Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Not Having Seen You For So Long

I had become happy for you:
seeing you starting again in her country
(warmer as it is than here).

I imagined the vineyard you would buy,
the beauty of your future children,
your journey to a shared contentment.

Not this, please, her dark sad eyes,
your longing for me electrifying the air
always to remain unspoken.

previously published in Envoi magazine.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


She comes home, takes off her sober
suit and blouse, undoes her plait so her
auburn hair falls down her back.

She makes a cup of tea and looks
through the clothes in her wardrobe
ignoring the business like outfits

Black velvet and lace, satin and frills
floor sweeping skirts and flowing sleeves
embroidered Chinese cheongsams

She drinks her tea and chooses a dress
puts on stockings and make up
glitter and perfume, a flower in her hair

Off with her partner to go out clubbing
all her old colleagues would say
how she's changed.

Change for Sunday Scribblings

Saturday, December 23, 2006

L'Erotique - a collection of French erotic haiku

This collection gathers together haiku in French and offers haiku moments from the whole range of erotic experience, from first attraction to breaking up. All translations here are mine and attempt to stay true to the original whilst also attempting to become successful haiku in English.

There are a number of haiku about seemingly unacknowledged attraction, my favourite of these being the following by Olivier Walter:

nuit de juillet
elle pèle un pêche
coleur de sa peau.

July night -
she peels a peach
the colour of her skin.

There are also haiku about the first stages in the relationship, including this observation of an explosive first kiss (Angela Leuck):

dans son labo
â côté du réacteur haute pression
premier baiser.

in his lab
next to the high pressure reactor -
first kiss

Some of the haiku present everyday sensual experiences, in such a way to magnify their significance (Anne Marie Labelle):

voile brumeaux
de la douche
nos corps confondus

the misty
shower curtain -
our confused bodies.

Several of the haiku offer pictures of human sexual relationships set in the context of the natural world, with sometimes humourous effect (Jessica Tremblay):

dans la forêt
un bruyant orgasme
chevreuil effrayé

in the forest
a noisy orgasm -
frightened stag

and sometimes painting a picture of sex as abstract art (Gilles Ruel):

sur le mur
mon pènis géant
pleine lune

on the wall
my giant penis -
full moon.

For me, the haiku that most truly live up to the title of Erotic are those that really capture the sensuality of the sexual experience (Louise Vachon):

nos essences mêlée
un goût de fruit

Kama Sutra
our essences blend -
taste of fruit

There is a certain admirable honesty about this collection of erotic haiku in its inclusion of haiku about breaking up (Angela Leuck)

tu en as trouvé un autre
les fleurs de l'arbre
tombent si vite.

you have found another -
the flowers of the tree
fall so quickly.

This is a refreshingly varied collection of haiku about sex and sensuality, covering a broad range of human experience in this area. Just as with relationships themselves, there are some haiku that won't work for some readers, and some I suspect don't translate well. So pick and choose the ones that appeal the most and read them - alone or with your lover.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Haiku - containers

a black and gold box
lined with dark plush velvet –
a silver necklace

black velvet purse
on a string round my neck –
cash safe when dancing.

More haiku on containers on Crafty Green Poet.

containers for One Deep Breath.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Krisana - Fallen

This is a wonderfully melancholy, atmospheric film by the maverick German director Fred Kelemen. Set in Riga, it follows the events in the life of Matiss, after he has witnessed a woman apparently throw herself to her death from a bridge. Events unfold slowly without ever dragging, you can feel the characters thoughts in the silent moments and as a result ponder all sorts of questions around responsibility and isolation.
It's unlikely that Riga Tourist Board would pick this film for publicity purposes. For a city lauded as one of the new top destinations in eastern Europe, it looks pretty grim in this film.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Arch Nemesis

Hatred in her gypsy dark eyes,
she curses me
when she passes
in a language she doesn't know
I understand.

She lies about me
to everyone in town,
graffitti's the bridge
with hatred of me.

sticks pins in a voodoo doll
with my name on it,
brews evil potions for me.

She hates me so much
but can't remember why.

Arch Nemesis for Sunday Scribblings

Monday, November 20, 2006

Haiku - senses

brush fingers against
the dark nap of velvet –
black cat on my knee.

silver bracelet
glints in the candlelight –
one red rose.

red wine
warm in the mouth –
sweet conversation.

sensual scents -
patchouli oil and jasmine

hang in the air.

blends with the music –
dancing feet.

Senses for One Deep Breath

Monday, November 13, 2006


One Deep Breath this week challenges us to write a renga, a collaborative poem from the Japanese tradition. Alter Ego has been very adventurous and has collaborated with her old friend Crafty Green Poet to give us:

starry sky and moon
above the sleeping city –
frost sparkles on paths.

inside we dance until dawn
all dressed in glamorous clothes.

