My Prose Poem: In the Mall

My prose poem ‘In the Mall’ was selected as an entry in the Microflix Writers Awards and was available to be chosen by filmmakers for adaption to a short film for the 2019 Microflix Awards. The theme was ‘sound’.

Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

In the Mall‘:

In a café inside a mall in Sydney a small curly-topped girl sobbed and sobbed. She sat on her father’s lap, stabbing her finger into a slice of banana bread. Her dad soothed, whispered, coaxed. What would you like, Tara? He cut into his poached egg. Toast? he cajoled. The girl sobbed more loudly, wailing, coughing, staring out into the mall. I want my mum. She cuddled a pink soft piglet. Our eyes scanned the glass display of croissants, pies and pastries. I loved every carb that did not pass my lips. I loved the sobbing child who heard no one else in that cafe but herself, whose lungs fought hard to reach a soaring, sorrowful pitch. What have you got? an elderly woman asked her. Still crying, the child held up her toy. Her father gave up on his poached eggs and carried her out, still wailing. We went and sat at the table with the stabbed-at bread her finger had made and swept the moist crumbs into a heap.

Copyright (c) Libby Sommer 2019 

Prose Poem: The Cellist

Have a read of my prose poem, ‘The Cellist’ first published in Quadrant September 2020.

Hope you enjoy it.

The Cellist‘:

I was grudgingly ancient. Not older, wiser and ancient. But easily recognisable as ancient. Skin was the culprit – the human body’s largest organ. I had his mobile number and he had mine, the cellist from the seniors’ dating site. I examined its configuration. Was there a pattern I needed to decode? I hated initiating, but he needed reassurance. It might take him forever to ring. Composing a text, my palms sweated. My heart thumped. Was he okay with texting? I hated my impatience. I hated my unexpected fragility. I sent the text. Yesterday’s meet-up was fun. I’d like to go for a ride on your motorbike sometime, although the helmet will squash my hair.

Then I worried I’d gone too far. My legs wrapped around him on a bike? I sounded like a whore. A desperado. A woman too long without a man. His reply was immediate. Had he been holding the phone in his hand? We can start with a short ride around the block. I’ve got a large helmet. Everyone gets hat hair.

I don’t want you to go on his motorbike, my daughter warned. I’ll go for a ride on his bike, my granddaughter offered. What sort of boat’s he got? A tinnie or a sail boat? asked my grandson. I googled: ‘what to expect when riding pillion’. Hang on. Brace for braking and acceleration by holding on to the rider’s waist. Bikes must lean to corner. Relax. Tyres provide plenty of grip.

We had dinner, exchanged silly jokes, leaned towards each other, went back to my place – and had incredible sex. The sensitivity of a stringed instrumentalist was really something else. If I knew how, I would have burst into song.

Copyright 2020 Libby Sommer

My Poem ‘His Coriander’

Have a read of my poem ‘His Coriander’, first published in Quadrant magazine September 2020.

Hope you enjoy it.

His Coriander

Flourishing above the planter box, it’s ready for harvesting.

I snip the curling tendrils with their skinny stalks,

hearing the clean snap of stem from dense green foliage.

At the end of a rain-filled night, the earth smells heady.

He took his suitcase, his cello, and his sheet music.

He left the fragrant coriander seeds,

said, Tending a relationship is like keeping a plant alive.

So I’ll take this herb

inside to the kitchen and chop it.

I’ll disperse it piece by piece with my hands,

the longed-for exotic spice of citrus and curry.

I’ll be forever grateful for escape,

from my infatuation

with coriander.

Copyright © 2020 Libby Sommer

My Poem ‘Quarantine’

My poem ‘Quarantine’ was published in September 2020 Quadrant magazine.

Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

As mentioned previously, I really enjoy writing in a super-short form. I’ve been told I have the ability to distil. So … prose poems and poetry have been added to my repertoire. I’m currently working on a new collection of poetry, prose poems and flash fiction titled ‘Love & A Search for Meaning’. What do you think of this working title for a collection? Any comments much appreciated.

Quarantine:

But there still are the other things –

water’s rhythmic tumble

over rocks,

the gentle hush of wind through leaves –

we celebrate

in solitude.

Copyright © 2020 Libby Sommer

My Prose Poem ‘The Ladder and Its Dangers’

fountain pen on page of writing

Have a read of my prose poem ‘The Ladder and Its Dangers’. It was longlisted for the 2019 joanne burns Microlit Award available for inclusion in a range of multi-platform activities organised by Spineless Wonders including #storybombing NWF20, podcasts, live performance and the Microflix Awards.

