Sunday, 31 May 2015

Aging Poetically

I have a birthday this week.  Birthdays are mainly something to be ignored except for the fact that they tend to involve good food.  Once, when I had a large garden, I frequently received plants as gifts.  There was a time when it was often a tree.  Now, with just a small balcony, that is no longer the case but this year Mum apparently couldn't resist and I got an early birthday surpise-this pot of violet alstroemeria (which my spell checker wants to change to astrolabe).

I have begun a painting of Mum, but progress is slow since my brain is more interested in writing at the moment.  Actually it  can't stop, so last night while trying to get to sleep it spewed out several first draft poems.  Now I shall inflict them on you all because I am generous like that.

Oh hey, look, I still wear clothes and here is a picture to prove it.  Also, I still have mushroom-hair days.  Especially when I attempt to straighten it with the hairdryer.  This is a very wild outfit by my standards.  All that colour and pattern.  Mum says she is surprised.

Top and pants-thrifted, pants and sandals re-dyed by me, bag a splurge but on sale for half price-LOVE this bag so it was worth it.  I have a cross-body satchel obsession.

                              Miss Mathilda is not very impressed.

        We disagree about which of us came up with doorway posing first.

                                If you hate my poetry, stop here. 

Jazz Night at the Cafe

A syncopated infection invades my body and the symptoms
include persistent twitching. 
Toes tap, hips waggle and sway
Doing the vinyl seat boogie.
I am plucked like the strings of the base viol
and I  cha-chaka, cha-chaka, cha with the drums.


I say it apologetically, whisper it, I like literature
Wince and shrug
Someone says she just likes to read stories, you know,
Be entertained.  She doesn’t want to have to think.
And I am certain then that I must be pretentious.

Someone else approaches and asks me have I read
(insert name of major literary work here) and I say,
Umm, well no, I have not gotten to that one yet.
Wince and shrug
Clearly I am an imposter.  A poseur.

I love literature but I don’t believe in reading something
I am not interested in reading. 
No longer a student for marks and grades, I close a book
that does not hold me captive.  Ulysses.
Did James Joyce wince and shrug?

I read for fun, they tell me.  I like to be entertained.
Who doesn’t?  I think.  But now I can’t say it, can’t say-
Oh the highbrow stuff entertains me-the smart stuff.
Thinking is fun,
Wince and shrug.
Unspoken thoughts in the other’s mind:  What else do you do for fun, scrub toilets?


A salad is so much work for what you get.
Washing, chopping, shredding, tossing,
Half an hour to make, ten minutes to eat
Hungry again an hour later.

The Corner
I walk into the cafe
And stride straight to my favourite corner
My corner-only someone else is there before me
Claimed it for herself.

Momentarily I hesitate and then take
The table right next to hers
A large empty room and two women are
Unspeakingly pressed into the corner.

Eventually, perhaps half an hour later
We share a bond of sisterhood-sitting on this vinyl bench
The sisterhood of the corner-leaning back against the wall
Eventually she speaks to me.

It’s just a comment or two, a friendly
understanding, we will think the same way
She leans toward me conspiratorially
whispers her thoughts as I smile and nod.

Later, when she leaves, she is compelled
to say goodbye to me, her old friend
her corner sister.


Your words seemed more powerful than mine.
More accurate, assured and they crowded my head
leaving no room for my own and when your words
are out in the world, who is going to listen to mine?

My words buzz and whine in my ear
Around my head, mosquitos of thought
Cars ‘round a racetrack-crash and burn,
tires spinning, I  lie awake and think of metaphors.


The heartbreaking loyalty of dogs
Eager to please
Desirous of your love and
Giving, giving giving-no matter how ill used.
That’s why I am a cat person.
The way of dogs is all too painfully familiar.

Black and White

Powerful predators, high-pitched chitter
a tin-flute sound that brings feathered death.
Soaring in circles, taught-winged grace,
riding the wind and watching for dinner in the water below.

A cacophony of crows’ hack-sawing voices
shriek from the trees as they send out their
mobbing-calls: Back Off they scream
issuing threats and posturing brazenly.

White hatted eagle, black hatted crow
no clues here about good and bad- it is all about perspective.
Just ask the salmon.  Just ask the sparrow.

Broken Bird

A broken bird lies on the highway
Twitching, not yet dead.
We approach at speed directed
By the signs
And there is only time to react with horror
At the sight of suffering,
To know the car will pass clean over-
The body untouched by its wheels
And that really, somebody should
Have the courage to run the wheels right over it.


  1. More fabulous poetry ... you're so productive at the moment.
    Happy Birthday!!

    1. Kind of manic perhaps, but happy. Thanks for stopping by and bringing encouragement as always. xoxo

  2. Bravo to you, my fellow sister of pen and paper with thoughts in our head.
    To you I say we'll done. I congratulate you and now I'm off to bed.

