Author Archives: Christine Ireland

A Matter of Style, Christine Ireland

 

These poems, one light

and the others not, explore

                                                                                       different types of conformity.

 

 

Out of Style

I’ve clicked my selections on websites of fashion

but have often been tricked by the fit,

so I’m lugging a dozen garments on hangers,

their hooks biting into my flesh –

I’ve collected them all throughout my favourite store

and now I’m fitting-room bound for the test.

 

The first outfit clings to display perfectly

every roll, every blimp, every bag

from there it’s downhill: I struggle to fill the hips and the rear

while the waist just won’t meet in the middle.

 

Even the t-shirts this season are all so wide-necked

(for some reason) that my décolletage is as vast as a ship

just not what is needed to slim or to flatter

or neaten the middle aged figure.

 

I abandon the cause, head back to the shop floor

in search of shoes, way less affected by fat

but here, while there’s all sorts of shapes,

heels come only two ways: skyscraper or flat.

 

After years of the former, my back is now buggered

– so stilettos are out, as are paper thin flatties

which provide no support. And I’m left wondering

about the so-called choices we’re spoilt for,

and all the discretionary cash in my middle-aged purse,

trying so hard to get spent.

 

 

At The Gallery

Grey day

spots

start

falling to frizz my hair

then pellets are making me and my mascara run I nip

inside behind others asking for directions and all there is

is walls

tall white

over head

their bright lips are telling stories all at once

and loud and the noise grows

round and swollen

there are faces in the ochre dust

on ground that feels the evil

beating

hearts were taken from this place

‘black velvet’

daughters being led away

a man is trussed and beaten in a cell its 1962

‘and they just pissed on him’

they               just               pissed               on               him

my stomach hunches with the taste of blood and sand-grit, salt

I’m reaching for my tissues, pretend I have a cold

try to sidle slow and knowingly like arty people, not

racing through loud rooms of stories along white walls all tall

rodent scrabble-running out of here

past that name-tagged man

to exit

sunny

sky now strangely blue

 

 

Music-phrasis

The following are ‘music-phrasis’ poems, written to and inspired by two pieces of music, respectively:

 

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B major by Brahms, and

 

‘Can’t Take That Away From Me’ by George and Ira Gershwin.

 

 

Dreaming Young

You thought you’d keep my edges tucked

teach me how to move,

a lifetime’s repetition perfecting scales in g and b

now everyone again, again

and we’ll all be glad about it in the end

but none looked up to see me

stepping staircase climbing grandly sweeping up and up

and out and flying over roofs and roads and rivers

merging with the seasons suns and continents

 

can you keep up?

better cling or be thrown off

just try! you cannot meet me where I am

this skin slips free and I may march on over

you I repeat I do not care how often

I repeat I chime I sing across civilisations

I pianissimo to breeze, to delicate partnered dance

 

yes, try to keep me skipping in your palm

do not let me trickle up the keyboard

or I’ll merge with other music irascible, untamped

 

I will get to where I am, I will

greet me, pause

selectively

for birds and

yellow flowers

then subside to glide to water, rest in ripples

 

before climbing once again

moving always moving past the roadside forests’

shade then light, striped shade of dizzy light

in restless swallowing of landscapes up to skies

see, I have finally flung you over

no more tucking

nothing holds.

 

 

Can’t Take That Away

Eighty years ago

 

my mother took me to Manhattan

a sweeping suite on Central Park

white on white with floor to ceiling windows

deco plush and gleaming chrome.

On milky curves of Gershwin’s grand piano

she taught me how to tap:

 

lily-slim she shimmers

sheathed in elongated satin snow

creamy feathers bobbing in her hair

that smooth-curled cap of platinum,

her eyes of quick warm chocolate

the only colour I can see.

 

Download a pdf of A Matter of Style

Christine Ireland

I enjoyed writing poetry as a kid and in my teens, but it seemed to get shelved as I was taken over by the need to create a career and earn a livelihood. I went straight from school to an undergraduate degree then right on to postgraduate training and work as a clinical psychologist. Now, years later, the urge to write creatively is still calling me so I’m having another go. My favourite subject is people and peoples’ interactions, how they affect each other and their world at all levels of society.

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Six poems, Christine Ireland

 …The man we knew was hooded and smoothed,/walked as a panther through hospital wards,/ secret, sleek & springing off the balls of his feet./Now his eyes pace, pale-irised and clever…

This set of six poems observes various types of relationship: intimate, collegial, family, cultural, and relationship to self.

