Listening to Billie – a Poetry Mosaic commission for Trespass Magazine

Answers, Poems

I’m driving through Nevada
at sun break in an open top Cadillac
listening to Elvis, a thin-tooth comb
in the back pocket of my faded jeans;
James Dean couldn’t be from anywhere else.

I’m praying in a masjid in Bed-Stuy,
sitting on Brooklyn stoops listening
to Billie Holiday. My aunt is crying
at the news of Obama’s win, the Swahili
under my tongue pushed to the back

of my throat. I’m not ashamed to say,
that his skin makes me love him. America
feeds our appetites for everything. A country
that births legends. I’m drawn to this dream
because it’s almost impossible.

The stars and stripes are prison bars,
in-mates in orange jumpsuits, held
without trial. I’m burning the flag,
protesting against Vietnam. This regime
has changed hue, but remains intact.

There’s no easy description for this strange
new fruit. There’s so much greed, people
consume themselves. The American dream
is a lottery, but if we win we win millions.
America – All I can I recall are the names

carved by your fists, your drunken elegies.
Gives her back to her teachers and waitresses,
the wildstyle writers who paint the city
with colours, not blood. She belongs to those
who dance in Harlem, tears running down their faces,

to all those who think and dream about her.

© Copyright Naomi Woddis 2009

Inspired and taken from answers to the the following questions:

What do you feel when you see the stars and stripes and has that changed since Obama became President?
What does the American Dream mean to you?
Whose America is it?

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The Truth about Killing

Answers, Poems

I laughed when I got punched
in the face. What else could I do ?
I fought with my words instead
of getting even with my fists.

I’d sacrifice every book
I’ve ever read, I would bury
my love in a shallow grave,
just to know what he did.

Midnight. When life breaks
its own rules
he said,
you have to follow suit.
Then I understood what it meant

to defend a family, friends
people. There are times when
for the things I wanted I abandoned
even my own sanity. Now

all I need is to feel the ground,
the drag, the cold underneath
these running feet. I moved
half way around the world

to get away from his voice,
the thought of what he did
that Wednesday night.
My two boys tear sticks

from a dying tree, it’s play
for them. Every day
I fight myself from telling
them the truth about killing.

© Copyright Naomi Woddis 2009

Inspired and taken from answers to the the following questions:

When is the time right for killing ?
What does it mean to be hidden from history ?
What would you sacrifice, and why ?

February Poetry Mosaic Questions

Uncategorized

After a long break Poetry Mosaic is back. All you have to do is reply to the three questions below (one to a hundred word answers in either prose or poetic form) and I will make poetry of your responses. If you would like me to add a biog to the contributors page please send a short paragraph along with your answers and any weblinks you would like me to add.

When is the time right for killing ?
What does it mean to be hidden from history ?
What would you sacrifice, and why ?

Please send replies to
poetrymosaic@btinternet.com

Love and poetry and keep warm out there !
Naomi xxxx

Not Always, but Enough

Answers, Poems

I let my adolescence go for a twenty pound note.
We were skint and needed to feed the meter.

Can I forgive my mother for simply not being there?
My best friend’s dad offered me a lift, his headlights

decking the puddles. I just got in. No questions asked.
My coat was wet from waiting in the rain.

He thrust the note in my hand before
it happened. And in the back seat, I clenched

my fist while he moaned quieter
than the downpour. In the bleak florescence

of the petrol station I watched
his tail lights disappear, swapped

paper for coins. Our house lit up like Christmas.
X Ray Spex spun on the turntable.

I loved Poly Styrene, her voice – raw energy in day-glo.
It meant more to me than money.

Over the years I have learned
to forget that day. Not always, but enough.

© Copyright Naomi Woddis 2008

Inspired and taken from answers to the the following questions:

Is new always better?
What does it mean to love?
Is forgiveness always possible or necessary?

A Thicket of Fists

Answers, Poems

Accept everything: this
extraordinary turbulence,
the sadness and the pain caused,

the people at this party
claiming to be your friend
car bombs, lottery wins and viruses,

the rare and the time-worn.
Then recall the oxymoron
of his love,

the journey of his hands
across your body,
the thicket of fists enmeshing

you. Remember how
you tied yourself to the tracks
hoping to be saved,

rails sung
the hurtling of a train.
Nothing is as risky as love.

© Copyright Naomi Woddis 2008

Inspired and taken from answers to the the following questions:

Is new always better?
What does it mean to love?
Is forgiveness always possible or necessary?

Never Too Scared

Answers, Poems

On this long train ride
I watch the world pass by.
The gorges, thunderstorms

and flatlands.
Others take their cue
from how we treat ourselves.

This journey is a gift,
a reminder that it’s always
necessary to carry on.

© Copyright Naomi Woddis 2008

Inspired and taken from answers to the the following questions:

Is new always better?
What does it mean to love?
Is forgiveness always possible or necessary?

Please email me on poetrymosaic@btinternet.com if you fancy taking part. Please make replies no more than 100 words

Chrystine Bennett
Little love is a humming smile. Big love, a long train ride with the same person, outside the world goes by, sometimes the train goes over frightening gorges and through thunderstorms, sometimes through long boring places flat places. With big love one is never too scared or too bored to carry on.

