June mini-project: A 26 Scrapbook (Part 2)

After last month’s 26 Scrapbook rediscovered lost words from your notebooks, post-its, and waste-paper baskets, this month we asked you to turn those words into something new – to pick a fragment and respond to it.

Thank you again for all your entries, and I just wanted to say this: between the found poems created last week and the responses here, those forgotten lines will have turned into 26 new pieces of writing. Isn’t that wonderful?

-Max Parfitt

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

I am 9. I am not still anymore.

I am not still anymore.
I am writing
smiling
running
growing
crying
learning
Healing

I am 9, 10, 20, 30…

February 16th 2001

sledgehammers pounded into my temples in sync with my heartbeat
flicking carrom disks, whizzing across the board, a welcome distraction
4 players – Nadin, myself, Kizito and Victor
Nadin, Kizito and Victor got sidetracked in conversation, arguing over whose turn it was next
I sat on the sidelines, as the sledgehammers pounded harder
frustrated, I yelled “It’s Nadin’s turn!” multiple times
Nadin and my brothers stared at me – terrified
“It’s Nadin’s Turn!” I yelled a final time
you never forget your first time with aphasia

all that had been coming out of my mouth was an awkward croaking sound, like a frog
my family’s totem is the frog; aphasia stole my voice, replaced with the croaking of a frog
the ancestors alight – karmic justice
bursting at the seams, wracked by a torrential downpour of tears and convulsions

right side of face – drooping
right side of my body – numbness and weakness
dizziness
couldn’t walk
trouble seeing
fatigue
cognitive dysfunction

Nadin, Kizito and Victor flee, returning with Mama
Mama holds me, caressing my convulsing limbs and carrying me into her bed
Mama medicates me
Mama puts me to sleep
Mama wants to save me
but she’ll never be able to (not for lack of trying)

I am 9. I just had my first stroke.
I am 9. I am a Disabled body in an able-bodied world.
I am 9. I am not still anymore.

– Mugabi Byenkya


Leaves press themselves beneath a passing boot.

We sit and watch the spring edge into fall –
     the sun low,
oranges and golds catching in the trees.
They wait so long.
     To turn.
             To loose.
                     To drift away.
To press themselves beneath a passing boot.

– Max Parfitt


My heart green as handblown glass.

My heart is green with leaves and roots,
And summer days and spring-sprung shoots.


How many times did I walk under that sky and not look up?

Looking up.
Breathing in a world, a breeze.
Singing to the sky.

How many times did I walk under that sky and not look up?
Did I walk through the forest and not touch the bark?
Or breathe the water on the leaves?

A world unnoticed, un-looked upon.

Their songs hum round me, weave in and out, some just starting and others drawing to a close.
I’m listening now.


I thought I was only gone a day,
but time turned my robin’s egg grey.

The capsule must be buried still.

Somewhere in the back garden,
a moment caught in plastic and cardboard
leaches into the groundwater.

Stones and secrets much the same –
special enough to merit ritual,
normal enough to go unmissed.

Perhaps, under cereal-box shroud,
in the company of grubs,
the cassette will be rewound,

and the ants and worms will pause their toil
to hear earth’s magnetic symphony,
Below the surface of the soil,

where nothing leaves and nothing stays:
I thought I was only gone a day,
but time turned my robin’s egg grey.


His fingers brush over mine, tripping in circles

He ran before he could walk, they say –
scooter speeding through potholed park-ways.
A chocolate smile flashing from the top of a tree,
All bounces and bruises and Jellycat healing.

The smiles are still there.
Speeding and laughing and
Tripping in circles.


I think we are the same
in different versions – different names.

We are the same, you and I.
You a little taller, a little wiser, a little worse at cooking.
I waking up in the night to scribble blind poems.

– Max Parfitt


Little girls asleep in small towns.

Little girls asleep in small towns
are not all dreaming of princess gowns
or of competing for beauty crowns.

Nor are they worried of peoples’ frowns,
the family and friends’ disbelieving sounds
or mocking laughter doing the rounds
at little girls’ ambitions of making pounds.

Their curiosity knows no bounds,
they sniff potential, explore the grounds,
imagine the ups, experience the downs,
follow conjured ideas tenacious as hounds.

A deep belief in success never drowns
knowledge that many see them as clowns,
so dream of those who’s energy abounds
with examples and inspiration that surrounds
them with encouragement that resounds
as they sleep and dream in small towns.

– Irene Lofthouse


You lie here and I want to run a pencil down your spine.

                 you lie
            here and I
           want to run
        a pencil
                   down
                   your
                   spine.

trace every vertebra,
                   as a train
                                      travels over railway
                                                         sleepers,
holding each other
                   in incomplete embrace:

space between,
                   for the night to whisper.

cities passing in a shiver.

  I await you 
by the riverbank
where the leaden moonlight
  draws us
in.

– Chloe Green


It is your heart still that I will hold
when I have gone to sleep

I watch you in the morning light as it
creeps across the bed sheets,
rest my leg back against yours –
feel you, breathe you, hold you.
Here.

I love you in your morning warmth,
and in your noon, and after.
And it is your heart still that I will hold
when I have gone to sleep.

– Max Parfitt


We slip past as shadows, and
(if we’re lucky)
we catch for a moment in the light.

we slip past as shadows,
strangers hunching rain-slick shoulders,
petitioning aquarium luck,
coins, wishes.

sticky fingers tap out
a glass telegraph
if it should fail?
(it won’t)
but if?—

hideous noise,
serene quiet.

visitors become dancers,
suspended for a moment,
under the octopus’s unblinking eye.

– Chloe Green


Make sure you take all your longings with you when you leave the train

I long to put right everything I’ve done wrong.
To find lost verses of my favourite song.
To always love you. And for you to love me.
To save the planet before I get home for tea.
To set aside each impossible longing.

For there’s no longing as deep as belonging.

– John Simmons


Make sure you take all your longings with you when you leave the train. 
They’re yours to carry and you don’t want them to go walkabouts.
How embarrassing it is when a stranger stumbles onto your emotions.
When they pick up your longings
(longings that you, more often than not, owe to someone else) 
and they know your heart as well as their own.

The nostalgic heart,
the grieving heart,
the lover’s heart,
the bitter heart,
the wanderlust heart,
the revolutionary heart.

The void heart.
The heart of one who says no to adventure but truly desires to say yes.
The heart looking for delight that can’t be described in words.

Your longings are precious.
They are not to be rifled through by strangers. 

You may leave your worries, stress and baggage on the train though.
Unattended baggage will be removed and destroyed.
– Harry Ashton-Key

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