Tag Archives: Lisbon

Safe Haven

Hand holding pozible rewardsI’ve finally completed my pozible rewards. It took 3 months, partly because promising to write poems is completely different from actually writing them, and partly because two weeks after I came home I ended up in emergency surgery (all ok now). So. Rewards took a back seat. But now they’re done. And this is the final final reward, for my single $250 supporter, the very wonderful (not least because she’s my Aunt) Moiya Ford. As promised, this is a blog post for you, with your poem.

I asked my $100 and $250 supporters to give me three words to weave into a poem that I would write for them, but try as she might, the weren’t coming for Moiya. So I have written a poem, in some ways, with no words. No words given, but words that came. This is Safe Haven, for Moiya, with love, and thanks.

Safe Haven

On the double decker bus, in the jet lag
drown, I sit on a seat with a split.
It seeps old water, and wets me without caring.

I am plugged in to a headset, listening to a recording
of a woman telling me I must try Bacalhau, salted cod.
My jeans are wet from hip to knee.
I perch weirdly on one side, hoping that the sun
and wind will dry me.

Next she tells me the story of Fado, the song of the people,
and talks about roosters, and 550,000 people in the city,
and 3 million in Lisbon and surrounds (those seven hills).

Ulysses stopped here. And I wonder, what did he want?
How did he stop? What hill did his foot undo?

Jeans are still wet. I unplug. I move to a different seat.
This seat is split too. I lean again, so the water can’t seep.

St. Anthony, she says, is the patron saint of Lisbon. Lost object
finder, saviour of small things. She says the word Lisbon is thought
to be Venetian: safe haven, she thinks is its meaning.

We finish our circuit. She starts again. I unplug.
Jeans almost dry.

Later, I try salted cod. It is fleshy, fat, tongue squint.
Later, my jeans dry.
Later, jetlag leaves.
Later, at the Feira Da Ladra, I find small lost things
to take home to my children, my lover, my sister, my friends

a deep tinted photo of the initiate’s well in Sintra.
A plaster Mary holding her baby to be hung on a Coburg wall.
Three glazed fish and six glazed cicadas from the coast,
in blood red, and olive green, and sea blue.

Later, I buy a metal rooster brightly dotted to attach to my keys,
and when I drive up Sydney Road it plickers and plings.

Safe haven. Lost things. Dry jeans.

Lisbon in bites

Bucket of coffee. Made it through the whole of yesterday without a nap. Made it Tiled building facadethrough the night (mostly) asleep.

Weird rash/bunch of bites on my calf. Cortisone in Portugese: cortisona.

Hunting stamps today and pondering whether I need to write 16 three line poems (that’s how many gorgeouses pledged $10), or if I can write 8 and double up.

Conference rego at 12.30. I walk everywhere here. Google maps I love you.

Yesterday I was carrying two felt pirate flags I’d bought for the kids and a flannelette shirted woman came up and started speaking in Portugese. She thought I was going to the May Day rally. There was dancing in the streets. A man playing accordion with a tiny dog on his shoulder collecting coins.

Pasteria (pastry) shops everywhere. The way that travelling alone lets me be still, and watch everything, and the world, quietly, comes to meet me.

Postcards from Portugal

So part of the reason I’m here is because of my pozible project. About halfway through the project a friend told me she felt bad because she could only pledge $10, which prompted me to add a new reward level. The $10 pledge receives a postcard from Portugal with a three line poem on it. I wanted to acknowledge and thank those who had little to spare, and then chose to send that amount to me (also, this is the heart of crowd funding – many people giving small amounts). That said, I thought I’d put up some pictures of some of the postcards that will be sent this week. Here’s the first one.

Postcard of tiles



In transit

Ok so it’s clear I’m a pretty crap blogger. Inconsistent. Up and down. Rarely Aeroplane shrouded in mistregular. But I’m sticking at it. And right now I’m on my way to read my work in Lisbon because I won an award that wasn’t quite enough to get me there and a bunch of people jumped on board to help me get the rest of the way. So I’m going to blog Lisbon. Probably in very short posts.

6am in London. Heathrow is mist full and quiet. The French woman at the coffee shop suitably disdainful. Portly men in purple jackets guarding doorways and trying to look cheerful and authoritative at the same time. The quiet elation of putting your feet down in Spring, having come from Autumn.