spring

Medieval manuscripts

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I saw the little figures
looking cute and medieval
elaborate costumes, so delightful
an ancient ritual
marginalia in excelsis
hello summer!

I wasn’t too sure about today’s GloPoWriMo prompt: “to write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art. But I’d also like to challenge you to base your poem on a very particular kind of art – the marginalia of medieval manuscripts.” But then I went into town to see the preparations for Sechseläuten and realised I was looking at this stuff IRL pretty much. 

Rain

Roses in Zurich

Last time it rained like this

Rain, rain, rain

It was spring? autumn? In…

my share house in Newtown

the same rain, same, same

Some days it would stop

Then it’d start up

again, again, again

Uni textbooks damp and curling

lank hanks of velvet curtain

on my sliding bedroom door

over my barred window, hiding

the pane, pane, pane

Blocking out my hangovers, oh

the pain, the pain, the bane

Of my existence.

A lover called my room “the pit”

But I had a red rose

outside on the covered balcony

A little flame, flame, flame

One night another suitor

Left a small china dog on my doorstep

Racked returning from the pub–

a tender campaign, campaign, campaign.

I’d go to my beautiful friend’s house

Try to ease her sadness

with pizza, throwdowns, hairdye–

We’d laugh, tho her heart was

in twain, twain, twain.

I did my work, I felt sad and happy

I got drunk all the time.

It rained and rained and rained

Sometimes wonder how much has

changed, changed, changed

Zurich Almanac

Have I written a poem about Zurich yet?

Has the place sunk far enough into my subconscious?

The poetry strata: down where the dinosaur fossils lie

a Jurassic stanza, incorporating the city’s ancient guilds

 

The dull colours of conservative cool

Sitting in roccoco shop windows and on the shoulders of locals

While Ganymed begs the eagle to mount him “in a Swiss way”

Take him to the mountains, Hubacher must mean…

 

ALL ZÜRI, ALL CHRANK: Schweizerdeutsch I can read

Maybe the church spires inject some with cruel medicine.

I’m vaccinated, indoctrinated, the hot needles of last summer’s heat

Tattooed this city across the skin of hometown memories

 

Nothing in nature can kill you here – mammals, reptiles, fish

Just don’t get caught beneath an avalanche

or those blossoms, heavy with spring, before

they fall to the ground like confetti, like ashes, like tiny pieces of my heart

overflowing.

 

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I’m doing National/Global Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo) – write one poem, per day throughout April. Today’s prompt/challenge was interesting in that it was one I initially did not like the sound of. But, as is often the way, it turned out to be quite inspiring as it wasn’t how I’d normally think to construct a poem.

It was as follows: fill out, in no more than five minutes, the following “Almanac Questionnaire,” which solicits concrete details about a specific place (real or imagined). Then write a poem incorporating or based on one or more of your answers. 

Almanac Questionnaire (I’ve included my answers too)

Weather: wet, usually dry
Flora: heavy with spring blossoms
Architecture: cool modern and roccoco
Customs: polite and on time, can be brusque
Mammals/reptiles/fish: nothing can kill you
Childhood dream: Heidi
Found on the Street: sticks
Export: watches and choc
Graffiti: all zuri, all chrank
Lover: Berlin?
Conspiracy: old zuri guilds
Dress: dull colours of conservative cool
Hometown memory: flooded back in last summer’s heat
Notable person: Jung
Outside your window, you find: church spires and spring
Today’s news headline:
Scrap from a letter:
Animal from a myth: dinosaurs?
Story read to children at night: Schellen Ursli
You walk three minutes down an alley and you find: nature
You walk to the border and hear: italian, french, german
What you fear: the lights going out
Picture on your city’s postcard: Ganymede

Morning song

Beardsley-inspired ink poster by Steven Huntington from www.behance.net/gallery/7198651/Aubrey-Beardsley-Poster

 

Soft, stilldark early morning

birds’ small, individual rounds

chirping, tweeting, calling

create a wall of nature-sound

 

The trams surging up Schaffhauserstrasse

juddering scrape, metal wheels on rails

a sibilant symphony: electric power

near-majestic, benign strength prevails

 

Church bells bong quarterly

soundwaves hanging in the air

on the hour a vortex: echo-vibration, stereolocation

you almost see it shimmering there

 

The planes: further away, their churn

high-up, unmistakable

as toward tarmac or clouds they kern

ripping the sky, rippling by

 

My baby lets out a cry: 5am

down the hall in his room

he snuffles, goes quiet again

I don’t get up… but soon

 

Traffic noise, a distant soundtrack

underpins cities like cement

no one drives up our street yet

Still: the neverending improvement

 

The soft crunch of my duvet

as I stretch my legs in the warm bed

can’t sleep now should I choose it

I think about Sydney instead

 

I’m doing National/Global Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo) – write one poem, per day throughout April. Today’s prompt/challenge was to write a poem in which you closely describe an object or place, and then end with a much more abstract line that doesn’t seemingly have anything to do with that object or place, but which, of course, really does.

