boring and I just feel I am waiting to go on holiday now… I thought I would share with you one of my interests. I am a little bit obsessed by Henry VIII and his six wives… no it’s not boring! I, for one, hated¬†history at school. But now that I have matured (a little!) and the learning of the subject is not forced upon me, I actually¬†quite like certain eras quite a lot. It fits it quite nicely with English and Literature you see… and the Tudor¬†period is the same time as Shakespeare. But that isn’t why I am fascinated by good old Hezza… it’s the fact that he seemed to be so attractively challenged yet managed to get six women to marry him. Six!

I started thinking about the old womaniser last night when the Olympic ¬†closing ceremony¬†was on. Not because he was such a budding athlete… even though I do believe he was pretty good at jousting and hunting and even tennis…. it was because they called our current Prince Harry, Henry. The Facebook¬†updates were quite funny as they cried out that the BBC had made such a mistake and called our young prince by the wrong name! It’s like everyone was looking for something to go wrong or be said wrong! It is of course, his actual¬†name. It then made me think of the Tudor king because people often referred to him as ‘Harry’ in his younger years at least. And I started thinking why? Why are Henrys¬†called Harry and vice versa? There must be an actual reason out there, which I’ve not bothered to go out and research just yet… I’ll save it for a quiet evening when I have nothing better to do. It doesn’t make sense though does it? The name doesn’t even shorten by doing that? Hezza¬†is much better… haha even though that doesn’t shorten either to be fair.. but definitely a more modern name for our current prince.

Back to Henry the VIII…. I was thinking that if he was a man living in today’s society then he would surely be on Jeremy Kyle. I can see the headline of the show now; ‘Man married six women… killed two, ditched two and one died having his baby!’ (His current beau.. good old Katherine Parr would be a guest on the show also!) I guess we have a lot to thank Henry for. There would be no D.I.V.O.R.CE song, would there? Would are population be dire? Think about it… if people were stuck with one person and never there was an option to get divorced then maybe they wouldn’t want to procreate? Then again there is always affairs… and that’s something else we learned from the saucy Tudors!

Who could resist that??

¬†My main fascination with his wives, lies with Anne Boleyn. She seemed such a rebel for the time and is painted in such a horrible light. Beheaded for many reasons.. one being incest… but what’s a bit of brotherly and sisterly love between family? I guess that’s the point! But the thing is, women were under so much pressure in those times to marry someone in order to support their family.. especially if they were poor. She¬†was told to ‘seduce’ lucky Henry by her father and uncle and would have had no choice in the matter. Women were pawns in the market of marriage and wealth. She then had to produce a son to keep Henry’s love and interest. So even if she did succumb to her brother then it would have been to double her chances of falling pregnant and with a son. Very weird and slightly disgusting but if it is true then it shows how desperate she felt. Witch craft was another apparent offence…. because she had some miscarriages and they thought she was cursed. I tell ya, us women need to breathe sighs of relief that we don’t live in that era. She was also accused of having affairs.. yet Henry had them openly. Men were allowed to though *sarcastic eyebrow raised look*. It seemed six women in a lifetime wasn’t enough.

The six lucky ladies….

¬†I won’t go into all the wives but what I find so amusing about the whole story…. is that Henry’s¬†one goal in life (apart from abolishing the catholic church)seemed to be to obtain a son to take over the throne. Yet who reigned for 45 years after his death? Elizabeth. A woman. His daughter.¬†And Anne Boleyn’s daughter at that. His son? Edward VI managed a sickly six years. I’m not on my feminist high horse or anything here… poor Eddy can’t help the fact that he died so soon but I’m just saying that Henry had nothing to worry about because the one thing he wanted he didn’t need. A queen filled that gap just fine.

The much wanted son  

(Not bad for the daughter of an ‘incestuous witch’ eh??)

Anyway, I want to share a poem with you that I have written….see what you think…

Another One

Spain in my bed every night,

Such passion, such morals,

Loved by all.

But no boy. No boy. No son.

Out with the old, in with Boleyn,

Dangerous, excitable,

Hated by all.

And no boy, no boy, so no head.

See more, I need a new love,

A not so plain Jane,

Gentle, kind and loving,

And a boy! A boy!

But exchanged for death.

Tears make a river to the next,

Yet I like her not! I like her not!

Picture tells a different tale,

I judge the book by the cover.

Don’t read the full story.

 

How… I move for….ward,

Light and easy.  Young.

Unlike me.

Lots of boys.

But in her bed.

So off with her head!

Finally, last chance at love.

