Monday, 31 January 2011

The Lovers

Monday 31st January 2011, A. Palmer

Look at the lovers:
They leave together but neither leads.
I ponder their destination,
as they course through Paris back streets
in a thick-set Saturday fog.

I watch as he makes her giggle;
he looks pleased with himself,
taking it as invitation to nuzzle her neck.
She loves this, and I know this
by the way she lets a lip escape beneath her teeth.

They’re doing much more than just surviving,
they’re making a dying man feel alive.
I can’t decide if that’s beautiful or tragic,
suspecting I’ll settle on the latter later,
for self-pity’s sake perhaps.

For now, I try to deduce from the way he hangs off her shoulder,
or the way she tucks his hand to her breast,
whether they will go home to hot air balloon rides,
stroking children to sleep
and kissing cups of cocoa cold,

or wine-stained mouths
frothing across perspiring flesh,
as candles roll knocked from waxed saucers
atop a table from yesteryear.
Which is the more romantic vision?

I wrestle with the pictures until
I find my answer blanketed in fog-
ahead, he bends to tie her lace
and she sows a kiss somewhere
in Thursday’s hair.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

(Skinny, Decaf) Tea With the Vicar

Tuesday 18th January 2011, A. Palmer

“Forgive me, Father,” she said, “for I have skimmed.”
The full-fat tea completely missed the sink
and puddled the top, swelled and over-brimmed,

cascading down cupboards as if to chink
the reverend’s cool and tempt forth a splay
of Eastertime zest with the putrid stink

of God-awful tempers on Bad Friday,
but failed and snaked off towards the fridge.
“Forgive me, Father, you won’t be cross I pray?”

He assured the shop was just across the bridge ,
but her shrill didn’t dampen, rather it rose-
making at cake as if it were cartridge,

she clasped at her stomach through children’s clothes,
“Would you get an apple too? I can’t eat those.”

This is the third instalment of my experimentation with poetry forms (after the octain Of Course, Death and villanelle Weekend When the World Was Away). It is a ‘terza rima’, first used by the Italian poet Dante in his Divine Comedy.
A terza rima is a series of tercets using chain rhyme in the scheme a/b/a | b/c/b | c/d/c | d/e/d. There is no limit to the number of stanzas, but the terza rima is closed with a single line or couplet rhyming with the middle line of the final tercet (thus giving each and every line a rhyme). There is no set meter either, but for terza rimas written in English, lines of 10 syllables or iambic pentameter are generally preferred.
Geoffrey Chaucer first introduced the form into English literature in the fourteenth century with his Complaint to His Lady. Five centuries later, Byron, Milton and Shelley adopted the terza rima, with the latter’s Ode to the West Wind remaining a popular work. Thomas Hardy also employed terza rima’s cross-stanza rhyme scheme to inter-link the characters in his Friends Beyond.
More recently, Robert Frost and Sylvia Plath have written in the form, with the former’s Acquainted With the Night often quoted as an exemplary terza rima.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Weekend When the World Was Away

Monday 17th January 2011, A. Palmer

We didn’t leave the house at all, save for dreams;
the two of us together, mounted in a muck untrue,
but I’d pull you back to my world from your screams.

The phone never rang, just as well as it seems,
for we’d made no plans to come unstuck through,
and we didn’t leave the house at all, save for dreams.

Dining with the moon, we’d sleep in the sunbeams.
From warm, amber fuzzes, your ghouls would pluck you,
but I’d pull you back to my world from your screams.

We played the games we’d escape with one-man teams,
but somehow, onto mine, we always snuck you.
We didn’t leave the house at all, save for dreams.

Your acetate butterflies, with their aquas and creams,
took over the room as your art-panic upchuck grew,
but I’d pull you back to my world from your screams.

Those few moments gated away gifted me gleams
of a future I could easily have stuck to:
We wouldn’t leave the house at all, save for dreams,
but I’d always pull you back to my world from your screams.

This is, as ropey as it is, a first attempt at a form Claudia at Splittergewitter introduced me to today: the 'villanelle'. Taken from the Italian 'villanella' (meaning 'peasant song'), a villanelle is nineteen lines long, consisting of five tercets and one concluding quatrain, and employs only two rhyme sounds. The first and third lines of the first stanza are rhyming refrains that alternate as the third line in each successive stanza and form a couplet to close the quatrain. For a greater explanation of the form, plus much more expertly crafted villanelles, head to Claudia's workshop on them at One Stop Poetry.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Of Course, Death

Thursday 13th January 2011, A. Palmer

"O See that you Do it, won't you?"
('Ocidic' is what he termed it)
"Of Course I Did it!" I would spit,

"A dozen times, will that not do?
"The bulb's bereft, with no switch left
"and what's the harm in failing to?"

"Death's tracks," he mourned, "is where we'd sit
"...O See that you Do it, won't you?"

This is an attempt at Luke Prater's 'octain' form, which he devised on his weblog WordSalad. It is a poem of 8 lines, made up of two tercets and a couplet, with each line comprising of 8 syllables (usually adopting iambic or trochaic tetrameter, but "[it is] fine to just count eight syllables per line for those who prefer that"). The rhyme scheme is A/b/b | a/c-c/a | b/A, where A is a refrain (the first line is repeated as the final line) and c-c is a sexy slice of internal rhyme. It was tough, but thoroughly enjoyable, so thank you Luke. He's a good lad, and can be found on Twitter.

