3rd February

A Poem

Sometimes writing – what I think of as ‘proper writing’ goes a bit awol.  It happens to the best of us I think… life gets in the way, we’re tired, distracted, anxious, or all of these.  Sometimes we have to push through this and there’s no doubt in my mind that writing is a discipline that can do this.   That said, this week, I confess, I have struggled.  The YA is no closer to being finished than it was a week ago.  The new novel is shaping up nicely, piece by piece.  But concentrated writing has been difficult.  I’ve let my demons get on top of me and the evil Self Doubt has raised her very ugly head.  Even this post is being written on Thursday, 9.30pm… I never normally leave it this late!

Poetry always comes to my aid at times like this.  It’s how my writing life started and when all else fails, a poem comes.  Wrote this on Tuesday evening over a glass of wine.  I don’t normally air fresh poems, unedited, just written, as it was written then, knocked up in about ten minutes.  But sometimes poems seem to fall from a special place and hold everything that needs saying.  This was one of those.  I hope you like it, and I hope it makes you think a bit and furrow your brow.


A buzzard died in my dream last week,
floated, headless towards my less than perfect slabs.

I saw her the next day, head in the correct place,
sat atop a hedge, not a cracked slab in sight.

Three white doves flew, not in a dream,
out of a hedge, across my path, across my wide open gasp.

Is it time? I think.  Is this the time?  Now?
Is this when everything changes?

So I follow the signs and I link them with feathers
and I tie them with silk, loose so that they can still fly

and not for the first time I ask myself why
Why me? Why now?

And the answer is…
they come because they need me to listen.

So I take a trip across a field and gather mud
and thoughts, unzip my coat and leave it trailing on the floor.

Is there more?  Oh yes.  There’s always more,
until legs become so light you cannot feel them.

The wine is empty.  My tears are dry.
My path is as unclear as it has ever been.

Two arms held me in my dream last night,
held me so tight that when I woke I was clutching at my breath.

What do you do and where do you turn when life gets in the way of the words?

About Abi Burlingham

I write children's books and paint pictures inspired by nature, animals, trees etc, mostly in acrylics. I am a crisp addict.
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18 Responses to 3rd February

  1. I’m so shallow. When you need aid, it comes in the form of poetry. Me? I turn on the PS3 . . .

  2. Each to their own Dan 😉

  3. Jenny Alexander says:

    What a fantastic poem, Abi. I think I go to a similar place at slow times in the writing – outside, in nature, dreams and visions – but poems don’t come from it. A sense of spaciousness, calm and attentiveness is what comes, and that’s very much part of the pleasure of the process.

  4. Glad you like it Jenny. Yes, I can really relate to your feelings, being outside always inspires something in me too, as do dreams. There’s something very primal about poetry and I think that’s why it comes when I most need it.

  5. nettiewriter says:

    Just lovely – and it spoke so personally tp me too xxx

  6. Aw, that’s one of the best responses I could wish for. Thank you xxx

  7. This is perfect Abi! Amazing how at times a poem can just form itself like this. I usually find that lots of editing is necessary, and most of the time I think it is. But this is just perfect as it is – thanks for sharing it, and some of what is behind its forming.

    I’m sure the writing flow will come back; Muddy walks and poetry can’t fail to help :o)

  8. Thank you Dean. So glad you like it. Yes, some poems say more just left as they are don’t they? Writing some of the new novel this morning, so yes, it’s coming back ;0)

  9. Emma Pass says:

    I love this poem, Abi. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    I know what you mean about things getting in the way of the words. When I get like this I always find muddy walks help, too. And I read, and listen to music – anything that takes my head to a different space so that the writing mojo can recharge!

  10. Ah, thank you, glad you like it. Yes, that’s exactly it isn’t it? Much as I like to hammer out the words every day, sometimes life gets in the way and we need to re-charge the old batteries. Even we writers have to cut ourselves some slack sometimes eh?

  11. MC Rogerson says:

    Beautiful poem Abi. I take a break and try to get out into the open air when words don’t come. Long car journeys, art galleries & museums help too – anything that breaks the daily routine.

  12. Oh, definitely with you on the open air and art galleries – it’s that ability to absorb yourself in something else that works wonders isn’t it? Glad you liked the poem – thanks Mel 🙂

  13. I don’t tend to read poetry Abi, but Wow. You really hit a place there, a place somewhere inside. I loved it. A strange place though.

    I tend to stomp, sulk and hide away reading when I can’t crank up the writing. At least I’m still working I tell myself. I got through a lot of books in January! 🙂

  14. Ah, thanks Rebecca, so glad you like it. Yes, my poetry does tend to come at troubled times, thoughtful times. I think it’s because this was how I started writing initially in my teens, using poetry as a vent – very cathartic. Emerging yourself in books… me too Rebecca, and especially in the dark winter months – comfort reading with a cuppa!

  15. Nadine says:

    So, I’m finally getting a chance to play catch-up, and I’m so glad I did. I understand what you’re feeling, because I’ve been going through the same ringer myself. Let those dragons rear their ugly heads. I’m finding that they become powerless the more you just stare at them until they realise that you’re not running scared. Eventually, they’re the ones that skulk away. Take heart, dear. We’re all here rooting for you and cheering you on.

    Girl, your poem gave me goosebumps. The visuals I got from the images were so vivid. I really like your poems. This one really spoke to me about your angst (hope I’m not way off base). It felt so cathartic to me. And since it ended on a hug, here’s one for you. (((HUGS))).

    P.S. When life gets in the way of my words, honestly, I panic, lol. However, I’m learning to just breathe and quiet my mind so that the answers and the words can flow freely again. It’s a start. 🙂

  16. Nadine, what a lovely lovely response – I am really touched. Yes, you got the poem, and me, spot on! Thank you for the hugs – mean a lot. Here’s some back ((((hugs)))). Your calming techniques sound really good – I hope they work for you.

  17. I face the demon of self doubt frequently — often one day I’m very certain of my path and my writing, the next day certain that same piece of writing seems not worth finishing. My current WIP (that I’ve been editing for several months) that I’m in love with right now, I threw in a box last month. I wasn’t sure i ever even wanted to finish. For me (when it’s about my doubts as a writer) it’s a matter of just plugging away… keeping the date at my computer. If it’s something deeper — a fear or a worry about one of my kids or a real-life problem that actually takes me away from my writing — then it’s much harder. Then often I just have to wait….sigh. Hope you’re feeling better about you writing soon. xo Julia

  18. I completely agree with you Julia – self doubt is a horrible thing, but I think it’s inevitable to have these writer moments. I’m with you on the ploughing on too, mostly, unless things get too much, then I just need to do other things until I feel able to go back to the words…. which, luckily, always happens again! Thanks Julia 🙂 x

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