A Poetry Showcase for Ivor Daniel *Updated 9/23/22* with Plath haiku

In High Summer

when flies walk upon my forearm hairs
proprietorial as landlords
and the land is ripe with roadkill

extreme weather scenarios
play out in real time

climate diplomats gather
but the plenary is beached -
delegates cloyed
as wasps in coulis

we sit around
the water table
with an ashen thirst

everybody wants to make a move
but no one does

like watching the bleaching of coral

the only thing agreed on
is that all this is unprecedented

unprecedented rainfall here
unprecedented temperatures there
unprecedented use of the word unprecedented     everywhere

in high summer
the deluge
the canicule
the conflagration

ants grow fat
grow wings
buzz my ears

we pick at
the brittle wishbone
of consensus

wait for crows 
locusts
to draw down the dusk
with a dry calling  

We Are Green

One winter’s day
through condensation windows
I mistook a withered gunnera leaf
for a heron’s wing.
Imagined the bird 
coiled, primal,
waiting at the water.

Months later, 
in the veiled sphere
under a summer gunnera plant,
I imagined myself 
small,
deep in zoological realms
below explosions
of virid strong-stemmed leaves 
as wide as the sky,
blush flower spikes
pushing up and through.

Today
in seasons of indeterminate grey 
when squirrels
do not know
which page
of the nut calendar
we are on,
it is the verdure
I return to.

I daydream of a kinder world.

Daylight and rainfall
elect a parliament of plants.
An upper house of trees.

We are green,
enfranchised.

XY (No Means No)

X.
Doctor Foster
went to Gloucester
in a shower of rain.

Fred and Rose
they quit town
but left a nasty stain.

That’s Fred West -
more than a sex pest.
Did unspeakable things
in his dirty vest.

Y.
Cycling past
the rape seed fields
brings it all back.
The yellow so vivid,
you lying on your back.

The yellow, the horror,
you want to be home,
but find yourself
involuntary, prone.

He seemed ok at first,
he said he’d drop you back.
The stony ground remains
no aphrodisiac.

You shut your eyes
your demon’s back,
slow, stupid in the sack.

And No Means No
involuntary
lying on your back.


Choose Your Own Mother
(for Rhianydd Daniel)

I have heard it said 
the yet unborn  
can choose their parents. 
 
A strange idea, this. 
Although we live in times 
when nothing is 
beyond belief. 
 
If it is true..    
If it is true, 
I ask myself 
the reason  
I chose you. 
 
Indecisive as I am, 
and daresay was 
before my birth, 
there is a scenario 
in which I am at peace. 
 
Wherein, unborn, 
I somehow hear 
your singing voice. 
 
And from that time 
I have no choice. 

sand in your blood

I remember when 
you scraped your leg on coral..
a rose rust bloomed raw 

under your skin..the
sea was a blister the moon
was a bruise.. all night

your fever rose and 
fell..lava tides licked feral 
flames..sand in your blood   

Ad Astra Zee

I am waiting for my blood
to clot. Broad beans
block green veins, 
velvet furred.
I am ripe
for it.

One day my feet 
will be corms,
shoehorned
in stony ground.
My soles are up
for it.

Hey Astra Zee!
I want my
second dose
already. 
             
I am weary 
of this solid flesh
my veins
so unimpeded.

Bring on the levelling dark. 

I am ready, pale horse
for your clip-clop.
For blood clots. 

Bolt, beauteous breathlessness! 
Bolt, cramping throbbing pain 

stampeded!

the paranoia shop

sells mini cctv 
for the home or handbag
sells cctv any size you need

hard-sells hard knuckle dusters
and knives all shapes and sizes
beyond imagination
for your perfect tribulation

they say carrying a knife
puts you more at risk of a stabbing
but the stab-proof vests are on offer today

see the cute hand guns 
to fit your hand    just so 

the paranoia shop
nestled between Gaultier  and Kenzo

I love to window shop there

It makes me feel so safe 

worm haiku

exit wounds out of 
apples, soldiers, the worm out 
of one the bullet

Perfect Bed

I dream I am at Bembom Brothers
Dreamland funfair park
with Tracey Emin.
Hard by Margate sands.

I know I shouldn’t drink that Vodka
on the Helter Skelter.
Apart from that,
a Day as Perfect as the Lou Reed song.

We Kiss with Fish and Chips Lips,
Join Hips. A Turner Sunset
Going Down.

I guess it is the Golden Hour.
Blair’s Babes 
and even some of his men MP’s
are busy Changing a whole heap of things
for the Better.

Back in your room 
we remember that
we even Changed the Bed this morning.

The linen soft and cool next to our Optimistic skin.

(This poem has previously appeared online in iamb-wave seven)

Going back

I went back, and it looked the same. 
I was not expecting that. 
Expected the usual rash of 
New Builds, creeping up the hill.

