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.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

August #4

It Only Needs to Win Once — You Think? 

Courage, you think,
only needs to win once.
After that you can relax,
never fear again,
be always brave and daring,
confident like others —
the everyone else
who, you're always being told,
aren't scared.

But it doesn't work like that.
Courage is needy, wanting 
your full attention,
refusing to be taken for granted.
It wants to own you;
catching you with your pants down,
wants to give you a thrill — the biggest.
Courage is a very
demanding lover.

Or else it's a wilful child
that runs away.
You have to chase after it,
find it, bring it home,
settle it — embrace it
all over again.
Every time.
Too bad if you tire 
of the game.

You think you only need
to win once,
but it's not enough.
Each time is new —
new effort, journey, struggle, 
catch of breath.
But then, it's all that terror
provides the thrill.

— Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Sunday, 24 August 2014

August #3

Living through the pain

My compatriot urged his dad
to rage against the dying of the light
but my rage is against pain
and blood and tears and sweat
and hope getting stomped
when it peeps its little
chocolate-buttony bright eyes
over the top of the trench
where it very wisely hid
until optimism once more
triumphed over experience.

I watch you living through the pain
and I try to find something positive
in your brave, dogged fight
and I love you for your strength,
your weakness, your quirks,
your failings, your heart
but I cannot find anything positive
that wasn't already a part of you
before the adversary arrived
and this torment began.

I want to scoop you up
in my arms and hold you
until the danger passes
but you see it never does.
That bloody enemy stalks
us all the time and never sleeps
and even if I doze with one eye
open it still sneaks in because
nobody can win against it every time
and it only needs to win once.

— Michele Brenton

Friday, 15 August 2014

August #2

Firm Body Upright

for Amanda Watson and Dani Cooper 

She pounds her gravity-bound knees,
with hands still free.
Her wheelchair, black and silver,
gleams solid in the stage light.
Rising behind her, dark dancer,
jerking the movements she cannot express.
Dancer sinews hip lift to shoulder roll,
as the music clanks on.
"My body is a cage".
The seated one is veiled in black,
legs seen and still,
face hidden.
The dancer does all the woman cannot:
not enough for either
to have only six minutes
of shining to others.
Her body is upright in her chair,
as the dancer leaves the stage.
She is firm, still whole and uninvaded
by surgeon or the harder-core drugs.
Her resolve is to keep living
through the pain.

— Helen Patrice

Sunday, 10 August 2014

August #1

Knowing it is right

makes it
if it fits
wear it

also sets
you up
for a fight

some call that
civilised debate

the thing is
it pulls you
off centre

you have to
grab hold
to regain

will do as
long as
you get

both feet
firm, body
up right

— Jennie Fraine