Tag Archives: poetry

So many shades of beauty

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Here’s an amazing poem that Facebook censors. Strange: fascists can spit their venom all over the web, but true love is a no go. Please show your tolerance for diversity. Click on the image to watch this two-minute video, like it and share.


(and then listen to it a second time, but with your eyes closed…)


Because we are all beautiful.


And because we are all beautiful, here is a book promotion to celebrate diversity. These books feature PoC, LGBT+ and/or disabled characters. Click on the image to discover these free books on offer.



literary menu: Alexandra Troxell

red lentil soup by ehrlichkochen

There Is No Memory…

of killing a crayfish between two rocks on the banks of Fishing Creek. Later, our mother would find me examining it, “how could you do that to a living thing.” I never was a violent child, as you know, just curious about small and intricate things. It was the first time I understood what it meant to die and to live.

You must know what it’s like to be that crayfish, so close to death at the hands of someone or something unable to grasp your meaning. I watch you sleep, eyes twitch beneath purple eyelids, darkened from the contents of your young and spoiled life. I imagine you dream of worlds too frightening to wake up to.

Perhaps it is the world I have created for you—a kingdom of rainbow trout, rope swings and cigarettes.

For a moment, I almost squeeze your arm to ensure you are awake.

salad with radishes and lemon & cream dressing, by ehrlichkochen


The streets of LaRambla pulse with the inception of June—

vendors selling red and pink roses wilting in any presence but our own

prostitutes crouching between marble pillars

Tonight I am new again

for this, I thank you

There is no memory that completes me now—

the stiffness of sea salt and midnight paella

your white cotton shirt I once unbuttoned

the game we played through the hallowing streets

catch me if you can

the plaza where protesters slept off their lazy violence

your fingers in my mouth

I wonder how many women you have lingered with and if you keep postcards to remember

I watched the vines of your tattoo grow from your shoulder and into my chest

where a cornucopia rests and is replenished

there was no dream before you

now I rest my feet in a bed of pins


(Alexandtra Troxell, in Shaking Thoughts)

home-made vanilla ice-cream served with fresh fruit, by ehrlichkochen


If you have a recipe you would like to share – and a picture of the meal once you’ve prepared it – why not submit it to be featured in my literature café? Tell me a little bit about yourself whilst you’re at it. Contact me in the comments box below or at joanbarbarasimon@yahoo, in the latter case with the reference: literature café.

One Manner of Hunger

one manner of hunger cover picture

Today’s Words’ Worth comes from a writer I got to know on the internet last year, Bill Johnston:
‘I tend to be either intensely focused or entirely too laid back. My demeanor is actually nearly always quite cheerful. Something about a keyboard and a concept is always so grim. Deep, eloquent and grim for a humorous soul. I’m not sure what it is… Like water my words in type run to the lowest point without the effort required to raise them.’
 ‘No matter how many times I molt, I have layers beneath that will not shed.’
On the topic of American’s being prudish:
‘We love and hate our filthy shit. I find for every one prude there’s two more that want to hear more. It swings more both ways here than I’m guessing it does there, but once something filthy must be read there are church ladies with copies under their mattresses.’
Bill Johnston. William Thomas Johnston. Poet. Storyteller. Blogger. Friend. Proof that online encounters can grow into something beautiful. It’s a pleasure to know you, Bill!

The Familiar

Forget crows, panthers, alligators and sharks;
the dog is the poet’s true familiar. The hours
of inaction spent sprawled out on a rug; the eager
fetch and carry of almost anything you care to throw
them; the way they fool you into thinking

they understand every word you are saying;
how they like to be fed and watered regularly;
how they smell of the forest floor when they are damp.
And don’t forget the selective memory. All of the above,
and the fact that they are happiest when lying

in the corner of a room inspecting their private parts.

From: The Familiar, by Gordon Meade (Arrowhead Press 2011).

The Red Room

call me wound that never heals & we will meet in my bedroom & i will show you what happens to the perception of time what happens to our concepts of desire what happens to power in my bedroom (Penny Goring, Ornamental Vagina. Illustration: L.W.Eden, © copyright 2015)



I considered myself

with my many rooms

my chambers

and closets

For everyone I hold a key

thought I

till the day

you revealed to me

the key

to a door

whose existence

had escaped me.

Indescribably at ease

you slide

you turn

and enter…

A magnificent chamber

whose virginity

astounds both you and me

Lips hand-in-hand, as


We bathe in the

lush, the


crimson walls

in the light

of complicity’s opiated


of a glutinous sin

that is not

to be called such…

Our meeting point, our playroom

an exquisite discovery:



unwittingly though

Where do you go


quicken your step?

will you leave me here


Though drowned in the heat of red

I shall shiver

with cold

if you leave me


Stay awhile…

Force me not

to live

with such deliciousness

blanched by dustsheets

my velvets untouched:

my chamber

Furnished yet


( from The Red Room )

Favourite Shirt


favourite short blogpost picture
Copyright © Pia Ines




I want you to wear me

like your favourite shirt;

close to your skin –

for your fingers to linger

on the buttons, on the rims

as you smooth me across your chest

smiling at the mirror to know

how I look best on you.


