Concordance 1 - A game of words

collated by Jim Bennett from 100 word elements written by -

Barbara Ostrander * Sherry Pasquarello * Barbara Phillips * Ella Smith * Mary Hazzen-Stearns * Jim Bennett * David Bursey * Catherine Shields * Sally Evans * Carol Sircoulomb


Sip of cold coffee. Fancy remembering I thought I would write 100 words. Well, I thought I wouldn’t then this morning I wanted to. What time will it be? Seven? It isn’t raining ­ lovely view of the trees. I can hear Ian's awake. Cat's not here ­ she was probably outside all night. Not that the night's very long - lighting up time was 10 o'clock last night till 4.30. I happened to notice in the paper. This isn’t working - it's coming out like a letter, not actually what I'm sensing ­ the cool wall, Robin's college boxes and things temporarily all over the floor, the pattern on the lining of the old fur coat, the nice pen, the end of the page of the small paper pad. Overnight thunderstorms have broken lilies, yesterday standing tall, fragrantly proud today they droop, bent to earth, they weep raindrops onto lustrous periwinkle whose leaves cling to the wet ground, memories of flowerings gone, chased away by season's time, calendar irrevocably spinning towards tomorrow’s yet undreamed-- beneath dark clouds, the lilies wait, sisters to delphiniums, broken too by the same storms, they fall in wide awkward circles- like women in hoop skirts, unbalanced they lean against chokecherry trees, anchored deep against stones in a wall unmoved by thunder and rains---untouched by lily chalices upended spilling lyrics waiting to be written it's like jazz turning in on itself and making mistakes that sound sublime but it isn't music its the wind-chime and the Turkish curtain blowing or being brushed by the dogs as they pass into the garden covered grey dull in the clouds shadow wet from late rain and the dew as it springs with the scent of green growth a morning smell like coffee and toast and the kitchen sounds of cutlery and crockery and fussing over sorting mail surrounded by the sounds and smells of morning merging into a day it's like jazz turning it into something special Sunday morning comes on calls by the blue busker above the roof where he gently persuades me to wriggle out of sleep bound lethargy the jay needs sunflower seeds and peanuts to jump start his day of foraging for the brood wound up to shriek through cedars lifting into skies as they have done for at least the last hundred years when Huron’s camped and later the Englishman who left the mill wheel in the now tangled garden finally settling over a spring still flowing under roses drinking deep of waters faintly gurgling through earth heavy with what has been busy morning, the bird's are singing, my squirrel's are fat and sassy, chasing each other up and down, around the oak trunks like the stripes on a barber's pole. I’m lazy today. I’d like to play hooky from being a grownup. Wouldn’t it be something to wander the woods behind my house and see the trees and bushes from a child's perspective again? it would be like hiding in a dragon's forest once more, fairies and elves dancing in the corner of my eye! No laundry to finish. No dinner to plan. No harsh words, no tears. Oh, how magical! I havenıt been aware of dreams lately, still (after two years) feeling surprised to wake in our new place, instantly engaged in the weather, the trees, the garden, work. Who's doing what today, what's urgent? Today however the cat trod on my face woke me, demanded to go out into the dawn, and I went back to sleep. I dreamed I was hazily in central Newcastle with big Maureen, whom Iıve only seen once in the last year, and never known very closely; and Newcastle city I knew very well decades ago, but ­ Gotit! I was reading a novel that reminded me of my time at Newcastle University. I crave rain, impersonal splashes on flesh of wet coolness to ease pain of heat ---that dries and will not leave except to desiccate air, lips leaves, blossoms--all give up moisture in a grab for relief that does not come ---beats spirits into surrenders of lethargy but hope calls--there must be rain somewhere in skies too smooth to be real--someone, even me perhaps needs to perform rain dances--to spill mythologies of fertility from the lap of she who sows and watches from distances through mist laden mazes driven by what we crave but dare not harvest Coffee for breakfast? Yes there were dreams, rushing about my various dream landscapes, revisiting various members of my extended family ­ the ex, the estranged, the familiar and the dead. Still, donıt feel too befuddled by it as it fades away. Some of my dream landscapes may be forgotten some may be fictional. Several recur. Surely this real landscape will be added to them, but it feels as dreamlike as the rest when I wake. The coffee has been a constant for many years, but I donıt remember drinking anything in childhood. My mother boiled coffee some mornings at eleven. The fan’s on high, white noise erases the music of birds outside, the creak of house, leaves only the hum that is me. Panic, this