The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

And she’s off!

Today's writing project

Dear reader, I wouldn’t want you to think I was slacking. However, I am off to Barcelona tomorrow and if I have the time or opportunity to post on my blog, well I won’t be having much of a holiday. I will be writing while I’m away, in a final tweak of Riverlands poems – so expect a week of radio silence with an efflorescence of poems immediately afterwards.

Meanwhile, as I said yesterday I’m reprinting my book Navigation and have had plenty of orders already (mail if you want one for £9 including postage). I’ve taken the opportunity to revise it very slightly, adding in a few new poems. This is one of them – first published in Templar’s anthology Bliss last autumn.


This much I know:
I didn’t know that wine could be that bad.
You poured; we drank from plastic tubs
in bat-scratched twilight on a tractor seat
like teenagers at the Rec.

The rest is maybe.
Elderflowers, honeysuckle, swallows –
surely there were these,
although perhaps not all at once.
They turn up now, like skin-thin petals in a Bible.

Perhaps we did alright for one night
in Northumberland, and told no lies.
More likely, I’ve done nothing good at all
and at my funeral no-one will stand to say
we remember her for her sonnets

or worse, they will. Perhaps I’ve done enough;
a catchphrase or a wink, small kindnesses.
If flower sap can drain and pale
till something real becomes an artefact,
I may survive as someone’s pub tale.

After all, although you were a bloody nightmare
what I remember now is your curling laugh and lope,
your army boots and poppy-scented skin;
my readiness to believe, although
it was an effort in the dusk, even then.

That’s a rather melancholy feeling to leave you with. So I’ll sign off till my return with a little poem from Raymond Carver which should serve to raise the spirits, make us all pay attention to the moment as we should… and encourage my NaPoWriMo friends to keep going with the challenge!

Sunday Night
Raymond Carver

Make use of the things around you.
This light rain
Outside the window, for one.
This cigarette between my fingers,
These feet on the couch.
The faint sound of rock-and-roll,
The red Ferrari in my head.
The woman bumping
Drunkenly around in the kitchen….
Put it all in,
Make use.


3 comments on “And she’s off!

  1. Narrowboat Wife
    April 16, 2012

    Hi Jo
    Just found your blog through Twitter. Is there a link to more info about the book? Themes, topics, style? 🙂
    I’m a narrowboater and recovering/retired performance poet!

    • Jo Bell
      April 16, 2012

      Peggy – I guess it’s lyrical, contemporary poetry on boats, archaeology and difficult relationships. Many of the poems in it can be found on this blog (below) or on the ‘poems, videos’ link above – if you like it, drop me a line and I can PayPal invoice you for the princely sum of £9!

      • Narrowboat Wife
        April 16, 2012

        Thanks Jo. Sounds good. I’ll read more later when I’m not s’posed to be working! 😉

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on April 8, 2012 by in Readings and writings, Writing exercises and tagged , , , , , , .
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