These are linked poems created week by week for a year, inspired by the book No Choice But To Follow, and the poets therein who did it first.

Friday, 28 February 2014

February #4

Off the Rails

Good girl mostly,
dreams herself
light and white,
fairy-like.

Shivers, though, 
in the night,
when the red
rises inside ...

Or when the black
swirls around her
and she sinks
beneath its tide.

The demons,
the dragons,
the serpents 
invite her.

Tensing her mind,
she locks out
their fearful 
seductions.

So it goes
for the years
of her growing.
Then, explosion.

The rushing red
can't be contained,
the deadly black
won't be denied.

They froth forth
in cataclysmic
eruptions —
then subside.

Slipping and sliding
right off the rails,
she plunges
down the cliff.

Revelation:
she floats on
an ocean
of wondrous calm.

The voices
were always her own.
She opens herself
to their song.

— Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Friday, 21 February 2014

February #3

The next time

The next time you’re late
I hope it’s for a great reason
something spectacular
nothing trivial, or mundane
but a cataclysmic intervention
that entirely distracted you
because it was so wonderful
it swept every commitment,
appointment, chore, plan,
timetable away in a tsunami
of delightful experience
and left you just enough breath
to explain eventually with a red face
not from embarrassment but
excitement that THIS could have
happened at all and I will be
so entranced by your story
I won’t mind one bit and I won’t
need to be gracious and forgiving
the way you need to be now
because I don’t have a
whirlwind reason or
breath taking
excuse
just a brain
that loses track
so often
I spend most days
off the rails.

 — Michele Brenton

Friday, 14 February 2014

February #2

Breaking Point

Baby forces herself upon me,
triangular furred head
in the cup of my hand.
"Pat me pat me pat me," she intimates,
smoothing her neck, back, tail
under my palm.
She strops herself to the knife-sharp moment
it becomes too much.
Slashing tail, and then claws
lead to relaxation, 
all tension gone.

I am the cat,
social until I am not.
I sit at a party,
smiling and chatting,
conversation rippling like fur.
The tension builds in me
until it prickles the skin,
threatening to burst like a summer plum.
I make my excuses and run
to open land or ocean.
The big sky soothes.
I purr until the next time.

— Helen Patrice

Thursday, 6 February 2014

February #1

Their branches sharing the air

I should have thought
she says
I would have asked you
she whispers
to bring - you know -
we both mouthe it
pads
They're in the bag, Mum,
I say
You're a mind-reader
there's wonder in her voice
as the nurses laugh
Thanks to your fey Scots mother
I say
but already we're past that topic
because she's been
sat up
to receive dinner.

At home I understand
why it is I can
stand in her shoes -
mostly
they're smaller than mine
but the slippers
I forgot to pack
have been stretched
to breaking point.

— Jennie Fraine