So I’m now halfway through my residency as Café Poet at Sprouts Café in Berri. It’s been a jerky start with me flitting across the country for various other things but we’re slowly gaining momentum now. The Riverland is a funny community in that way, it takes a little time for people to get on board and come and play with you.
This month I’m writing on the themes of first love and love for a lifetime. My partner half jokingly asked me to write a poem about kissing. This isn’t my usual fare so it’s actually a lot more challenging than it sounds. I tried playing around with a couple of ideas but this is the one I think that turned out the best:
Lean in. Suck in the smell of you. The sigh of you. The curves of you. Linger there by your cheekbone. This waiting moment. Hangs. Across the sky. Across the distance between our curved mouths. A thousand stars are born and die in your eyes as we hang there. Suspended. Waiting. Aching. Longing for the courage. The deep bravery to lean in. Lean into the fear. The disappearing distance. The weight of a thousand and one old fears stands between our skin. And yet. And yet. Still. I lean in. Braver than I thought I’d be. A thousand stars are born and die in your eyes. The flash of knowing. Of living and breathing. And finally the distance parts. Our curved knowing mouths meet in the slim corner between fear and hope. Hungry. Needing. But slowly, gently. Loving you makes me brave enough. Thankyou.
Writing and thinking about love at both ends of the spectrum also raised the spectre of the loves that die. Or the loves that are brutally murdered by ourselves and others. The loves that never leave the ground. The loves that consume and ruin us:
Hot. Pouring. Sinking. Searing. Aching. Hungry.
All the things your skin says to you.
Your roiling, never still insides.
Your mistakes layered over your eyes.
Your sorrows lining and folding your face.
The forgotten, half believed moments.
Words. Words spilled out of the wound that is your mouth.
The things you did. Said.
from the life you wanted.
The life you had.
Today my page filled. And filled some more. Whatever you think of love. Everyone has a story. Some version. Some moment pinned in their mind that tells them what love means – come and share with me. I’m Cafe Poeting every Monday at Sprouts from 9.30am (usually till around 11.30am) however you can drop in any day of the week and leave me a note (a poem, a theme suggestion or just a casual hello) using the blue poetry box on the magazine counter. I’ll write a personalised poem in response to every note left in the poetry box too so leave your email or postal address or come back the following Monday to hear/see what I’ve written for you. See you soon!
This month has become all about home and family. Every poem I’ve written and every poem that’s been written to me. I’ve had this preoccupation with trying to pin to paper my range of feelings about the Riverland, the complexity of my family. What home means to me. Reading through everything I’ve written there have been some obvious patterns emerging. Home needs a sense of connection to others, a sense of safety and inspiration from the landscape, home needs the people that you love and the people that you love are complicated and messy.
I’m lost in this place. The place between who you were and who you are. I’m trapped there with you. My fear traps me. My love. My hope. My baby brother. Because I see. What you could be. What you have been. What you are. My heart is breaking. Breaking. Broken. A broken soft footed thing. Reaching. Are you reaching? Falling. Just falling. No. Reaching. You reached and I reached. Now we’re waiting. To fall. To fly. For something. A tipping place. A new face. A way through. It’s worth it. It is. I believe absolutely that it is worth it. Actually truly worth it.
This is the last day of Café Poeting for March, the next time I’m here it’ll be a new month and I intend to make a concerted effort to explore a completely different theme and place – but for today it’s still March and I’m thinking of those people I love. Those people who make the fabric of my life. Complex, damaged, precious and unnameable.
Hear the catch.
Voice on the other end breathing.
Is this it?
All there is?
All the wrong things
Of what you’ve
I hate that
Want to keep you safe
Want to wrap you in love
Instead change the subject
Ask a question
Tell a funny story
Pretend I don’t hear you
Pretend I don’t know that you’re close
I’m so small
So far away
I can do
An awkward boy. A less awkward time. And something else slipping quietly past. Someone loved. Someone precious. Who are the people we’ve lost? The people we’ve left behind. Snapping shadows on your shins. Gulping windows in your eyes. Forgotten over and over and over and over and over.
Posted in Art Projects, Cafe Poet Residency
Tagged art, australian poetry, cafe poet, community, Creative Writing, family, home, love, Personal Development, poetry, regional arts, Riverland, sprouts cafe
After a three week break I return to my little Café corner – pleased to find an envelope waiting for me in the poetry box (yay!). The residency has been slow to start. I’ve been busy and tired. Not giving the time I should to promoting and sharing what I’m doing. I know it. I feel guilty. I smile at the people that come through the door. Think I need a better sign. A better poetry box. A better brain.