Renga, including very long ones, are very popular with some poets in Scotland. There an interesting article at:

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ingeborg Bachmann

I've just finished reading 'Die Gestundete Zeit' a collection of poetry from the Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann (1926 - 1973). Her poetry is beautifully written, dark and melancholy and a little too difficult for me always to fully appreciate it in the original German. I'm glad to see that there are at least two volumes available in English:
Darkness Spoken: Collected Poems of Ingeborg Bachmann, 2005 (trans. by Peter Filkins)
Last Living Words: The Ingeborg Bachmann Reader, 2006 (trans. by Lilian Friedberg)
though some of her work strikes me as untranslateable. Certainly when I attempted to translate her poem Autumn Manoeuvers I was not at all happy with the result. I am always reluctant to create a 'new poem' when translating and yet I couldn't produce anything that sounded good in English while remaining faithful to Bachmann's original.
I would definitely recommend looking out for her work - in the German original if possible or in translation.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Poet of the Week

I am totally delighted to be one of the two Poets of the Week on the Poetry Superhighway! I am sharing the honour with Christine Bruness, who co-incidentally has featured on my Poetry blog magazine Bolts of Silk.

Snow - Orhan Pamuk

Well, soon after putting down Kafka's The Castle, I picked up Snow by Orhan Pamuk. The first thing that struck me was that there are a lot of similarities between the two books. In each of them it is snowing constantly, the main character (K. in The Castle, Ka in Snow) is more or less new in town and the focus of both novels is political. Snow is an interesting book, a political novel looking at the tensions between secularists and fundamentalist Islamic groups in Turkey. It also considers women's rights, the relationship between poetry and politics and is a love story too. It is a little dense in parts and the plot is often convoluted but it is an important book to read for its insights into important issues. There is some humour too, I particularly like the fact that the main character, Ka, a poet, has to keep rushing into tea shops whenever he feels a poem coming on to write them before they disappear.
Orhan Pamuk has written several other novels, including one of my favourite ever novels My Name is Red.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Personal History through Dance

Were my parents trying to
keep up with the Joneses
Or did I really want to be a ballerina?
There I was, primary school age
In miniature tutu
Contorting myself into impossible poses

Secondary school brought some sense
Saw me tear off the tutu
And don a leotard for tap
A dance not needing quite so much grace
But still my feet could never
Keep up with the lightening fast beats.

Studying in Scotland I discovered ceilidhs -
Wearing jeans and a jumper is just fine
- elegance matters less than enthusiasm
But too much of the latter
Leads sometimes to bruising
And a body the worse for wear

A couple of years in Malawi
Wrapping round my hips a chitenje
That always fell down
When I tried to keep up
With the traditional dancing
That my body is just not built for!

Now you'll find me on Saturdays
Down in the darkness of goth club
Dressed in glamorous black
My body lost in the music -
Finally I know how to dance!

Poetry Thursday theme - The Body
National Poetry Day theme - Identity

Sunday, October 01, 2006


They only touched once, skin on skin, brushing past each other on the dancefloor, dancing too close in the press of the crowd. Being that close they didn't dare look at each other, they were already under each other's skin and in each other's dreams. But now there's a heat in that piece of skin on her hand that touched the skin of his hand. A heat and a constant memory of all the times they never were together. The poetic necessity of him and that touch of skin on skin.

Then she found herself in his country, drowned in the sound of his beautiful language. But if they were never to be together, wasn't this the wrong way, wasn't she supposed to hate the place, her skin crawling at the sound of a harsh discordant language?

Passing in the street, back home, pretending not even to see one another. Her skin calling out for his touch......

Sunday Scribblings, This weeks prompt: Skin.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Once, you heard space as soundscape,
tasted the difference between red and green
smelt the changing of the leaves,
touched to interpret shape.

And now the newly seen is mystery
a confusion of beauty
too much miracle.

You close your eyes, read the Braille
of your lover’s face,
feel her breath on your skin.

Her heartbeat in the dark.

Poetry Thursday prompt: synaesthesia.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Haiku - windows and doorways

On One Deep Breath this week we are asked to write haiku about windows or doorways:

your blue eyes
full of gentleness and love -
windows on your soul.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Das Schloß - Franz Kafka

Ich lese jetzt Das Schloß auf Deutsch!! Einige Deutsche haben mir gesagt Kafka wäre zu schwerig für mich auf Deutsch zu verstehen. Find ich aber, daß Kafka nicht ganz kompliziert beschrieben hat. Mit Kafka, sind es immer die Ideen die kompliziert sind. Egal in Deutsch oder English. So die Wörter sind nicht das Problem. Das Problem ist was hinter die Wörter liegt. Und das ist manchmal fremd und kompliziert..... Glückerlicherweise sind es viele websites über Kafka:


I'm reading Kafka's The Castle at the minute - in German! Some native German speakers had said to me that Kafka would be too difficult for me to read in German. However, Kafka didn't use particularly complicated language, rather it's the ideas that are complicated - in German or English! So the words aren't the problem. The problem is what lies behind the words, and that is sometimes strange and complicated. Luckily there are some helpful websites to help the reader understand Kafka:


Monday, September 11, 2006


On One Deep Breath this week we are asked to write a tanka. A tanka is a Japanese poetic form often written in the form of five lines with syllable counts of though as with haiku the syllable count doesn't need to be strictly followed, though short, long, short, long long is to be preferred. Tanka often link the natural world with personal emotional reflections. This is only the second ever tanka I've written:
the shortening days
and long gloomy autumn nights
I snuggle under blankets
to write poetry all day.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Haiku - solitude

This week's prompt on One Deep Breath is Solitude. This is my haiku:

snow in the churchyard
behind a wrought iron gate –
woman in black.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2

The Film Festival ends tomorrow, but I saw my last film there today. It was How Is Your Fish Today? a Chinese documentary film about a screenwriter, intertwined with a film that he is trying ti write. It offers interesting insights into China and into the writing process, particularly the prose writers relationship with their characters.