I went back, thinking
it would all look smaller, like
when I came back from America
aged 19, and it seemed like the train 
home had shrunk 
in a B movie.

I went back
looking for what?
The muddy lane where
we skidded our scooters?
The neighbour’s garden gnome
one of us pushed in his pond?
The Fish Caves, where we played
explorers? Journey to the Centre of the Earth,
or at least 
some way in
to that disused tin mine.

I went back, not to look for
my Dad, just some of the places
he used to take us. 
Halfway between morbid 
and curious.

I went back to the old conker trees 
and the scraped knees. To the
broken fence on Bishop’s Wood Road,
where it said No Trespassing
but my Dad said we’d be alright.

I went back to the old quarry
with the pond we thought was a lake.
I’m channeling a half-
remembered sense of comfort,
danger. Somewhere between 
Teddy Bears and Teddy Boys.

I went back to stacking
boxes of seaside rock
at Woolworths.

 Each stick had writing all the way through,
persistent as memory.

From up on the hill
you can see it all. 
The only thing different
is wind turbines out at sea,
turning like time.

I remember a school master who left.
All of a sudden. The smell
of that old classroom
at the end of the dark
corridor. Scuffed floor wax. 


Thanks Sylvia  for the Sylvia Plath/Anne Sexton Challenge

You married Ted, slapped
cobweb faced British poetry, 
long overdue


Bio: Ivor Daniel lives in Gloucestershire, UK. His poems have appeared in A Spray of Hope,
wildfire words, Steel Jackdaw, Writeresque, iamb~wave seven, Fevers of the Mind, The
Trawler, Roi Fainéant, Ice Floe Press and The Dawntreader. He has poems forthcoming in
After..., Re-Side, Alien Buddha, The Orchard Lea Anthology (Cancer) and The Crump’s Barn
Anthology (Halloween). .
@IvorDaniel





2 wonderful poems by Jennifer Patino inspired by Plath and Sexton

“Anne, I understand”

1.

It's one of those things. We all go through them.
Our little sufferings. We all have our own
little sufferings.

How many children did you bring? Up-swing.
How was your upbringing? Womanhood
is synonymous with duty.

Oh, I absolutely      wanted you here. You complete
the room. Wear green. Blue. No black. No doom
or gloom. And where's your other better half? Your groom?


2.

They asked me these questions in a different time. They
asked me them on a different day. You changed it all for us.
You showed the suppressed female another way.

You made us see right through them. Their transparency.
You wouldn't let them hide. You ripped rubber gloves off.
Dug right in. Your voice etched onto vinyl records is now therapy.

Thank you. For the attitude. Thank you. For acknowledgment
of every shade of moon and mood. Thank you for peach lipstick,
and jealousy, and pyrotechnic poems, and accusing eyes.

3.

I imagine it was hard at the end. Harder still, in the moments
you were sure it was the end and it wasn't. You kept pounding along
on a typewriter, on a wooden door, dry skin cracking in winter, bloody knuckled.

I can imagine a smoke filled room with you. You are the smoke. You
blend into the wallpaper because our host says it's vintage. You make
jokes and I'm your ventriloquist's dummy speaking in your voice.

I have no choice. You felt that too. You over-explained yourself. The worst
and best and gross and beautiful parts of yourself. Your books line the shelf
in the hospital, where I'm surprised you're not banned. “Anne, I understand.”

Sylvia's Medicine

this medicine // laced with dreams of dying //
elderberry mash // melts quickly on a raspberry
tongue //           sylvia left a message //
she is // the entire town’s favorite reminder //
she is // often stuck in my throat when I ponder
goodness //      swallow medicine // like
pumpkin seeds // teeth breaking on the outer
shell //           sylvia says I need to get out more //
but this medicine // makes greens appear blue //
turns them electric // makes red appear where none
should be //       “sylvia’s bleeding”   // she doesn’t notice
the jagged shell // embedded // in her pomegranate foot
this medicine // wakes me up fifteen minutes before //
the alarm clock curses // makes the sun catcher prisms
dancing on the creamed walls look magnified // magnificent
sylvia never cries // she let me // put this medicine //
on all her beach wounds //        I’m different //
I cry as she hands me // this bag // of this medicine //
she’s different            //         she lets me 

Poetry: This Place is a Sorry Excuse For a Hell by Jennifer Patino 

Poetry: Angel Light by Jennifer Patino 

Poetry: It Starts by Jennifer Patino 

New Poem “Gutter Girls” by Jennifer Patino 

Audrey Hepburn Challenge: Some Things A Lady Just Wears Well by Jennifer Patino 

 Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jennifer Patino 

 



Poetry Showcase Inspired by Sylvia Plath from Emma Lee

art by Katy Horan (c) https://www.literaryladiesguide.com/literary-musings/artists-portraits-of-sylvia-plath/

"Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted"  
(quote used on Sylvia Plath's headstone)

Not the pink of a woollen wedding dress,
the azaleas on a cemetery path,
a bandage bloodied by a cut thumb,

nor the hearse-like English cars,
the men in crow-shaded suits
the shadow of Devonshire slate roofs.