The poem I find within that envelope is about home. This home. The Riverland. This place of opposites. This place of hope within the fear. I like this place. I think about this place as home. What is it to me? What will I write? How will I say it? How will I stretch what it means to me across this accusing blank page?
I’m forcing them. The words. Having to work three times as hard as I expected to. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. A heavy feeling. A something, something feeling.
I know there are so many people out there who tap a bit of poetry into their laptops or their phones or their diaries at night. Where are they all? Why can’t I hear them? Find them? Reach them? I’m trying…..really I am.
So home. I said to you. Sit down. Be quiet. Let me think.
My dreams dance around
Something precious found
Home, another place
A new lonely face
Teach myself to sing
Still a broken thing
I try to reach, past
The fear, still the last
Describe to me that tree. The man said with a sweetened voice.
I said. No. Maybe. I can’t.
Deep rich red. Scarlet in a rainbow. Only shades of scarlet on my plate.
He said try harder
I said. It’s big. It’s lost. I’m small.
Reaching, swaying, a woman’s curves, a smoothed over hill.
He said it’s not those things.
I said. It is. It must be. That’s what I say.
The river runs by. An eternal friend. I’m like to be swimming
He throws his hat at me. Dives deep.
My words are small. I sit.
No real update -just some of the poems I’ve been working on….
So hello said the little sleepy town
Not quite on the road to ok just yet.
Who ever is.
Something and no one and everyone and everything
That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?
And my brother. Strong and silent.
And me. Loud and scared and something else.
It’s the moments between those places
The words beneath our eyelids.
A hand on a shoulder
A quiet word
Letters on a tiny screen
Not at all
I sipped in a breathe
Caught myself before I cried
Looked at your puffing cheeks
Only a remembered pain
I’m big now
I want to wrap you in this feeling I feel
Tell you somehow everything will be wonderful
Or at least alright.
I want to kick those fears from your eyes
That’s what I’ll do, I’ll chase them away
Further than the furthest star
I want to ask you – who are you?
And hear your reply with both my ears and my heart
I’m just spilling out a spray of words. Half connected, barely formed thoughts. Searching, reaching, slipping. Finding my feet in this big wide aching world. I’ve covering the white with questions. Knowing it isn’t supposed to be this way. But not quite knowing what it is supposed to be…
A catch. A rip. A tear. A twinkle in your eye. Softly. Slowly now. We’re building a life.
A big wide street. Tansplanted palms. It’s not the tropics. It’s another sleepy somewhere town. Trying to pretend we have the water to last forever. Too much pride. Need a little more love. Not enough pride. To shout and stamp out feet and say ‘We are here’. We fold our thoughts behind our eyes. Sit with it. The fear. The knowing. The believing. Stopped reaching for each other. Now just waiting. For someone to tell us it’s all over. I want to be braver. Stronger. Harder. Faster. An aching. Aching. Aching. Aching. Something without a name. When did this happen to us? I remember your eyes under the fluro lights. Your cheeks were red and our hands were hot and sweaty and we thought this feeling would last forever. Now the hall is empty. The fluros dimmed. And my darling I don’t think you’re ever coming back to me and it actually. Breaks. My. Heart.
Family. It’s a soup. Spicy and hot and warm. A little pleasant. A little overwhelming.
Posted in Art Projects, Cafe Poet Residency
Tagged art, australian poetry, cafe poet, community, Creative Writing, family, home, love, poetry, regional arts, Riverland, sprouts cafe
6th February 2012
Today is the second day of my residency as a Café Poet in partnership with Australian Poetry and Sprouts Café…….I arrived today (still with my misspelt sign!) to check the poetry box and get set up.
The box was empty – sad face! However, not unexpected being the first week and our media only just starting to jump on the bandwagon. I’m looking forward to reading and responding to all of your poems next week. Remember you can drop in any time during the week and pop a poem you’ve written into the poetry box and I’ll then write a poem in response to yours the following Monday. This isn’t a feedback service – it’s a creative conversation, so let’s talk!
But I’m pleased to report I’ve had a productive morning speaking to the local Youth Development Officer and Magic FM about the residency (and other creative things) and finally now sitting here getting stuck into some personal poetry writing.
I’ve spent the last half hour or so losing myself in the lovely paintings (by Heather Wasley), which adorn the walls of Sprouts Café as inspiration. My early efforts thus far have been fairly clumsy however there are a few glimmers of gold I think I’ll take the time to work on this week. See you soon!
Posted in Art Projects, Cafe Poet Residency
Tagged art, australian poetry, cafe poet, community, Creative Writing, Personal Development, poetry, regional arts, Riverland, sprouts cafe