    Isn't that horrible. That's all I could come up with at this time. ;)

    1. OH Glenda, that is not horrible but I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes I struggle to write something coherent and I want to say so much more than I can express. Usually this happens when I get to the comments spot on a blog. Sleep well. xoxo

  3. Love your busy top and your alstroemeria. Happy Birthday to you!
    But most of all I love your busy brain...and I'm a tiny bit jealous ;-)
    Salads are overrated, I don't chop them. Just peel and take alternate bites and make a salad in your mouth. Because, lazy! xo Jazzy Jack

    1. Thank you. I will have to try out your salad strategy. And since I don't have to convince anyone else to eat it, that strategy should work! Busy top looks sort of like busy brain barfed all over it. No, I have not been drinking.
      No jealousy required, not even a tiny bit because you are awesomely creative and busy and amazing and talented. Often I think, why am I not like Jack? So let's pledge to just be happy with who we are and what we do.

    2. Really? I do wish I could see this person you are seeing!
      I solemnly pledge to be happy being me...and to appreciate you :-D

    3. I am not the only one who sees her and of course, awesome woman that she is, she would come up with a brilliant pledge. I will take it too!

      I solemnly pledge to be happy being me...and to appreciate you.

  4. Happy birthday!
    The salad poem made me laugh - it's so true! I have to load one up with cheese and bacon bits to really enjoy it.
    How did you dye the shoes?

    1. Thanks, Bobbi! You can buy leather dye, I use it in spray form but there is also a brush on. I get it at a local shoe store and a leather repair shop here also sells it. It is sometimes called leather renew and the seller tends to assume you are refreshing colour with it but you can totally change colour too.

      I put bacon, cheese, nuts and seeds in my salads. Feta and pecans is a great combination. xo

  5. Happy Birthday to you
    Happy Birthday to you
    Happy Birthday dear Shawna the Director of Awesome
    Happy Birthday to YOU

    Shawna, your hair looks darling here. I love your short bangs and no way does it look like a mushroom to me.
    Your poems are very insight while also being bold and gutsy, which I love.

    1. Thank you, Joni you are such a sweetie. Mushrooms are rather nice anyhow and I like them.

      Insightful and bold and gutsy-I like that! I want that on the back of the book jacket. ;-) xoxoxo

  6. I guess it is good that I'm a bit nosy and tend to read comments prior to my own, because a question I wanted to ask is already answered above and I learned about a new method of salad eating, this one sounds much more practical....and not unlike some of the methods I've previously used to save time in the kitchen (while eating alone) if it is not too gross to admit to that, I mean mixing food in our mouth.

    That poem about the dogs really good me that the same reasons why I am fascinated with words...and that poem about somebody else words being more powerful. Sometimes something I read absolutely haunts me and perhaps that at times makes it harder to share something of my own- but at the same time there is satisfaction is that kind of intimacy that can perhaps only be established via literature...that intimacy of really having somebody's thoughts in our thoughts, because perhaps we never listen more acutely than when we read something we love and let ourselves be immersed into it. I really liked your poem about literature as obviously I can relate to it....and if we enjoy it we shouldn't care what others things...

    cafe sisterhood...interesting concept. I really liked that one as well.

    you're very productive! so many poems, you must really have a rich inner life- as Tennessee Williams said- having an intense inner life made writing natural for me.

    I do like your 'wild' a lover of colours and patterns I applaud you:) and I'm also happy to see you did your own dying- it's always nice to see personal touches.

    1. Ivana, I always love hearing your thoughts on what my poems said to you. I believe that poems or any writing holds all the meanings possible, not just what the writer intended.

      Either I have a rich inner life or some sort of brain disorder! I'll go with the former.

      I am a bit obsessed with dyeing things and it doesn't always work out but I am always quite pleased when it does.

  7. happy happy birthday my dear! lots of delicious food to you!
    you definitely have a flow with writing!!!! very impressive output! no wonder painting sits on the backburner. although i´m curious how you paint your mom! i better don´t do that, that painting would look very disturbing!
    that plant looks like what we call inka lilly. your mom found the right looking flower for you! lately i saw this lillys in bouquets in all the colors of your outfit here!!! i´m on the outlook for some bulbs for my garden now :-)
    tons of birthday hugs! xxxxxx

    1. Thank you, Beate! The flower is also called Peruvian Lily here but I prefer to use Latin names as they are more consistent. Our deer love to eat them but I don't have deer on my balcony so these ones are safe. I hope you find some bulbs.

      Maybe you could paint your mum in the style of Edvard Munch's The Scream.

    2. haha - munch! i fear my painting would be worse......

  8. Ha! I LOL'd at the salad : P

    The Broken Bird was sad and rather disturbing.

    What day is your birthday? Maybe we are on the same day? I'm Friday.


