2020 Week Six Poetry: Defend

Stream of consciousness poetry is very useful, but can ultimately become frustrating if you charge off down a dead end with no idea how to get back to where you began. There’s a bit of that in this, it must be said, but a lot more of the hangover from going full-on physically last month. None of the poetry I’ve written in this style thus far is wasted, when all is said and done, but this is not a particularly stand-out piece.

However, I can see a time when I might come and steal some of the moments from this and repurpose them for other ends. In that regard, playing word association football with a subject matter has definite mileage as means for kick-starting my brain.

Might do some love poetry next week, as I’m off FOR AN ACTUAL POETRY WORKSHOP on Wednesday: more on that tomorrow…


Defend

Strike forward, neophyte, heed drum’s hypnotic heart refrain: before us enemy entrenched, resistance obvious, sustained.

Clarion call, weaponised obstruction dismantled, opposition routed, positions reversed; push headlong, together stronger.

War room’s fighting, dominance descending, shove armies where sons line breaks, overrun; full retreat summarily complete.

Tide turning, Testudo formation; defend attacked, have their shield, battle’s two-step reinforcing conditions, ultimate confrontation.

Our metaphors, constant engagement; kinship beyond borders, only existence worth enmity’s peace, little death exhaled, repeats.


EX/WHI :: Part 23

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Arrival Plus One

The night before they won, she realised that nothing would ever be the same again.

Lying awake, Ami watches the man sleeping next to her on his own camp-bed with a mixture of disbelief and reassurance. He’s just as scared as I am, when all is said and done. At least now there’s no embarrassment or worry admitting that in public. Chris and her had talked for several hours after dinner was done, until their plates and uneaten food had vanished from in front of them. It had been taken as a prompt that their ‘captors’ wanted them in beds, a second one having been provided next to that which they’d both slept in previously.

She’d woken as was nearly always the case when her internal body clock hit 7am, to find that their world had been significantly reduced in size and depth: their note-taking space remained but new dividers had appeared: a single sofa and table, plus chairs were shifted against one wall, with what were clearly washing cubicles added opposite. It should worry her that nothing was constant any more but instead Ami’s brain is surprisingly willing to accommodate alteration.

Today is when we are to be tested. Chris had been surprisingly frank on her return from the bathroom: they were both now comfortable with the alien presences that had manifested within them, enough joint sanctity to be confident that this experiment, in whatever form, would be no different from a planned training operation. That meant at some point they’d be provided with equipment: as the thought manifests, so do two large wooden crates at the bottom of each bed.

Now she’s up, looking through what is being provided: fresh clothing and food, no new shoes or backpacks, so they’ll be expected to reuse what was provided yesterday. Chris is stirring and she takes it as a prompt, out of bed and into one of the two cubicles where towels hang next to a shower unit that switches on the moment she’s naked. There’s no need for temperature control either, water just pleasantly hot enough as to not be scalding but damn close, and Ami smiles to herself.

My captors have thought of everything.

There’s no fear either that her partner might take a leaf out of a fictional secret agent’s play-book and come join her: he might be built like 007, but Special Agent Chambers possesses considerably more respect for her than James Bond ever did for his partners.

He’s now also awake and showering…


Previous Part :: Next Part

 

Walk Away

I finished the last portion of my formal Mental Health Champion training at the end of January, but all of that ended up being overshadowed by RED January Fundraising for Mind. At the end of the month, exhaustion was real. It’s taken a week to get everything back to something approaching normal: during that time it became apparent that this year, I wasn’t really comfortable contributing publicly to Time to Talk Day.

That came as more relief than surprise, if truth be told.

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The last couple of years this date in February has been marked by me trying to be honest about my own mental health journey. Last year however, a lot of the perceptions that personally existed around those feelings was quite significantly altered by counselling. It’s taken this long to really begin the process of unpacking all of the baggage that’s been trailing behind me, in some cases for my entire adult life.

I’d even planned to try and get out to support an actual, real-world event this week, but when it came down to the day something else came up. It too was mental health related, and I made a decision: this was the moment to do my talking elsewhere and not online. It’s a measure of how faith in my own ability has improved in the last twelve months that this was automatically the place that it made more sense to be.

It’s also cemented my desire to become a Mental Health First Aider.

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The course is not cheap and I suspect it will take me time to save, then it’s about finding the right time and location in which to take part. However, as I got so much from the MHF’s Mindfulness course when I first took it (you’ll find the details here) that it seems the logical extension from that initial process to pursue. It’s also a decent bet that my lived experience of mental health issues will become useful in training.

However, as a result of this revelation I have provided information to Mind which means that, at some point in the future, I may be called upon for interviews with the media. This might seem odd considering what has just taken place, but there is method in the madness. I am happy being interviewed, and a fair amount of front-facing public work will be taking place via the reading of poetry.

If I can read poetry to an audience, I can talk about mental health to others.

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The difference, I now realise, about contributing this year was literal exhaustion. I need to be both physically and mentally awake to do the job justice. Yet again, all of this is a bigger process, learning and expanding my remits across multiple spheres. As confidence and ability increase, so does the capacity to do good and help wherever the need arises. I like this new me, so much better than the person I was before.

There is new purpose I fully intend to learn from going forward.

2020 Week Five Poetry: Embrace the Unknown

This one’s had one word changed from online publication to archive. Just the one, otherwise I’m well pleased with the result. No over egging the pudding either, forget all those flowery epithets, they are for another’s poetry this week and absolutely not mine. Sometimes I feel like going off on an explanation safari, but this is perfect just as it is.

Occasionally, you just do good work.


Embrace the Unknown

Darkness; emotion orbits vast unmapped despair, silence empty, cold witness shares: countless satellites, recollection of rhymes past, decaying paths outlast.

