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Oct 2013 · 978
Performance Management
Karen Alexander Oct 2013
Performance Management!

Yes, that's what I'd like to mention
In case we have a school inspection
But not the stodgy paper filling invention
Where evidence of professional skill
Is demanded to prove you follow the drill

No! I mean the superlative performances delivered each day
To our attentive audiences who appreciate this played out measure
Of rhetoric
Of our managed one-act stage-shows
With dynamics that edify, illuminate and encourage the questions
That plumb the depths of our pupils perceptions

And we cannot deny these feats and endeavours
Nurture our own sense of self and self-worth,
Deep touching that place in our psyche
Of being, belonging
And yet still longing.

Scurrying to classes we prepare our acts
Weaving our subjects' underpinning facts
Into the drama we call the lessons

There can be who we want to be
Command the floor
We're teaching professionals
And, oh, so much more....
Written for my colleagues and performed on National Poetry Day UK 2013
Dec 2012 · 1.3k
Unfinished Business
Karen Alexander Dec 2012
Me as I am
And you, in part
Become ‘we’ in this process.
A long conversation that’s intimate, yet paradoxically almost one-sided with respect to content.
But I’m not alone in it;
You are here, focussed and listening.

I wanted to write prose about this business, but its shape was a poem.
Between these lines is where the essence of the meaning lies
A space where we sense the sense of it

Our conversation is long indeed and many stories have been told
Some have been slow to unravel and are unravelling still
Some intertwine in complex patterns
And others are shaped into vivid dreams
We ride on them and ahead see fate laid out like a corpse
Unwinding the shroud we face Death
And all the while stare wide-eyed and white faced at our doom and our destiny
It’s here you whisper courage and strength into my ear.

This is the journey of a lifetime
Who leads and who follows I know not
Only the first hesitant step reveals the nature of the second, all else is obscured
Magical and mysterious, harsh yet peppered with laughter
The treasure found along the way is in the companionship of our shared experience
And in me finding the part of myself that I had thought lost

On reflection I needed to have a sense of where I’d been and where I am going
Yet I’m still here on the journey
And can’t see where it leads
As if this were ever possible!
But what I notice is that I need ask fewer questions
And perhaps that’s an answer of sorts.
Sep 2012 · 1.2k
Old Songs
Karen Alexander Sep 2012
My thoughts often draw pictures of love for you
So today, I listen to a shuffle of old songs
Hoping nostalgia will change the tune,
And distract me from the longing in my heart

I want to write you a love song
With the heart-rending warmth of Joan Armatrading,
The edgy complexity of Joni Mitchell
And the sweetness of James Taylor

A song of fantastical love in a mundane setting
Sweet in the loving
Bitter in its failure

I wonder why I stay when I could leave
Like the choice between bathing in the light or sinking into darkness
Who wouldn’t choose the light?
But I'm clinging to the darkness all the same.

You know this pain, and make me face it.
Holding me while I learn to accept things as they are
To trust and value fear and loss
And sing songs to celebrate my own experience

It might take a long time but maybe, after dark we’ll be laughing.
Sep 2012 · 1.9k
Leaves
Karen Alexander Sep 2012
I watch a woman smile as leaves, like red fingered stars
Swirl round her in the stiff autumn wind.
She bends clutching handfuls of crisp copper wafers to her chest
And I'm reminded of childhood games;

They fall more thickly
And there's surprise and wonder in her eyes
At one with the breeze and the leaves
She spins in the dance, arms flung wide

Old memories dance before me; unbidden, chaotic,
With no promise of restoration or renewal
Their forever darkness still red slashed
As ghost sores weep

Love letters falling like leaves
Bleed from my breast in reams
Once written in heart blood
Golden gilded with the glow of possibilities
Once light, they now pool at my feet

I should catch them up, press them tightly to my chest
to staunch the flow of life's essence
But a sharp slashing cut which evicerates
and the sense darkness beyond paralyses

Here is the edge of grief
I revised the original poem, I hope for the better.
Sep 2012 · 1.1k
Fish
Karen Alexander Sep 2012
A fish splashed
Bright eyed, silver backed
Ripped through ripples leaping
To ****** a fly

Pull

Gills flare, gasping
Tail beats
Rod arches
Taught line stretches
And the barb bites deep

Catch

Now a waiting death
An edible prize
Once predator now prey
Fish is as fly
Jan 2011 · 1.1k
January
Karen Alexander Jan 2011
January is grim and grey in its usual way
And heart’s cockles need warming beside crackling and sputtering logs
Winter's ghosts are shriven  
Undone by jolly festivities and bacchanalia
Singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and holding hands we raise the ullaloo to loved ones lost,
And so returns, the New Year.
Mar 2010 · 7.5k
The Diphthong Poem
Karen Alexander Mar 2010
aɪ love the slipping vaʊwels
That seɪ yʊər neɪme
In gliding təʊnes that form my lips to a kiss.