black hole that sucks the centre of my chest, floods sleepy mind before I can reel thoughts and emotions in from the fringes. Waking is not the pleasure it used to be, a gentle awareness of cool sheets, the rise and fall of breathing, the unfolding of plans. I don’t want to fight this battle each daybreak, squeeze eyes shut, hold everything still. And then I remember, out of my hands into yours. Thank God. It was a motel by the shore the pool had been rented for a little girl's birthday party they were happy loud splashing Mike went to his conference I went to the adult pool swam a little until a voice said everyone out of the water the pool's closed my daughters small again went to a jewellery shop in the motel with me cases lined with different coloured velvet we tried on lots of jewellery but didn't buy any my mother came into the shop she tried on jewellery too but preferred the beaded necklace to the gold or silver I been up all night working never went to bed till it was almost light opened my eyes later the same morning to the beauty next to me and I thank God for the morning as I usually do. Phil gets up and fries breakfast trout we caught the evening before. Coffee is strong black and many, I take one with me as I go out to the garden we look at her flowers growing and in full bloom the bunches look like cites well maybe they are to some forms of life tall purple towers yellow houses, green pavement another hot one, grey shies and brown lawns. I haven't seen my toads. I wonder how they are doing? Tired, bone tired. Going to the club tonight, Anita made 500 damn Jell-O shots! I think the heat's affected her, or she's having a blonde moment! There's not enough people there at any one time to give 500 shots to! Guess I’ll be driving people home again. Oh well. It's better than sitting home and chancing my mood turning introspective, that road leads to bad things. I will dance instead. Wine is confusion. Walking today in the gardens of a beautiful house with friends, rainwashed grass, grey-white clouds, white flowers and cherries hanging like tempting beads on little branches. All the time the buzz of panic like an electric current running through the wires and the dark room of childhood terror sitting in the shadow, even there, even in paradise. Later, alone, the only way to escape is drink. The first a glass or two is pleasure then two more and the dark starts to encroach as the night covers the sky. Eventually - weariness and the familiarity of pain. It is the inner space, safe and clear, that is the greatest loss.


Heading north, the land flattens out, no movement, just uninterrupted fields. I don’t miss the hills, this vastness brings to mind things that speak of home, the savannahs of Africa, an expanse of sea, you. Northern Indiana is green, broken only by two asphalt ribbons that disappear far ahead, so like Wisconsin, only instead of solely cornfields, there are miles of beans as well. White houses and silos dot the landscape, halfway hidden within clusters of trees, the sun’s coming up, slanting rays from the east, our appointment in Chicago at 10 A.M., I‘m desperate for some hot coffee. I am concerned about the disturbing trend in the number of Starbucks shops. Standing on a corner, I count four in sight. It could be the end of the universe, as we once knew it. Now don't get me wrong. I love Starbucks. Coffee counts as a food group for me. But have we really come to the point where we need a Starbucks on every corner? One could infer that this overpopulation of Starbucks might be contributing to violence in our society. What else can you do besides employ firepower with all that caffeine pumping through America's veins? Sometimes I wonder if anyone else realises the significance of dragons. I don't know what is happening around me sounds act like colour and I am the mixing-desk. Sometimes the world is like that, an acid dream and I am the litmus testing for some reality. And I find it when you wake me in the night to tell me that the birds are singing and we lie awake listening and then you laugh and we make love. Sometimes there is a pain that tablets cannot shift and drink becomes an option again. Sometimes I would be lost without you. sitting at my desk freedom to travel longing for the time to join the real live world Phil my love is making dinner and I have to cut the meat potatoes in the garden are all stalks the machine of life is pumping, cracking, every so often, its reminding me why I need it so much the neighbours are building race cars, out burning rubber piles of blue smoke rises in the air, it is 12:18pm I just heard another tractor trailer barrel down the road I know I don't have to write about it but I hear them.I celebrate you my lover my friend my kin soul to touch you--- is to find drift in softness of milkweed fluff borne on uplift of wind songs slipping into spaces secret and unknown ---is to brush silk strength of webs across dew sown meadows, open under morning warmth spreading choruses streaked with promises, glowing in baskets carried into trees heavy with taste of