Friday, 21 April 2017

NaPoWriMo Day 20: The Atari Relationship. Or How You Destroyed Me

National Poetry Writing Month Day 20 - Written on Day 21.

I'm catching up a day.  It'll take a lot if I'm going to catch up on all the other days I missed.  The day 20 prompt was to write a poem incorporating the vocabulary or imagery of a game.

Because that was challenging enough already I challenged myself more.  I chose a game that I have never played.  I chose a game for which I don't know the rules.

Why didn't I just stick to something I know well like chess?  Or say that Sudoku isn't a puzzle - it's a brain game?  No, not me.  I have to pick on a game I don't know.  A game containing lots of vocabulary that almost nobody would understand if I incorporated it.  Do you know about semeai, tesuji and miai?  Perhaps you do if you happen to know how to play Go.

I wrote something though.  Based on the one word - apart from Go - that I know from the game of Go.  That word is atari - a position in which your stone or group has one remaining move.  You have to take it but after that you will be captured.  If you're in atari you've lost - or at least lost that part of the game.

Picture taken from a BBC report here about an AI program beating the European Go champion.  That only happened last year - compare that with how long ago it was the AIs started beating grand masters at chess.

The game of Go does appeal to me in many ways.  There's no luck involved.  The rules are very simple.  The tactics are highly complex.  It seems a very elegant game, a lot more so than chess.  Perhaps one day I'll learn it.  Perhaps too one day I'll return to chess.  I was never great at chess but I was okay and for a while improved quickly in my use of forks, skewers and such skills.


You said it was just a game.
Told me we'd just play together
In black and white simplicity.

We danced apart, eyed each other
Our lines not yet intersecting.
Eventually, inevitably, we met.
Lives colliding on points as
Possible turned to impossible.
I didn't see your truth. Only your beauty,
The way your flame lit every room.

Your smile near satanic, you showed false eyes.
Laughed hideously as I was forced
To climb that first ladder, pushed aside
Into a corner where you broke a piece from me.

I built walls. You cut them down.
I sought escape. You captured me.
You pushed, squeezed, attacked,
Never sacrificed the smallest territory.
I kept wanting to believe your promises.
Wouldn't leave the game. Couldn't leave go.

It's almost over now. Knife to my throat.
Gun to my heart. Just one move to make.
I want to run. There is no field left.
Not even a hole to hide, cowering alone.
One move. Between survival and annihilation.
One last stone to place. All options gone.
Liberty stolen. Manipulated, massacred me.

You look at me and grin, softly coax me
And even now I want to believe.
You love me. You just want to play.
I place the stone. Plead with you to stop.
You, triumphantly howling, make your move.
The ground of battle reverberates hollow.
As you break me one final time.

NaPoWriMo Day 21: The Man Who Met Bob Down The Old Yard

It's day twenty-one of National Poetry Writing Month.

A quickish effort this morning in haiku metre, finished just in time to get to a doctor's appointment about my mental health.

The poem is about something my dad used to say.  If he ever said it.  I know we believed he said it.  Here's a photo of my dad taken forty years ago on the occasion our car ate him.

My dad used to say
“I met Bob down the old yard,
Ya know.” Every night.

My brother and I
Listened to that mystery.
We'd make up stories.

Bob became great guru,
Enlightening the people:
Crawley's peacemaker.

Or he was monster.
Boogieman haunting our dreams,
Spoken in hushed tones.

Sometimes he was normal.
Just a co-worker, mechanic,
Technical wizard.

What of the old yard?
Hidden in unknown places
Dad never showed us.

Far too dangerous:
It's where shady deals happened
Smuggling screws, solder.

The forgotten field
Where old machines go to rust
Sharing their stories.

The killing field
Where students who failed exams
Were all executed.

Years later. We asked him.
Who's Bob? Where is that old yard?
Why did you meet there?

A blank expression.
There was no Bob. No old yard.
No dinnertime news.

Self deluded feat:
Though we heard his words each night
We invented them.

Now, perpetrating
A deliberate delusion,
I've led you astray.

There were no stories
No wild child imaginings.
We just laughed at Bob.

Countless meals at table,
Half-listening to parents
We'd made up the words.