As I near the end.

Someone to care,

Like a daughter.

I can die now, it’s done.

I have a son.

(I did have this in six separate stanzas but couldn’t get it to stay like that on the post.. I was also wondering if it worked better like¬†this though,¬†as in, it doesnt stop; like Henry’s search for a wife doesn’t stop. What do you think?)

So remember ladies…. make sure you get knickerless or you could end up headless ūüėČ

If any of you are interested in reading about the Tudor period; Alison Weir’s Six Wives is a good read. Also for you fiction lovers… Phillipa Gregory’s The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl and ¬†The Boleyn Inheritance are a good historical-fiction¬†trilogy.

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

That Stinging Feeling

Afternoon everyone.

I was reminded of two of my favourite poems today and it got me thinking how great literature (obviously depending on opinion) comes into our everyday life all the time. I’ve told you how I write some of my own poetry and my whole ‘system’ of writing is to simply think of something I have done that day, something that had cropped up or something I like or feel strongly about. I will, in future posts, share some more of my own poetry with you but for today I am going to stick with two poems; one by Carol Ann Duffy and one by Vernon Scannell.

I went for a walk today.. .over 4 miles.. again with my boyfriend’s mum and his brother’s girlfriend. I know, I know, I’ve still not taken my own advice of avoiding exercise. Turns out I’m one of those people who says, ‘Do what I say, not what I do!’ But again I paid for it… nasty nettles this time (another piece of evidence that exercise is just oh so dangerous!). It was muddy in the wooded area that we walked due to all the lovely summer rain we have had. I slipped down this slushy, muddy slope and what did I grab onto? Nettles! Ouchie. One of the dogs didn’t learn from my painful mistake and sniffed a bed of nettles later… oh did he whimper!

Anyway, I’m getting off track…. as we did frequently on our walk! You may have¬†guessed the poem I want to mention if you are a) a fan of poetry b) a year nine pupil (as we have studied this with them lots at school) c) or if you are a great friend of mine and actually listens when I ramble on and on about poetry and school life. Nettles by Vernon Scannell is a great poem and portrays the beautiful relationship between father and son. The extreme length the father will go to to¬†stop his son being hurt by the physical pain of the nettles. It is also hinted at that there is a point that parents can’t stop their children from being hurt; physically or emotionally. Oh dear, I’m starting to feel like I’m back at school… ‘Let me read the poem!’ I hear you cry.. well here we go:

Nettles

My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.
‘Bed’ seemed a curious name for those green spears,
That regiment of spite behind the shed:
It was no place for rest.  With sobs and tears
The boy came seeking comfort and I saw
White blisters beaded on his tender skin.
We soothed him till his pain was not so raw.
At last he offered us a watery grin,
And then I took my billhook, honed the blade
And went outside and slashed in fury with it
Till not a nettle in that fierce parade
Stood upright any more.  And then I lit
A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead,
But in two weeks the busy sun and rain
Had called up tall recruits behind the shed:
My son would often feel sharp wounds again.

I won’t go into analytical mode don’t worry but you can appreciate it any way you wish. I just love how something that happens to us¬†on a daily basis can remind us of a poem or a story or a book or even something we read in the newspaper last week. My hand still hurts from the nettles… and I know I will feel sharp wounds again…

Talking of stinging, I was reminded of my favourite poem just as I was preparing dinner. It also ties in nicely with Nettles. My eyes, like my hands, began to sting. I was chopping an onion for our chicken fajitas! Stinging eyes and finely chopping the small, brown onion, I thought of Valentine¬†by Carol Ann Duffy. I first studied this poem at GCSE¬†and I think I used it for assignments¬†at University and occasionally¬†I just like to read it. I still always think of it every time¬†I chop an onion and also every time¬†I think of Valentine’s Day and how love shouldn’t be about presents, alcohol and commercial things. If you don’t already know this poem then I bet you’re thinking ‘Onions and love, whattt?’ Take a read:

Valentine

Not a red rose or a satin heart

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Again, I won’t get my analytical head on but I will say that I love how Duffy experiments with form. Her stanzas stop and start with irregular lines and enjambment¬†used frequently… just like love is so unpredictable and not regular. So ladies, if your man comes home tonight and gives you an onion… don’t be offended and think it is his hint for you to cook dinner… think of it as a moon and a much more meaningful present than anything else. Have I convinced you?? Haha, didn’t think so… flowers are just so much prettier aren’t they?
But next time your eyes sting from chopping an onion or your skin stings with pain from nettles then think of these two poems. It is all about taking that everyday, ordinary object/thing/feeling/situation and making it extraodinary…..which is kind of what my blog is all about!

