Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Archive for the tag “poem”

Tea Sonnet

Tea Sonnet

I quantify success in terms of tea:
When I can drink a cup when it is hot
From my first sip until the last I see –
You’d think this was the case more oft than not.
But sadly taking tea means taking time.
A proper cup needs three minutes to brew.
An interruption – tantamount to crime! –
When such neglect can leave a bag to stew.
The water must be boiling when it’s poured.
If cooler, tea will not be well infused.
Outwith this land this detail is ignored –
I state it now – you must not be confused!
Select your blend and put the kettle on.
I’ll do the same. I think I’ll have Ceylon.


The Hall

The Hall


A shared space where tea is made at the end of things.

Where ancient strings hang from high windows

And the blinds go up and down.

Here we come.


Sunday morning after church –
You are welcome to join us in the hall for tea or coffee:
Watery warmth in white teacups
Angled close to a fluttering spill,
While intent faces beneath thick make up
Share life and care,
Sipping together.

Children, beneath the canopy of wavering cups,
Are free in a forest of legs:
Hiding and chasing.


A passage for rites:
See the new baby come to join us.
Watch him grow.
One of us, another one of us.
Week on week,
A life in time lapse.


Ceilidhs and parties happen here –
Suddenly we are together:
Flashing past in a reel ,
Flung in a set on the floor,
Fast light feet and clumsy spinning…
Hilarity at incompetence in fun,
And the music,
And the dance.
And the sparkles swept away
As, with shoes in hand,
We tiptoe out into the darkness
Wearing someone else’s jacket.


Together we grow towards death,
Held together by sharing today.
And afterwards…
The rest of us will be here.
For tea and sandwiches
Taken together,
Soothing throats
Aching with memory.


A wide broom sweeps the floor.

Please leave the hall as you would hope to find it.

Hand on the doorhandle,

I peer into the empty space,

Where life is lived where we can see it.

A Solution #E100


Noah’s-Ark-floats-Chapelle-Sistine (Photo credit: ideacreamanuelaPps)

A Solution

And God saw that it was

Water from the deep,
Mixed with water from the sky:
It’s the destruction of Creation
With only one place left that’s dry.

Noah’s microcosm:
God spoke
A bespoke
Escape pod–
All aboard!
God shut the door.

Coated with pitch,
The boat
Floated and pitched

The only place,
A lonely place.
A black, blind, bubble of life –
All life
Looking for land.
High and bobbing
Over submerged mountains:
Stagnant planet,
Death soup.

Hope floats.

Squats, and the Dinner Ticket poem

Not so much barbaric yawping this time. The squats are a more… cloak and dagger exercise. Insidious wee blighters.

So, you sit down as if there is a chair, but there isn’t. Then you stand up again. Then you sit once again on the invisible seat. And up. And down again. Squat, squat, squat, squat.

Apart from being a handy word for use in Scrabble, the squat is also helpful for sculpting ones legs and butt. Allegedly.

Squat, squat, squat, squat.

So we did the training session focusing on squats and felt… absolutely fine.

Two days later however, I was reminded of the poem “The Lament for a Lost Dinner Ticket” by Margaret Hamilton – in particular the line “MA BUMSAIR”.  I found the poem  here:

Lament For A Lost Dinner Ticket

Margaret Hamilton)

  • See ma mammy
    See ma dinner ticket
    A pitituma
    Pokit an she pititiny
    WashnmachineSee thou burnty
    Up wherra firewiz

    Ma mammy says Am no tellnyagain
    No’y playnit
    A jist wen’y eatma
    Pokacrisps furma dinner

    The wummin sed Aver near
    Jistur heednur
    Wee wellies sticknoot

    They sed Wot heppind?
    Nme’nma belly
    Na bedna hospital
    A sed A pititnma
    Pokit an she pititny

    They sed Ees thees chaild ebslootly
    Non verbal?
    A sed MA BUMSAIR
    Nwen’y sleep

If that makes no sense to you – here’s a wee girl reciting it on YouTube (which may or may not be enlightening):

Either way, the squats had resulted in something. So much so that I was giving a healthy yelp every time I stood up or sat down for the next 48 hours. I went back and another training session cured me – which is great in one respect – but it has the either upside or downside (I can’t decide) of inducing THE FEAR of missing a session.