Or was dad lying?
Bill Walker was invented.
Too. Then I met him.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

NaPoWriMo Day 19 - Creation Myths Of Eden And Soft Toys

I have been struggling a lot with mental health.  Unable to write.  Yesterday I at least managed something.  Hopefully today more will follow.  Two short tries at poetry.  One was written by my soft toy.  I'm not sure he's written a poem before and he's very pleased with himself.  The prompt - which I only half read - was about creation myths.

The photo, only marginally connected to the poems is of a monk in prayer.  He lives at Hulne Abbey which I'll blog about soon if I can manage it.

My Literalist Life

I was there:

From the moment at which light was spoken into being
To the tranquil potential of a populated planet
Breathing in silent anticipation as the seventh day dawned.
I was one who found imprisoned joy in the story.
And not just a story. A life, an unquestioned reality.
When the garden was planted I watched, wide open eyes,
As my three-in-one creator sowed full grown trees
And with a wave of his hand lifted prairie grass to stand tall.
I saw as dust became man, rib became woman.
Traced my own lineage back through royalty to Eden.
With horror I saw the serpent, cunning as politicians
Hiding lies under truths, consequences under promises
And their own damnation under press conferences.
I witnessed the apple, the folly of the bite, Elohim's just wrath
And felt the pain of inheritance, damned sin in my heart,
Then walked with my parents as we were cast out of Eden
Only to spend each waking hour trying to locate my paradise.

A poem by Blob Thing (a special soft toy)

Salford sanctuary, sewn with love
Knit together in my creator's room
From scraps.

Thread for my face, white wool filled,
Made in one night as the year changed.
New from old.

Empty flesh, unnamed, just a fluff lump.
Until brought to life; given meaning
By love and madness.

Held by creator, by saving person too,
Spirit rushed stuffed stitches and smile.
I am friend set free.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

NaPoWriMo Day 11 - The Shaman and the Jackdaws

A response to a prompt given on day eleven of National Poetry Writing Month.

For various reasons and various excuses I'm not keeping up well with the month.

I am not telling you how much or how little of this happened to me.  I will just say that my Twitter name, Seren Ravenlight, is there for a reason.

Picture by Claudia Wascher, taken from here.

In speaking, the shaman revealed my gift:
A raven guide. Ride Morrigan's warrior waves,
Find Freya, feast in her harshest heavenlies.
Walk in your goddess vulnerability, barefoot on glass shards.
The medicine woman smiled, endorsed my gift,
Held me in her cold, naked embrace,
Pierced my depths with sharp sawn fingers,
Bid me to dream-sight through eternal darkness.
Then, shaking her robes, she left me.

Presently I slept, heard heaven's laughter
As if God rebuked my false-lived treachery.
Heaven, near destitute, was missing a raven.
Near despair, I was granted only jackdaws.
Watching, all sides surrounded. Waiting,
Bowed heads, lifted wings. I lay uncovered,
Flesh, bone, sinew, heart, each poison pierced
By corvid sight, all disordered secrets laid bare.
A bell. A silent voice commanded respect.

The seven turned away. The three walked on me.
Claws tearing flesh, a blood soaked cleansing.
Each talon ripped my marrow sin, my stained glass sorrows.
The one wrapped its wings, enveloped my penis,
Protecting my sex, singing spirit's acceptance.
The four pierced palms and feet, crucified me,
Granted free life through my Christly death.
And the two pecked our my eyes, swallowed short sightedness
Before shredding my coarse, arrogant mind.

Friday, 7 April 2017

NaPoWriMo Day 7 - Two Poems About Witnessing Swarms

Two poems for National Poetry Writing Month, day seven.

Both based loosely on the same prompt - taken by the prompt author from a blog she kept for a year which is massively worth looking at if you want some interesting writing prompts to work with.  There are 365 of them which is enough to keep anyone busy for a while.

One poem is autobiography.  Apart from some changes.  I am very fortunate in that I don't have to worry so much about the near future.  Very fortunate that I know I'll have food next week without relying on the wonderful work done by food banks.  Fortunate that my cash isn't going to run out.  Others receiving a similar result and possibly going through some of the same difficulties I encounter may not be so fortunate.  I'm screwed by the system.  They are well passed being screwed and into a realm where adequate words are hard to find.

The tribunal was real though, as was the result.  Apologies for the language in it - it's all from the heart.

The other poem is not autobiography.

The two photographs were taken December 2016 in Manchester's Northern Quarter.

