The Cream Of The Garden, by Vivienne Blake

The Cream Of The Garden
by Vivienne Blake

The bank, left wild for birds, insects,
and January primroses,
before violets, bluebells, nettles,
cow parsley and foxgloves.
The hedge, murdered every few years
for winter logs and kindling – a motley thing
of alder, hazel, chestnut,  ash,
wild cherry and baby hedgerow oaks;
there’s a hollow stump sprouting hazel hair,
where a blackbird raises a brood in Spring,
becoming hideaway for summer children.
Its brambles give us jelly and crumbles,
sweetness from undergrowth.
Sweetness, too, behind the shed
where grass cuttings, weeds and waste,
moulder undisturbed into compost,
loved by vegetables, flowers, fruit, and me.

Vivienne Blake makes quilts and poems and stories in her small village home in Normandy. Her slow and wobbly rambles often appear in the poetry. Finding the sublime in the mundane is her aim. Her work has been published in Curio Poetry, Mouse Tales, Red Wolf Journal, Long Story Short, The Book of Love and Loss and other anthologies.

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Red Shoes, by Vivienne Blake

Red Shoes
by Vivienne Blake

You’re not having red shoes
In the shop Mum was cross
Please, Mum, they’re gorgeous
Red shoes no knickers, Mum’s mantra
Look, the heels aren’t that high,
I could dance all night in those
Oh, no you won’t – you’ll be back by ten.
Does that mean you’ll buy them then ?
We’ll see. Try them on.

Comes next Friday, excited
twirling this way and that
in front of the mirror.
First bra, first nylons
sticky-out petticoat
swirly circular skirt
frilly blouse, waspie belt all the rage.
And those shoes …

Dad takes one look and hits the roof
What were you thinking?
She’s only fourteen
Out of the question to go out like that.
But Daaaad …
For once on my side, Mum sticks it out
She’s only young once
let her go.

So I did,
at the school Christmas hop
had a breathtaking time
as I danced with a prefect
the new cricket captain,
red shoes danced all the way home
on cloud nine.

Note: In response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 137.

Vivienne Blake makes quilts and poems and stories in her small village home in Normandy. Her slow and wobbly rambles often appear in the poetry. Finding the sublime in the mundane is her aim. Her work has been published in Curio Poetry, Mouse Tales, Red Wolf Journal, Long Story Short, The Book of Love and Loss and other anthologies.

Nighthawks, by Vivienne Blake

Nighthawks
by Vivienne Blake

nighthawks

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks (1942)

A strange and lonely cityscape –
no cars, no crowds, just a young couple
bickering quietly about nothing
or maybe newly-met lovers
encased in a romantic bubble.

The solitary man
wonders about them, who they are,
what they’re doing in this dead-alive dive,
far from the bright lights
and the city bustle.

The weary waiter
is eager for his shift to end.
No tips from this lot, that’s for sure.
With business this slow
is his job in trouble?

Around the corner a hobo gazes,
envying the warmth within.
He turns away, creeping
towards his park bench home
with shivering shuffle.

Process Notes: I have always loved paintings by Edward Hopper since I was a small girl, sitting under the table leafing through Saturday Evening Posts at my Grandmother’s, while the adults watched television, which I found boring. His paintings always seem to tell a story.

Vivienne Blake makes quilts and poems and stories in her small village home in Normandy. Her slow and wobbly rambles often appear in the poetry. Finding the sublime in the mundane is her aim. Her work has been published in Curio Poetry, Mouse Tales, Red Wolf Journal, Long Story Short, The Book of Love and Loss and other anthologies.

RITE OF PASSAGE, Vivienne Blake

Rite Of Passage —
To the accompaniment of Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony

by Vivienne Blake

Grandeur
splendour
cold day
hot tears
seething crowds
what to say?
how encapsulate a life
that ends in the squalor of disease?
dependency
helplessness
mind gone,
thank God.

Insistent rhythm overlays
the shuffling feet
creeping out of the stark chapel,
so much black cloth
conforming to conformity

A surge of sound
of trite remarks
of tearful hugs.
Music says more
of our cherished friend
than any words could do.

Vivienne’s process notes: This poem was written at the very start of my poeming, about the funeral of a very dear friend. The rhythm of the first stanza follows the rhythm of the opening of the Symphony.

Vivienne Blake, who is elderly and decrepit, living in rural Normandy. Her life has been a busy one, so the tranquillity of retirement suits the habits of a poet.

TIME–AND TIME AGAIN, Vivienne Blake

Time–and Time Again
by Vivienne Blake

Time is but an abacus
that flows like a river in spate,
the river of my childhood, green
and cold and smelling of drains.

The sound of rushing, roaring winter flood
or the trickle of placid summer drought,
the Thames, a thread through my childhood
and beyond.

A move away in adulthood–
the wrench from my foundations,
accelerating time and ageing.
Merde, I say, at time’s effect on
gravity, as everything sags
and loses color.

The swooshy rush of time’s river
slows almost to a standstill
in old age and yet, and yet,
days pass in seconds
as this old frame flows into
amorphous dirt and all but disappears.

Vivienne’s process notes:
From the age of 9 to 14 I lived beside the river Thames, with Windsor Castle in view across the water meadows. Most of the time I was in or on the river.

GREY, Vivienne Blake

Grey
by Vivienne Blake

That was the year we all had a crush on Miss Mayland.
A year of triumph and disaster
And we did keep our heads.

We swam a mile at the lido,
Domini, Kevin and me.
The weather was grey,
the water too cold at fifty degrees.
We sang as we swam
Rose, Rose I love you
Skin starting to crinkle
A you’re Adorable
Strokes slower and slower
I’d like to get you
On a slow boat to China.

Counting the lengths–
when can we stop?
That was the year that they kicked Churchill out.
Everything grey
Everything drear
Rationing still at its worst.
Ten million for the spectacles and eightpence for the meat
At Much Binding in the Marsh.

Everyone grim,
everyone grumpy.
That was the year we sang at the Festival:
How beautiful they are, the lordly ones.
Precise, rehearsed and drilled
heartless girls but we all did our best.
So we won, we won, we won.
On the way home we sang on the bus.
Took off our hats and shouted.
What would they say at the Convent?
Took off our gloves, shock horror.
What would they say at the Convent?
At Church street we went in the chippy.
How frightful, what would they say?
Fish and chips in the street
in our prim uniforms
but no hats and no gloves. It was good.

We paraded our triumph, our pride and our sin,
broke all the rules in loud celebration,
banished the grey.

Vivienne Blake discovered poetry in her seventies, during an Open University Creative Writing course. She is making up for lost time, with poems published in anthologies and magazines, including Long Story Short, Equinox, and the French Literary Review (in English and French). She lives with her retired dentist husband in rural Normandy.