This is a poem about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and, in particular, a younger me complaining to my father about his OCD. 'Younger me' is key, thus, as I've aged, I've noticed I have to have things set in squares...

Friday, 7 January 2011


Friday 11th November 2010 - Friday 7th January 2011, A. Palmer

Scant splinters of success
might pepper my past occasionally,
though they ran away with me at the time, I confess,
appearing inflated, an asinine celebrity.
But it was brief, and cast out with crumpled crest,
I flocked to dark corners and a midnight sanctuary.
Lovers I thought I knew, smiles I swore were earnest,
soon fell and faded into obscurity
for me to forget.

Then you came along,
so absent-mindedly brilliantly in a mess.
You stole first my ears with your song
before my eyes spoke of a beauty so beautifully effortless.
Witnessing you sail above your throng
whilst you had no idea only served to further impress,
yet yielded no clues as to how you righted all those wrongs.
You certainly matter more than ever I imagined, yes
you who reset.

I ceased playing the toilet tours-
with you as my anchor, I ventured out
to farther reaches and foreign shores.
You gifted me the chance to vanquish doubt
and blossom into who I was at my core.
You might’ve saved a life for me to live, but without
a soul mate to share in everything and more,
that life may be fated to fail about
its very offset.

So, if I may, I’d like to stake a claim-
deciding you’re the one to teach me to put on a greater show,
it’s clear at least you will always believe my fame
and I’d go nowhere if you weren’t there to follow.
So I yearn to know if you’d like to share a surname,
because, to my tenor, you’re my mezzo-soprano
and our music could and should ring out to all’s acclaim-
I’m done and dusted with going solo,
can we duet?

Allow Me To Be Franco

Friday 7th January 2011, A. Palmer

The mind may be trained to
think certain thoughts,
to exaggerate some in an effort to convince
or bend truths into more attractive,
easier truths.

Begged, it can be, to suppress others,
ignore the scratching at the door,
change the subject
when a nerve is trespassed upon.

What happens in the heart
cannot be fiddled with.
If it aches, you’ve lost;
if it soars, you’re about to lose.

What is simply felt feels far from simple,
but it is what it is-
a chamber of starkness.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Quietly, You

Thursday 6th January 2011, A. Palmer

The night sky: a silky duvet
to tuck us into our embankment bed.
Cloudless, it was perfect
for throwing parties in.

Warmed by nattering logs,
our smoked hair housing red,
glowing spittle, we gaped
at the glittering flowers sowed above the waste bin.

In the distance, a chorus
of admiration was cut out completely
by the whistle of a missile.
An animal urge to run for cover

dissolved as a shower
of diamond confetti neatly
rained upon our napkin nuptials.
I’d need never write another.

Then came the Big One,
the one we’d all been waiting for.
As it popped its dust upon our sheets,
you kissed me softly upon my neck.

A thrill like that can kill a man you know.

Parting Shot

Thursday 6th January 2011, A. Palmer

In solitary moments,
spare a thought for me,
as I will you.
Or two or three.

They might look better,
talk wiser, write lists.
I can live with that,
just promise

you won’t pour the same
dreams into their pillows.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Platforms and Planks

Tuesday 4th January 2011, A. Palmer

I’m on the edge here.
Looking over releases that rush,
where the buzz of my own mortality
tickles my demons, their tongues
licking viciously around the word.

In that second,
we expect everything to become clear,
to see true desire arrive at the eleventh hour
and save the day like some anti-hero.

But it doesn’t.
It just evaporates into a hot back,
and a mind stuck on pause, blank,
stuttering like producers of live TV in a hairy moment.

Thankfully, I’m gripped by fear.
It holds me back like a loving one.
Don’t do it, the nausea pleads.

So I don’t. I’m sick instead.
The hero leaves my body like
a knight riding off into a sequel-
a white one with orange bits in.

Clemency Coveted, Glory Gained

Tuesday 4th January 2011, A. Palmer

He trudged up to the mic
like a cat to water:
reluctant, with head buried in the grain of the stage
and hiding all that he could behind a guitar
used to being strummed in private.

Before him lay table after table of fickleness.
Some hadn’t noticed his understated entrance,
drinking the weekend in
and spoiling for worst joke awards;
others had and were baying for blood.

It was smoky up there,
but he didn’t need to see them to know
they were muttering like old women at a tabletop.
He could hear his choice of footwear
being ridiculed along with his hair.

Long and wispy, but not long enough
To cover his blushing cheeks,
he suddenly hated it-
maybe agreeing would get him off?

Their Cheshire grins dashed the hope,
whilst a lazy thumbs up was cast as his cue.
So cursing that the fire alarm never goes off when you want it to,
he hit an E, opened a dry mouth
and let escape the voice of one greater than the sum of his parts. 

Sunday, 2 January 2011


Sunday 2nd January 2011, A. Palmer

As the early worm escaped the bird
and the morning light broke in
through flimsy blinds I, in a lack of foresight,
preferred to curtains,
we finally fell asleep.

You clambered on top of me,
lighter than I thought even you would be.
There we lay and worked our breathing
into a rhythm comfortable for both of us:
I inhaled when you exhaled, breathing you in.

To the morning burgling and prying,
we looked as though we were mirroring one another,
or sleeping in a cradle,
or in the middle of a warzone, you
protecting me.

It was an intimate moment,
one I’d immediately recall if we ever broke up,
when we spotted one another in a bar
and tried to ignore that we once
slept breast to breast.