Poems

Poems to Live By #1

A Primal Poem

by Mikki Baloy

I want the raw
guts of life, splitting bone and spitting fire
I need to dance on the corpses and graves
of whatever held me
imprisoned,
and inhibited
the wildness of all I always knew I was.
I give it all back to the earth
crushing dust to dust under bare feet
I want the blood dark
howling
the roar from deep within my heart
no, deeper–the belly of my belly
shadows of shadows crying out for recognition
I want their voices to smack the mountaintops and hurl themselves down again
into silence,
then laughter at long long last
I want the nectar
the stuff of life
poured over onto me
out of me
quenching a thirst I’ve had forever
I want to rub it all over my body
run through the streets covered in leaves, dirt, blood
shocking spectators to their senses, waking them up
shouting
You will die, you will die, my loves! Wake up!
Live while you are alive

You’ve been sleepwalking cleanly, politely
simmering resentments
ignoring passions for very tidy reasons.
You have forgotten that you’re built for longing,
for loving your innocent animal selves.
Wake up, my loves. Please.
I want to dance this dance with sisters
brothers
lovers
strong enough to hold the fierceness of it like a jewel in their precious hands
brave enough to stand in their own fear,
their own nectar, with arms outstretched
and scream their own dark roar
and fall at long long last into laughter.


Source: http://www.wildwomanrising.com/21b-a-primal-poem/

Mikki Baloy's websire: http://shamanmikki.com


To Write is to Risk: a medicinal poem

For the rebels and the misfits...

I'm taking a dose of my own poetic medicine this morning. Reminding myself that traversing the hinterlands of transition can feel like sea swimming alone on a moonless night, heart beating fast wondering if my toes are going to be nibbled by baby sharks or whether I'll emerge wearing a jellyfish on my head.  Everywhere is a shade of darkness and I'm scared of swimming too far out. Except I already have. 

I often use poem prompts to jump start my creative writing process especially if I'm feeling rattled or unsettled, trying to work stuff out.  You know that claggy stuff that hides in the folds and creases of our insides? It's a bit gooey and contains all sorts of wonderful and weird ingredients. 

Inspired by the introductory manifesto in Belonging by  Toko-pa Turner, I used her first line "For the rebels and the misfits..." (and a few other little words too) as a seed for my own piece, to work out what on earth I'm doing all this 'stuff' for, how it feels and to give myself a hint of moonlight at the end.  


For the rebels and the misfits, the outsiders and un-belongers. 

For the rootless, the uprooted, the refugees, the scar clan tribe and the orphans.

For the cast-outs, the gobby ones, the dare-to-expose mavericks, the silenced ones.

For the weirdos, the misunderstood ones, the ones-who-missed-out and the can't do the 9-5'ers.

For the ponderers, the empaths, the quiet ones and the shy ones. 

For the wild imaginers, the naked sea swimmers, the midnight storytellers and the fire-side poets.

May you open up to the raw power of your voice and let it sink ink on to paper, throw songs to the moon and weave wonder in to your night dreams.

Let the thirsty page drink up your voice and may it be your pen medicine. A lyrical balm. Taken when needed. 

May you risk mistakes, risk being unlikeable, dare to grow beyond who you've been expected to be. Words have that quiet way of shaking up your insides. And unsettling those around you.

If you dare to share your quirks and cracks and hopes and dreams, though they may shock and tease,  may they reach those who recognise the uttering of a feral wordster. A fellow tinker. And let it be their medicine too. 

May you see that when you live your own poetry, the disapprovers, the naysayers and the unbelievers will move to the side whilst you continue to stride and gather your family-ar kin.

It will take time to move from one land to another, to be a refugee from your old life. You may be shunned and invisible-ised, demonised and misunderstood. The loneliness will sear you. Suddenly, you'll find yourself one step past that middle space, one step too far forward to step backwards. This is wobble space,  'oh fuck space', the no going back space. 

May you hold on tight to this liminality. This is a 90 degrees wash cycle and it might take some time before the drum stops spinning. Hold on to the one thing you know - your raw voice is tilling a new land upon which you will plant new seeds in to rich soil, fertilised with all you have ever known and all that you have ever risked and the nutrients of long-buried nocturnal wishes. 

