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What I’ve been up to lately

Hi everyone, I know this blog’s been quiet for some time — longer than I anticipated in my last update — so I thought I’d check in for a bit.

I’m still recovering from burn out, thus I’ve been trying to take it easy with writing and other ‘work’ things and instead have been attempting more hobbies/relaxing activities (like finally getting The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s DLC and messing around with that and other games. I’ve missed Zelda, a lot.)

I did start editing a children’s poetry collection (that I initially wrote back in January 2020) as a light re-introduction to other editing bits I want to do this year, however, I received edits for my upcoming middle grade fantasy novel from my publisher, and ended up deep-diving into those to get them done by the deadline. I could have asked for an extension, but I had some appointments for personal and medical stuff coming up, and I wanted to finish the edits before then, as appointments (for anything) drain me tremendously, so I pushed through. (And now I’m feeling it.)

I’m hoping to go back to gently editing that poetry collection sometime next week, once all appointments are done and over with. In the meantime, I’ve been compiling a huge (four pages) list of notes to show the doctor for the last remaining appointment in case I get overwhelmed and lose my words, or go hyper and ramble off into irrelevant information (sometimes, both of those happen, which is… interesting. Either way, having to explain things about myself always leaves me exhausted), and attempting to make my website look better.

One thing I really should mention is that the lovely people at the RSPB put me forward for their ‘star volunteer’ nomination for the work I did on #52weeksofnaturepoetry, and somehow, I was actually chosen. I’m delighted and very thankful, as their fundraising team really did a lot to help me throughout my fundraiser, and honestly, it was just so nice to hear that they enjoyed my poems.

I’m also starting to query a new project (a paranormal teen/young YA novel with a mix of Garth Nix’s Sabriel and Hocus Pocus vibes) with literary agents, though as querying was one of the things that really took its toll on me last year, I’m trying to pace myself and be very selective with who I send my query to so I don’t overwhelm myself with it all.

Thanks for reading this far — this is all I can think of for now. Blogging will likely be sporadic this year, as I’m really hoping to focus on self-care and not bury myself under figurative mountains of writing. But it is hard, as every time I attempt to rest, my brain tries to tell me I’m not being productive or proving my worth to society, which isn’t helpful in the slightest. (For those interested, I’m on Universal Credit, which is a UK benefit that many people have to rely on for income for various reasons. As I’m on it because I can’t work in traditional environments and get overwhelmed by other people, I always feel like I need to be doing something to ‘earn’ the money I receive. It’s not a healthy way of thinking, but at the moment, I can’t shake it.)

Anyway, until next time!

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Avocets – Week 33 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Raising money for the RSPB)

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

[Apologies for how these poems are formatted. I do write them in stanzas, but WordPress rarely decides to keep them, no matter how much I argue with it.]

Shallow water waders,

elegant bills swiping beneath the surface

where pockets

of insects and crustaceans dwell.

————————————–

En masse, young fluff balls move in

on eager, clumsy feet,

shyly copying the unique motions

 of chessboard-coloured adults.

————————————–

Undisturbed this time,

unlike the morning’s encounter

with a web-footed trespasser,

audacious enough

to approach the wobbly learners —

a charge (or two) from furious parents

soon inspired adequate distancing.

—————————————

Centuries ago, daring fowls

were not the only ruffians these birds

had to handle.

—————————————

Facing drained wetlands,

marshes converted into farmland,

eggs stolen for breakfast,

feathers used to adorn ladies’ hats

and fashion fishing flies,

they lost everything

————————————-

and vanished

for a hundred years.

————————————-

Then came the sirens, shrieking warnings

of rigid spitting dragons.

Calling for blackouts, hastily built shelters,

and land to be strategically flooded.

————————————–

A ward against opposition, forgotten

after turmoil ceased.

Yet these new wetlands were not dismissed

by everyone.

————————————–

Drawn by their richness, avocets tiptoed back,

pale-blue legs

rediscovering the touch of home.

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Little Might – Week 32 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (Raising money for the RSPB)

Wilted leaves.

Brown, crinkled things dangling

from a branch.

That’s all they are, right?

Wrong!

Perception only,

exactly what the transforming life inside

wishes

casual onlookers to see,

instead of its carefully placed chrysalis.

But today, this guise

will be shed;

next stage imminent.

Softening the hard casing, a scratch

becomes a slit,

with just enough room

to drag its reborn self

into the open.

Breaking free; possibly the greatest struggle

of its life.

A cape of folded wings,

long limbs, antennae, curled tongue –

all new, barely a hint

of prior form left –

easing from a space now several sizes

too small.

Vulnerable the entire time,

each wriggle

requiring a rest period

where anything might snatch

at its fragile state.

Yet the very act

of this mammoth task

activates internal hydraulics.

Fluid pumps into wing veins,

expanding them

into powerful, scaled beaters.

Then: off to flowers,

toes tasting each flavour.

Deciding what’s a feast,

and what’s foul.

Unaware of the tales its species inspires

each time a human stops to notice.

Yarns of good fortune, joy, fertility, love.

The birth of a new soul,

the last passage of one who is lost.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

[Apologies for how these poems are formatted. I do write them in stanzas, but WordPress rarely decides to keep them, no matter how much I argue with it.]

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

A Swift Tale – #52weeksofnaturepoetry Week 30

Grassland melts into rock, sand:

a cocktail of pollen and seaweed

churning with the waves.

Splitting the heady air, bullets

of sooty brown feathers

zoom overhead,

changing direction with speed and accuracy

like no other.

I have an inkling

of who these daredevils are,

with their scythe-shaped wings and forked tails,

yet it takes a second sighting,

snatching up as many details as I can

in the split second

it takes for them to pass by,

to be sure.

Swift in nature, not just name;

never lingering, rarely settling –

lives lived on the wing.

