Apr '18 10
Today's poem is rather sad and took me by surprise.

And again, a disclaimer: these daily poems are newly minted and could do with at least a spit 'n' polish.

I rescued the poem from pages 312 and 150 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.


something in the water
memory      like a goldfish      was that it
what did that really mean
would she have forgotten her light-eyed sister
a diamond ring from that handsome man
the loving smile of mother
the oh so familiar voice of grandmama

awake      but      asleep
oh memory
element in time
wind me back
to the goldfish
to the meaning of a thing
to the knowing of again
to the strangeness of a heart
how careless
don’t disturb the dangling thoughts
no   no   no

even her name
already flying off in a narrow-rimmed hat
now she cannot hear … what was it
how strange that   how gone
no   nothing now
how suddenly she is left
all of it hidden from her

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 9
It's day 9, and the daily strangeness of rescued poetry continues!

Today's offering is rescued from pages 102 and 69 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.


I rise from the words of a book
in the shady rooms of a vast house
to linger in the blue eyes of that elfin girl
for the afternoon,
or lead the clear mind of that wind-light boy
towards the sleepy hot white of a country garden
where the bee-droning flower-beds hear and remember me
as I was before I left my glittering world.
Those children were brief but perfect home to me.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 8
I had a busy day today, so I was quite tired when I sat down to rescue a poem this evening.

Today's strange little rescuee emerged from pages 318 and 161 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres. I wonder what kind of being the speaker is.


My wrist!
The long string!
The blue balloon!
I remember our time together,
why it rose so lightly
why I could not reach it.
You see, my mind is a room
a full waiting room.
Blue balloon, blue balloon.
There it was,
knock-knocking against the ceiling.
Then the human visitor
stopped to look
and laughed at me,
hands clasped,
gazing at me
but knock-knocking
on my warm old mind.
Now his hoarse voice is left
but he will never return.
Look, he was not kind
he was knock-knocking,
hard and rude.
Would you have wanted that?

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 7
As always, I preface these daily NaPoWriMo poems with the reminder: they are daily-fresh and could do with plenty of rework.

The fact that they are rescued poems rather than the usual 'organic' or 'inspired' poems means that editing them would be extra difficult – remember, I am limited to choosing from the jumbled vocabulary of the two pages only! (I don't sneak in an extra pronoun or conjunction even if I desperately need one!)

Today's rescuee jumped into my notebook from pages 45 and 57 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

Like all the rescued poems so far this month, this one goes to a dark place. I simply follow.

Syringe of forgetfulness

Thread the needle through
my veins, dear.
Poppy juice will grip my virulent mind,
will let the front-door of my misunderstood heart
hide my deserted house.
Look, there go my grief and torment
out the brown gate;
there they flow, slow,
down by the pond of water-lilies;
there they glide, by the village cross-roads.
Bells tell
the black soft-footed cat
to prepare to bite
the fangs that hand me
the milky venom
but it turned and looked at me
and just ran away.
It just ran away!

There is no sun at the end:
everyone is alone
spinning into ever-widening circles.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 6
The rescued poem for today is from pages 6 and 54 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

What is interesting is that in the final four stanzas, words are mixed up somewhat, as if the speaker hasn't quite remembered the way language is usually ordered.

When the dead listen

Sometimes I call to my dear mamma, dead;
as cool as my ancestors, shrivelled and old.
Crying her name, I thought, would have helped
but she is unmoved in the depths of the snow...

...stay your tears this time
say you wish me well
they came to see me lowered
I died for want of warm

what your well of tears
don’t say: wish me time
lowered into warm I want
I died in what I came for

who were you my last
my strange my solemn fair
I finished and I asked
in winter marble lain

my fair, you were my last
my want my dear my strange
the solemn marble asked
in winter I was lain

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 5
Day 5: I'm alive!

I've rescued this little poem from pages 98 and 78 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

The gods at breakfast, darkly

I kissed the sun on the mountains.
I blew the breeze on the lake.
I rang the bell in the morning.
I greeted the unborn child.

The lady in blue is a beauty,
behold her sweet ivory face.
Salute her: how could she answer,
stiff in her bare solitude?

I threw off my fine scarlet slippers.
I lifted my skirts and my sheets.
See my mouth, open to know you?
Hear me? Yes. That is me, laughing.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 4
Today's NaPoWriMo poem is rescued from pages 125 and 94 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

What the photographs said

Who are the ten women in these photographs,
sour-faced, haughty, silent?
On one, I hear that pearl necklace
as it strings a tone of terror
like a polished weapon.
On another, the tortoise-shell combs
would have taken the eye out of her head.
The game of night and day
the game of light and dark.
Of course, I see you and me
in these pictures:
in the polished glass brooches
in the enormous wild eyes
in the clenched little fists.
Silver shells all in a row.
On the back,
and directions to kill.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 3
Day 3: today's offering is from pages 69 and 70 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

strange terrible things

string sorry lyrics
looking for the light of tenderness
shooting up the drug of memory
but almost always
they take me
to some black-edged abyss
where deadly night engulfs
my pale blue tears
where strange things –
oh strange, terrible things –
come from that chasm,
drag me to gehanna*
and dare me
(crackling, shaking)
to look…

* destination of the wicked

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 2
I've rescued today's poem from pages 88 and 202 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

Notes of ruin

Dreamy young mind
a fortune-teller’s fool:
as crystal flashed her gaze
soothsayer lifted a veil
and, by superstition or intuition,
she believed the words.
Bird-thought poison touched her gold-bright spirit.
Her fair kindness and silver smile
turned to notes of ruin.
Now she is a room with doors shut.
Now, sullen little grim girl’s eyes –
hand, lips, brow trembling –
notice strange sorrow
discern dark sinister moments
but never notice the miracle at the window of her memory.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 1
I’ve written a poem a day each year from 2012 to 2015, but in 2016 I needed to concentrate on finishing the PhD and last year, well, I was having a little break. So now I’m back in the write-and-publish-a-poem-every-day-in-April saddle.

This year I decided to do something different: each day I will write and post a rescued poem using the same two source prose texts. You can read about the rescue process here. Rescuing a poem is about writing a new poem from two pages of text from two books following a strict, repeatable process.

It will be interesting to see if any themes emerge, given that the base vocabulary and style will be consistent. I chose books of which I had electronic copies so that I could eliminate the transcribing element of the rescue process. I can simply copy and paste the pages of text from the books, which makes rescuing much less onerous to do daily.

The two books are The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres. She was born in London in 1866, of Italian and German parents, and in 1892 she married the Anglo-Irish journalist and lawyer John Chartres. (You can read more about her here.)

I've rescued today's poem from pages 302 and 67 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively.

Don’t leave

Pale perfect
face of a woman:
tired in foolish laughter.
Big sour
spine of a man:
deep, in angry silence.
This, this is the darkness of that world
where ‘sorry’
is the sacred missing,
where shapeless hatred and careless jealousy
devour the mute cry of hope.
This, this is the darkness of that world:
she cannot step into the fast blue sky of morning,
she cannot stop the wild stars of an evening.
When she shivers, a breath of air might kill her.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

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