Cum an ave a go if yer think yer ard enuff
drew to my attention to an article by Nick Laird via twitter: Genius. Wayne Burrows cocks a triumphant snook at Nick Laird’s Guardian article yesterday, breaking all his rules.
Read Nick Laird’s article here
Read Wayne Burrow’s snook here
And you can also read David Clarke’s post about it here
And so, in honour of NaPoWriMo
which I intend to make a concerted effort to keep up this year, and after the suggestion from Mr Burrows that I take up the gauntlet thrown by Nick Laird, I had to have a go.
The words one is supposed never to use in a poem according to the Laird:
Be careful with words such as
whence or din or guffaw or russet. Also, contorted or caress or ochre. Or clad or crave or pale or engorged. Or gossamer. Don’t write about things frosted with dew.
As you will see, guffaw got the better of me and I didn’t quote La Plath, but I did manage to get in a quote, and a footnote, and the all important mis-spelling…
The Constant Gardner
The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
John Gardner craved a garden.
Wanted to plant an orchard in their small back yard.
Mavis said he was stupid––it would be futile, hopeless,
the trees deformed or barren, what with the incessant
din of traffic and the brickwork clad in carbon
from the engorged arterial, the inner city grime coated
failure yet another reminder of where they’d ended up.
Plus, it was north facing––no sun till the evening
and even by mid-morning the double-glazed window
of the downstairs loo, always frosted with dew,
still hadn’t cleared.
But her view on the world had always been skewed.
He bought two for starters, mail order, bare-rooted,
special delivery from the Reader’s Digest,
an Egremont Russet and a Cox’s Orange Pippin
chosen for no other reason than a liking for their names.
Since then he’s planted four more and learned more
than he ever learned about anything before––
The Cox’s skin is russet but the Russet’s more an ochre.
Russets are named for their texture, not their colour––
skin as rough as the dry caress of a cat’s tongue
or the rub of a Gardner’s thumb.
Shakespeare calls them leathercoats in Henry IV*
but they are sweet and can always be peeled.
Egremont Russets smell of unshelled walnuts.
Cox’s Orange Pippins smell green, clean, of Spring.
They’re white fleshed, juicy and crisp. When cooked
they turn to frothy mush, but make great applesauce.
It’s important to prune before new growth appears.
Late winter/early spring is the optimum season.
All varieties of apple require cross-pollination.
A fine sable paintbrush is the best tool for collecting
pollen from anthers of one, then brushing
the gold-dust over pistil and stigma of another.
A honey bee’s gossamer wings beat between
two hundred and three hundred times a second.
More than a dozen species of bird visit an urban garden.
Half a tonne of leaf mould and good irrigation
seem to make up for a lack of sunshine.
Time pales to nothing when working outside.
The contorted face of Mavis as he serves another portion
of applesauce, crumble, fritters or tarte tatin
makes the back-breaking hours worth putting in.
A small quiet rebellion can be a good thing.
* In William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2,
Davy says to Bardolph––“there’s a dish of leathercoats for you.”