Day 7. Witnessing a swarm.

In this case, the swarm of thoughts in my head after a benefits tribunal this morning. (Kind of - I'm far less worried than these lines would suggest.) It's not great writing. It's a swarm. Dumped almost verbatim.

Christ, what am I going to do?
What the hell were they thinking?
Why didn't they listen?
I'm an idiot, couldn't explain.
Couldn't get my words out -
Just nodded my head in understanding
When I didn't have a bloody clue
What any of them were on about.

I couldn't process it, needed it written.
And they kept talking, words, I think.
English words. But not to my brain
Could have been Spanish, or alien invader.
Or the nonsense of some failed Pentecostal tongue.
I wouldn't have known. And they think I did.

I know I'm not alone among
The recently dispossessed masses,
The despairing disabled, their support stolen.
But how the hell is that thought
Going to help me when my cash runs out?
Oh God, help me, perhaps only you can.

And posh people say to use a food bank.
Tell me it's some idyllic panacea,
Luxury living, permanent five star cruise.
Be humble enough to be a charity case.
“Pop along there woman. You'll be fine.”
And I would. I got no pride to lose
I'd be gladly grateful for the help.

But didn't they listen when I told them
My head explodes and implodes
Simultaneously, whenever I think about food.
And twelve times a day besides.
Didn't understand when I tried to express
How solidly screwed I can be
In a hundred different ways.
If only some of them matched up
With the holes in my D.I.Y. life project.

So they cast me out on my ass
Disabled. But not quite enough.
Can we impeach the whole bloody government
For this? For the rest too?
I didn't vote for them. And Mistress May, dominatrix,
Sits there talking of protecting the vulnerable
While taking more cash, more bloody influence
For the greed of her Satanic comrades.

Our leader, claiming Christianity as her inspiration
Watches as the great Sermon on The Mount
Is trampled, torn, burned, and forgotten.
As for the likes of us blessed poor,
We can't tear and burn Parliament.
We can't even be sure of our next meal.

This was the day the Tories fucked me over.
Christ, what am I going to do?

Day 7b:  Witness To The Swarm

Get 'em off me
They're everywhere
Can't        breathe
Jackie! Get in here.
No.           Don't.
Stay away
It hurts.
They hurt.
As glass bottles
Shatter on the floor
As I hear her flail
Arms on shelves
Legs beating
Into furniture.
Strangled shouts
Three points past panic
Why couldn't you
Have closed the window?
You've             killed me.

Door unlocked. I walked in. Her fear was real. The object of her fear too. A queen wasp on bathroom window. Low, mean buzzing. She pushed me out. Told me it was for my own good. Told me one of us should live. I returned as soon as I could. Rolled up newspaper in hand. Smashed the bastard as hard as I could.

In relieved realisation she fell to the floor, knee cut on the glass.

Until she ceased to weep I held her.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

NaPoWriMo Day 5b: Tank On A Hill. Market Lavington, Wiltshire

The official National Poetry Writing Month prompt for day five was to write a poem based in the natural world.  Preferable a part of it that the writer has experienced often.  An idea formed in my head for this.  A view that I saw many times throughout my childhood and my adult life too.  There was a lot of natural - and cultivated - material in that view.

But my mind's eye focused on one point in that view.  And the idea had to change.

The Tank

Cross Lavington valley
Eyes lifted to plain's edge.
Borderland of war games.
Again, our laughter: Full-groan
At an old familiar joke.
“I can see a tank, can you?”
We were safe in humour,
Knitting our family with
Threads of shared stories.
Thirty well-lived years of
Custard crumble, garden golf,
Of smiles poured from that first teapot.
Of a choice of two unchanged
Walks to village store past
Recollections of the Noddy house,
Comments of kingfishers and
Staring again at the bubbling kettle
And then the child angel in the graveyard.
All a little older. But still the same.

Then, the death of the favoured uncle.
The world shivered, became less safe
Without his smiled acceptance.

That was the year they removed
The water tank from the hill.
The joke passed away too into memory.

Only the angel remains now.
Watcher over that which was lost.

There's truth in the above.  Also a bit of fiction and a bit of truth bending.  Much still remains - the favoured aunt is there and if I manage to visit there will probably be custard and crumble.  The bubbling kettle will still be there too and the walks into the village from her home on the hill.  For anyone wondering, there's a YouTube video of the bubbling kettle, posted by lavingtoncurator.  Posted therefore by the favoured uncle.  Or possibly the favoured aunt.  You may not be excited by this.

