Rule No. 20 Enjoy the process

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs from Pexels

Well-pruned roses

The pathways of my mind
Are not defined
Just like well-pruned roses
They shoot and sprout
In all sorts of places
At paces I know nothing about

The slate chippings in my garden
Are sharp and grey
They lay flat and easy
In the spaces that I make
Not knowing why
Or how long it will take

Praying to the sky
Leaves turn green and fall
Orange, yellow, gold
Flowers unfold
Well-pruned roses
Always turn out best
Until it’s time to weed again
And then it’s time to rest

Places that I know nothing about
Spaces that I make
The garden of my mind is growing
Like a well-pruned rose
That buds and blooms
Before it goes

Eventually the birds will come
To sing their song
In the garden of my well-pruned mind
Where they belong

2015

Spring

The cold, folded steel
of your handles
fit precisely into my palm
where they belong

Thumb finds familiar catch
that slips silently to one side
releasing the spring
opening your blades
for action

You are my weapon of choice
as together we cut and thrust our way
to the possibility of new growth

Season after season
we have fought fibrous flesh
of one kind or another
but today I use you
for a different reason

With a delicate snip and trim and dip
down each cutting goes into the dark holes
I have prepared for them
ready to take root
if they choose

I don’t want to lose them
or you, as I sometimes do
in places that escape me

Then, as your dull grey surface
greets me once again
I know we will go on
you with your blades
and me with my hands
to create many pots of cuttings
and piles of thorns
amongst the blossoms.

© Maggie ‘Glad the Poet’ Baker 2017

Poetry Rule No. 1 Do your own filing

The Lever Arch File

A lever arch file
is a beautiful thing,
made of cardboard
and shiny metal,
designed to hold papers in place
with a lever and a spring.

You can have an A-Z index
or a dating system,
nothing left to chance,
records retrieved, at a glance.

There is something so safe and satisfying
about the lever arch file
that now sits in a pile
in landfill
or burnt on a bonfire
where the smoke goes up
into the clouds.

Now we have digital data,
tags and the like,
are archives really a thing of the past?

Searches draw blanks,
seem random at best
will our technological filing systems
really stand the test,
like the lever arch file did,
once upon a time?

© Maggie ‘Glad the Poet’ Baker 22 January 2021

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.

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. 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


Poetry Rule No. 9b Keep recycling to a minimum until you’ve got your other priorities right

Cover

Don't judge a book by its cover
don't even begin to think that you know
what lies underneath
when every belief
that is written in time comes and goes

Don't judge a book by its cover
for the pages are those that can lie and deceive
the wisdom of years
may appear as true fears
and the rest will come in as you weave

Don't judge a book by its cover
when the story has not yet begun
Yet the time is right now
and in some way, some how
what needs to be said will be done

Don't judge a book by its cover
it's only a matter of time and again
tattered and torn may be weary and worn
but it's all the same in the end

Don't judge a book by its cover
don't even begin to think that you know
for it's all in a muddle
and inside the middle
is a tale that is waiting to grow
so it will

2014

Poetry Rule No. 27 Your ‘brief case’ is an important tool; use it well, use it wisely

The Trail of Tears

The trail goes on and on and on and on and on
our homelands now are many miles away
hearts broken by the power of the gun

Where once we looked to stars and moon and sun
in that place now we can no longer stay
this trail of dread goes on and on and on

Our pace is slow, we have no strength to run
heads bowed and burdened, slower every day
hope beaten by the power of the gun

We fought our battles, bitter every one
but bullets beat our arrows come what may
and still the trail goes on and on and on

There is no joy, nor laughter, and no fun
our children have no time or place to play
hearts broken by the power of the gun

So onward we must tread, our old life gone
feet seeping sorrow into weeping clay
the trail goes on and on and on and on and on
hope beaten by the power of the gun

© Maggie Baker 2017

This poem was inspired by the painting of the same name by Robert Lindneux 1942. With the passage of Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act in 1830, the movement of Indians from their lands east of the Mississippi River to undeveloped territories of the “west” had begun.  Between 1838 and 1839 the Cherokee nation was forced, under military escort, to leave their sacred grounds and move to what is now Oklahoma.  It is said that over one-quarter of the fifteen thousand expelled Cherokee Indians died on the marches from exhaustion, exposure, hunger and disease.  The Cherokee people came to call the marching path, the “Trail of Tears” to represent their suffering. … The “Trail of Tears” by Robert Lindneux (1942), is one of the more famous Native American paintings and shows the downtrodden warriors and their families traveling to a new and unfamiliar land. http://www.sussexvt.k12.de.us/science/The%20History%20of%20the%20World%201500-1899/Trail%20of%20Tears.htm

Affirmations

“I choose to be peaceful and calm. Everything is unfolding as it should.”

Affirmations can be hard to take on faith at the best of times. At times like this – and especially with an affirmation like this – it can be even harder.

On my daily walk with my partner, in the beautiful spring sunshine and along the peaceful country lanes around where we are lucky enough to live, I’ve stopped and said this affirmation out loud, and it has helped; helped me to remind myself that I can choose to respond to any given situation in a calm and peaceful way, providing I have control of my emotions and my mind. It might be hard, but not impossible. It is something that I can keep working towards being able to do, even if I can’t do it now.

I first started to use this affirmation a few months ago, when I was struggling with some very difficult work situations and high levels of associated anxiety.

I discovered it in a slightly different form at http://thinkup.me/affirm and my thanks go to the author of that article. (5 Recommended Positive Affirmations for Anxiety by Yvonne Williams Casaus, 26 December 2017)

After struggling with anxiety and depression for many years, I keep thinking that I’ve beaten them, only to be hit again by another wave.

The difference, though, between when I first started my personal battle with depression – in my teens – and now – in my 60s – is that I now have a well-stocked resource bank of strategies to fall back on.

Even so, the nature of the disease- and it is a dis-ease – is such that it can be hard to fall back on what we know works when we are at our lowest ebb. I also find that I no longer have the reserves of fighting energy that I used to have, but if I can at least find an affirmation that resonates with me – even on a leap of faith – then I am doing something positive to pull myself through.

The first time I came across affirmations was when I was going through a breakdown in my late thirties.

Suddenly reaching out – desperately, as I knew I was in danger of drowning and was definitely not waving – I found that there were sources of help and support around that I had never even heard about before or could imagine being available.

Counselling was one of these, meditation another, and I also came across a book called You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay (1984).

In that book , as I recall, I identified an affirmation that reflected the exact opposite of how I was feeling:

“I am the love and beauty of life in full expression.”

At the time, I was feeling like the worst wretch that ever crawled the planet. But I knew I had to do something to turn my life around and so I took on board the affirmation and kept saying it to myself again and again and again. And it worked. Not on its own, not without me doing all sort of other things at the same time and ever since, but it helped to cure my warts (literally) and set me on the path to keep working and trying, never giving up.

This brings me to some more poetry, and Poetry Rule No. 28, Stand your ground when you need to; move when you don’t

Sometimes

Sometimes
it isn’t as bad
as you think
it’s going to be
it isn’t even worse
as you hesitate
with anticipation
and brace yourself
to curse

Sometimes
you’re presently surprised
more than you thought
you could be
when you’re met with
some small kindness
unexpectedly

At times like these
it’s good to be wrong
in fact I would go
so far as to say
it’s a blessing
that’s been missing
for a long time
so, no messing
seriously

Sometimes
are better than
no times never
wouldn’t you
agree?

(c) Maggie ‘Glad the Poet’ Baker 1998