Forgiveness can only be given to oneself, others will then take their cue from that and is always necessary to go on.

August Poetry Mosaic questions

Call for responses

It’s time for some new Poetry Mosaic questions and this month each has a website that may help inspire your responses but there is no obligation to visit the sites if you already have things you want to say!

Is new always better? http://www.storyofstuff.com
What does it mean to love? http://www.livehopelove.com
Is forgiveness always possible or necessary? http://www.theforgivenessproject.com/stories/anne-gallagher
Please email me at poetrymosaic@btinternet.com if you fancy taking part.

Love and poetry
Naomi xx

To be Human

Answers, Poems

First I was a submarine commander
I launched a drainpipe torpedo
at my four year old brother,
direct hit, and a broken nose.

Then I fought my sister, she high-kicked,
I deflected. Her head split open
on the corner of my desk.
I can still see her standing over the sink,

dark red blood spreading
through her pale hair.
At secondary school a fight broke out.
I saw one boy head-butt another

who then spat a mouthful of blood
on the tarmac. Now
I understand nothing
but red.

© Copyright Naomi Woddis 2008

Inspired and taken from answers to the the following questions:

What image illustrates the true nature of time ?
Describe the first time you saw another person’s blood ?
What does the word home mean to you ?

Please email me on poetrymosaic@btinternet.com if you fancy taking part. Please make replies no more than 100 words

Kayo Chingonyi
The first time I remember seeing a person’s blood was on the first day of secondary school. A fight broke out at the end of lunch break and there were no teachers around. I don’t remember what it was about just that one boy head butted the other who then spat a mouthful of blood on the floor.

Susan Gray
The true shaper of destiny, time is the double-edged blade of both the poison and the antidote of life, taking on its many forms. It’s a man made creation that will, like all others, end up destroying us in the end. We just bottled it up in the forms of cogs and numbers, giving it just a little tick and hum to let us know that it’s still alive. To have time is to be human. Time exists in all of us, in all of our minds: that illness we can’t live without. Time is embodied in every one of us. This is the true nature of time.

Dominic O’Rourke

My four year old brother on the swing set at home – I thought I could be a submarine commander and launch a torpedo shaped piece of drainpipe at him – direct hit, and a broken nose – I think it was the first time I realised how fragile people could be – it was his tears, his pain, that really hurt me, and not the broken wooden spoon my mother cracked across my arse when she found out.

Debbi Evans
A fight with my sister as kids; she high-kicked, I deflected. Her head split open on the corner of my desk. I can still see her standing over the sink, dark red blood spreading through her pale hair. The site of the gash in A&E as the doctor stitched it up. Felt guilty for weeks.

Katrina Naomi
Blood – phoning for an ambulance automatically, understanding nothing but red.

The Sign for Infinity

Answers, Poems

There are times when
I look at men in their twenties;
young, beautiful and full
of eternity.

I was like them once.
When I die and topple
like a soundless tree
in the Amazonian rain forest

I want to be buried at home,
with those who knew me living.
No one would know me,
here in the soil of South Carolina.

© Copyright Naomi Woddis 2008

Inspired and taken from answers to the the following questions:

What image illustrates the true nature of time ?
Describe the first time you saw another person’s blood ?
What does the word home mean to you ?

Please email me on poetrymosaic@btinternet.com if you fancy taking part. Please make replies no more than 100 words

Shane Solanki
What image illustrates the true nature of time ?
This one = 8

Alan Summers
What image illustrates the true nature of time ?
A fallen tree in a World Heritage Site, or a yet undiscovered cyclic decay process in a part of the Amazon

Shaun Levin

The body. Mostly I love how time manifests on my skin and in my hair. And then there are times when I look at men in their twenties (and their thirties, some of them) and they are so young and beautiful and full of eternity that I want that body that is still becoming itself. Sometimes, even, I get it.

Kwame Dawes
Home is where I want to be buried because I have a most un-Christian sense that I will need to know the language of those I meet beneath the earth. Somehow, the thought of the dead recognize me and embracing me comforts me. No one would know me in the earth of South Carolina.

Dark Matter

Answers, Poems

It’s Saturday morning,
the rain is streaming down.
I’m watching the telly
I just want to go out and get wet

she says, and winks at the glint
in my eye. Last night a swift one
lasted until closing time.
Another drink? better make it a half,

don’t want to upset the old lady,
alright make it a pint.

We all have dark matter
some where in our past.

Mine’s a dad who hid himself
in the far end of a bottle.
Hers – she won’t say but
I know it’s there,

makes her flinch at every date
marked on the calendar in red.
At night I whisper secrets
to her sleeping smile.

She breaks every law
I’ve made for myself.
She’s my Mrs World.
We share silence

like a guilty secret,
know what it holds for us
and do not need
to speak it.

© Copyright Naomi Woddis 2008

Inspired and taken from answers to the the following questions:

What image illustrates the true nature of time ?
Describe the first time you saw another person’s blood ?
What does the word home mean to you ?

Please email me on poetrymosaic@btinternet.com if you fancy taking part. Please make replies no more than 100 words

Niall O’Sullivan
What does the word home mean to you ?

Another drink? Might as well, better make it a half cos I don’t want to upset the old lady, oh alright, make it a pint.