The səʊnd of it brings comforting warmth.
The world disappɪəring
In the seɪfe enfolding of yʊər arms,


Naʊ peɪn and tɪərs of sadness
Are companions to the memory of yʊər passing

Once peəred and jɔɪned
United as one,
aɪ  thought,
Forever.
This child’s nəʊtion was innocent of aweəreness
That love’s lexicon is full of such partings

Naʊ aləʊne aɪ strive to grasp an ember of a truth profaʊnd
That while a part of me will alweɪs
Call for you in whispers
And long for yʊər embreɪce
aɪ’ll  preveɪl , surviving separation’s sting.
A tribute
Still standing,
Praʊd
And saʊnd.
Mar 2010 · 1.4k
Gill
Karen Alexander Mar 2010
Glad to know this girl, with intellect and quirky wit,
I long to have her company and with her sit
Long discussing life’s complexities and simple truths.
Love fosters trust, then no thing's hidden or obtuse.
Mar 2010 · 3.7k
Cocktail Order
Karen Alexander Mar 2010
Hey Harvey Wallbanger
I’d like you to tie me to the bedpost, baby
And press your fuzzy navel to my slippery ******.
Give me your white angel kiss and I’ll lie down like a brown cow
While between the sheets you play the Italian stallion.

Like a kamikaze pilot head for my pink squirrel
Then give me your ol’ Alabama slammer
And pack a *** punch into that screwdriver of yours.
I want a screaming ******
That’ll send me to blue heaven. Wu Wu!

So, don’t mention that ****** Mary
With her devil’s kiss,
Or you’ll find I can give a snake bite that’s as deadly as a B-52.

Instead let’s ride into the tequila sunset in our golden Cadillac
For *** on the beach
And on the sea breeze we'll hear an old love song sung by a ‘salty dog’ with a Gibson
And watch a tropical storm over Manhattan
We'll go to Peppermint Patti’s café
And order an Irish coffee and a large slice of cherry pie.

Happy, after dark let’s drive home for a sloe comfortable ***** with satin pillows
And fall into the sweet surrender of a summer dream.
Mar 2010 · 819
The Sun of Man
Karen Alexander Mar 2010
A man old beyond his years
Mourns his son who’s not dead but gone.
He
        simply
                       loved
                                    that child.
Thrown into competition for custody
He’s frozen out.
An unselfish man, mild in nature
Who gave love
                            and kept the peace
                                                                 and his counsel.

Anger subdued, repressed, burns behind the eyes that weep.
He’s impotent.
The mother manipulates man and boy to bend their wills to her command.
They are cowed but not broken.
Slowly, slowly the fire builds and gives succour to resolve.
The gentle man battles on,
                                                 step by step
                                                                        His will strengthened by love.

The law is on his side.
Mar 2010 · 2.4k
Yorick
Karen Alexander Mar 2010
Meteoric Buick
Slick *****
Frantic frenetic
Majestic kick
Chick shtick
Shashlik

Nicotinic stick
Lick flick
Hermeneutic heretic
Magnetic rhetoric
Hick logic
Strategic

Plastic music
Tick click
Bucolic Bardic
Peptic druidic
Rustic emetic
Sceptic

Polymeric quirk
Sick trick
Turmeric trimeric
Septic *****
Wick crick
Derrick
Mar 2010 · 1.4k
I Think You Sing
Karen Alexander Mar 2010
Here we shared the slips and reels of earnest conversation,
An interweaving counterpoint of dialogue
Wherein I bled the truth of loving.
Heart’s secrets shed
And shared.
And by and by transposing the antiphonal chant
You guide towards consonance, harmony,
With gentle lilting phrasing
Encouraging sweet concord within the cantus firmus.

And yet you say you do not sing?
Surely our hearts beat out the song of love and life
And all our narratives are ballades sung in open form?
I have heard you sing your madrigals
With melodies of hope and peace and grace
And tried to catch the tune.

Here, have rich harmonies been played out
And love songs whispered on the air.

So, if God grants, a final cadenza let there be
In a lullaby that’s sung for me.
Feb 2010 · 606
A Little Nut of Wisdom
Karen Alexander Feb 2010
I had a little top knot
Nothing would it bare
But a sliver of insight
And a wooden stare
The Head of Human Resources
Came to visit me
And all for the sake
Of what I came to see

His tie was made of crimson,
Jet black was his hair,
He asked me for my insight
I gave my wooden stare.
He said, "My lovely maiden,
You surely must agree,
We'll take from you your insight
And all that you can be.

The history of this story
With you I’ll gladly share
Henry sought sweet Catherine
His crown and ring to wear
Her services she rendered
But in targets she fell short
And from the royal company was
Dropped without a thought





Brought up to date I tender
This modern tale of woe
As working in the system
Requires us to forego
All sense of moral fibre
In putting people first
For prioritising production
Is how we now are versed.

