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.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

October #4

Diagrams in Felt-Tipped Pen

Or in pencil. Or biro.
Sometimes even fountain-pen —
we used them then, and my parents
gave me a slim one for my twelfth birthday.
The felt tips, of course, came quite a lot later.

But I never lost the habit,
starting in school exercise books.
'You're a great old doodler, aren't you?'
one English teacher said — but tolerantly.
I was always top of the class in English, after all.

It was an aid to thinking.
Don't ask me how that could be;
I only know it worked for me. Between
taking notes, I filled the corners of the pages
with close, elaborate, complex, abstract shapes.

Nothing recognisable —
not at all realist, nor naturalist.
It was all geometric: endless variations
of triangles, rectangles, diamonds, squares,
tempered by circles and coils, arcs and undulations.

After creating the outline
I might then decide on sections
to fill in solid, painstakingly making
new patterns in the old traditional shapes.
Each pattern piece was tiny; the whole, intricate.

When Rorschach tests became
the latest whizz-bang thing, back in
the seventies, some of my (ahem!) friends
wondered aloud what my doodles might reveal
and made rude, amused speculations, with guffaws.

By then, I was doodling upon
telephone message pads, train tickets,
restaurant menus, as well as my own journals
and the edges of any letters I still wrote by hand —
the ones to elderly relatives, who still thought that polite.

Those who knew me well
came to accept this eccentricity.
They seldom even remarked on it any more.
I decided it had to do with the pattern-making urge
and therefore, I supposed, not inappropriate for a poet.

Then the whole world changed.
Now I write emails on computer, make poems
on my iPad, jot down the shopping lists on my phone.
We text each other details we need to remember. No place
for proliferating diagrams in felt-tipped or any other kind of pen.

— Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

October #3

To My Mitochondria

I remember painstaking lines and
careful colouring-in 
punctuated by leaning back
in blissful satisfaction to 
admire the result.
I learned their biochemistry
and their physiology
gazed at slides
from microtomes.
I once knew such a lot of things
and now that knowledge
is long gone.
All I can recall from then - 
diagrams in felt-tipped pen.

Michele Brenton

Monday, 13 October 2014

October #2

The Past Tells Me I Exist

Those genes I sowed years ago
on hard ground
raised dragons of fire and water
who roar at the world
in ways I never could.
They spliced themselves,
and now here come the results,
helixing down the hallway
to scramble onto my morning bed
and feed me cold toast.
They shiver like cells around me
with toy trucks and jam,
insisting on under-the-blanket tents.
Meditation detaches me from the world,
and these two hot, moist little junior dracos
bring me back to it.
They make me live hard
right down to my mitochondria.

— Helen Patrice

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

October #1

Memories to Gather Later

As if the Past truly exists.
For Auld Lang Syne.
What’s done and said
Arms. Linked. Singing.

The songs of sirens.
Long fruitless journeys.
Shipwrecks. Survivals.
On the rocks. Let’s drink!

To that, and take a break.
There’s no tomorrow
Literally. The future?
Also non-existent.

Trapped here, now.
What? This moment?
This? And this? This
Endlessness of Now?

No! Conjure: artful enemies.
Betrayals. Caesarean.
Lies and tragedies.
My own one-Act plays.

Banish meaninglessness.
Watch commercial TV.
Old episodes and new ads.
All images spark memory.

Spirit of Tasmania.
Access to adventure.
State of beauty. Remember.
Sick trips with two kids.

Retirement. Caravan. Sunset.
Son’s birthday lego pirate ship.
A plank across the towbar.
Blindfolded, walking forward.

Gather friends who teach.
Encourage my reaching.
Voices entertain. Enrich.
Only the Past tells me

“I” exist.

— Jennie Fraine