Eating, sleeping: all of it

performed while facing the wind.

Yet there is one thing

incompatible with flight,

and it is this

which called them from Africa

back to our blustery shores:

nest building season.

Days filled with locating safe sites,

or returning to spaces

already trusted and true:

eaves of old churches,

hole-riddled roofs, sea cliffs, and crags.

Then, time for building and spring cleaning;

no preparation too much

for new arrivals.

Developing quickly, the young

will become eager, itching

to make their first journey.

Like their parents before them,

off they’ll go days after fledging,

enjoying the company of peers.

Ready to spend months

south of the Sahara, chasing rains

that surge insect populations –

plenty of food

on which to grow strong.

[Swifts are at risk of losing valuable nesting sites due to refurbishments and modern building techniques. To help them, special nesting boxes can be placed up high – somewhere accessible from the wing, so not anywhere low to the ground. These nest boxes can be found on the RSPB website linked below]

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. Being autistic, nature is often my only place of solace, and I want to do all I can to protect it. As I’m not very comfortable around other people, most of the standard ways of helping out (volunteering, social fundraisers etc) were not a good fit for me, so I came up with #52weeksofnaturepoetry, where I have to post a nature poem here on this blog each week for an entire year without fail.

If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

(You can also become a member of the RSPB and support them month to month. Members receive Nature’s Home magazine and seasonal guides for what to look out for when out and about. Details are on their website.)

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

#52weeksofnaturepoetry Week 26 – Weeds Indeed!

Minute purples, tiny blues, pins of white,

heads of bursting yellow.

Forget them, forget them not:

Wildflowers.

(Or the name you give them – weeds.)

Growing freely alongside the grass

of your untrimmed lawns, fields, verges;

these vibrant native nuggets pop

up each spring.

Cuckooflowers, dog violets, daisies,

primroses, cornflowers, cowslips;

hundreds more!

You call them unwanted, unnecessary, untidy.

But, what if, instead,

you were to think, ‘What a feast for wildlife!

Which species will my patch of green attract

if I let these lovely plants be?’

A tiny section of dandelions,

left to grow full manes,

can feed a myriad of insects:

our tiny heroes who pollinate crops

and break down waste,

meticulous workers pumping life

right up to your front door.

Surely that’s cause to leave

the weedkiller alone this year?

(Or better, discard it, safely, altogether.)

So, spare a thought to that patch of colour

you didn’t plant.

For all flowers are worthy;

all play a part.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. Being autistic, nature is often my only place of solace, and I want to do all I can to protect it. As I’m not very comfortable around other people, most of the standard ways of helping out (volunteering, social fundraisers etc) were not a good fit for me, so I came up with #52weeksofnaturepoetry, where I have to post a nature poem here on this blog each week for an entire year without fail.

If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

(You can also become a member of the RSPB and support them month to month. Members receive Nature’s Home magazine and seasonal guides for what to look out for when out and about. Details are on their website.)

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Fundraising for RSPB with #52weeksofnaturepoetry: Week 25 – Wren

Stepping into the garden, noting the overcast sky,

my nerves tingle at an alarming sound:

toy phaser guns billowing out blasts.

I freeze, eyes sweeping the area.

Is some hidden group of mischief makers

playing tricks?

Little bigger than my thumb,

a dumpy ball of feathers darts from the tree to my left

and into the bush in front of me.

Slim beak opening wide, it punches a complicated trill

full of science fiction sound effects.

Definitely the phaser source.

Troglodytes troglodytes:

Third smallest native bird;

voice unmatched by even the big boys.

A myriad of notes crammed into each second

like some world record attempt,

except this is its daily go-to,

repeated powerfully every time.

A stylish performer

(check out that bright eye liner!),

with stamina enough

to last the whole day through.

No drawn-out interludes here.

In the distance I hear another, song just as loud,

followed by a third.

Their voices soundscape;

already, the clouds have cleared.

The poem below is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. Being autistic, nature is often my only place of solace, and I want to do all I can to protect it. As I’m not very comfortable around other people, most of the standard ways of helping out (volunteering, ‘traditional’ fundraisers etc.) were not a good fit for me, so I came up with #52weeksofnaturepoetry, where I have to post a nature poem here on this blog each week for an entire year without fail.

If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

(Also, please excuse the formatting. My poems are usually in stanzas, but WordPress always removes them.)

#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

#52weeksofnaturepoetry Week 6 – Starlings

Morning. The sound of dustbin collections

and eager motorbikes.

Occasionally the fire alarm test

that startles me into hiding.

Parents taking their kids to school:

answering questions, making jokes, scolding.

But underneath it all, the unmistakable song comes.

A joyous layer punctuating the urban air with spirited notes.

Clustered, drawn out, mechanical, fluid.

Hard to describe,

yet easy to know

despite the borrowed snippets.

When I go to look, only the bricks of the flats opposite

greet me, occasionally with a gull stomping along

the roof tiles.

Even stretching my head out the window,

the vocal murmuration is too far away to spot.

A rooftop or two, as always.

The flocks around here are large, though.

On evening walks, where no towers block the view,

I catch a few minutes of their regular performance:

synchronised sky-swimming,

organised by a chaos of glossy, speckled plumage and direct beaks.

And my day is richer for it.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. Being autistic, nature is often my only place of solace, and I want to do all I can to protect it. As I’m not very comfortable around other people, most of the standard ways of helping out (volunteering, sport-style fundraisers etc) were not a good fit for me, so I came up with #52weeksofnaturepoetry, where I have to post a nature poem here on this blog each week for an entire year without fail.

If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

(You can also become a member of the RSPB and support them month to month. Members receive Nature’s Home magazine and seasonal guides for what to look out for when out and about. Details are on their website.)