Atoms attract, circling wholes unfilled, potential friction, agitating excitement; life’s spark, undefinable brilliance, light into shadow increasing potential.

Primal forces, tectonics shift multiple planes, dimensions reconstructed; terraformed canvas, nature’s palette shades new subtleties, depth opening, breadth steady.

Cellular reorganisation, division towards unity, germination wresting power: soil, sky and liquid’s constant fall; blank canvas growing green, brown to blue.

New world made, yours: myriad possibilities, virgin landscape sprawls untouched, inviting hope, embracing unknown creation; all life at last.

The Slightest Touch

How did January change your outlook on life?

Thirty-one days feels like about three months, looking back on what I achieved: nearly thirty-nine hours of exercise. Thirteen thousand calories burnt. Every day, even when I curled up in a ball and cried, there was still work done. I’ve completed the first portion of Mental health Champion training. Eight separate literary submissions. Significant developments in my personal ability to cope plus maintain momentum and progress.

All of this did not happen by magic.

Undoubtedly, progress came from adversity: my unexpected tooth extraction (which is still not 100% healed, and will be addressed next week) wasn’t where this all started. We have to go back to the ultimatum from my Doctor (or rather the head Practice Nurse) to change my diet and lifestyle. I tucked into my first pizza last night for what was probably four months plus. It was lovely, but I’m not sad to go back to training tomorrow.

You see, for a long time there was never really an acceptance of my own shortcomings in some key areas. Once that happened, and pressure was on to lose weight not for vanity or appearance but to improve my health, a lot of stuff stopped mattering. It helps that I know what’s been causing mental instability for years. It’s also useful to know how that can sometimes unexpectedly manifest. All of this is about learning.

In January, I finally learnt to accept what I really am.

Now therefore it is all about using this month as a foundation to build something fundamentally stronger and more attractive: that’s a subjective word to use in this context, but there are reasons for doing so. I know what I like, and what looks attractive to me. So, therefore, it is time to share that with a wider audience. This isn’t about me either, but things that are around me: how I see and make the world.

Other people may not agree with my ideas: this is something I’m used to. However, if true creativity is going to be released and expanded upon, that’s an obvious content of sharing work on a wider stage. It’s not about being liked, but appreciated. It’s trying to make others see the ideas I’m trying to build from using words and imagery. Honestly it doesn’t matter about anything else except that process.

This is about art created for the first time ever exactly as I see fit.

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I learnt a lot about myself this month, that’s for sure. The direction of my poetry is changing. Short stories are about to become a far bigger deal than they were, and novels need far more love than they are getting. On top of all of this, however, there’s a resilience that never existed until this moment right now, and it is time to make the most of every moment presented to me.

That’s still something that needs work on, if truth be told.

[PS: as part of this process, I’ve realised that EX/WHI will need a bit longer to get up to date than I’d originally anticipated: therefore it’ll be back next Friday then every other one going forward until I can build up some momentum with the narrative. Again, its finding time, and that is getting progressively easier.]

Airbag

Everything for next month is gonna get done quite late, far more than I’d really like. Of all the things that ought to be fixed in the business of organisation, it is this pre-planning which could really do with the most attention. However, over five weeks the entire process has improved enormously. One of the benefits of exercise every day has undoubtedly been a massive uptick in overall productivity.

That means that in February we’re gonna give Instagram another poke in terms of trying to build an audience. I have no idea whether it will work or not, but my basic understanding of hashtags should give a bit of a head start. It also helps possessing some neophyte design skills, which should stand me in good stead. I’ve already drawn a line over last month’s content… so, let’s see where it all goes.

insta_stuffs

I get the whole thing about identity and cohesion, so ‘building a brand’ should not be impossible, if there’s content. My biggest problem right now is ensuring that happens without anything else suffering as a result. That means there are now three planners up on the wall to my right: not just writing, but exercise too. There’s a blog post coming up about what I’ve learnt this month about aiming for realistic goals.

An awful lot has changed since the end of December. For the first time in many years, pretty much all of it is positive. Sure, there are still fairly substantive diversions that take place: in order to avoid finishing this blog, for instance, I’ve managed to tick off two highly important subsidiary tasks from the ‘Do When You get a Chance’ List. It’s amazing what I’ll throw in my path when it comes to avoiding the obvious.

In the end, however, far more than was previously the case, shit does now get done.

2020 Week Four Poetry: In Darkest Days

I’m quite tired. Fortunately there’s only five more days of exercise for REDJanuary to complete. Fingers crossed I will not have a repeat of the trauma relapse that happened on Thursday for a while, and tomorrow there’s a new back shave and hairdo and that is always something to look forward to. In the meantime, I have nothing to say about this poem other than it was a useful exercise in stream of consciousness writing, and that I’m likely to come back to this at some point for a rewrite.

That reminds me, I need to sort out the February headers tomorrow…


In Darkest Days

Monday’s muted hue reminds: don’t quit today, not finished here; mind left awry, piled Jenga high each countless resolution neatly filed, marked decades past.

Tuesday’s ruby heart pumps strong: another mile, muscles dictate; progress made far past
expectation, stamina evolving unpredicted revelation.

Wednesday wanes, impostor syndrome looms, all alone ‘cross sweat stained rooms; bad moments burnt, kindling bright: evening’s progress strong, consistent pace.

Thursday’s emerging, different past, everything placed: inescapable reality’s thrall deposed, unopposed ascendancy guaranteed, unstoppable forced.

Friday doesn’t mind, forgiving sins: dice thrown, snake lies slain; Eden’s burnt remains. All this will pass, promise paid, toss broken gains.

Begin again.