INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD
GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2021
Jacci Bulman grew up around Accrington, Lancashire, before studying Human Sciences at Oxford University.
She overcame a brain tumour and skin cancer, co-founded a charity for disabled children in Vietnam (The Kianh Foundation), and began to focus increasingly on spiritual understanding at its simplest – that God is Love.
‘In the holding’ is her second poetry collection, created alongside a new non-fiction book ‘Talking God – Daring to Listen’ (Lion Hudson) about the importance of listening to others for us to find our own beliefs.
138 x 216mm
£8.99 + P&P UK
In the holding
‘In the holding’ has three connected sections, each considering how we can hold the gifts given to us, of love, communication and our mortal human life, with honesty and integrity – even when life is hard. The book follows a journey which becomes increasingly clearly a journey of faith – faith in the love that we all are.
“The casual, colloquial voice of Jacci Bulman’s poetry is deceptively simple and easy to listen to.
She has a compassionate eye that analyses human dilemmas and complex issues, setting them out on the page with a clarity of expression that disguises
a mastery of rhythm and form.”
Where only the river flowed
Jo didn’t know much, only that he needed to sleep.
Slept for a long time in a room smelling of
coconut and cheap perfume, and Bess didn’t wake him. She left
the door ajar to be sure he stayed then let him lie there
on her cream cotton sheets
while she sat drinking Tennessee in the kitchen through
the hours when even the soil is sleeping, and then again
when the sun was hot through the blinds.
She couldn’t lie beside him, not knowing what he’d done,
how he’d got here, but,
even though she knew it was wrong,
she got a kind of ease knowing he was there in her bed
than the well, and for a while she imagined
what they could have been, the two of them,
with a farm, chickens and a field full of barley, way out
nowhere, where the wood axe broke the quiet.
Clifford is telling us one of his stories
and we are laughing.
You, I see out the window
as you rush to pick us some spinach.
You come in with a bunch
of the biggest green leaves.
What about sweet peas...do you like sweet peas?
We nod and smile.
On goes your man with his yarn
as you return to the garden,
assured your husband is fair enjoying himself,
us being keen listeners.
Within minutes you’re standing in the doorway,
hands full of pure white flowers which have
in their own way an intoxicating smell.
I want to tell you how beautiful they are
but there is only a short enough gap in
Clifford’s tale – of your caravan days
on the Hebrides – for a quick
lovely and thank-you.
You join us.
Distracted now I watch your face
watching your man having a ball.
I sit quiet and you teach me kindness.
Some words are mine
Like the ‘down’
in C. K. Williams’ first horse going down
or ‘brain tumour’, ‘Blencathra’, ‘Scotland’.
They are my own.
I hear them –
reach out to possess,
pull them back:
my feet would stumble
18th Birthday at Bolton Street Working Men’s Club
Wendy Brown has turned up so we can dance Adam-Ant-style,
kicking our legs to each side, looking wild,
and I’ve got a man I’m sure I love
watching me from the bar,
and we’re high on a belief,
a young untested faith
that life will carry on this good,
because it does;
we’re sweet on an absence of what comes after this,
absence of a taste like paint in the throat
that right now
can’t even be thought about,
is so far from being imagined
it’s almost a joke.
Jo and Bess
You say you don’t like marmalade
so I say it’s just orange jam,
you don’t like big trees
so I say they’re corrals for leaves,
you think squirrels are scary,
so I say they’re ponies for elves.
You say you suddenly can’t spell heaven
so I say try heave (as in pull)
with an ‘n’ on.
You say being in this place feels weird,
so I say imagine sitting by the Mississippi
on a big log.
You say why does it all come back
the same, every day,
the same world out there, in here?
I say let’s close our eyes, and behind them
it can all be a perfect somewhere,
you in your cowboy clothes,
two fine grey mares standing by
while we make coffee on a campfire.
You say you don’t want to close your eyes,
so I close mine, tell you of galloping horses.
Something good to think about
In many different places,
like looking at a single buttercup in a meadow of buttercups,
or a grey stone in a river, spider on the wall,
to think, what if that is actually God, incognito?
God compressed into a single spider or stone,
directing the whole universe from
one spot, enjoying the fact nobody knows,
and then to think –
but then again that is God, because –
then lose the thread and
just stare at the buttercup or the
stone or the whatever, and
look around us,
be happy enough.
Pure light. Not known by exposure to darkness.
Constant health, joy, hope.
Could bravery – through love –
to step into this,
be all we are missing, in this life?