Not the blues of the English Channel,
the Atlantic Ocean that tempted
drowning-dreams in her first decade.

Not Spanish terracotta or Devon earth.
Her red was the poppies’ papery skirts,
the lust for poetry in her blood.

Not quite the yellow of her bikini
during that platinum summer
of beaches and babysitting.

Almost the yellow of daffodils,
her first hive of bees (her father
had written Bumblebees and their Ways).

Her yellow was that of the rose –
Victorian symbol of jealousy,
rages that could tip her into self-loathing.

The yellow of a single rose bud
at the point of becoming a full bloom.

Like a child forming itself finger by finger in the dark

My father told me I was love.
My mother said an accident,
grew like a bulb in her cold womb.
The grass would unload its dew on my feet
as I traced the flowers the frost made
and drew a star for my dead father.
Pinched red mouthfuls of berries
knowing sunset would bring punishment
after which I’d look to the black sky,
search for my father’s star.

I envied the magnolia,
drinking its own scent.
Eternity stretched like boredom.
I counted the pills, but not enough
to kill this thinness, light as paper.

And I became a bride. You were real,
handsomely featureless, 
would waste afternoons starting at the sky.
I gave you children. Then
I drew pity from the others on the ward.
I took my ring off. It caught the sun.
I put it back on. This is my finger
touching the photo. These are my babies.
The clouds white as a wedding dress.

I stayed. You’d borrowed the light.
I wanted it back. I wore black.
You’d buy roses, still called it love
as I hid a bruise, another fracture.
The children cried and I
was too small to comfort their hurts.
The pain they wake to is not theirs.

I crushed pills, added water,
watched it turn colourless, tried to drink.
In the ambulance, my heart still beat
so healthily it almost bloomed.
This living doll was mended again
for the gift of my babies’ small breaths,
the smell of their sleeps.

Reading Her Letters

Reading Sylvia Plath's letters gave me a jolt of recognition:
the strained cheerfulness, framing negatives as positives
and accounts for every penny with approval-seeking justification
to a mother who burdened a child with financial difficulties,
who made it clear how difficult it was to be a mother,
the burdens, unasked for self-sacrifice, always the martyr.
She lived vicariously, demanded success to take credit for
- my daughter gets her brains, work ethic from me, she'll go far.

And the subtext: it justifies the pressure I put her under
because I need her to achieve for me be the success I wanted 
for myself, what's hers is mine. Two lives entwined
no boundary allowed between mother and daughter.

The letters showed a way of managing contact, a boundary
of grey rock, reinforced by polite words on pretty stationery.

Crackle and Drag
(i.m. Sylvia Plath 1932-1963)

She did what she set out to do:
secured Yeats' former flat 
with a year's rent in advance,
turned summer in New York
into an intense, glowing novel,
flayed herself into a brilliant poet.

Poetry not written by a dead, white male
that school thought suitable for study.
A rejection was an invitation 
to try again, repurpose her work,
try out a short story, a novel,
create a moment's monument

that lives beyond a punchline, rewards
re-reading, outlives the life.
When some readers insist on dragging
her work with the foreboding of death,
they miss the crackle of static, the spark
that fired her work ethic, that inspired.

A Contemporary Visit to 3 Chalcot Square
(home of Sylvia Plath from 1960-1961)

You’d approve of the red curtains,
but not the lampshade: you weren’t chintzy.
In the window boxes, instead of flowers,
you’d have had fresh herbs for cooking
while Ted was in meetings at the BBC.
You’ve have cut a rose for your dinner table
from the untamed bush you ducked under,
hurrying back from walks 
along Primrose Hill with Frieda.
Whites and yellows would have brightened
your flat, chock-a-block with books
and baby paraphernalia, barely 
room for your writing desk, piled 
with your journal and dictionaries,
plans for book launches, another baby
and a scintillating literary salon that 
somehow got crammed into this, 
with just enough space to paint the sill white
and stencil hearts in a burning red.


Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and "Ghosts in the Desert" (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, 2015), was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs at https://emmalee1.wordpress.com. 