Food for flight

image

Snails and worms abound today
Spring rain has brought them out to play
If I were a bird I’d find
The seasonal menu just divine

I’m giving National/Global Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo) a go – write one poem, per day throughout April. Today’s prompt/challenge was to write about food.

Kleidung

Frühling in Zürich

 

Ich habe meine Kleidung vertauscht

Es hat mir etwas traurig gemacht

So viele Kleidung, so viele Jahren alt

Und auch neu

Denn ist es Frühling

Ich bin krank mit ihnen

Sind sie krank mit mir?

 

I’m giving National/Global Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo) a go – write one poem, per day throughout April. Today’s prompt didn’t work for me so I thought I’d try writing a poem in German because, fuck it.

The Spring Thing

Springtime in Zurich

I wanted to write a more cheerful post, as promised. This is not so easy for me – as anyone who has read more than two entries on here will know, I tend to go for cynicism over sentiment, self-deprecation over life affirmation. But hey, it’s springtime! Let’s bring the happy.

So I’m going to talk about parenting again. Funny story, actually. Last week I spent Mon-Weds working quite a bit, and doing my German. Then I took “time off” Thurs-Friday and spent it with my kids without working (ahem-much-except when they were asleep-ahem). And it was SO NICE. It made me realise two things. 1. I tend to think of myself as a Stay At Home Mum but I guess I’m really not. (I actually read a nice blog on this very thing – the Stay At Home Mum (or parent) Who Works) and 2. It’s soo fucking hard to get the balance right.

I make point #2 because it seems like the obvious answer to More Happy should be – well, just work less and spend more time with the kids. But I know that wouldn’t work either. I’d get bored, frustrated, and feel like I was losing myself, losing my edge in the workplace. Or do I protest too much? Hmm maybe I should try it. Unlikely. And, to be honest, I don’t think many Stay at Home Parents (SAHPs – waitasec – Saps? Really?! yikes) are “just” that anyway. Whether you’re doing the muffin tin meals I talked about last week, or not, or whatever else, there’s loads of stuff to get through when you’re fulltime on “home duties”: from grocery shopping, bill paying and, yes, fun crafternoons as well (which, I’ve since been informed that dads do do with their kids, although that wasn’t quite how I meant it… but I digress). I guess what I did last week for a couple of rare, early-Spring days was push all the other stuff aside and just hang out with my kids and my mum friends (I’m afraid I don’t know any local SAHDs – ooh, another unfortunate acronym!) and it was lovely and it made me happy.

As kids will do, both of mine seem to have moved into a new stage lately. The baby started walking a week or so ago, he sleeps better at night and is generally a pretty happy chap. It’s lovely although not unexpected – poor old second child is not breaking any new ground! I find I’m far more content to sit back and enjoy each stage with him, as opposed to chivvying for the next development. The downside is, we’re full-on into that Clash of Schedules time, which I also remember from my first kid. This seems to happen in the months around their first birthday… you’ve got yourself into a nice little groove with doing stuff with the baby, seeing your mates, maybe a bit of daycare in place… then suddenly: everyone’s schedules change! The kids are no longer napping. Well, not at the same times. Some are still doing 2 per day. Some have a longy in the morning, others have to be home by 11.45am for lunch and arvo nap or the whole day is shot. Some kids are walking and need to run around outside a lot now. Others are just observing life so their parents are still keen on the cafe. Some parents are starting to get back to work, so there’s a juggle around that too. It’s an awkward time. In a weird way, almost lonelier than the early days of motherhood when at least you’re in a sleepless babylove daze most of the time. Now things start to feel a bit more serious, a bit more this-is-how-it’s-gonna-be.  A new normal.

At the other end of my parenting spectrum, my big boy is nearly five. He’s been at Kindergarten / school for six months now and he’s just started some swimming lessons too. I don’t really see him in action at school but I took him to his second swim class last week and Oh, my heart. In half a year, he’s gone from being a toddler who wanted to carry his bunny everywhere to a proper schoolboy. There he was, bobbing about in the water, with a bunch of other kids his size, following the instructor, doing the stuff, occasionally getting distracted. So normal. Until I became a parent, I never wanted to be normal. But from my pregnancy onwards, I have started to appreciate the comfort of normality. “Everything’s normal” is mostly what you want to hear when it comes to child development from the womb onwards. OK maybe eventually you want to be told they’re super-special-whizzbang-genius at something… maybe… I dunno. But for now, normal is good. I never thought I’d say that.

