Tag Archives: poems

The Karma Abacus: Birthday Blooms

Another year. I used to think of it like it was over, like I’d just completed something, marking an X on the wall like I’d done time. I don’t know why; I just did. But this year I am decidedly feeling like it is a beginning. At some point in the last year I could see the trajectory of my life was not one my heart felt called to anymore. So, I threw a wrench into the works knowing it would insist on change.

I think some era’s in life begin this way—with a sense of feeling life as you’ve known it is coming to an end. Like weeding a garden that’s gone to seed. You can hear something calling to you, a far away bloom, a perfume of future creativity. If I was being honest I would say I am intoxicated with the scent of it already.

Wherever you are, I’m toasting you for reading this blog and I hope to share many more words this year with you than last.


It’s that time of year again,

hang my flag, say it’s my day.

Bring your weak lumbar,

your wrecked knee, fading eyebrows and

fear of earthquakes —


acknowledge aloneness

assess the years on the

karma abacus, your finger

touching more and more beads

sliding over years one by one


insistent, resigned,

a birthday.


Still, at night

You have a hunger, a mortal wish

to uncover promises you made to

yourself, so you route around

on the silty floor of the past,

and find your life


still breathing

ready at long last

to be understood.




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Filed under Poetry

Disregard Ups and Downs and Get On With Writing

I am feeling very fortunate that I have the rest of the week to write. Whatever I want. With no one lurking in the shadows with a particular agenda, criticism, or secret need for my words. They will be entirely mine to do with them as I please! Hooray! It sounds bucolic but it will be a lot of work as you can well see I’ve not been writing much as of late. Having a day job really puts a crimp in one’s writing but that is the age-old conundrum of any writer. I have a friend who is writing a novel and subsists on packaged noodles and a part-time job that doesn’t nearly pay enough to live even close to the poverty line. But he is a dedicated writer and finish his novel he will. I can’t say the same for myself. But while my son still lives with me, I’m obligated to put a good shelter over our heads and write when and where I can.

Recently, I picked up the journals of Virginia Woolf for inspiration and was once again struck by the similarity in her challenges as I myself have in 2013 as a woman trying to carve out a writing life. One quote struck me in particular, as it nailed what I think writers often feel–that sense of total isolation that is all the more acute if the writer isn’t published far and wide. Or, at all.

 “Unpraised, I find it hard to start writing in the morning; but the dejection lasts only 30 minutes, and once I start I forget all about it. One should aim, seriously, at disregarding ups and downs; a compliment here, a silence there;…the central fact remains stable, which is the fact of my own pleasure in the art.”

As a writer, you inevitably ask yourself, what is the point? Often several times a week, or, if it is a particularly bad writing day, every few seconds. But then you are drawn into your stories and characters and realize that feeling is like no other and that the ‘pleasure in the art’ is the entire point.

So, in other words, best to just get on with it.

To that end, I am more than halfway through, at long last, a volume of poetry I will be giving directly to readers (yes, that’s you!). I have no patience anymore to run around begging publishers to read me, read me, read me so taking Amanda Palmer’s model, I’ll simply give it away and see if I get donations. What do you think of that idea? I think it is rather 2014 and I think Virginia would support it entirely. The title of the collection is called ‘Love Poems. Kind of’. Because I can’t honestly–truthfully–offer a collection of love poems and not include the denouement of those love stories. Also, I think it is a little humorous to offer this for February as a kind of tongue-in-cheek nod to all those over-the-top romantic gestures dramatized in media that are solely aimed at selling products. So, hopefully dear reader you will download it and have a good read with some heart-shaped chocolates by yours side and a wry smile or two as well.

In the meantime, I’m putting my writing boots on and escaping to forage deep in the landscape of my imagination until I have to face reality on Jan. 6th. To all of you who’ve read my words, shared your thoughts, and patiently put up with my random blogging schedule and content, I thank you and wish you– from my heart to yours–a lovely, blessed new year.


Filed under Non-fiction

The Low, Wide Wave That is Coming

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of Sylvia Plath. For those that don’t know me, I should tell you she is one of my favourite poets and I have read her throughout most of my life. In my final year of my directing degree, I chose as my final thesis a difficult play that featured five Sylvia Plath’s all converging in a sort of mind-bending, 72 – scene orgy of screaming poetry. Only a fourth year theatre student would choose such a difficult play but Sylvia’s words hold no less power for me now decades later.

I am reading a book about her and her husband, Ted Hughes, called Ariel’s Gift. It is a tough subject: two poets who just happen to be the heavyweights of their time in an intense marriage that ends in wrenching tragedy. Sylvia Plath killed herself by placing her head in an oven. She had carefully put towels under the door and left snacks for her children. Heartbreaking. As ever, she was torn desperately between the power, indeed the harrowing haunting drive, that fueled her fierce poetry and being a mother and wife. It didn’t help that her husband was sleeping with someone in their close circle and had left her in the English countryside in an old, very cold rambling house. She had moved to the city where Ted lived, hoping to shake the sinusitis that plagued her and escape the damp farm, but found no comfort in being closer to her husband. It is critical, however, not to get too caught up in the high drama of their marriage, but rather, stay focused on Sylvia’s electric, crackling clear voice and listen for the music that only Plath could produce. If there was ever a writer whose voice was cut short, it was Plath’s. I can’t even imagine how she would have been writing at 40, 50 and on. A staggering loss.

I have to go lightly in and out of Sylvia’s work, as I must do with Seamus Heaney because it is incomprehensible to me that they are so good. And then I read them and want to jump off a cliff. (Kidding..kind of).  So I read and listen to their voices in small bits. Like taking small sips of very, very expensive wine and swirling it in your mouth or nibbling on wildly decadent dark chocolate. You must go slow to savour.

One thing I noticed while reading Ariel’s Gift is that I am now longingly wanting to write poetry all the time. Reading Plath and Hughes has re-ignited something I feel is immense, like a wide, low wave coming towards me of poems I never even knew were there. Waiting all this time.

Here is a quick draft of one I’m working on today. It’s about coming into touch, into full view, with your actual self — not the made-up one you filled with air and paraded around like a balloon when you were twenty — no, this is the one you sink into as a woman in your forties. It has weight. There’s a lot of power to it. I think my poems will be exploring that more in the coming months, what it means to come awake to your essential self and be free of self-judging and the paralysis of contorting yourself to be something else for anyone.  I can’t crackle like Plath, but better to let the waves come in and do my best to capture them anyway.

At Last, The End of The Fairytale

I wonder how long it takes

before you go feral and leave

the fairytale?

A month? A year?

I’ve done that and more.

How do you know when it’s complete?

When all the sugar-spun cotton candy

Of romance is sloughed off?



You’ll know.

You’ll see your actual self —

riddled, fire-oven

bred,  a witch-like intent bent, bent into your

own towering shadow of life aching to live

before you are dead.

(copyright Margaret Doyle, 2013)


Filed under Non-fiction