If Heaven had a Phone – Connecting Through Shared Experiences

I have been very humbled with the response I have received on social media with my two recent poems about grief and loss.   Today I will share these poems and talk about the power of poetry to express feelings and ideas and to connect people through similar experiences.

The first of the two is one I wrote a few days ago while thinking of my dearly departed Dad and the songs he used to sing:

You miss the little things
The songs they sang
The jokes they told
The memories are always there
You never let them go
Onto them you hold
You remember precious moments
They make you happy
They make you sad
They may have left your life
But that they were in it
You are glad

                              Jen Elvy

Here, I experimented with a new rhyming structure,  making every 3rd line rhyme.   It came relatively easy,  poems from the heart often do, but the one bit I needed to polish was the last part.  I knew what I wanted to say and I knew I wanted to use the sad/glad rhyme.  It was just fitting the lines together so that they made sense and followed the structure of the poem.  I am pleased with the end result and it touched several others on my instagram and facebook pages.

I am thankful that  I’ve had such a lovely response from writing about this very delicate topic.  My feelings about my Dad often make the words flow and others who have suffered similar losses have been able to relate to what I have written.   Many of us now have suffered loss and if we can connect through poetry then that is a blessing.   If my poem can comfort just one person then I’ve done ok.   If it can reach several, then even better. There was a line in a poem that touched me recently.  The poem is called “I Was With You” and it was written by Michael L Shutters.  The line is

I know every word you would say to me if we had another day”  

It honestly hadn’t occured to me that those who have left us know what we would say given one more moment.   We constantly wish for that extra day or even hour with them to tell them everything that we would have liked to when they were still with us.   Never had I thought that they might know what we would say already.   So that was a great comfort to me and I’m sure to others too.

Encouraged by my ability to reach out,  I also wrote this one. I will first share it with you in my normal format and then I will share the image I created:

If Heaven Had a Phone

If heaven had a phone
I would call you right away
And tell you that I miss you
Every single day

If heaven had a phone
There would be no end
I’d call you up and talk to you
Like I would an old friend

Each day you’re not here
And we cannot speak
It makes that one day
Feel like a whole week

It feels as though no one
Can calm my fears
If I could just call you
There’d be no more tears

If heaven had a phone
I wouldn’t know where to start
But I’d know for certain
We’d never really part

   Jen Elvy 

 

It’s not exactly a new concept as thousands have written it on social media and I imagine that there are other poems on this too but I wanted to write a poem about it myself.  While the first poem I shared I wrote straight off, I did a bit more ground work for this one.  I did some free writing on the subject to get my ideas, thoughts and feelings flowing.   During my free writing session I wrote the first verese of the poem.   It may be an obvious rhyme but I feel the line worked.   As I worked through the verses I found that each time, the first two lines were good but I didn’t like the second two lines so I started again using the better lines to build a rhyming poem.   Feeling that it was quite a good poem but maybe not my best work I posted it online.  I actually used an image I found on PINterest as a background and used a new app I’ve required, Over, to paste the poem onto the image. Here is the result:

heaven

I hope you like the image.  It is not entirely related to heaven having a phone as such but depicts steps to heaven beautifully.   Again, I am humbled by the reaction to this poem and everyone’s kind words.   Be assured I will continue to use poetry to share my feelings and emotions on this very delicate but important topic and I hope my words can be of some comfort.

Thank you for your continued support,

Jen x

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Happy Place – A Series and a Workshop Idea

Today I want to share with you a series of poems that I recently wrote.   The first introduces the topic and is designed to get the reader thinking. The next two are responses to the poem.

Without further ado I will share the first of 3 poems on the topic “Happy Place”

Do you have a happy place
Where you like to go?
Somewhere you can seek out
In sun, rain or snow?

Do you have a happy place
Where you can hide out,
When life just gets too sticky
And you want to scream and shout?

Do you have a happy place?
Is it near or far?
Can you walk right to it?
Or do you need a car?

