Apr '18 23
Today's poem is quite surreal. Finding verb/tense combinations that would work was challenging; for example, there was no 'am', 'are', 'they', 'there', or 'will'.

This rescuee materialised from pages 97 and 89 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

end note

At night you always dream the same dream:
you write in your overheated notebook
work on your overlighted masterpiece
drink scarlet wine from the broken inkstand
breathe the evening air strange with music
swing in the ballroom with the dancing piano
meet a violet-haired woman
who smiles at you, growls at you, and forgets you
all in one day.
You eat, you live, you walk, you think,
month after month,
year after year.
At last you put away the pen
that sang your round, fat, end note.
Here is your landing-place.
This is the view from your mansion, your summit.
And it is enough.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 22
I have nothing to say about today's rescued poem except that it caught me completely by (tearful) surprise.

It appeared from pages 164 and 111 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

They called her 'the girl with the hair'

I find my mother in the blue-edged garden
at the front of the white house of my childhood,
oh so innocent!
She speaks: I remember my children, you know.
I remember you, my own one.
I remember your father.
I ask her how she is.
I ask her where she is.
I ask her to forgive me.
I fear she will leave too soon.
Surely she had more life to live?
I know then that this is the past:
that those flowery pathways to her are broken for ever;
that I can unbandage any wound but it will end up withered;
that an angelic death-bed does not care
about her, about me, about anybody;
that my dreams are a sinister prison.
I run after her, but already she is shadowy, dying.
Then I wake with the bitterest tears and a sorrow-touched heart.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 21
Today's rescued poem turned out to be an age-old story waiting to be told – although it wasn't without its vocabulary challenges. In particular, there was no 'him', hence some unwieldy construction/repetition, but that's how it goes.

And a reminder: none of these daily poems are heavily edited. To do so would require spending a lot more time to rework while staying true to the rules of using only what words are available in the jumble from the source texts.

This one ascended from pages 100 and 168 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

Lure of the lakes

My friend the pale octopus
dreamed me up from the abyss.

He read me a story
from the Book of Desolation
of a passionate knight from long ago
who had the eyes of a scorpion
and the heart of a lover;
who had sat by those lakes for years
watching, watching,
staring, staring.

The depths whispered to the knight
with their shadowy voice.
They took his blood and breath
for their own.
He drowned
but his soul bloomed in gladness at their gates.
The lakes filled up his spirit
and then he saw what had never been seen.

He had given them his soul.

My friend the pale octopus
rubbed his old eyes,
rubbed my old cheeks.

When I had sunk back to the depths
I gazed up in reawakened desolation:
That man was me.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 20
Trigger warning: personal/domestic violence

Today's rescued poem was difficult to pin down and it ended up going to a difficult place – hence the trigger warning. I have never been in this situation myself, but the poem wanted to go there anyway.

This poem called out from pages 42 and 85 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

the blight of yet another moment

with a child’s heart
and the hands of a mother
I face danger
singing aloud
like a poet adored
yet voiceless
my blood is a spoonful of soup
for your luncheon
eat, my love
eat my love, love
why don’t you
you are hungry again
so now you are beckoning me
now you are hammering your clenched fists
like a jealous boy
I have feared you for years
hammering your clenched fists
day in day out
hammering your clenched fists
to my head, my throat
singing aloud
I face you
the swinging danger

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 19
I had quite a bit of trouble with today's poem: the tenses of some verbs didn't suit, there was no 'is' or 'am', and the nouns and adjectives were rather pedestrian.

The resulting rescuee is somewhat surreal and has the hallmark darkness of most of my rescued poems – so different from the musicality and flow of yesterday's 'Bravura'.

This rescued poem floated from pages 295 and 14 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

how inevitable, the silent despairing

she murmured her tone-poem under her breath
no sound but the not so merry-go-round

her days swung by in a confused dream
his afternoon hand on her tender head startled her

she said: tell me, was there a promising us?
she touched his heart, but it would not remember

she spoke his name, but it would not answer
she drowned in a troubled stream of music

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 18
Today's little rescuee seemed to be ready and willing to perform for me. I thought I was in trouble when I realised the words 'play', 'played', 'his' or 'their' weren't available, but 'playing' was there so that had to do.

I didn’t even consider the title until the end; the word ‘bravura’ played (pardon the pun) beautifully into the little story I had told.

This poem sang its way out of pages 285 and 67 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.


Father’s fingers own the audience:
bow on strings like spine of wing in flight,
like fireworks that break through the deep-blue night;
in the dream-light, spirit shivers, drunk
on difficult but clear and fragrant notes;
no penumbra in the sky, now, even
stars are watching, fixedly, playing through
the heart and hands of this one, gentle man.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 17
I took a while to wrestle this poem out of the pot of scrambled words. The disjointed feel to this intimate, one-sided conversation has much to do with, yet again, the limited words and tenses available to me.

Of course, having words such as 'poison', 'feverish', and 'hallucinated' sent my head off down a particular route; however, I'm not sure I'd want much to do with the speaker who emerged!

So, this rescued poem escaped from pages 5 and 40 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

The small round room of recollections

What’s the matter, my darling?
You are feverish.
Your face is scarlet and your mouth is black.
But where is she now?
No, she’s not running back to you.
Why should she
with yourself all confused and ill
because of the poison you took?
Oh yes, you should have thought of what you meant to me,
you should have thought of my frenzy over you.
Ah, no more singing and larking about, baby.
I miss you.
Now, come to me with your handsome gold head
and the livid room of your brain;
I should sing to you to calm you.
The grass and stone called to me
to tell me you hallucinated them
so I danced down the brown mountains
to see you,
to be with you.
But you are adrift now
staring at hideous visions,
and peering forlornly
at the horror of what you felt for her.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 16
As usual, today's rescued poem posed a few challenges. In the source jumble of words there wasn't a great selection of interesting nouns; the verbs weren't strong; and although there were plenty of adjectives, most were not specific or at least not very evocative.