I want to be that collar

that may kiss your nape all evening –

play with your hair


as it brushes my mouth and makes me glow


in a way that only you and I may know

about lips upon skin upon hair

upon skin…

about limbs…

lost in limbs…


I want to be your favourite shirt in summer

with nothing between us but the odour of our seasons

you granting me every reason

to saunter where I will;

ride the smoothness of your back

nestle in your armpits

tuck myself in your slacks

hug your waist

as we sit…

I’d get to follow you everywhere

with no-one suspecting

why that smile

plays for more than a while

on your lips as you smooth

again and smooth again

and smooth never enough

that favourite shirt

from the collar


down to my hips.


(from The Red Room)



Les Animots: A Human Bestiary (in conversation with Gordon Meade)

spider's web
Taken from my window, 8a.m. So fragile, yet tenacious. The perfect writer’s emblem. Joan Barbara Simon, Luxembourg.

GORDON : Joan, a poem from my next collection, Les Animots: A Human Bestiary, out in September 2015. Hope you like it…


Spider is very seldom
seen at the centre of her web.
She is happier lurking

at the edges. It gives
her victims a larger area on which
to land. It is only after

she has felt the vibrations
that Spider rushes in. Life is lived
at the edges; the dead

centre, left for the kill.

JOAN: Hi Gordon. I love this poem; the concentrics of it; spider not at the centre, though she must start at the centre (why is she always a she, and depicted as a killer? just a thought…); vibrations (I think, too, of water, rippling away from the stone thrown into it…); dead centre (bull’s eye), still-living prey ready for the kill… struggling, thus provoking vibrations, SOS… message received… here she comes

GORDON: Glad you liked it!

JOAN: more than liked it, Gordon. Would you allow me to cite it in the critical analysis part of my Ph.D.? I can (begin to) see how it relates to themes I’m exploring; themes on structure, layered reading, hypersemia, movement, even brushing Derrida and certainly relevant to my take on Faulkner (e.g. ‘Caddy uncaught me and we crawled through’: The Sound & The Fury), even the notion of prey.

And maybe it’s just me being pervy again, but I also pick up a whiff of something vaguely sexual there, not just the spider as she-predator, but also in the structure of the web itself (getting well and truly pervy now…); could be a nipple, could be THAT orifice, sticky, waiting, dead at the centre…?

But it’s also a great metaphor for the meanings that ripple off individual words (Bakhtin), whose centre, origin (in pops Derrida) can never satisfactorily be traced…; there is a hole at the heart of (the) language (trap). That your poem brings all of this together, structured semantically (as I see it) like the very web it describes, gives me goosepimples. We’re verging off into French, so I’ll say frissons. 🙂

GORDON: By all means use it, Joan. Funny you should mention Derrida as one of the quotes that I’ll be using as a sort of introduction to the new book is from him:

The animal is a word, it is an appellation that men have instituted, a name they have given themselves the right, and the authority, to give to another creature.”

I’m very pleased by your response to the poem. The book, which will be illustrated by a Scottish artist, will consist of four “galleries” of creatures which, hopefully, will be both animal and human, or for the reader to find out for him- or herself.

JOAN: Derrida also explored the notion of hymen. And violence… Of the struggle at the borders, which I see as fitting in neatly with Bakhtin. In describing the animal as a word – as BUT a word is the echo I hear when I read the passage anew – I sense the injustice done onto the living thing by the authority of Man – by his ab/use of language. This BUT opens up realms where ideas may merrily breed and shapes may shift: Animots, anime les mots…(I think of Jacques Prévert…) man, striped of his husk, becomes which animal? Do we err on the spider’s web, eventually to be pulled toward a dead centre? Just thinking out loud. And deeply impressed by your poem, Gordon!

GORDON: I think a lot of your impressions regarding the poem are definitely there… the sexuality, the dead centre, language as a trap etc. One of the things I’m trying to do in the poems from Les Animots; A Human Bestiary, is to use a pared down sort of language to open up a lot of different interpretations.
Encouragement is good at any time, but your timing is impeccable with this poem, as I am meeting up with the illustrator tomorrow. I haven’t seen his sketches on the Spider poem, but we had talked about having the web encompassing the text with just a glimpse of the spider at the edge of the page.

JOAN: and if the spider were off the page??? If we see her, we know which direction she’s coming from. This makes her less dangerous, to me. If we don’t/can’t see her, we have no idea where the danger is lying in wait. And it makes the poem, and the web, spill over the border of the page – pages are rectangular, webs are not… – into a space that only the reader may enter. Not sure if you want to go that far. I’ll definitely buy a copy of the book, so I’ll find out 🙂

Boy Queen

red throat clear

In the morning when I coyed your skin

it felt

like velvet fur

your Nubian lips glossed

by the yolk

of the rising sun.

You made me sigh

I made you


you showed me all your graces

your fire and desire

you made me sigh…


made you cry but

kissed such



Wearing on mine

your pith turned child

beautiful bright boy

my prince

some being born out of the

queen in flight


as the night was warm

was thinly clothed

with shy whispers

crumpled by the

wrath of sheets.

You showed me the

soft side


dark side

showed me

the wildcat


beneath that

African pride…

disclosed your

every shade

of woman

to my man

who kissed away

lone tears

who cradled that

fragility till anxiety had


bodies cascading

in moments


to years

(from The Red Room)