Or is your little happy place
Somewhere deep within,
Where you can reach your happy thoughts
And hear them dance and sing?

Jen Elvy

 

The poem is largely aimed at children and I would love to use it in a workshop at some point when working with children of primary school age.  If you work with children, maybe you want to use as an introduction and a stimulus for their poems about their happy place? If you do, let me know how you get on.   I decided to do a couple more poems on the topic.

Here is the first:

My happy place is a bench by a lake
Where time out for myself I can take
I sit peacefully and watch all the trees
Waving gently in the summer breeze
As I sit here my breathing slows
Left far behind are my troubles and woes
As the birds sing their song, I know they’re happy too
Maybe this could also be a happy place for you

                                                                 Jen Elvy

 

And the next one:

My happy place is by the sea
Where the waves on the ocean talk to me
I sit with legs outstretched, sand gathers at my toes
And little by little my breathing slows
I’m as relaxed as can be as the waves draw near
Could it be that you have followed me here?

Jen Elvy

 

Personally, I don’t have just one happy place.  The second and third poems reflect possible happy places people could have and are not necessarily my choice. Or are they? They are certainly both idyllic scenes.  However, the narrator of the response poems is not necessarily me.   When my husband read the third poem he thought the last line sounded a bit like the narrator has a stalker.  This is not quite how I intended it.  The narrator is addressing the reader, wondering if they have followed them there and also want that happy place.  The fact that my husband read it a different way just shows how open to interpretation poems can be.  Who is the narrator talking to? does she think someone is following her? or is she simply inviting the reader to join her?  The latter is true for this poem.   I found it interesting that it was interpreted differently.  All different interpretations are welcome as far as my poetry is concerned.

 

If I used these poems in a workshop, I would start with the first one and maybe then invite the children to free-write about their happy place.  Then I would use the second and third poems as examples and then guide them to write their own versions.    I would love to do poetry workshops with children one day.   If you are reading this and you already do this,  I would love to hear from you about how you got started and your format.

I hope you all enjoyed the poems.   I will try not to leave it so late in between posts next time!

And I invite you to write your own happy place poem if you feel inclined to do so.

Thanks for reading,

Jen xx

One Day I’ll Be Bigger and Getting in the Zone

Hello everyone,

First I would like to share with you a poem I wrote last week when I had a bit of a creative buzz after a few days not having written any poetry.  I wrote 3 poems in one day.   One was in my previous blog post and one was on the Beefeater facebook page for a competition, and the last one is this one that I composed whilst I was settling my youngest son at bedtime:

One Day I’ll Be Bigger

I won’t always walk with a cute little toddle
I won’t always hold my arms out for a cuddle
I won’t always require a high chair to feed
One day I’ll be able to tell you what I need.

I won’t always moan when you have to shop
I won’t always run when you stay stop
I won’t always wriggle when you say “stay still”
One day I’ll be bigger, its true I will

You won’t always need to change my nappy
One day I’ll sleep all night and you’ll be happy
I won’t always stamp my feet and say “no”
One day I’ll be bigger and older I will grow

Until then I’ll need you to hold my hand
Talk to me and help me to understand
There will soon be more I’ll be able to do
And you’ll always be there to help me through

 

Jen Elvy

When you are a parent it often occurs to you how fast time is going and how quickly your children grow up. My youngest son is two and a half now but quite a young two and a half and hasn’t been as quick to reach his milestones than his older brother. (but who’s comparing!).  I sometimes think he’ll be a toddler forever but with the passing of time and seeing how much he’s growing and learning, I’m reminded that, of course one day he will be bigger and the toddler phase will be over.   As a parent I spend half the time wanting to speed up time and half the time wanting it to slow down or stand still for a moment.

It has been a while since I composed a poem whilst settling my son.  These days I often find that I have to be focused and relaxed before I start to write poetry.   It might be that my mind is wandering too much.  I know there are still poems in there, it’s just lately I have had to really be in the right frame of mind before I get them out.

What is the right frame of mind?