As for the Noddy House, that was demolished in 1984.  The favoured uncle wrote something about it here:  I entered it once as a child when it was empty and probably not long before it was demolished.

The child angel is in St. Mary's churchyard in Market Lavington.  On many visits to the village photographs would be taken with the angel.  Here, last year, are my two soft toy friends enjoying the angel's company.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Fabulous Cemetery Gateway - Hulne Park, Nr. Alnwick, Northumberland

This is going to be a totally niche post and the first time I've posted something this year filled with photographs from a day out.

If you're not completely fascinated by the gateway to an empty cemetery look away now.  Or read on anyway.  Come to think of it that would be a decent writing prompt wouldn't it?  The Gateway to an Empty Cemetery.  Source of a thousand stories.

A couple of days ago, in a total fit of determination to not be ill anymore I went out walking, one of my little adventures to somewhere I've never been before.  I'd had a very miserable weekend and on Sunday night decided.  "Enough is enough.  I'm going somewhere.  Can't have another day of feeling like this."  So I got out the local OS maps.  Looked up to Alnwick.  And there, just to the west I saw a name.  Hulne Park.  Obviously a private estate.  No public footpaths marked anywhere on the copyright 2002 Landranger Map number 81.  No public footpaths at all.  But it was so close to Alnwick that it appealed as an easy enough place to get to.  So I looked the place up online.  Wonder of wonders!  Joy of joys!  There's public access to certain routes in the estate.

The park is part of the Northumberland Estates of the Dukes of Northumberland and is open most days from 11am.  The estates offer a single page PDF map that shows the permitted walks.  Without looking for a single picture of the estate I decided.  I was going.  I would walk the longest of the three routes and add on a bit so I could go and see this thing on the map called a tower.

I hadn't really got a clue what I'd see and I very nearly didn't see any of it.  While my bus was approaching Alnwick I formulated an alternative plan.  I was very close to using it.  Plan B was to catch a bus to Alnmouth and walk up the coast to Craster - about 8 miles.  I'm sure I'd have had a wonderful day by the sea.  I've seen a small part of that route before.  The paths pass through Howick where I was once taken by a friend.  The very first photos taken on my old phone on a trip out were taken in Howick.  That was a special day, the first day since moving here that I truly realised that I was blissfully at home in the middle of nowhere.  I lay on a rock by the sea while my friend went off and did her thing - something related to being a witch - and I felt more peace than I'd felt in a very long time.

How quick I am to forget that I belong in some way under the open sky or in the woodland surrounded only by the nature sounds and the life of the earth.

How quick?  Judge for yourself.  This was the first day I've gone out somewhere new this year and walked in peacefulness.

The coast walk can wait until another day.  Hulne Park awaited.  I'll share more general photos soon of views, discuss the walk and share lots of pictures of Hulne Abbey which is the oldest Carmelite settlement in Britain dating to the 13th Century.

Today though I'm showing you pictures of a gate.  In 2007 the Duchy of Northumberland established a new cemetery on their estate in the prettiest of spots.  The Percy Family Memorial Garden.  I'm told it's still empty which can only be good news for the family.  I have to say that if I had any desire for my corpse to end up in an attractive place then I might choose such a spot, high on a hill and looking across open land to Cheviot and, I guess, a little bit of Scotland might be visible too.  I'll show you the view next time.  For now though, the gate:

Aren't they great?  They were made by a blacksmith named Stephen Lunn although, as someone I talked to on Monday said, he's much more than a blacksmith.  The gates were unveiled in 2008 and the cemetery beyond is planned to serve the family for the next 450 years. 

The metal tree in the centre of the memorial garden, rooted to the rock.

NaPoWriMo Day 5 - They Danced, They Died. Hallelujah! I'm No Dancer.

For day five of National Poetry Writing month one of the prompts was based around a tragedy that took place in Boston in 1925.  The ceiling of a dance club collapsed and forty-four people died.  I wrote a not very good poem before getting out this morning in which someone is pleased to see God's will being done.  Reading later I found that there were preachers who had said such things - just as there are preachers after every tragedy talking about God's will.  It's awful that some have such a view of a God who is meant to be love.

