Poetry Rule No. 38 Take your time but no one else’s

Pedal Pushing

Today I pile on warm clothes
push toes into boots
hands into gloves
fix helmet on head
put pressure on one pedal after another
with grey treads turning on icy tarmac
in reflective waistcoat
I propel myself down the hill
looking like a wasp on wheels

Feet freeze into tennis balls
wind works its way in
between folds
finding skin
it’s an easy ride
but I’m glad to arrive
at work
this morning

Evening comes
and I do it all over again
this time lungs stretch and scream
at the incline that challenges me to stop
but thoughts of home and rest
are the pull

Pushing, pushing, pushing
keeps the wheels turning
until I arrive at the gate
maybe a bit late
hair wet with sweat
pedals finally still
pushing finished
for today

2017

Talking

I’ve never been very good at talking.

At primary school I was cast as a mouse in the school play: all I had to do was say “squeak, squeak”.

The career advice I was given at secondary school was to become a librarian. 

I didn’t want to become a librarian (or be a mouse) – I wanted to be able to speak.

There have been times in my life when I felt, finally, that some degree of fluency was coming through. But I’ve never quite reached the point of feeling that I could say what I wanted or needed to say, in any given situation. I think that’s why I’ve turned to writing poetry, because however much the spoken word evades me, and for whatever reason, I can express myself in poetry, one way or another.  It doesn’t mean I don’t end up feeling ‘dumb’ and stupid in conversation when my brain can’t tune in to what is being said.  However, in more positive moments I can also reflect on the many facets of communication, and the importance of being heard, in one way or another.

Cancellation

Cancellation

My holiday was cancelled

and I had to stay at home

I started feeling angry

and even a bit glum

But then I saw the sad news

so many dead at sea

fleeing from their countries

just wanting to be free

I was disappointed

they were lost and drowned

it gave me some perspective

and made me look around

I only had to change my mind

I still had life and breath and limb

I’d only lost a holiday

While they’d lost everything.

2013 & 2017

Poetry Rule No. 35 Learning can be a good way of avoiding being taught

Life is a bowl of cherries

Life is a bowl of cherries
full of plumped up promise
like luscious lips
that are pouting and touting
for kisses

Life is a bowl of cherries
each ripe round fruit
tantalising and taut
held by a stalk
until teeth break into the taste
of sweet, tender flesh

Life is a bowl of cherries
juices savoured and swallowed
stones sucked clean
and spat out
until
one by one
the cherries
in the bowl
are all
gone

2017

Poetry Rule No. 11 Don’t be afraid of being paranoid – everyone else is, aren’t they?

Yellow Shoes

Jealousy and insecurity
hit me like a brick
the other night
and left me reaching
reeling once again
with stomach-churning feelings
head over heels
for all the wrong reasons
nothing to hang on to
inside my head
or in my heart
I didn’t know what to do
or where to start

So I bought yellow shoes
to change the colour
of my mood
watched birds of prey
and tried to write poems
that meant something
or occasionally rhymed
but not every time

Jealousy and insecurity
had hit me like a brick
and left me reaching
reeling once again
but I worked hard to face the pain
knowing there was nothing to gain
and everything to lose
as you reached out to me
and I reached out to you
until eventually
back on firmer ground
love
once again
was found

2017

Obsessive thoughts

Obsessive thoughts
of certain kinds
impinge on clarity
of mind

Will they ever go away
these thoughts that linger day by day?

I meditate on calm and peace
and still the thoughts come back to haunt
I wish I could find some release
from all these thoughts that sneer and taunt

Just let them go
into the wind
one day I will find
peace of mind

2020

Poetry Rule No. 13 Something to do with responsibility


Your Hands

Your hand is soft and warm, so beautiful
I want to take a photograph of it
but it seems disrespectful

Delicate and strong
I stroke it and know
it is comforting for you
it is for me too

Your hands are the hands
that cared for me when I was young
they have tended your garden
and left nothing undone

All your life you have cared for others
with your hands and with your heart
warm and soft and kind and strong
I’ll keep your hands within my heart
my whole life long

Dedicated to my Mum, Vera Elsie Baker (née Wallis) 22 May 1921 to March 2015 & my Dad, Albany Baker 22 August 1910 to February 1992. Both had amazing, strong, caring hands.

Waking

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Anybody who has had depression knows that one of the most difficult things to deal with is that awful desolation that drowns you as you wake up from whatever sleep you can get.

It is an experience that you have to have had to know what it feels like, when the thought of even having to get up and get dressed, let alone do anything else, is beyond daunting.

There was a time when I could only wake up and get up by setting a first alarm clock to go off several hours beforehand, then another some time after that, and another later still. When I finally did get out of bed, my first port of call was a strong cup of coffee (appropriately named ‘Rocket Fuel’) with which I swallowed my anti-depressant tablet. Eventually I could then get dressed and ready for work.

I’ve started to struggle again with this aspect depression, after years of having trained myself to get up without too much snooze time between alarms. The fact that my partner now brings me a good strong cup of tea helps enormously, as does not having any time pressures at the moment. Even so, the tasks associated with waking up, getting up and getting dressed should not be underestimated for anyone who is suffering from depression. Like a lot of things, breaking the process down into small steps can be a good strategy. First one sock, and then the other.

I’m working towards being one of those people who springs out of bed in order to ‘seize the day’. Just because I’m slow to start, though, doesn’t me I don’t appreciate and value. It just means that I have to take my time to get myself (literally) geared up, even at a basic level.

This is one place (of many) where the poem in my recently posted Poetry Rule No. 9b comes in. Don’t judge a book by its cover …

Poetry Rule No. 45 Don’t underestimate the therapeutic quality of vices – or verses

Turning the Tables

Lobster meat is sweet, I believe
I tasted it once, a long time ago
but I really don’t know
if the clacking, snapping, pincer-sharp
bite of the lobster-look-alike girl’s mind
belies anything even remotely kind

As I sit watching her eat that lobster meat
sucking her fingers with self-satisfied glee
pouting and spouting out the debris
of her clacking, snapping pincer-sharp mind
and smile inwardly at the resemblance I see
a wonderful, horrible thought comes to me

Wouldn’t it be great if a giant lobster loomed
and ate her up after popping her into
a boiling pot, while she was still alive?

This is the sea-bed of salvation
upon which I feed and thrive
turning the tables through poetry
on the clacking, snapping
pincer-sharp lobster-look-alike girl’s mind
and her kind

(c) Maggie Baker 2014 & Glad the Poet 2020