Well it’s hard to explain, but I have to be relaxed.  If my mind is buzzing too much with other things or I’m worried about something, I can’t focus on poetry but if I’m relaxed and happy and my mind is in a zone where it is open to new ideas then I find it easier to write.  I might read some poetry first or collect some rhyming strings.   Often I look at my ever growing Pinterest collection but I do find I get sidetracked with that these days.   After I’ve written a poem I feel an immense amount of satisfaction.  That in itself gets my mind buzzing, wanting to read or write more.  That is why, I think, that often I will produce several within a small space of time after having not produced any poems for a while.  This creative business is a funny thing.

What do you do to get into that zone?

Do you read some poems? Do you do a writing exercise? I’d love to hear your ideas!

I wanted also to mention a book I’ve been reading.    It is called What is Poetry? The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems.  And it’s by Michael Rosen, a well loved Children’s Poet and a true inspiration.   The book is aimed at children and adults and talks about ways in which to appreciate poetry and also gives you ideas for writing poetry of your own.  A very worthwhile read in my opinion.

Thank you for reading and I’ll post again soon.

Jen xx

 

 

 

Meopham Infant School, Part 2: Playtime

I can see the school grounds like I was there only yesterday.  Its all so vivid in my mind.  I can see the little bank near the top of the playing field, by the classrooms.  The tree on the bank and the ramp beneath, that I used to pretend was a pool or a swamp.     Meopham Infant School was such a nuturing place to be and playtimes at that school will be clear in my memory.   It was where my imagination would really come to life.   I just had to dedicate a poem to my playtime memories:

The grounds were a haven of imagination and joy
For every little girl and boy
A tyre to bounce on or play a little game

(Mum gave me my own but it wasn’t the same)
Oh the excitement and the thrills

When we were told we could play on the hills
We used to make nests out of cuttings of grass

And pick loads of daisies to take back to class
You couldn’t use the field in winter time
But on the playground we played circle games and rhymes
There was so much to do, so many games to play

I’d love to be little again someday 

Jen Elvy

I could have said so much more.  There was a hopscotch in the middle of the playground and markings all around.  And the tyre? It was a huge tractor tyre that was extra bouncy and you could either bounce on it with one foot each side or play games around the edge. There was a rhyme game we used to play. Here is the rhyme:

Please Mr Crocodile, may we cross the water?
To see your lovely daughter
In a cup and saucer
Upside down! 

We used to walk around the edge whilst chanting this and one child would say “Only if you’re wearing…” and say a colour.  I can’t quite remember the next bit but I think the “crocodile” then chased the children who were wearing that colour.  Memory block there. But I remember the rhyme well.  That tyre deserves a poem of it’s own.

I have happy memories of the Junior school too and maybe I’ll write a poem about those days too one day but the infants school was special in that we were a separate school and a little community, everyone knowing each other and the teachers all knowing our names.   As I said, a nurturing place to be and where my imagination grew and developed.

If you are reading this and we went to the school together, you are part of my memories and I’ll always treasure the time we spent at that school and I hope I’ve revisited some great memories for you.

If you didn’t go to this school, I hope there’s something in my poem that makes you feel nostalgic, eg the mention of nest making and daisy chains will apply to any primary school, as might some other things I mention in the poem.

Thanks for reading,

Jen. xx

Meopham – the Next Installment

Finally I have completed my next Meopham poem.  The next in the series is about my first school.  It was known then as Meopham County Infant School, but now the Infants and Juniors have joined togther and a new building exists on the site. In fact, this happened very shortly after I left and now the former Infant building is the Helen Allison School.

However I have vivid memories of my time at Meopham Infant School.  It had a wonderful family atmosphere and my years there were among my best schooling years.    I only hope my sons will look back with fondness at their early years of school.

This poem was so difficult to start because there were so many memories! Where would I begin? Well in the end I decided to begin with that angle, as you will see.