Other films I've seen since my last post on the Film Festival include:

Sieben Himmel - a bizarre German film about the unlikely relationship between a young goth and a nightwatchman who seem to be stuck in a time loop (though the siginificance of this is never explored). I enjoyed the film but the experimental camera work was too much for me.

Interkosmos is another German film, this time a mockumentary about the fictional East German plans to colonise the moons of Jupiter and to set up a permanent space library of communist literature. Excellent film, truly bizarre with a wonderful cameo appearance from the Space Guinea Pig animation.

Skin is a Portuguese film that had great potential in terms of exploring issues around race and gender in a post colonial society, but the wonderful art direction and attractive cast were let down by the clumsy dialogue and the clunky character development.

So which of the films that I saw will come back to UK cinemas? I would guess Skin will come back and I would be surprised if Wristcutters doesn't. The others however probably won't. Which is a shame in a lot of ways, but personally I always consider my money to be best spent in the Film Festival if the films don't come back - ie I use it as a way to see rare films.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Edinburgh International Film Festival

It's that time of the year again and so far I've only seen excellent films! First i saw a series of short films from across Europe, all of which were worth watching and most of which had something to say and stimulated a lot of thought. For sheer entertainment value, I'd have to pick out the 5 minute Irish film 'The Boy Who Was Dubbed' which featured a boy who suffered from being dubbed in real life.....

Then I watched 'Black Brush' a Hungarian film about a group of work shy chimney sweeps, who seemed to spend most of their time smoking spliffs on the rooftops of Budapest, when they weren't chasing goats or losing money on cock-fights. A lovely low key film with lots of humour.

Yesterday was 'Wristcutters - A Love Story' a road movie set in a limbo world of faded colours inhabited by suicides. A world just like here, but everything is worse. Beautiful, funny and moving. If you're anything like me, you'll need a couple of boxes of tissues for this one.

More to follow!

Monday, August 21, 2006

haiku - music

One Deep Breath this week is asking for haiku about music, so here are two:

Protest songs -
if the tune is good
I'll listen.

and my partner can vouch for the truth of this next one:

Saturday night -
who cares what the music is
I just want to dance!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Haiku - coffee

The prompt at One Deep Breath this week is to write haiku about tea and coffee. Crafty Green Poet is a tea drinker but my Alter Ego sometimes likes a coffee and this haiku explains both why I like to, and why I don't very often:

mug of hot coffee
brings poetic inspiration
keeps me up all night.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Haiku - the Scenic Route

This week's prompt on One Deep Breath was to write a haiku about the scenic route. My alter ego took a different view of this and applied it to clothes:

A wardrobe of grey?
Dress extravagantly
Defy convention.

If it works out there may be a photo to go with this, so please feel free to visit back!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Understanding Picasso

Eyes unfocussed after love,
I gaze at your face next to mine.
Your features distorted by closeness,

Falling asleep I dream of Picassos.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Urban haiku

Over on One Deep Breath, this weeks prompt is to write an urban haiku. This one has been writing itself all day:

dancing at goth club
make up and glamorous clothes
somewhere to belong

Sunday, July 16, 2006


You’re overdressed for recycling
in your long flowing skirt and stilettos,
smashing bottles from last night’s wild party

while in my sensible shoes I feed the paper bank
with ripped up shreds of poems
that could be about you

but thankfully aren’t.

previously published in Poetry Scotland.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Haiku - Journeys

The challenge on One Deep Breath this week is to write a haiku on Journeys. This is mine:

mist shrouded pathway
no signposts, no landmarks
- into the unknown

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Changing Identity

I had created this blog as my Found Art blog (see links to right) but then i thought I really wasn't going to take part in found art. Once I've put all that effort into making a collage, I don't want to leave it in the street for someone to throw it in the bin. It's bad enough with leaving books in public places with Bookcrossing!

I tried to delete this blog, but it came back to haunt me. I thought of keeping it just dormant but then I had the idea of making it my alter ego blog. You see, I'm not just a vegetarian pacifist, who sits around writing nice environmental poems and crafting collages out of Italian magazines, whilst feeding dandelions to my rabbit.

So this blog is for poems and other things that wouldn't fit in Crafty Green Poet, for what will probably be obvious reasons.

And for anyone who was at the International Playbus Congress in Turin, who found any of my Found Art collages, you can still log in here and let me know if you found anything. Please! Per favore! Bitte!