Tonight, avoid nettles along with that evil exercise and consider that onion as you chomp through your chicken fajitas… I know I will ūüėČ

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

The Old and the Modern

Afternoon! My week this week has involved helping the elderly out quite a bit. Firstly there was my elderly neighbour who had the BT man come to fix his phone. I agreed to stay in all morning so I could help to make sure he understood everything when the BT man came. His phone was really fuzzy, crackly¬†and you couldn’t hear a thing on it…. which is what I told BT when I rang off my¬†phone to report it. You know how they let him know they were on their way?? By phoning him!! You’ve got to love the logic of the professionals….. and they were also phoning a man hard of hearing, didn’t stand a chance of being understood!! But it all got sorted in the end.

Today, I took my Grandad¬†to the dentist. It got me wondering about age and the fact that there is role reversal after a certain time. They take us places and look after us and after a certain time we have to do that for them. My Grandad was very appreciative of me coming with him and actually gave me a little present… and I bet you can never guess what it is…infact I’m going to tell you tomorrow… so comment below if you have an idea! Clues: It would never be considered a normal gift yet it is useful and it is white. Haha makes me laugh just thinking about it again……….

So yes I’ve done the bit for the elderly bit this week… and normally I work with kids so guess something has to keep me busy in the absence of that. Something I hate to admit to myself is that I have much more patience with kids though. Don’t know about the rest of you? They can both be grumpy, stubborn and awkward but I just feel kids have the optimism an energy to go with it!! But saying that of course I love my Grandad¬†dearly (especially¬†with such fantastic presents that I¬†receive!)¬†and care for my neighbours too…..I definitly admire people who care for the elderly as a job!

Moving onto modern affairs……So the Olympics¬†are starting?…. Do I feel excited? Mmmmm…. I know I should and I really want to. I’m always very open about how I feel about any sporting events and that is that I honestly think I’m missing the ‘sporting/competitive¬†gene’. I’ve never been competitive¬†about anything really and just like to have fun. I have a few mates who make fun of me because of this and they can’t understand that when we go bowling for example, that I can’t say I’ve had a better day if I win (which I rarely do win!). I just don’t get it because as long as I’ve had a laugh with mates and a great big laugh at my bowling skills expense then I’ve had a good day; getting 30¬†points extra (make that 50!)¬†and thrashing my mates would not end in a better overall day.¬† So yes the Olympics.. of course I want us to win and I am ever so slightly excited that it’s in our country but you won’t be seeing me jumping up and down in front of the TV, let alone the actual arena. I don’t get that adrenaline thrill and urge to shout and scream…. the noise just doesn’t surface out of my mouth. But on the¬†inside I am¬†secretly hoping they do well. This is how I felt when Euro 2012 was on, I was actually quite excited (for me) when the penalties were occurring…. so I am getting better! I am a silent supporter.

I am more excited by the fact that 2012 seems a fascinating year and a great year to talk about after all our celebrations; something to tell the grandchildren! What with the jubilee, Olympics and er… ah I guess that’s it but exciting stuff and I even wrote a poem about the year. Yes, you may find some poems splashed on the blog pages occasionally. I like to write them and think of myself of a very unexperienced and beginner poet…. and many people don’t know it! So see what you think……..

Twenty Twelve Months

 

…..A new year of my life,

Every month, I swear no strife!

 

No January blues for me,

I’ll save money, lose weight, you’ll see

 

Valentine visit from Cupid

but for me? Oh don’t be stupid!

 

But I don’t mind, I have me,

March is here, I can see

 

the sun! The late winter sun

and April showers, oh what fun!

 

Umbrellas are out on parade,

May Day fun to be played,

 

Jubilee time for the queen,

Time to see and be seen

 

by athletes all over the earth,

July gives Olympics twenty twelve a birth,

 

hot, hot, hot August sun, but

even with rain we still have fun,

 

or if an Indian summer does arise

and takes us by surprise,

 

like when trick or treaters at the end,

of October drive us round the bend,

 

November bring us orange and red

leaves and fashion to be led

 

into the winter, cold and cold,

Merry Christmas, you’ll be told!

 

Another end of year is here

And some will moan but I will cheer,

 

A new year of my life

And this time I really mean no strife!

 

No January blues for me,

I‚Äôll save money, lose weight, you‚Äôll see….

(maybe it is just a normal year after all!)

……and see you tomorrow.

XSXS