Eventually you will rise up. Supported. Rooted. Wildly alive. 

© Dal Kular


These words are still a bit fresh to my eyes and soul. The medicine needs some time to take effect. But the first dose feels like the washer has just stopped spinning and I'm finishing off my cuppa before I unload it, shaking out the tangled fabrics one by one. 


Encouragement: if any part of my poem resonates with you, grab your daring pen and create your own words! Forget form or precision - just write. Mix up metaphors - I have. It doesn't even have to make sense. Just write.  Feel free to use any of my lines as a starting point or wherever you want.  If you'd love to share, I'd love to hear! Feel free to share below, email me in secret or tag me on instagram.

(kindness: if you decide to share a piece of work inspired by my poem please link back to this blog post and also credit Toko-pa Turner as the originating inspiration 🙏🏾)


Mindful Poem-making

Mindful Poem-making

"Bringing moment by moment awareness and kindness to our writing is good for us - and the poems we read and write." Linda France & Larry Butler (Writing Recoveries Conference March 2018)

I love the idea of being kind to our writing, as if we could stroke the words with our pen, wrap them up in the sofa blanket and make them a cup of tea. When I think of being kind to the poems we read I can feel myself softening and opening inside as if I've created a larger space in which to receive the poem. And maybe that will mean that I will receive a larger dose of poetic medicine and delight from it's reading.

Slowing down whilst writing can sometimes help us step in the vaster space of creating a piece of work and bring surprising results. There are endless strategies and techniques in the world of therapeutic creative writing, from Gillie Bolton's classic 6 minute free write where you go speeding with your pen to the end and Natalie Goldberg's advice to 'go for the jugular' and spill it out on the page.

Both of these are techniques I use myself and with others and work brilliantly to lubricate the imagination or enable a cathartic splurt that can then be shaped, left as it is or be the basis for a larger write.  In a world of do do do, it  can sometimes feel like I need to write write write. Finish that novel asap. Read as many books as I can as quickly as I can. I never got speed-reading as a phenomenally slow reader.  But I can be a tad nifty with a pen and racing imagination.

Linda France suggests that by slowing down our writing and being mindful we can get more from our writing and from the experience of writing. A way of being kind to reading and writing a poem is by breaking a longer poem down in to fragments and to respond to each fragment with our own writing. We worked with Adrienne Rich's "Diving in to the Wreck" - slowly reading and slowly responding to fragments with our own words and I was mightily surprised by what emerged...


Whenever I slow down enough to 

sip liquid lightening, 

exploding turmeric paradise bouncing my tongue,

I sink in to brown flowered draylon,

throwing shimmering dust motes in to the air,

an incandescent personal Holi.

I feel like I am drinking the sun

and moon.

 

I forget about doing the dishes,

people who grate on my neurones, 

the ever incoming emails, credit card bills

and to-do lists.

Instead I dance till late to the floristry of words

dripping off wet red lips, 

and to the idling tongues of Ider pulsing

my cells one by one. 

 

Beneath my eyelids,

aqua green walls and 

break dancing flames become embossed.

I stretch my arms to find my wingspan has grown

and the brown draylon flowers can fly.

I open my mouth and sing in sea-eaglish and 

bursting rain clouds. 

 

With my wingtips I trace luminous 

words in to the night air, 

my quill full of shooting stars.

And as I drift in to slow slumber 

I pray I wake here again and again.

© Dal Kular


As ever, it's a work in process and I've been constantly fiddling with the shape and order of words. Crafting it slowly yet intuitively felt like a meditation. Emerging from the writing process felt as if my mind had just been on a 90 degree cotton wash, coming out all squeaky clean and refreshed. When I read the poem back to myself and to another I was surprised by what I'd written, almost as if someone else had written those words, yet the voice was unmistakably mine. I had an overwhelming sense of delight reading it back, like I'd created my own poetic medicine.

Maybe I'll take it, very slowly, one dose a day for three weeks and see where it takes me.  


Linda France teaches on the MA Creative Writing at Newcastle University and a published poet.