nectar, husbanded by bees in your embrace is the oasis cool afternoon, damp with joy of spring tinged breath of earth, familiar welcome after long roads, uncertain pilgrimages I lie beside you, fearless against unuttered prayers Out of the fog, the skyline, buildings clustered together as though to ward off the grey of morning. It is easy to find the churches, their spires pointing upward to heaven, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, old world intricate in design, so unlike the dull flat-topped concrete skyscrapers that surround them, the monstrosities that crept into our cities in the 50’s, some socialistic idea of not crowning anything including our buildings. I rarely notice these, other than to feel their shadow offset the creativity of every other style. They have no beauty, no glory. They simply stand, blocking the view. Trying to decide about painting my fingernails again. Do I like this colour? My nails are soft, not in healthy shape. I keep them short, fuss over them, silly, shallow? You'd think that, but I’ve discovered that I obsess over nail shapes and colours when really bad things are swirling around me and mine. So I look at the bottles, the names of the shades, honeymoon, nude beach, sheer sugarplum (I like that one) pink topaz, show me the honey, clever. Who thinks these up? Hope they get paid. And my daughter's mother-in-law has cancer. An old subway hangs overhead, a metallic scar that cuts deeply though this neighbourhood of ruined boarded buildings, a eulogy of an era past, so sad, so lost, so forgotten. I cannot help but grieve to see life seep from this once maintained vein of activity. People walk without purpose, shoulders heavy with some unseen weight, eyes unseeing of any possibilities around them. What must it be like to live in such need, to feel so trapped along these ruined streets? I turn my face, not wanting to absorb the emptiness that stares back at me through dusty shattered windows.

I rinsed the coffee cup it still had rings I used a sponge looked out the window it was raining I went down the hall into a locker room faced rows of closed lockers I jogged in place people took turns getting into the lockers like dressing booths it was my turn I took shorts in pulled down my jeans accidentally flushed the toilet I laughed it was crowded there I pulled the shorts up looked at the toilet which filled to the brim with water and fresh flowers I thought what a nice idea it poured over the edge In the distance, seen with new eyes, huge, imposing, the Sear's Tower, Chicago’s skyline. Summer floats just above the air-conditioned car, dense and hot. The signs say "Sears Tower, view of the world". I wonder who really wants an office there now, who really wants a view of this New World since 9/11. Does anyone really want to be frisked each day as they go to work, want to smell the metallic taste of fear each time a jetliner passes outside their office window? Maybe the view isn’t so great anymore, innocence presses like summer humidity, heavy and damp. Pounding feet and heart punctuated with gasps and coughs propel me to finish this idiocy. Get home. My body infused with nicotine and caffeine and a still-lingering contact high reminds me how stupid I am. It's the fire in Quebec bursting my lungs - not two packs a day. I said I'd never become a middle-aged woman chasing her youth. I was 23. I'm chasing my youth and losing. Ponder quitting smoking. My breasts move in tandem held by a harness of Lycra. If I release them I might put an eye out. I look for Sherry, coffee and pellet guns.

This morning came white with fog that will soon burn off. The shadows of houses around me echo calling birds, a crow, seagulls and a snipe or two. This is the season for the Caplin to come. They are little fish who beach themselves each year and keep fading less and less with each year. I wonder why! Since they are only hunted for their eggs. I remember not so long ago waking to the sound of outboards humming down the bay and Make and break engines put put putting through the still morning air. Now the air is mourning. I was walking through Cragsmoor noise filled the air it was coming toward me I tried to get away all the birds flew away I tried to climb the dirt bank along the road but couldn't I thought to myself if I owned that house I would make this a driveway I saw something monstrous coming around the bend a huge machine more than a machine threatening I ran down the path I took when I was late for the bus it still kept coming I fell in the dirt my knees got scraped raw pebbles stuck under the skin Fighting the good fight. The only good fight I know is one where you win. It isn't a good one if you lose. When you look at the battle that way, it's not so daunting. It’s the fight when you lose that disturbs, seems so pointless before you even begin… but to win? Yes, I’ll sign up for that. So now to pick the winning team, to know on which side I ought to be, so that when others creep from the field, I’m still standing where the fight is fiercest, should I fall, not faithless but facing the foe.