And then I happened upon a long hymn.  And realised it is in a book that still adorns my shelves.  I wrote this before rushing out of the house to go and write some more:

In my Catholic days I was a big fan of Saint Louis-Marie Grignon de Monfort, author of True Devotion to Mary, Secret of the Rosary, and many other works. I made the act of total consecration according to his way of doing things. I hold very different beliefs now but still have his complete works on my shelves, books that are a part of my history.

I wrote the following lines this morning and then looked up to see if anyone actually said things like this. There were Christians of the day denouncing jazz. Of course there were, and evangelicalism and fundamentalism were on the rise in the US. The papers and tracts called “The Fundamentals” from where we get the word fundamentalism were published the previous decade. In my fundamentalist Protestant days I owned them too.

I quickly found a hymn by Louis-Marie, reproduced on a Catholic forum I used to be an part of. No, you can't have my forum name! Here's the penultimate verse of his poetry:

God often severely punishes
Dancers with sudden death,
In a moment vomiting
Their accursed souls.
From balls and games,
Suddenly they fall into hell.

The full thirty-eight verse song can be found at

Yeah, I'm God obsessed. Give me another ten years and I might have worked the scars of my versions of faith out of my flesh.

I'm not sure Louis-Marie would be very impressed by the music and dance events held at St. Dominic's RC Church centre in Newcastle. I'm not impressed by these lines. Head struggling again so I've constrained myself to 5 syllable lines for no apparent reason!

Today I will dance
With King David's joy.
Yahweh has spoken.

My God has judged them.
They will dance no more
To vulgarity of jazz.

Love of the Charleston
Sent them all to hell
Crushed by sinfulness.

God damned the Pickwick.
Judgement on evil:
Swift, sure, certainty.

And I watched, laughing
As he completed
Purifying work.

Forty-four lay crushed
Their unrolled stockings
Testified to guilt.

They writhed. Bodies
Serpent contorted.

Righteousness triumphs.
Their flesh is broken
As hearts never were.

God granted them grace
Warned them fair by fire.
They wouldn't listen.

Three months to turn back
From their speakeasy
To God's easy speech.

Their fault. Their deaths, just
Like the club ceiling,
Are on their own heads.

I never entered
What man could resist
Dancing straight to Hell?

Fallen to foul sex
Short skirts can only
Be temptation.

One step through the door
One sight of woman,
Her flesh uncovered

Would surely wrest me
From the bosom
Of my sweet Mary.

Jesus has spoken.
Please, will you listen?
He calls you to life.

Live in repentance:
His holiness makes
America great again.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Three Short Poems. Semicolons, curses, and allies.

Three short poems for day three of National Poetry Writing Month.

I'd love to have more energy to write something following one of the prompts.  Never mind.  It's been a great day.  I decided I would be well and my decision worked well enough that I could go somewhere I've never been before, walk eight miles, and see some great things.  I'll get all my photos onto the laptop soon and blog them.  They won't be writing blogs but since I haven't managed to post on my other blog at all this year - and added all the old posts to this blog - I might as well post about my little adventures here.

For now though three poems.  All based, loosely or tightly, on incidents that have affected me over the weekend.  The first hit me.  I never knew Amy Bleuel but her idea has helped many people including people I do know.  I don't like tattoos at all really but even I've been half-tempted.

News of her death, by suicide, touched me more than I would have expected.  And I think of myself too.  For all the times I could have been a full stop.  I am a semicolon and I continue.  For that I count myself very fortunate indeed.  And it's not something I ever want to take for granted.

Sad news.  Very sad.  As I type I am wanting to cry.

Haiku For Amy Bleuel

The saddest of days.
When your hard-fought semicolon
Became a full stop.


A transwoman asked the world:
“Is it a curse
To be transgender?”
She proclaimed it was.
And others agreed.

I screamed. “No way.
I'm not cursed, nor blessed
With my minority status.
Deserve more love not less
Though some may hate us.
My self-acceptance
Leads to a warm hearth.
To paths self-strewn with blossoms
And a world smiling with me.
Rejoicing in the uniquely similar.”

They didn't listen.
I was pissing into the wind
With a woman's penis
They could not accept.