Apart from the “MA BUMSAIR” quote, the other quote that is springing to mind is:

1 Timothy 4:8

New International Version (NIV)

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Interesting parallel, which I may revisit in due course.

Dentist Test

(I am going to the dentist tomorrow. Hence the poem. Don’t bother looking for the profundity in the root canal of this ditty. It’s just a veneer. A great many teeth related puns are nibbling away at me. I am restraining myself.)

Dentist Test

If an animal was an enamel animal…
Say, an enamel llama or an enamel camel;
Would an enamel animal
Be a mammal?
I’ve a qualm. I’ll
Be denting my dentin
Chewing this one over.

Scunnered O Jaguars?

After all my panda nonsense last night, I turn my attention to “The Jaguar” by Ted Hughes. This is a poem about a zoo also, so I seem to be on a zoo theme. Not that I’ve been to a zoo for a couple of years. I don’t think Ted Hughes would particularly approve, come to think of it…

I plan to do a line-by-liner on this. Here goes:

The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun.

The opening image is sunny and relaxed. The apes are sitting about scratching – all they are focused on is their fleas – there is nothing else to do.

The parrots shriek as if they were on fire,or strut
Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the nut.

Here we have a pair of similes. The calm of the first line is disrupted by the parrots shrieking, as parrots do – but we are unsettled by the image “as if they are on fire” – just like Katniss or something… – it is as if they are in distress or in danger of being consumed. Their other behaviour is to “strut like cheap tarts” – again they are described as being vulnerable, undervalued – they are cheapening themselves to beckon the members of the public who have come to the zoo to see them. Parrots do strut – but again, it is the poet’s image that it disturbing. He sees the parrots as perhaps prostituting themselves.

Fatigued with indolence, tiger and lion

To be “fatigued with indolence” is paradoxical – the big cats are tired out from too much laziness – they are fed up. This is not a healthy place to be, or a natural state for these powerful animals. The stanza break at this point emphasises the next word: “lie” – as if there is some deception beneath it all:

Lie still as the sun. The boa-constrictor’s coil
Is a fossil.

Here we have another pair of similes – the tiger and the lion are supposedly lying as still as the sun. Perhaps this is supposed to convey a steady oppressive heat that is draining the animals of their energy. Perhaps it is a lie – and this lack of activity is a front (did you see that news story today about the cheetah in South Africa? Maybe it was lying”). Anyway – to what extent is the sun “still”? I am no physicist. Sorry. But from our perspective it appears to move, even although it is really us. Do other things orbit the lion and the tiger? I suppose they do. They lie still and the world rushes by… The next image is also a simile. (Is it also synecdoche?) The snake is being compared to an animal that is extinct. The poet goes beyond the peril of being on fire, or the vulnerability of strutting… it is as if this animal has been dead for countless millennia.

Cage after cage seems empty, or
Stinks of sleepers from the breathing straw.

The pattern established so far is taken on by the poet’s use of repetition here “cage after cage” – with apparent emptiness – where it is uncertain whether or not there is life. Then we have only a bad smell of animals that cannot be seen. It is the straw that has been personified here. The straw is breathing – by (tenuous) implication – the animals are not.

It might be painted on a nursery wall.

We have the idea from this image that the zoo scene is like a picture in a nursery – safe, static, animals. The kind of poster a child would like to point at and identify animals by name – rather than the immediacy and fear of seeing them in real life in the wild.