    1. This seems somewhat familiar-I think we noticed this last year. Mine is on Thursday. We are twins and you are the pretty one. Happy Birthday to you for Friday! xoxo

  9. Happy birthday week, Shawna! Love the colour and print in this outfit (no surprises there...) and that beautiful plant.
    I really struggle to comment on people's creative work - art, writing, whatever - on blogs It doesn't feel like the place to really critique it, and that leaves me just saying "it's great", which feel a bit meaningless (what's great, exactly?) So if I don't comment about your poetry, it isn't because I haven't read it, it's because I don't know how to navigate the rules on public commentary on art! Is that OK? xxx

    1. Thank you Curtise, and I am sorry if what I am doing makes you uncomfortable. It is perfectly OK to react or not react however you need to. I do not expect everyone to read it or like it and critique?-who wants that? LOL even the wonderful Margaret Atwood says she hopes nobody critiques her poems. I just hope that some people will get something out of them and hearing that they do is wonderful but not everyone will and that's okay. It is the same with my painting. I wouldn't want you to be anyone but yourself, just as I can only be myself. Thank you for being so sweet (yes you are) and trying to explain this to me. xoxo

    2. PS-I recently came across another woman named Curtis. Can't remember where.

  10. Shawna! I l o v e your poetry! I LOVE it! Love it all together, as a powerful collection.They are true, they are sincere, vulnerable, some of them are thinky, but mostly, I feel it, you write with your soul. It is brilliant. xxxxxxx

    And you look beautiful in colors - yay to this outfit! Beautiful flowers as well. I can't wait to see your new portraits. xxxxx

    1. Awww, thanks for your enthusiasm, Natalia. At first I read that as 'some of them are kinky.' That made for a very good laugh! xoxo

    2. :) Kinky will do! I'm never sure what really people mean when they mention enthusiasm, but that's OK, we all have our own definitions. I'll tell you this. Have a glass of good wine, maybe some crisp white whine, and read your own poetry. Or someone else's poetry. That's how poetry is meant to be read. Poets, artists, by "normal" standards, are always a little drunk. As a reader, you need to let go ow "standards", expectations, analysis, of your own disappointments and worries. That's how you need to approach poetry, and any art really. To most people, it means to get a little tipsy. With much love xxxxx

  11. Belated birthday wishes to you dear Shawna!! What a gorgeous colour that plant is, I think I would miss having a garden if I couldn't have one. But plants of a terrace are a pretty good substitute! Love the colourful outfit, and your bag is perfect.

    1. Thanks, Sue. They are not belated actually as my birthday is later this week. I agree, that colour of the flowers is so rich and beautiful. I can imagine you wearing that colour too. I miss my garden greatly but sometimes life brings changes we must cope with. xoxo

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  13. Happy birthday to you, Shawna! Loving the bright colours in your outfit and adoring Miss Mathilda.
    I get carried away with dressmaking like you do poetry, my head explodes with ideas, I get up early and have to crack on with it despite loads of other things that need doing. xxx

  14. Oooh sooo much to comment on here and I am on the train with unreliable reception, hope I don't lose my comment.
    Firstly, Happy birthday. Hope it was happy! The flowers from your mum are delightful.
    That outfit is lovely, bright as well as nice pattern.
    The poems are really, really good and all so different!
    I did giggle over the salad poem. Ha, SO SO true!!!!! The words one is really poignant. I feel like that sometimes and poor sad bird!!! A lovely selection. X

  15. Hope your birthday is super awesome and that the coming year is filled with everything you wish for yourself and MUCH MUCH more!!!!

    Thanks for sharing your poetry with us ... they sure do not look like first drafts!!!

  16. Beautiful poems, plant, and outfit! I love the idea of gifting plants, I will have to keep that one in mind for my parents since they love to garden. I like the patterns on your top, very summery!

  17. I have just added your blog to my blogroll list something I should have done long ago so that more people can enjoy your poetry. Being artistic and creative is one of our best blessings and get better as we get older. Isn't that amazing?

  18. Damn it, so sorry I missed your birthday, but I see you're not for celebration like my boyfriend, so my evil deed is not so evil! Still, want to wish you a very belated happy Birthday, hope you never stop blogging, because I literally need you in my life! You make my heart sing ^_^
    Also, Salad and The Corner are my favorite pieces! Especially salad, omg, is funny cause is tru :D
    Really dig the mushroom hair, very retro, and you always pick the most amazing color combinations for your wardrobe!

  19. Hope you had a lovely birthday, thank you for sharing the poems - they range from spry and funny to truly moving/harrowing and I like that! I think you might like a poet called James Tate if you've never read him (though you might well have, he's quite well known but not a household name I guess)...his poems run the gamut from wickedly funny and warped to peculiar to heartbreaking. I would be very interested to know how you dyed the shoes, they look supremely comfortable!

    1. Hi Steff! Here it is possible to buy a spray dye and some places sell a paint on one. The colour selection isn't large, in fact it's rather minimal so mostly I have changed some black shoes to brown (normal people would probably do it the other way round) and I've done a few of my bags too. In the case of these sandals I deepend the brown so not a big change.

  20. Also salads...ugh, I concur!


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