I think I could almost write more poems about my memories here but I will start by sharing this one as it introduces early memories and my lovely teachers:

Meopham Infant School

Meopham Infant school, so precious to my heart
So many fond memories, I don’t know where to start
My first visit to the school I remember to this day

The Head Teacher greeted me warmly, then I had a play
On my very first day we had PE, we had the apparatus out
Jumping off stools onto mats was what PE was about
Mrs Colston was so kind, when I fell, she gave me a cuddle
She helped me sort things out when my head was in a muddle
Mrs Adshead was also lovely, with a soft northern voice
She’d give us work to do and when we finished we had free choice
Mrs Dunk was also awesome she prepared us for junior school
We had table leaders and show and tell, it was all so cool
Mrs Whitehead would play the piano and sings songs with us
Like round and round the village and the wheels on the bus
I just loved these precious first years, I cried at the end of term
There were so many children to play with, there was so much learn
So Mrs Colston Mrs Adshead, Mrs Whitehead and Mrs Dunk too
You gave me the very best start and for that I say Thank You

Jen Elvy

The last two lines were actually the first two I thought of, which was great as it gave me a close straight away.   I knew where the poem was leading. Then once I finally wrote the first two lines the rest came quite easily.

I hope you enjoy the poem, especially if you went to the school yourself.  It is true now that none of my schools exist now in the form they were back when I attended.  Most have new names or new uses for the buildings and two of those establishments were bulldozed and housing was built on the sights.

Things move on, I guess.

Thank you for reading,

Jen xx

 

A little plea: if anyone has any photographs of the Meopham Infant Building as it was in the Mid eighties, I would love to see them.  I might even cheekily ask if I could use one for this blog post.

Mother’s Day Poem

This year I wrote two mother’s day poems.  One I will not share as it was a personal one for my mum and the other I will share as it was for my boys:

One boy thinks he’s a Sith Lord
The other thinks he’s a dog!
There isn’t a biscuit they will refuse
There isn’t a toy they won’t hog

One boy has brown eyes
The other boy has blue
Both are so unique

In everything they do

They love to laugh at each other
And run around together
They have a lovely bond
Which I hope will last forever

I know that sometimes they argue
They won’t always get along
For both of these boys can be
So stubborn and so headstrong

I’m so proud of both of them
‘Though they drive me round the bend

They are both my little boys
And I love them to the end

Jen Elvy

 

The son that thinks he’s a Sith Lord is our eldest, now 6, an avid Star Wars fan who favours characters on the dark side.   Which makes our youngest, our two year old, the one who thinks he is a dog.  As a toddler he still chews objects and likes to stare at you while you eat and it’s a running joke in our house that he thinks he’s a dog! Bless his heart.  I hope this poem captures the bond they share although they are so different in character and looks.

Hope you enjoy

Jen xxx

Rik Mayall – Marking his 60th Birthday

Through various twitter pages that I follow, it came to my attention that tomorrow Rik Mayall, a much missed comedian, would have turned 60.  Sadly he passed away at the age of 56 in 2014.  It came as a shock to many and many of us still can’t really believe he’s gone. What a legacy he has left behind!   I’m not going to ramble on.  I’m just going to pay tribute in the way I know how, through poetry:

Happy Birthday Rik

Happy birthday dear Rik
On this, your special day
Even though you are gone

Your work is here to stay

Happy birthday dear Rik
We miss you, it’s true

On a dull evening
You could turn the air blue!

Nobody knows why
They took you so soon
Because heaven needed laughter
We can only assume

One thing’s for certain
When we get to heaven’s door
We’ll be seeking you out

To entertain us some more

Jen Elvy

 

I fiirst became familiar with Rik’s work via Bottom, a show that can still make me laugh.  I then discovered shows such as the Young Ones and Filthy Rich and Catflap, and of course I love Drop Dead Fred.    There’s actually more of his work I still have to see and so I, like others, am thankful for modern technology for giving us so many ways we can still enjoy his shows.

The picture I’m sharing today can only be this one, from the show I loved as a teen….

bottom
Rik and Ade, aka Richie and Eddie.