Hope you enjoy it.

The Ladder and Its Dangers:  

It’s dizzying up there. You climb to the top shelves for whatever your mood requires:  on loneliness, weight reduction, a book of Basho’s Haiku and find half a dozen books you forgot you had which side tracks the initial quest, since now that you’ve located them you have to consider them. Will I ever reread this, recycle it in the street library? Of course, your reading interests are very different from the interests you had when you placed it alphabetically on the shelf.  Perhaps your interests have moved in a different direction now, maybe they’ve become more multi-cultural. Perhaps you think continuing to read Anita Brookner and her stories of loss and aloneness are not the best choice for you anymore. Your quest takes on a sedentary nature as you sit on the floor to search the lower shelves, scanning titles and author names. Possibly by now you’ve been up and down the ladder several times and been peering upwards for extended periods cutting off the blood supply to your neck. And you’ve stood up too quickly from the floor and are feeling totally off balance. Now you need to consider blood sugar levels, blood pressure, PEOPLE OVER SIXTY SHOULDN’T CLIMB LADDERS. Discombobulated for a while, you’re too preoccupied to recall what sent you up the ladder in the first place.

Copyright © 2019 Libby Sommer

My prose poem ‘Amber Puppy’

woman walking along a track beneath trees in a park

My prose poem ‘Amber Puppy’ was first published in Quadrant magazine in September 2019. Have a read. I do enjoy this short form of writing, a cross between a poem and a prose piece, although, according to Wikipedia,  prose poetry is poetry written in prose form instead of verse form, while preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery, parataxis, and emotional effects.

Have a look and tell me what you think:

Amber Puppy: 

What can an amber puppy mean in a world of Siris and driverless cars?

I was older, one of the Baby Boomers. Life was a series of warnings:  Don’t fall over rugs or loose cords, don’t overeat, don’t go to bed before nine, drink coffee after midday, watch too much Netflix. When the new puppy arrived one birthday, rich brown as a raisin, I heard it shadowing me: Don’t trip on the dog’s lead.

There was much to be anxious about. One day, walking through the park – the rain had eased, spring waterfalls spilled into the creek, soon we would cool off under the trees – I lost my grip on the lead. Into the bushes he fled, disappearing into green. Since when did parks swallow small dogs? I drove home in a frantic car. My best friend. I’d loved him and he’d loved me.

The days staggered past like drunks. I prayed silently, absorbed sunshine, climbed steps, wrote Letters to the Editor. Don’t panic, don’t shallow breathe, don’t think the worst – you could hear it all around. A reclining Buddha could show you how to deepen the breath. A bird call at first light could tell you when to get up. A storm could remember to fill the dams and the water tanks – I was meandering between the trees when I saw him scampering through the creek. Splashing around then shaking himself dry. A muddy escapee. A barking survivor.

Where had he been these three long days? I could wash him, wrap him in a towel, take him home. Unexpected good news could still happen. Dogs off-the-leash need to stay close to their mistresses. Trees shed their leaves in winter and dogs run away, but find their way back. Seventy-two hours later, what can an amber puppy tell you in a world of Botox and identity theft?

See the difference between holding on and losing your grip.

Copyright © 2019 Libby Sommer

 

 

My Poem: ‘Renewal’

photo of person walking on beach

Have a read of my poem ‘Renewal’,  first published in Quadrant magazine September 2019. It’s a very short poem, but relevant today in tough twenty-twenty. Hope you enjoy it.

 

Renewal:

 To walk

with a heavy step.

Needing nothing

a credit card can buy

but wanting to be

somewhere new.

 

Seeing the same old things

you’ve explored to death.

Imagining yourself

someplace else

breathing in

a new perspective.

 

A regenerated self

could see differently.

But what would that do to

the old self still following

in its own footsteps?

 

Copyright © 2019 Libby Sommer

My Prose Poem: ‘Taste’

woman sitting on chair while reading book

In terms of creating new material during a pandemic, poetry is where I turn for inspiration.  What about you?

According to Edward Mallinckrodt Distinguished Professor of English, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, 1976–90. Poet Laureate of the U.S., 1988–90,  Poetry is literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm.

Do you find reading and writing poetry right now is how you are able to express yourself during a troubling time?

