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New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

6 Poems by Vivien Jones

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Vivien Jones’  first poetry collection was – About Time,Too – Indigo Dreams Publishing: 2010. In that year she also won the Poetry London Prize. She has completed a second short fiction collection on a theme of women amongst warriors – White Poppies (2012) – with the aid of a Creative Scotland Writer’s Bursary and has adapted two of the stories for theatre performance in 2013. Her second poetry collection is ‘Short of Breath’ November 2014 ; Cultured Llama Press. She is one of three editors of ‘Southlight’, a literary journal in south-west Scotland.

 

 

 

 

 

Love and Loss

 

It’s 64 years since I was born, but
there’s no-one with me here tonight.
My sons making money in cities,
grandchildren intent of growing,
siblings being grandparents –
any one of us might just stop living.
If it was me – my husband
would just come
looking for supper or talk,
with shavings on his clothes –
he would touch my cooling body,
want to ask me what happened,
re-calculate the rest of the day.

If it was him – some sudden stop,
fallen over his work-bench.
I’d be mad that he was late for supper,
march down there practicing rage.
Then I would rage – how could he
better demonstrate our togetherness
than by deserting it ?

Though it’s background most days,
it’s been there since the start,
the black side of love is fear of loss,
and one of you is going to get it.

 

 

He Loves Me, Really

 

This warm bath is a comfort
though it raises the bruises.
Perhaps if he has to look at them
he will feel just a little ashamed.
Then he will curl at my feet
and pour apologies like treacle.

He loves me, really.

I cannot guess which things
will upset him,dinner too cool,
shirt mis-ironed, letter unposted.
I know the tension before
the tennis back-hand,
the hardened edge of his hand,

He loves me, really.

It wasn’t always like this,
It used to be flowers, chocolates,
the ring, the wedding, the kids,
but I just wasn’t good enough,
so he gets frustrated,
understandably – it’s my fault,

He loves me, really.

He is looking at me now,
brown eyes impenetrable,
I cannot read his smile,
whether he intends a caress,
or a punch, a single word
from me will trigger his undying….

He loves me, really.

 

 

Aunt Rose

 

Not our Aunt at all,
my enquiries met with
‘Not now – go and play’

but a cloud of powder
from a golden compact,
a cloud of Lily of the Valley,

precedes her arrival,
pleated tweed skirt, silk blouse
and cardigan, in non colours.

She owns brooches with
stones like eyeballs, and pearls
in layers, a watch that glitters.

Her handbag cluttered with
airmail letters from a ‘nephew’
in New Zealand, which she reads

to us; improbable tales of success
that even my mother doubts,
but politely, as if with pity

Or was it resentment that Aunt Rose
wrote regular cheques to send
to ‘such a good boy’ so far away.

 

 

I Nearly Drownded, Daddy

 

As a child, one of three, play-swimming

in the lacy-edged, turquoise, kind Mediterranean,

staying close to Daddy’s strong arms,

 

in a moment of brash adventure, I dove

right under, eyes open in a sea of legs,

forgot to hold my breathe, and breathed.

 

Daddy hoiked me up by my swimsuit straps,

a dripping dead weight, spluttering, coughing,

he slapped my back none too softly.

 

I nearly drowned, Daddy – I wept dramatically,

he laughed, he just laughed as if it was nothing,

carried me to shore over his uncaring shoulder.

 

……………..

 

I see the childrens’ bodies, the ones who did drown,

in the cold, navy-blue, unkind Mediterreanean.

they are layered on the sea’s dark bottom,

 

still clutching likewise drowned parents,

flung over their shoulders, quietly embracing

siblings in a lacework of right-angled limbs.

 

 

 

Instead of Hope

 

So, I will never have thick glossy hair,

nor find a fine singing voice, nor

walk The Great Wall or go to America.

 

Lights at the end of my tunnels or

the last pieces of my jigsaw puzzle,

– sought for – never to be completed.

 

If I tot up what there is, it comes to a lot.

My loves, my sons, my music, my words,

which ones would I swap for that glitter?

 

Where once I wept over thin, straggly hair,

or the tuneless rasp of my singing,

Instead of hope, understanding of enough.

 

 

  

 

 After the Funeral

(Frances, my sister – 1945 – 2016)

 

At last we are in the bar,somewhere familiar,

we pour into the space, those who belong,

like dancers who know their starting spot.

 

We, the seldom-seen relatives, welcomed

with a drink of something strong and sweet,

we stand together talking only to each other.

 

The men have loosened their ties, dumped jackets,

the women pile pale blossoming hats on a chair,

the children have started to race and shout.

 

We were more at home in the crematorium,

its taming quiet more comfortable for strangers,

keeping the lid on volume, on unfit laughter.

 

But the girl she was, the girl only I remember –

she would have laughed out loud, shared the joke,

told them to turn the bloody music down, seen

 

our discomfort and pulled us into the crowd,

pressed us with tiny sandwiches and cheese straws,

been the perfect hostess, had she been there.

 

 

 

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