A German tourist is choosing books in the window. We become aware of accident outside in the street. The corner jams with cars, some begin to turn away. Seeing a man lying in the street I reach for the telephone, but hear a police siren first. One police car ­ three, then five-­ overkill, I think, for a man collapsed in the street. People pour out of the hotel. Here comes the ambulance. The ambulance men try resuscitation and eventually give up. Police swarm round the hotel. We realise the man fell to his death from the hotel window. the books piled in the hall like junk I better get them moved before she comes home but I’ll wait a minute make this coffee can’t see through the window but the steam fogs makes cloud the books won’t do themselves stuff it tea first a couple of weeks away and I don’t feel ready I wish I could see what I look like the material needs work and maybe a uniform coat and hat perhaps or back to the dinner jacket and jeans the books have to be done but right now there is too much to think about So it all comes down to choice. One of the most basic is the choice between life and death. But death is still life because the impact of death is like a ripple over the water for the living, especially violent death and suicide. Anyway, the end comes soon enough. Maybe suicide is just a pre-emptive strike against death - that way you get to choose the time and the place and don’t have to wait like a sitting duck. Is this clear thinking? Probably not. The sun is out today, occasionally. How many people will die today in the UK? All’s quiet in the street outside the bookshop. The young American woman liked poetry, and chose the William Morris book from the shelves. It’s been there for ages, to my surprise. The young Japanese guy who seems to be with her asks for a book by a local author. The girl leaves some shopping in the shop, which I notice when they’re half way up the street. I phone the next bookshop, ask Bert to send them back for their parcels. Back they come. Thank me for chasing them up, and go off again fully laden into the sunshine.


arthritic hands pass gently over tomatoes as the woman tells me they ripened on the vine and will last long enough to be eaten her face is smooth, her eyes serene--she is a Vermeer at this farmer's market, she is just another hawker of goods but I am held by her presence--the tomatoes are more than they seem-- I take them away like a blessing from the goddess of harvests who rises before dawn to feed chickens, speaks to skies about crops she tends each day brings goodness to those who order caffe lattes on smog soaked mornings Spaghetti sauce with meat, onions and garlic bubbles in the big pot I'm very hungry but first I need the bathroom I go up dim stairs afraid of being caught afraid of falling find the bathroom it is the most magnificent I've ever seen terribly bright clean huge - a family of 4 could live in here I think I'm afraid to be caught on the john with my pants down so I can't actually use the bathroom I just continue to walk around the grand expanse of it the gleaming chrome gold silver so clean so clean no mildew I'm starving at table full of friends. They eat magnificent shrimp salad. My mouth waters wants. I'm invisible…ignored. Down a sloping hill, through an exit, fantastic food is prepared. Seated after friends have gone, if the staff won't serve me, I'll get the fare myself. I reach the door as it slams in my face, but the succulent shrimp wait at my place. I reel to find the hill covered with barbed wire. The only remedy is to slither under it soldier style. I wriggle on my elbows and stomach, struggling, under siege by hunger and wake before reaching anything. made brownies this morning for a picnic tomorrow. My mother called, her arm's infected from a wasp's sting, god, never ends! The sky is blue, odd for here. So blue I should look up all the names for blue. I wonder how many names, how many blues there are in a crayon box? Why is there a "sky blue?" the sky has more than one shade of blue! Maybe it's me, I have no depth perception, but the eye specialists have said I see a better range of colours than average. Yes, that's better! the scene is full of energy and colour sharp images and language a bit surreal or maybe there is something missing I can't be sure naked on a motorbike hair trailing way to go been there didn't do it couldn't convince myself it was a good idea still words make up for it and you write it convincingly but the paper highway has its potholes and the grammar police stalk wait behind the billboard to pull you in and point out your inconsistencies no pants no shirt and the bike has been ridden down this same road too many times Quebec is burning. Even Maryland's air is sooty. I tend to forget that Canada is up there, like an attic full of forgotten junk. When it gets called into mind, it's like climbing to the attic and saying, "Wow - look at all this crap!" I wonder what is happening, but it's not American so the television deems it unimportant. It's hot and the burnt smell lingers on the haze. Humidity, haze, fire and heat combine to make another Code Red day. We are told to stay indoors in air conditioning. Time to take the caps off the fire hydrants again. garbage is