Phyllis Klein from Women’s Therapy Services puts it this way:  “Turning to poetry, poetry gives rhythm to silence, light to darkness. In poetry we find the magic of metaphor, compactness of expression, use of the five senses, and simplicity or complexity of meaning in a few lines.”

This is my pre-pandemic poem ‘Taste‘ first published in Quadrant magazine May 2019. Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

Taste:

I rather like poems about minor calamities, bursts of tiny delights, the sun warming the tender skin of the elderly. Also, the way palm fronds conduct themselves during a southerly, dishevelled, exposing the softness of their billowing arms. Pastries in display cases do something for me too. Even cupcakes iced in gelato colours, adorned with miniature decorations … Can you see my preference for the words ‘miniature’ and ‘tiny’, an inclination towards the distilled in a world favouring often the big and the overwhelming? People with the patience to follow a complex recipe – well, that’s not me, but I like to taste what they cook.  Babies in prams kicking chubby legs make me hover – how difficult not to take a bite. If you write something about a paper straw, I will be fascinated. You could try a ladybird, a pocket-size umbrella. The generalised angst of the human condition, however, may be hard for me to get a handle on.  Watch that man with the disabled daughter moisten his finger after her cupcake is eaten and relish the last crumbs. Consider the rainbow-coloured wristband tied to a letterbox on the way to the park or the miniature plastic bucket and spade we found half-hidden on the beach at Bronte and packed with us for years on every visit to the sea.

Copyright © 2019 Libby Sommer

 

My Prose Poem: ‘Sixteen Is A Very Difficult Age, You Know’

alone animal bird clouds

So what is a prose poem? According to the Poetry Foundation, a prose poem is a prose composition that, while not broken into verse lines, demonstrates other traits such as symbols, metaphors, and other figures of speech common to poetry.

If you are able to distill meaning in a very short form, you may enjoy writing prose poetry.

Have a read of my prose poem Sixteen Is A Very Difficult Age, You Know, first published in Quadrant magazine September 2018.

Sixteen Is a Very Difficult Age, You Know

Well yes it is. This time of year isn’t easy either. It has most of us by the neck.  You don’t want to get sick at Christmas. They said he needs six weeks of intensive therapy then they’ll decide about medication. How – when everything’s closed till February? Yes, he’s up and down. Better some days, but hardly ever. They said hide all the tablets and remove the kitchen knives. I ring or text to see how he’s going. He doesn’t always pick up. Don’t refer to the incident. Wait for him to say something. Well, he doesn’t say much though he’ll let me give him a hug – sometimes. So here I am trying to gather his forgotten dreams from the air. They’re drifting just outside my reach.

Copyright © 2018 Libby Sommer

 

Poem: Bronte Beach

 

cafes, buses, palm trees, bright blue sky, cars on Bronte Road, Bronte

I like to create a strong sense of place when I write. I find it grounds my stories and poems. Pre-pandemic, Bronte Beach was one of my favourite homes-away-from-home. I used to hang out in a cafe there writing in my notebook. My poem Bronte Beach is entirely grounded in place.  It was first published in Wild anthology (Ginninderra Press,  2018). Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

 

Bronte Beach:

The surf’s been hammered by rain,

and along the pavement open-faced cafes wedge side by side:

compact, glass-fronted, in flattened

Art Deco buildings, with competing blackboard menus.

Rain drips from the edge of the canvas awning,

and a smell of fried fish in rancid oil

through the mouth of the sliding door

as an oversized bus pulls in and blocks the view.

Marooned on the swell are wet-suited board riders,

unwavering as the cliff face above the rocks that define the beach.

Beyond the rock pool the waves

remain stubbornly low spreading a shallow calm.

The rain settles, rusting roof racks in the salt air,

and those expired meters will upset the fattened

people-who-lunch in the darkening afternoon.

All day the treacherous ocean scours

the man-made sea pool, where

all-weather swimmers scan the water

for migrating dolphins or whales.

A white-hulled speedboat appears

in the grey-blue, travelling north,

and the black-clad board riders wait,

grounded, legless pigeons who can,

in a heartbeat, fan their iridescent wings.

Squabbling seagulls swoop and dive

and chase each other between the palms,

each white slow and steady flap of wings

picked up by the whiteness of the backwash

of the speed boat out there on the pastel-pink ocean,

disappearing behind the haze.

 

Copyright 2018 Libby Sommer