Encouraged

Recently published in Pan, the magazine for Newport Uni, and now I win a competition.  Which means one of my poems appears in *this* anthology

http://bookshop.mardibooks.com/shop/the-dance-is-new/

My first successes.  Can I call myself a writer now? 

I think I may just do that. 🙂

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For World Mental Health Day

Limitations (of the Medical Model)

Hormones and synapses, chemical reduction,
Swallow down backwash, bitter little pill.
Am I nothing more than simple deconstruction?
Blister packaged coshes keep the voices still.

Body and soul, I’m all in this – together,
More than just components, product of a brain,
And, whilst I applaud science and endeavour,
A seeking, slicing scalpel would look for me in vain.

Leave me rest, now. Let me find my feeling,
Do not drug me sober; don’t drown out my light,
Let me laugh and cry. Please. Let me find my healing,
Don’t tie my hands with tablets in this fight.

In synchrony of spirit, flesh and bone,
I’ll seek solutions, ones to call my own.

Reboot

As of now, the Telling Stories blog is going to be a place where I don’t try quite so hard. Instead, I hope to find some kind of unforced rhythm, and speak in a more authentic voice.

In light of this, here is something I prepared earlier. More specifically, by popular(!) request, my poem published in PAN (ooh, inadvertant alliteration).

My Welsh Roots

My name is Parry
And I lives in the Valleys
Where the houses huddle close
Clinging to the chill clay ground.
In these weather-beaten places
You will find such care-worn faces
Which belie their wry, dry humour;
Profane merging with profound.

My name is Parry
And I lives in this, my Valley
The place from where I journey
Yet which always calls me home.
I know hwyl deep in my heart
For the land that taught me hiraeth
And the soil in which I’m rooted
That has claimed me as its own.

For ‘though my name is Parry
And I loves it in my Valley,
This was not always the case
For I’m English through and through.
Yet, since Cymru bade me ‘Croeso’
I have never once looked back
It’s amazing what the love
of a good land – and man – will do.

My Story 2.0

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I plead guilty.

Guilty of the charge of ‘Trying too hard.’

A new blog is the chance to make a new start, a good impression, invite people to join me in a fresh and interesting way…and all that.

The trouble is, I am not sure my voice has been all that authentic as a result.

I will try again soon…but I won’t necessarily try harder.

Telling the Truth

Truth was, and always has been, very important to me. In fact, I find it almost impossible to lie; I don’t really understand how other people manage to do so. On the rare occasions that I am untruthful, I feel as though it is glaringly obvious to those around me that I am lying. I can however tell a form of the truth, though it is far from subtle. Let me illustrate with an example of typical morning from my teenage years.

Firstly, Mum would bring me a cup of tea and inform me that it was time to get up. She would invariably tell me not to let my tea go cold. Later, she would return to make sure I had not gone back to sleep. At times, extreme measures such as the deployment of a wet flannel or the flinging off of my duvet cover would be needed. I must have been a complete nightmare in the mornings, because even these methods would fail at times. Sometimes, however, all that was required was for Mum to shout upstairs a short while after having left the tea.

“J, are you up yet?”

Thump!

“Yes Mum.”

The thump which punctuated this exchange would be the sound of me getting out of my cabin bed. The bed was a few feet from the ground and I used to exit by means of sliding off the edge.

My Mum doubtless knew that this is what was happening; I don’t think I was under any illusion that I was fooling her. The important thing, for me at least, was that I was not lying. Many people would probably have shouted a cheery ‘yes’ under these circumstances and then quietly got out of bed. Me, I did not like the idea of telling an outright lie, hence this very particular form of truth.

Playing with the eye doctor

When I awoke from the operation for which I had entered hospital, I encountered some new challenges. I had entered with a squint and emerged with a new set of eyes. Well, one eye that was starting to co-operate with the other at least. To help my eyes play nicely together, I had to go and see Miss Field.

The ‘eye doctor’ was a slim young woman with short dark hair whose own eyes twinkled when she smiled. She seemed to smile a lot and the things we did together were fun. First, she would position me in front of a complicated piece of medical equipment and move my uppy-downy seat into place. The shiny tubes, black knobs and strange wires absolutely fascinated me. I’m sure I must have squirmed to take a better look at the buttons that Miss Field was playing with on the other side of the contraption. When she had finished her part of the game, it was time for me to start mine.

“Right, look through these eye pieces here”

Ah, yes, the binoculars which would show me the pictures hidden somewhere in the belly of the big machine. I did as I was told.

“Okay then, put the bird in the cage.”

Bird in the cage, I knew this one. The blue bird needed to be moved by turning the knob on the side of the machine until he was sitting in his big brown cage. There.

“Is it in there?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes”

“Okay. Well done.”

I would fidget contentedly, enjoying my ‘well done’, whilst Miss Field found the next pair of pictures. This could be a flower pot for a window sill or a car to be put in a garage. I think there was a cat, too, and he may also have gone on the window sill, but I may be wrong about that one. Whatever the bold colourful pictures were, this part of the visit was always fun. It did not make sense to me at the time, though, why Miss Field would take time to play games with me. She was a busy ‘eye doctor’, surely she had more important things to do.

I could understand the why she changed the patch on my ‘good eye’ which was there to make my ‘bad eye’ work harder. I could also understand her shining the bright light into each of my eyes and looking at them. I could even understand why she talked with Mum about me and asked questions. But why did she play that game? And how could she tell if I was lying about the bird being in the cage? I was telling the truth, but how did she know that?

My Earliest Memory

I don’t recall being scared, at least initially. Why would I? Mum was with me and the nice boy opposite had a toy helicopter he wanted to show me. I was a young girl with no concept of gender appropriate play; I simply thought this was a great toy. Mum sat on the small chair next to the bed and we whirled and twirled the ‘copter around. It was fun.

Then Mum had to leave. I don’t know how I felt at that point, but I do remember when the nurse came in to put us all to bed. The bars on the side of my cot felt strange because at the age of three or so, I was in an open sided bed at home. The confinement was not the not the worst of it, though, this came when she closed the blinds.

I remember this very clearly. We were in two rows of cots, lining the sides of a long room. At one end of this room, on the short wall, was a large window which shed a comforting light along the narrow space between the beds. I didn’t know where this light came from; perhaps outside lights, other rooms in the hospital or even daylight. This really did not matter to me, the important thing was that the horizontal metal blinds on the window were open and the light could enter. When a nurse approached the window and reached for the pull cord, I am sure I must have held my breath. I willed her not to close the blinds, but this wish went unheeded. They clattered shut.

There was finality to that noise and the darkness that accompanied it. It terrified me.