the stench in the air from piles mauled by racoons during mad nights when heat scorches desire, tears limbs unable to rest as lungs stretch for coolness, and we drown in sweat---hell must be this, separation from love cage full of putrid stench, nightmares scripted by maggots fat with frenzy fed by rotting riches ---civic workers will be legislated back to work within the next few days, thrown into their own torments, by men with soft hands big pockets---they hide too late what is done-- we have seen the twisted souls beneath the tales they sell The Laundromat was downstairs dripping water from overhead pipes no windows mildew puddles the washers were all right I hauled pillow cases of dirty clothes down one after the other filled washers closed lids shadow people came and left one washer started acting up I opened the lid not enough water I filled buckets poured them in closed the lid now too much water it started leaking out I opened the washer the attendant came over she said no use we'll have to empty it piece by piece we wrung enough to transfer to another machine it grew very late Baltimore is seething. The streets are oozing tar and the air is visible. It swirls with a greasy effect, and we all look like we're covered in oil. Whoever said that women perspire and horses sweat obviously had never endured the humidity of Charm City. The watermen stink from blocks away; their catch packed in melting ice. Tourists take shelter in air-conditioned shops. The locals grin their toothless grins and endure it, with only the comment of 'it's not the heat it's the humidity.' Airbrushed weather-girls tell us not to leave the house - today's Code Red. What else is new? the egg sits on the counter -so white smooth-an almost ivory treasure far from its mother, the hen trapped in an over crowded warehouse no longer lowly chicken coop, built for family needs--naked, solitary the egg lies silent, oval question, potential for life seized, placed in cartons, rough paper, dead, far from trees breathing in wide forests-- washed by rains --the egg was washed by antibacterial solutions before it came into this kitchen--my fingers close around it, and I hold it, taken in by shell beauty, gracefully shielding that life that is not to be, unspoken, unmourned---- I think all this patriotism is fine, but I wish they would add mandatory humour. Living in the USA is getting to be like living in a zealot religious state. My trusted mechanism of tension-breaking jokes is now greeted with hostile stares of disbelief. It was funny to imagine that Yellow Cab and every fast food franchise are run by the Taliban! President Bush should require a daily dose of comedy for each and every citizen. If he did this and added a siesta to the workday, I might think of voting for him. But then again, I doubt it. So many solid citizens moving like robots to and from their desks, their cars, their beds. All they want is a cup of coffee, a stop light that holds until they can get through it, no surprises, get mail, eat food, watch TV, kiss goodnight, satisfied. Satisfied to live close to their grandkids, take the boat to the lake satisfied to death. But others pace deep inside, feel the back and forth along the floor of their souls, they never really rest when the wind is blowing... they gotta go, gotta fly, gotta give, gotta die, eternal flame, gotta burn.


French lilacs don't mind Maltese Cross flowers getting along well enough with English roses and Explorer roses bred for Canadian winters known to bring down species said to be hardy to zone whatever Asiatic lilies grow happily in soil holding Dutch bulbs dreaming visions of spring but native ladybugs are not as readily seen now--wary of Asian beetles in orange spotted coats that are multiplying at a military rate, and are quick to bite humans eager for close up, interactive encounters, who discover too late domestic peace Rain again and quiet, papers piled everywhere, the room is fairly tidy by my standards, and I cannot find a poem in German someone sent me. I have the English and the Gaelic version and if I can't find the third version the whole thing won't be able to be set up on the page. Its time I went upstairs for coffee and to put the dinner on. The rain has stopped again - it comes and goes - the garden ground is slightly wet. It looks very enticing, though. I've done enough typesetting today - hoping to finish it tomorrow but I cant quite see it. the house has many levels the tunnels burrowing through from one world to the next always the tunnels barred with doors that only I can open but traffic sounds morning light blue sky inside the house it is always night like my work room always curtains drawn to keep the world outside to make the place safe but it leaves me like the gerbil performing in its cage my hands ache after the guitar practice hurts these days and I wake up tired to john on the phone drunk again worried but it will all work out it always does My ex-husband in the dark house again he said we had to go to the party I looked out the window we were on top of a grassy hill covered with rows of women in bikinis on towels I said I didn't want to he said he was going with or without me I knew he would hit on as many women as he could no matter how