Poems Inspired by Prince “A Purple Showcase”  from Emma Lee 

3 poems from Emma Lee 

Poem: Tracing a Love Song by Emma Lee








A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Gail Crowther (Author of Three Martini Afternoons at the Ritz)

with Dr. Gail Crowther : Author of Three Martini Afternoons at the Ritz The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Gail: I first started writing when I was probably about 6 or 7, mainly poems to various family members and making little books of poems. At that age I read vocariously and loved poetry anthologies with a mix of all sorts of poets and poems. Then this progressed to extremely serious teenage poetry and short stories that were all about death, dying, and how world-weary I was aged 15. My main influences at this time were Plath, the Brontës, and anything with a whiff of gothic. By the time I got to university, I realised I was more comfortable writing non-fiction and became interested in writing about people, places, and objects. But I was fascinated by academics who were somehow able to keep the creative in their writing, people like Annette Kuhn, Caroline Steadman, and Alison Light.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Gail: I have such a wide range of influences and I read across so many genres because I do believe strongly that writers should do this. Somehow immersing yourself as a reader does feed into your writing as you tend to synthesise everything you expose yourself to. So, I read academic texts, lots of poetry, lots of contemporary fiction in many genres such as classics, crime, thrillers, or what is often called ‘chick-lit’. I also recently started reading more YA fiction, as well as biographies, books about art, and photography. All of these things influence me. Even writers I don’t particularly enjoy influence me because I can think about ways in which I don’t want to write, or messages I don’t want to give out. The most recent set of books I read which blew me away were Ali Smith’s quartet Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer. To be able to write like that would be a dream and to make politics so beautiful, and not preachy, well, I was completely in awe.

Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Gail: Not really, no. It just always seemed to be lurking there, unquestioned. I still have a Student of the Week poster from when I was aged 8 and one of the questions on there was “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and my answer was “A writer.”

Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?

Gail: This is a big question! There are so many people who have helped in so many different ways. I’m sure other writers will agree that sometimes emotional support is just as important as professional support and I have been lucky to get both. Whether that’s good friends, or my parent delivering meals for me when I’ve been deep in a chapter and not wanting to stop and cook, through to my agent Carrie and editor Alison who always, always treat me kindly and with so much support that I completely trust them to not only be great judges of my work, but to do it in such a way that it feels a really positive collaboration. I have learned so much from them about how a book works, how a narrative works, and now when I write I have their voices in my head and given what a lonely profession it can be, that feels very comforting somehow. There is also George, my dog, who has been with me for every word I have written since 2012, and I couldn’t ask for a better side-kick (though some days his snoring is a bit off-putting).   

Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?

Gail: I grew up by the sea in the north of England, and like Plath, always feel that the sea is a part of my consciousness in some way. I’ve lived in many other cities, and in other countries too, but I am happiest when I am by the sea which somehow feeds into my work, but I honestly couldn’t say how. Perhaps mostly in a practical way. I start every day with a walk on the beach and George has a swim and I mentally plan the day ahead. Or if I get stuck with work I go to the beach, and this usually sorts things out. There’s something about the sea that relaxes the mind. Or opens it up.

Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

Gail:  I think there are two pieces of work – my first solo book The Haunted Reader and Sylvia Plath was my attempt to bring the creative into an academic piece of work. I was utterly absorbed in this for a good four years of my life as it began as my PhD thesis and was then adapted into a book. I loved every minute. It was when I first encountered the notion of sociological hauntings and ghostly elements of social life which formed a framework for so much of my subsequent work after that. I just wanted to explore what it is about Plath that captures so many people. Using Jacqueline Rose’s idea that Plath is a ghost that haunts our culture, I wanted to carry on that story to find out what happens to that ghostly figure when it is let loose in our culture? What do readers do with such a ghost? But my latest book Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton is also especially meaningful to me as I used a very different writing style and I had a lot of fun creating a thematic dual biography by merging two stories to show certain similarities and differences between the two poets.

Q7: Favorite activities to relax?

Gail: Reading just about anything. Watching films and (mostly American) TV, hanging around on the beach, eating crisps, watching massively dramatic operas, travelling to new places, playing games with George, buying shoes.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?

Gail: “I simply cannot see where there is to get to” from “The Moon and the Yew Tree” by Plath. On the surface it seems quite desolate, but actually it kind of depends on mood. If I’m melancholic, I appreciate the slight despondency of it. But if I’m looking for a way ahead, I like the quest aspect – where exactly is there to get to? Who knows…

Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Gail: I’ve started work on a new book which I hope will be announced very soon and is due to be published in 2023 by Gallery Books ׀ Simon & Schuster, New York. Writing and researching during a pandemic is rather unique and somewhat challenging, but I am so happy and privileged to be working on this project. If anyone would like to follow my updates, or just chat about writing, I’m on Twitter – @gail_crowther and on Instagram – crowther_gail (though you’ll have to put up with lots of pictures of George and my new shoes as well as writing updates.)

https://amzn.to/2TKLPF6 link to Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz on U.S. Amazon