The result was a strange little reflexive/reflective rescuee that inched its way out of pages 204 and 99 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

What she was to me

Brightest mind long pressed like roses in a trap:
she was afraid, never quite understanding why.
They spoke words from her book of crazy, and smiled;
they read words from her book of forgotten, and laughed.
She will tell you that the silence of a story never written is a real fear,
that scornful people kissed her mournful eyes,
said, who are you? do you know?
why must it be you? you could turn away.
Listen, if tones do not ring clearly from her room
soon her world will empty
her head will leave
her heart will shut down.
Her despair took me unawares.
Now, now I know she was me.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 15
Today's rescued poem posed yet another vocabulary challenge; this time there was no 'there', no 'are', no 'these', 'those' or 'this', no 'their', and not even a 'no'.

This weekend I've been in a particularly musical frame of mind which might explain why I've written in a ballad-like form here, although without the associated rhyming scheme.

For the rescued process I stay true to the jumbled words in the vocabulary. We would usually spell the last word of this poem, 'luster', as 'lustre', but I quite liked that I had to adhere to the American spelling in the source text because it added another possible meaning ('a person lusting after...').

This rescued poem tiptoed out from pages 71 and 159 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

ten thousand lamps yet everywhere is dark

once, he held her nervous hand
twice, he smiled and kissed her
she was gentle-voiced and small
he, a dream-like stranger

once, he filled her eyes with tears
twice, he spoke of leaving
she was childish, blue and dark
he was moved, and trembling

twice, he bought her yellow flowers
once, he finished packing
her melancholy, low and deep
her gloom, a mellow luster

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 14
At first I thought this little rescuee would turn out to be a bit more upbeat than the ones to date, but no, it took an inevitable twist.

I kind of wrote myself into a corner at the end; I wanted a 'they' to finish but I hadn't paid attention and realised at the end that there wasn’t a 'they' in the source text. The word 'none', which might have been useful, wasn't there either.

And I adhere strictly to the rules of 'if it's not in the source jumble of words, I can't use it'. So for example if 'he' and 'would' are in the text but the contraction 'he’d' is not, I can't use 'he'd'.

The result was a more tragic ending than I'd expected.

I rescued this little one from pages 38 and 164 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

Take me to you

Happy in himself, the wild-eyed child
laughed at first to see the face that sighed
to feel the breath that blew so sweet on cheek:
then he noticed that she could not kiss him
  alas, she could not kiss him, could not kiss him.

Once he thought he heard their voices, raised
with bitter passion to their faithful heaven
he interrupted, vowed he loved them deeply
then he noticed that she could not see him
  alas, she could not see him, could not see him.

He asked for wind to hush what tears were left
he asked for grace to spare their shining lives
he asked for happiness to light their dark
then he noticed he was nowhere near them
  alas, he would not know them, never know them.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 13
Today's rescued poem was another challenging one, with few personal pronouns, and not many useful verbs. And of course when I wanted a plural noun there was only a singular, and vice versa – I don't even bend the rescuing rules to allow an 's' or 'es' to be added on or removed from a word to suit the poem.

I also should point out that the rescue applies even to the poem title, so the words in all rescued poem titles also come from the source texts.

Just as I was about to publish this post I realised that today is Friday the 13th, which makes the title rather appropriate (in a distantly superstitious kind of way).

This poem shimmied out from pages 109 and 31 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

The book of cats

I married my duke
and he terrifies me
with poems and pearls and smiles.
He said I was a bewitching creature
but I blew out the candle:
the mirrors hate me.
Sleep is a gossamer scarf somewhere beyond me.
I feel the universe, unending and great
behind my sleek head.
Just this evening
eleven angels kissed my cheek
and the stars waved at me and laughed.
I know the nothingness of space
and the neverness of time.
Why would he not want me?
Why would I want him?

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 12
Sometimes it's just a word or two that kicks off the rescued poem.

In today's bundle of words I couldn't go past 'chinless' and 'ogre' without putting them together. Then I placed him with a young girl; however, I was continually frustrated by the absence of useful words such as 'they' and 'them', and the fact that all the present-tense verbs were singular (hence the clunky tense construction using 'would').

Ah well, all in a day's rescue!

This one strolled from pages 253 and 45 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

Strange thoughts and stranger friends

The chinless ogre and the affectionate girl
go hand in hand to school
week after week after week.
Her eyes are blue flowers.
His face is not who he is.
She is all small and young and happy,
would never be hysterical at the sight of him
would never be mean to him
would never think he was weird
would never say she was bored of him
must not leave him
must come with him.
He must preserve her.

Her heart is his answer
in the ways that orchids caress the naked air.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '18 11
Often, the rescued poem story or observation wants to emerge fairly easily; however, today’s did not.

The two pages of source text didn’t have many of the usual useful conjunctions and pronouns, or verbs and nouns that I could connect. But I have to take what I get, them’s the rules.

So this one was dragged out, silently roaring, from pages 218 and 10 of The Devourers and Marie Tarnowska respectively, both by Annie Vivanti Chartres.

empty girl

sulphur-haired girl
of the clear eyes and meek face
is seated, motionless
by the prisoner’s wall

did she murder her child
with those delicate hands?
with those lips curving slightly
into a faint smile?

yes, yes she did
driven from her bed of shame
by the ruthless sisters
she was so ill-behaved, they said
curiosity and caresses with a man:
quite execrable behaviour, they said

here she is
do you see her?
silent, alone, empty
she has folded herself into herself
waiting to be hung

Posted by Jennifer Liston

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

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