thin or pretty I tried to be I didn't know it wasn't a problem with me that made him cheat it was a problem with him and his megalomaniac El Conquistador personality he drops ice cubes into his glass--he needs another drink he cannot live without rum and Pepsi--the extent of his rebellion he stopped drinking rum and coke when some younger thing told him Pepsi was for the now generation he knocks over the spring water, curses at me--he is contemptuous of my addiction, my paranoia about chemicals-- and insistence on writing poetry, a complete waste of time, how stupid--who will read it, and I haven't made much money at it, still don't have a pot to piss in he stumbles off while my pen flirts with revenge the scene is full of energy and colour sharp images and language a bit surreal or maybe there is something missing I can't be sure naked on a motorbike hair trailing way to go been there didn't do it couldn't convince myself it was a good idea still words make up for it and you write it convincingly but the paper highway has its potholes and the grammar police stalk wait behind the billboard to pull you in and point out your inconsistencies no pants no shirt and the bike has been ridden down this same road too many times I’ve lost the love you once gave me and I you. Now, looking back, I see it happened in the way that dust settles, slowly, layer by layer, suddenly wake to find it buried, gone. How could I have been such a fool as to let my careless words wound so deeply? How could you have been such a fool as to let your ceaseless work become more important than "us"? Layer by layer, day by day, angry word by angry word, we let it fall, until finally I now see, I’ve lost you, who is most important of all. There is a certain justice to dividing our lives back into two. We came together and created one existence, new memories; then we learned that haste makes heartbreak. We sit together packing things into two separate piles. We argue over CDs and pictures, never touching upon the fact that we both will carry the memories burned into our hearts forever. Will they always be bittersweet? Long division forced into action. The division hurts much more than the addition did. Forced to finger souvenirs of our union, relive the good times while experiencing the bad. How will we divide the bunny?


The sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts. No, that's not it. The sum of the whole is greater than the sum of each part. Is that it? I don't remember. Here's what I mean: Black Sabbath was good when Ozzy Osbourne sang in it, but Sabbath and Ozzy both bit the dust when they split. Robert Plant was sexy when he was part of Zeppelin, but I can't look at him now. My sister's hair looks just like mine, and I contemplate the link we share. Red curls with minds of their own always look alive. The children were small we took them school shopping searched the store for lunch boxes we found them I opened one put it on the kitchen floor filled one side with dog food the other with water for Chickenleg I put ice cubes in my green watering can lined with moss Mike moved the bird bath next to the blue hydrangeas I put a black Shepherd's hook next to the bird bath hung the watering can on the hook so water would drip into the bath the birds and butterflies loved it two days later my neighbours had one too I see that little girl's face every time I log on to AOL, on every TV. Channel. I see it in my fitful dreaming. I see it's almost exact duplicate in a frame on my mantelpiece. I know what that slaughtered angel would have looked like if that butcher had not found her that day, if her grandmother had only stayed there, if the stars, perhaps the fates had other ideas. I know because that sweet smile that haunts the newscasts, the cops , and I hope, her killer, looks so very much like my daughter's! it isn’t worth keeping the edges are chipped I can’t think why I kept it this long maybe someone gave it to me someone I cared for like that mirror or the vase I hate they stay to avoid hurt feelings and questions a lot of stuff is like that kept for other people instead of me there’s the song I like the one with words that tell a story sounds like Jim Croce but it isn’t him I missed the intro again so I don’t know who it is perhaps I will find it on a CD one day Tired, the warmth of sun on the back of my neck makes me drowsy. We’ll be twelve hours in the car today. Thankfully, I’m so spent that I doze off /on, wake to find we’ve already passed through the next town on the map. Curled in the backseat, I can see the tops of trees as they sail past the window, hear the hum of engine steady as it vibrates beneath, lulls me into half sleep. It occurs to me that it feels good to be so dulled, to lose this present, ahead another doctor with the same bad news. Heather and I went to the fair we found a ride a small swimming pool we climbed onto the platform paid the man changed into bathing suits more people lined up we climbed in it began to go around in a whirlpool faster and faster we were forced into the middle we laughed it was such fun it slowed we swam to the outside as we got out I saw a couple of boys I whispered to Heather they looked like such wieners their names should be Oscar and Mayer we