The False Ally

There's no such thing as autism.
It's all caused by vaccines
And my autistic son
Gets messages from God
That you all need to listen to.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

My Tranquility, Overthrown by a Piercing Shout and a Recipe

It's the second day of National Poetry Writing Month.  A poem a day for a month.  I am dreading it!

I'm still ill.  Yesterday I couldn't focus on reading a prompt at all, let alone writing a poem.  Today I've made an attempt.  The official prompt was simply to write something inspired by a recipe.  Marie, who runs the Writers' Cafe here is also producing prompts for every day of the month but today I chose the official one.  Mainly because my processing skills weren't up to the unofficial prompt.

Writing very quickly this came out.  I'd apologise for the horrible word but we really did have this recipe and my mum cooked it frequently.  Those biscuits were gorgeous.  Just a shame about the name.

I have searched for a picture of the biscuits.  There were none.  Here instead is a picture of a cake cooked by my mum.  This one went a little bit wrong.  I think too of the time she used self raising flour instead of icing sugar.  And the memorable occasion when turmeric was replaced in a recipe by the same quantity of a hot chilli.

You too would not forget
If your tranquility was overthrown
By a piercing shout of
“Get the nignogs out of the oven.”

Nineteen eighty-one
Brixton was rioting
And deep-down we knew
It was wrong
To mould a dozen nignogs
Into acceptable form.
Baking them until their
Skin was crisp.

That's what the book called them.
Though we laughed at the name
We never thought to change
What was printed, black and white.
Didn't think it racist.
Not properly. It's just a name.
We thought we were free
From the ugly stains of hate.
And we were. Mostly.
At least, partly.

When it came to nignogs,
All we cared about
Was the way that crisp shell
Would break into softly hidden joys.
Sugary oats, magically transmogrified
Into biscuits: Pale, not black beauties.
And our own sensory satisfaction
Purged what we knew of justice.

Until the shout.

My mother on the doorstep
Deeply held in agreeable conversation
With a family from our street.
Immigrants from South London estates.

From shock to shouting to shame.
To a change of name.
To an intentionally mislaid recipe book.
To flapjack friendships.

I am told that my own voice always comes through in my writing.  It's a compliment.  But it got me thinking about my voice.  I look at other people's poetry and I confess I sometimes compare.  I shouldn't, but I do.  They have so many interesting turns of phrase, use long words and imagery that I'm sure is rich.  I struggle with all of those.  As a writer but also as a listener.

I think it's because of the form my autism takes.  Verbal processing can be very hard work for me.  If you say something I have to put a lot of mental energy into understanding you.  And the more complicated it is the harder it is.

In addition, though I know autistic people are meant to be extremely visual people, in many ways I'm not.  We're all meant to be savants who can see a complex scene and draw it from memory.  We're meant to see all our thoughts and have an inner life of pictures.  That's the stereotype and there are autistic people for whom it's true.  I'm not one of them.  In other ways though I'm a bit stereotypical.  I'm not good at metaphor (unless I invent it) so if someone else uses metaphor it takes me time to work out that I'm not meant to be taking them literally.  I can be the same with idiom.  When the metaphor or idiom is unfamiliar it will take me a lot longer.

What that means in practice for performance poetry is that I very often can't keep up.  I just can't and it's possibly not a skill I will ever learn.  Use combinations of long words and I'm lost.  Use fantastic imagery and I'm lost.

If someone reads out their work I can still be trying to process the first line for meaning when they've finished their third line.  Their work might be worthy of a dozen literary awards.  But I'll have missed it.  I hate it that I miss so much of what people read.  Hate it that even if they repeated their performance I'd still miss it.  Unless I had the words before me and had been able to prepare in advance by reading it myself over and over again.

All of which means that part of what is "my voice" is a result of lacking in verbal processing skills.  My voice is simple.  It's often conversational.  It can be playful.  And it will never contain the word "terpsichorean" instead of "dancer".  In short, my written voice is often my spoken voice.  It is me and I don't know how to be another.  Nor do I want to.  Except somehow I'll have to of course when crafting these characters for the eventual novel or perhaps for future excursions into acting.

I write as I would speak it.  I write almost so I can speak it.  I did the same when preaching.  If I'd been ill and presented a fully written sermon to someone else to read out it would have sounded rubbish.  But when I read it the words became a lively language and people felt them.  I wonder if that'll be the case with poems too.

I can imagine the above in my voice.

But what if strangers read it?  What then?