 

1. Burn Thickness

 The man we knew was hooded and smoothed,
walked as a panther through hospital wards,
secret, sleek & springing off the balls of his feet.
Now his eyes pace, pale-irised and clever
– the only part of him unburnt
in a face ever bald-surprised and marbled.
And instead of hands, blurred knobs of flesh,
pinker than my rhododendrons.
His meal arrives, a shell-fish pasta tangle
I cringe & look away – what will he do?
But he talks of vineyards vats and politicians
and we listen on as time slides loose,
the problem of the knife & fork unnoticed
as he grows jungle-lithe and olive-skinned again.

2. Farmer Wants a Wife

That shamble bear cheeky grinned
Kings schooled shearer man
of the thousand acres (more).
What a hunk, hunkered down
alone & out of town
with work as all.
Welcome to my parlour (really) my old homestead
what a party – all that landed gentry stuff
‘cept he was red eyed, drinking rum.
Farmer wants a wife!
He joked. A woman warm, with wit,
with sparkling eyes and independent means!
Three years on, my spirit cold in dying light
it’s hold your tongue you cow you’re all the same
& I’m dizzy-dulled and shackled, numb and not-me.
And now I know farmer wants a wife
breathing barely, buried in the ground in a box beneath his feet
for always.

 

3. Usual Small Things

 I had an Uncle John,
the only uncle I have known.
He was old when I was young

& I thought of him as strange
because he was so plain and mild and kind.
Invariably behind the scenes
he’d hum around the house
as he pottered determinedly,
I never knew at what really
except he’d water plants by hand;
with hose he’d stand at garden shrubs
for what seemed like an age.

He had a patience and a peace
quite alien to me.
Most nights he’d sit alone
with his transistor radio
listening to Beethoven or Brahms.

Aunty would talk and smoke and watch TV
she rarely ventured out
while Uncle John would fetch or do
what needed to be done.

Theirs seemed to be a happy home
voices never raised
it was simple and so restful
and I felt no undertows.

How I wished I could be theirs for good
not just at holidays.

Years later I was in Wales
when I learned that Uncle John had passed away.
He’d been on his daily bushland walk:
his heart had burst at the last
just doing one of his usual small things.

 

4. Crystal

I may still chip
but softly
or crack
not deeply
perhaps a surface scratch, band-aided.
I have filled.
Stabilised.
Blunted.
Gone are the days as a girl
when, with a twirl & a polished smile
I’d slice a man to the bone.
Countless shards I’ve left lodged in careless hearts
if I was pressured, poorly packed or tagged
too loosely held.
A flick-ping crystal edge
innocently open, transparently
waiting, watching for that clumsy move,
your scars mere proof
I had to self-protect.

 

5. My Cosy Sunday

 A flutter fuss, a sparrow’s cry & I look up  – page gone –
through panes of lead framed glass
a tussle in my tulip tree, now whip wet black & bare.
This September snow lets spring buds know
it’s not quite safe – but soon.
That’s when I see a sudden sun
strolling bright past my front yard
a woman, black-skinned, dressed in flames
which leap and flare with every roll
of graceful hip & long-legged glide
her queenly head dressed high, all hail,
her beauty warms our frigid town.

 

I want to tell her welcome & I’m sorry it’s so cold,
that so many here are fearful but it’s really very safe,
the only danger, strangely,
a people’s disconnect from soul.

 

6. Reflect-less

She was
clear eyed shining twenty:twenty
her own level
believed and bevelled
perfectly bedroomed.
So when exactly did she fall
from the cutting edge
fell hook line and
stupidly cut and bled.
Her view opaqued and slowed
She blurred with grey spot and blotch
belied, blank-eyed,
unseen
while evolving
some third eye
to an inner vision (another poem).
Now just for appearances she hangs
above fire between bookshelves
in 3D glass blocks angled
fly-eyed
mosaic-ed madly.

 

Download a PDF of “Six Poems”

Christine Ireland

I enjoyed writing poetry as a kid and in my teens, but it seemed to get shelved as I was taken over by the need to create a career and earn a livelihood. I went straight from school to an undergraduate degree then right on to postgraduate training and work as a clinical psychologist. Now, years later, the urge to write creatively is still calling me so I’m having another go. My favourite subject is people and peoples’ interactions, how they affect each other and their world at all levels of society.