laughed hysterically people looked to see what was funny children fussing round trying to find whatever they want to take my pencil and paper we will have to go the parking is always bad so we need to get going the Hoover is on upstairs always come in to a clean house I’ll do the cushions in the living room it is nice to come in to a clean house the dogs are all OK food and water ready for the back they will be OK for a few hours it looks nice now nice to come in to a clean house after years of never being able to Much of the work, I find, is done after the writing: reading over, checking the poemıs viability, savouring its rhythm. This is more complex after a longer poem, which you canıt see all at once ­ ether in your mind, or off the page. I remember the first time I tried writing a long poem, spreading the pages out on the floor so I could see the hole. This time Iıve sent and leant both copies, o the rhythm is just rattling round in my head. Iım slightly tired of it. What will others think? Is it fresh or dull? I’ve been thinking about words a lot. I suppose because of this exercise that we are doing. I’m wondering why some words sound pleasing, some don't no matter the meaning of them. I know the sound of a word does matter because there's foreign words that sound happy or sad, whatever, even if I don't know the meaning or hear the tone of it as another might speak it. I wonder why that is? I wonder if a word spoken in say, Greek given to an English speaker and a Chinese speaker might give the same feeling? When you have had a really contented day, working and talking to people, when it has been sunny all day, indeed grown sunnier and warmer consistently all day instead of changing to the very possible rain, when you have ended that day with a gardening session and cut the lawns (plural if progressively smaller) and then taken a drive up to the woods past the loch, to see if any blueberries are ripe yet, and they are, and when you have seen the loch shining vivid silver in the evening light, and the trees golden with it ­ you canıt write. the cupboards need cleaning out but I am afraid of what I will find in there perhaps the answer lies in just throwing it all away and not looking at what it is but I think it will stay like and people who tell you how to live your life how to make it better just fail with me I never throw anything away so the cupboards become frightening places containing things which spark memories and the worst things are always hidden and forgotten waiting to catch you by surprise they are the forgotten things the things that hurt most More aggressive sunshine. Not enough to shed light on the morass of seething thoughts festering in the dark well of my mind. Terrible, terrible fear of madness - to me there’s nothing worse than a crazy woman. Definitely more horrible than a lunatic man. Mrs Rochester racketing around in the attic. Let me not be mad. Batty lady talking to her cats. Let me be a calm and serene foundation of sanity. Maybe the British temperament can’t cope with the sunshine - we need the blandness of shadowless grey smoothing everything over. The sun is too sharp, like knives in the soul.


I was lying on my side this morning as the dawn came, just staring at my forearm and hand. Looking at the veins, the colouring. I tried to remember how it looked in the same position at 16, 18, 20. I couldn't do it, couldn't envision the young strong arm of my teens. But I could easily see it at age 4 or 5. The small curled white fingers, thin nails, smooth. The ridges of my fingerprints, soft, delicate. I wonder why? The child was easy to see the young adult closed to its former occupant. Unsettling. There is snail slaughter in the garden. Slug pellets claimed hundreds of victims overnight and now the flies are gathering in the sun to hover and feast on the slime encrusted corpses. Does a slug’s life have meaning? Of course it must. I have great empathy with snails - they hide in dark corners, under stones, they retreat into their shells when touched, they squirm. Lately I feel more like a slug as I seem to have lost my shell. The birds come to inspect the carnage but reject the contaminated bodies. I am glad the food chain is not affected. needles stuck in over and over again trying to hit a vein collapsed not yielding to his will hole punches in his pale yellow skin blotched red with fire not the fire I want in our bed at home needles in his bones sucking out his marrow holding my hand in pain and agony crying needles stuck in his liver alone without my hand how can junkies do this to themselves why does he have to suffer so to be poked and poked by nurses a junkie can hit a vein bingo call a junkie please we need a vein It is the inner space, safe and clear, that is the greatest loss.

The ability to be whole, unafraid, suddenly stripped away. Light falls across the bed through slats in the blinds, the alarm clock rudely forcing me to turn. A wish stirs. I want so badly to live, I want so badly to grow old with a life time of browned photographs pinned to huts, flaps of tents, behind elephant’s ears. I want so badly to take you with me, to hold tight. But enough. Get up. Gather clothes and smile, remember the birds that sing outside your door.