Back to Basics – dVerse Form for All

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Rabbie Burns fell upon his sword they say

But I knew he was pitchforking hay

Literally, I took their words

Because he had only wanted herbs.

 

Herbs to make his food more savoury

For he was sick of bread and gravy

But bread it is the staff of life

Saving the stomach from hungry strife

 

He had eschewed his wife’s basic meal

Then worked on the farm, his void purse to heal

He dropped down dead, empty and vague

All for his obsession with parsley and sage.


 

Oh, Form for All, how I enjoy you! Here’s my thought process.

“Dammit, it’s 8pm (here in the UK), I’ve not long got home from work, I’m tired, I just want to put my feet up… Noo! dVerse! Why do I have to work out how t write a new poetry form? Why isn’t it Open Link Night?… Hmm, I could have some fun with this… Oh! I have an idea…!”

Tonight over on dVerse, Gayle has invited us to write a Clerihew. As Gayle explains ‘A Clerihew is a comic verse on biographical topics consisting of two couplets and a specific rhyming scheme of aabb that was invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) at the age of 16.’

I hope you enjoy my attempt – I have no idea where the story came from (not unusual, to be honest)!

Why not have a go yourself? It’s fun!

** Gayle kindly pointed out I forgot to include the name of a famous person in the first line of my poem… So I have used Rabbie Burns, the Scottish poet who was the son of a farmer. Thank you, Gayle!

Sukha Aloo – dVerse Poetics

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My growing-up world is a map of aromas –

as my little snub nose lifts like a sniffer dog’s

as my beady eyes interrogate the shelves

as my chubby fingers reach out to touch –

cumin, paprika, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander garam masala…

the list is never ending and exotic to my ears

my heart explodes and my mouth waters in anticipation

at the glories that will dance on my tongue – later

the kitchen will swell with steam and spatter

the pots will bubble, burping explosions of delight into the air

meat will sizzle, onions will sweat, my skin will prickle

and later, much later, so very, very much later

chapati and naan will wipe our plates clean

raita will soothe our burning tongues

and i will save my helping of sukha aloo to the very last

because they are my favourite thing of all


 

Tonight, Grace, our lovely host over at the dVerse pub, invites us to write about scents, aromas, and evoke emotions. For me, the choice was obvious – food!

Oh what a joyous write this was for me, a real step back in time to my childhood of 1970s Birmingham! We lived not too far from a wondrous street called Ladypool Road in Sparkbrook (in the midst of the Balti Triangle), which was an absolute delight to anyone who wanted – no, needed – to buy herbs, spices and other necessary foodstuffs to create real authentic cuisine from around the world (there were and still are brilliant restaurants there too). From my memory, we went there to buy food to make curries – my step-dad would take over the kitchen and create absolutely wonderful food (I hope you can tell I loved it!).

My mum and step-dad took me to an Indian restaurant when I was little (back in the days of the flock wallpaper) – the Indian waiters were all amazed to see a little white girl eat proper curry! I felt very proud of my apparent prowess! I loved being part of the multi-cultural city where I grew up. It was a fantastic education in its own right.

Please do join in dVerse Poetics before the two week summer break – or if you’re feeling shy, at least come and enjoy the wonderful selection of poetry I know you will find there!

 

 

 

 

Tikvah

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There I was just standing there, when what I wanted to do was forbidden.

I wished I had more strength, wished I was more brave, wished I had the strength of my grandmother. Even now I could feel her downy cheek on mine as she had grasped the back of my neck with her surprisingly strong fingers, pressing her lips to my ear.

“Don’t let them break you, Esther. Do what is right.” She had kissed my forehead, the remnants of the perfume she always wore enveloping me in its warm familiarity.

They had dragged her away, a useless old woman, of no benefit, just a drain on finite resources. Dispensable.

I had hated them for that more than anything else. It burned in my chest. And yet…

I stared through the hole in the wall at the shop across the street, a street alien to me now even though it was only a moment away from where we lived. It was brightly lit, swarming with gaily dressed people like so many butterflies dancing above a wildflower meadow. The smell of freshly baked bread teased my nostrils and my stomach yawed and ached with hunger.

“If you don’t take chances,” said the man in the striped pajamas,”you might as well not be alive.”

I had seen him many times before, crouching in the gutter, holding his hand out for anything that a passer by might press into his cracked palm. I doubted he had the strength to stand. Every time we met, I tried to give him something that could be spared without Mutti noticing.

He was leaning against the wall, legs shaking with the effort. “Don’t be like me. Don’t let them break you.”

The words echoed bell-like.

“You have a child?” he asked, his voice barely a croak.

“Yes.”

He beckoned me towards him, pulling me close with surprising strength, whispering in my ear.

“Let me distract them when the gate opens. Get food for your child, for you. Survive.”

The gates were creaking open, the lorry was entering, my heart was thumping. I had to decide, had to decide now. He pushed me away, towards the gate.

“Do it!” he hissed, the potential for his last good deed setting his eyes aflame. “You have half an hour and then they will be back. Do what you must. Do what is right!.”

I remembered my grandmother, the way she lit the candles on Erev Shabbat, the flames illuminating her eyes.

I nodded and ran. I didn’t look back, not even when the bullets ricocheted off the walls, not even when jackboots rang on the cobbles, not even when I heard him scream.

He had just been standing there, and still fought back.

There was still tikvah.