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

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 6
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

(Page 2 of 4, totaling 55 entries)