But who runs like the rest past these arrives
At a cage where the crowd stands, stares, mesmerized,
As a child at a dream,

The pace of the poem changes here with “But” – the poet is taking a different tack here. We have the alliteration of runs, rest and arrives that rolls us along to see this amazing sight. Like the crowd, the second line of this stanza also stalls with the list (alliteration of the ‘s’) “stands”, “stares”, “mesemerized” – So we have a set of three words linked by the letter s -that have a cumulative effect. First you stand, then you stare – then that stare is so engaged with what it sees that you are mesmerised. The reader at this point wants to see too – to by drawn in my the hypnotic sight that Hughes is holding back. There is another simile here – “as a child at a dream” – the safe images on the nursery wall that can be pointed at and rationalised are now in the terrifying realm of the dreamworld. The crowd are like children staring at something totally other, totally detached from their usual reality.

at a jaguar hurrying enraged

The stanza ends with the concise description of the animal – speed and fury! This animal is in stark contrast to the other animals. It is “hurrying” rather than fatigued or indolent – if you are hurring, you have a place to go, a thing to do – there is a sense of urgency and purpose about his behaviour. He is also enraged – he is emotionally engaged – he is full of his own wildness. He is naturally furious.

Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes

Here we have the powerful word “prison” – which you could argue was a metaphor – or you could argue is literal. It is interesting that the jaguar is going through darkness when it is clearly a very hot and sunny day. Is he coming out of his sleeping quarters? Or is it metaphorically dark for him as he cannot see where he is going?

On a short fierce fuse.

His eyes are described as drills on a short fierce fuse. Here the images are that his eyes are sharp and penetrating – and also that there is something of the imager of a bomb here – that he is furious and there may be some explosion of anger, metaphorically.

Not in boredom—
The eye satisfied to be blind in fire,
By the bang of blood in the brain deaf the ear—
He spins from the bars, but there’s no cage to him

The poet makes the point that this animal is not bored, as the others were. This animal is still wild in itself – “blind in fire” – the animal is unaware of its captivity – it cannot see that is “as if he were on fire” – in that vulnerable, unhealthy state of being held captive. Great alliterative line here as the jaguar charges into the cage side bang/blood/brain – he crashes into the cage as he is still wild – it is as if it is not real to him. (He too is in a dreamlike state of hypnosis – the reality of captivity has not yet become real for him). Again, great image – as the animal “spins” – which would have been dramatic for the onlookers – but even although the animal has crashed headlong into the cage – from the point of view of the jaguar – there is no cage – he is as wild as ever.

More than to the visionary his cell:

Here he is compared to a visionary – someone with wisdom and accurate perception (?). The jaguar is compared to someone who, although he lives in a tiny and simple cell, he understands profound truth. The jaguar -although contained – knows he is wild – and because he is convinced of that, he is, in his own mind, free:

His stride is wildernesses of freedom:
The world rolls under the long thrust of his heel.
Over the cage floor the horizons come.

I love how the world rolls under him – just as I was considering whether or not the sun was still – there is the idea as to whether we walk and the earth stays still – for the jaguar, he stays still and the earth moves – as if her were balancing on a ball – which, in a way, he is. He makes the earth turn for himself – he is free. But he is not.

The reader is left with a question as to how long this profound wildness, this profound freedom will stay with the Jaguar, in the hot oppression of the zoo.

Postaday 2011: Bus Poem

With a spit and hiss
The bus comes down to my level.
Omnibus, omnivore:
All aboard!

Correct change checked.
A fist of silver swallowed
In a sudden snap.

I take my ticket,
Take my seat,
Take a load from off my feet.

Grime blurs
Stops with starts.
Off often,
Or on.

As the crow flies,
I’d be there already.
The bus criss-crosses
Willy-nilly, willy-nilly.

Foraging through villages,
Snacking in the suburbs
Urging the urbanites aboard-

Today’s Jonahs,
In the belly of the bus.

Fare’s fair
we’re there.
In another place.

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