Cars and a book about WWI

Cars and a book about WWI

Another interesting factor of my kids growing up, particularly the older one, is he’s starting to reach an stage when I can clearly remember myself at that age. I have some memories of Kindergarten (which you attend for a few hours per week from 3- and 4-years-old in Australia) but I recall a lot more of early primary school (from ~5yo). I’m remembering the toys and stationery I had, going to friends’ houses to play, the games we had at playlunch, lunch and afternoon recess… I hate to say it, but it’s given me another pang about not having a girl. All the stuff with dolls and hairstyles and glitter pens and dressing up and whatever else. I loved that shit. And it’s not that boys can’t or won’t do that but at the moment mine seem pretty content to play with cars, trains, weapons (we try to discourage this but what can you do, it’s the reality) and read books on animals and World War 1 (again – eesh. I don’t mind him knowing real history but I guess I wish he’d turned his attention to this a bit later). And it’s not to say that a daughter would necessarily be into “girl” stuff either. But still… a small sigh.

Anyway, my kids are generally awesome. And they really made me feel good last week. I even managed to channel some of the fight-play into a heavy metal battle dance off to Soundgarden with my eldest so I shall not complain. Plus, it’s springtime after what suddenly feels like it was a looong winter. The blossoms are coming out in Zurich and there’s lots to look forward to.

So that’s my cheerful post. Happy Easter.

 

 

Rush Rush

“It was Spring, and the brook was full to the brim with its water. And the water moved in a hurry, as all things move in a hurry when it is Spring.”  – Scuffy the Tugboat 

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A few years ago I made a resolution along the lines of “Don’t rush in where angels fear to tread…”

And one of the things I’m really liking about Zurich so far is the slower pace. There’s definitely time to smell the roses here – or rather the blossoms right now. Wow, spring has really sprung! This is particularly noticable compared to London where you don’t smell many flowers on the daily commute (too polluted) and you don’t slow down (too busy!).

It is spring though, and all things move in a hurry when it is spring (see quote, above). It is also my natural tendency to rush. Sometimes I get so caught up in the urgency of the moment that I just want to get everything done now! now! Now! This can result in things that are too hectic, not best quality and, y’know, the good old – making a situation worse where doing nothing would have meant it dissipated or even disappeared. It can also result in RESULTS. So it’s not always bad.

PROS: I generally meet deadlines. I don’t forget much. I get things done. Sometimes you have to strike while the iron’s hot! Don’t think too much – or it might never happen. It makes me a good worker, even if it also means I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie/stress bunny. Don’t get me wrong, I kind of like the efficient, busy side of myself. I guess if we’re talking Myers-Briggs type traits, it’s part of my ‘preferred style’. But.. but…

CONS: Sometimes, it’s not the right way. It’s often worth thinking twice. Look before you leap. And often that produces a better outcome in the end. Something more measured, correct, kind. Plus, as I said, doing nothing can be better than doing something (particularly the wrong thing) in certain situations. A headlong rush can also mean not acknowledging the reality of the situation (although, this can also be helpful – eg, when you hate your job but need to do it anyway).

Anyway, this is a rather long-winded, soul-searching way to say that I realised something this week. I had a German fail and more than that, a mum fail. Dropped P off  to nursery a bit early and there was a different carer there. In my head the words bounced about: Wie heissen Sie? Wie heissen Sie… (What is your name?) which would have made the whole situation easier/better. But I DIDN’T SAY IT. I hesitated because I was afraid of getting it wrong. In this particular situation, it was not a good reason to wait. Walked home, kicking myself… but then HI says – “hey, there’s plenty of time: in a month you’ll be more confident”. And it hit me – he’s right, we’re here for the duration. It’s going to be years. I will speak German (maybe not well, but I will speak it) and I will read it too. Because there’s time.

So what I realised is, for once in my life, there is no real rush. The German will happen, and so will all those other things: settling in, feeling connected here, having another baby (maybe?!), making friends… I do find it a little hard to accept but it’s true and that actually makes me feel pretty good!

And: RELLAXXXX!

 

Novel note: Reading The Count of Monte Christo for the first time. Now there’s a story that knows how to take its time (I guess it was originally serialised?). This dude is in gaol for 14 years and even he takes 3 years to learn German (and a few other languages). From prison. With nothing else to do. OK so it’s not easy. Also: Facebook era it ain’t.

“Fortunately Dantes had learned how to wait; he had waited fourteen years for his liberty, and now that he was free he could wait at least six months or a year for wealth.”