Efficiencies and targets
The management declares
Will give us a competitive edge
And bolster up the shares
To keep your jobs work harder
Your Country needs the wealth
But we all know who’ll benefit
At the cost of your mental health.

So **** your corporate vision
I’ll take my chance elsewhere
It might bring short term hardship
But a better life I’ll share
And while your head is in the clouds
My feet are on the ground
Co-operative community
Is where our strength is found
Based on the English nursery rhyme 'I had a little Nut Tree'
Feb 2010 · 774
I Love You
Karen Alexander Feb 2010
If my ears were love they would hear
A soaring chord of music
If my eyes were love they would see
A glorious sunrise
If my nose was love it would smell
A red velvet rose
If my arms were love they would gather
Small children in a comforting embrace
If my legs were love they would run
Towards you
If my mouth was love it would speak
Your name in husky whispers
Pressing close you feel the beat that proves
My heart is filled with love for you
Feb 2010 · 786
I need new shoes
Karen Alexander Feb 2010
There’s a hole in the sole of my shoe
That lets love through.
It’s not wasted, it nourishes the earth
And touches the buried dead
Then those who mourn the dead
Gather it and are comforted
There is so much love lost and found in this way
It is the nature of love
It seeks those who need it and tries to fill them
But I need new shoes
To hold some love in.
Feb 2010 · 464
The Somewhen Whole
Karen Alexander Feb 2010
A hole is not a whole
I have a hole
I’d prefer a whole to fill my hole
and make my sole soul
Whole
Addendum I think there may be a plug in it now!
Feb 2010 · 573
A Long Time Coming
Karen Alexander Feb 2010
It was a long time coming

And in the joining,

the consummation

Even then, in such sweet union

A sense

Of endings

And,  of course,

Of course

Beginnings.

The seeds of one born in the other



The paradox of this great truth embraced

I come to know that thus it is

And always was

For humankind

And we,

You and I

Are truly one in this.
Jan 2010 · 1.4k
Rapt
Karen Alexander Jan 2010
I’ll be rapt when I’m wrapped
In your old brown gown
I’ll be rapt when I’m wrapped
In your arms
So your going will rap
On the strings of my heart
Then unrapt
And unwrapped
I’ll be rapped.
Jan 2010 · 692
Love on a Breeze
Karen Alexander Jan 2010
Touch me and caress me until my heart sings with joy
Let it be only for the sheer love of me
Then my heart will soar
And together in rapturous ascent we’ll be borne on a thermal of passion and desire
Circling and dancing
Each lost, yet found, in the ecstasy of surrender.

Slaked by careless loving
There’s peacefulness
The energy of the moment is gone
And, like feathers gently sinking in still air we settle together, curled, inseparable
Feeling whole and also part of a greater whole
Until the next breeze blows
Jan 2010 · 866
Dream On
Karen Alexander Jan 2010
Dream-walking I can explore opportunities
Collaborating and engaging in the process
Creating a synergy of thoughts and images
That may or may not stand the test
In the light of day
There’s comfort in dreaming of possibilities
Unblemished notions
Untried hypotheses
Perfect in their synthesis
My secret desires
They fill a need
Until the need is filled.
Nov 2009 · 1.3k
Fragile Strength
Karen Alexander Nov 2009
Sensations of strength come unexpected
They are newly born and welcome
Precious as all new life.

Unpredictable, they appear and disappear,
Fleeting in their attenuated passing, they are fragile
Leaving a sense of wonder, then loss.

Mine to nurture, this fragile strength might transform me.
I hold this seeming paradox
And feel a celebration – a beginning.
Oct 2009 · 1.3k
Alcoholic Christmas
Karen Alexander Oct 2009
The turkey was a-roasting
The tatties were a-toasting
Have a glass of wine!
                …
The brussel’s were a-boiling
The pudding was a-baking
Brandy first, then dine!

The crackers we’re a-pulling
The jokes we are a-telling
A tot of port is fine!

The carols we are singin’
The presents we are givin’
A wishky? If there’s time!

Now on the shofa cuddlin’
Kishin’ and a-shnugglin’
A sherry’sh not a crime!

Then we shleep a-dreamin’
In shlumber both a-beamin’
‘til tequila shunrise time!

Oct 2009 · 903
The Devil's Cauldron
Karen Alexander Oct 2009
Frothing, swirling, gushing powerfully
through the course carved over millennia,
water tumbles in a torrent that rips and scours.
In other places soothing, languid, meandering, here it promises death,
******* in and spitting out, a violent turbulent end.

If not death it brings rebirth.
A new being spewed into a new reality.
Nothing and everything is changed.
A new consciousness is born with crystal clear awareness
of the simple wondrous blessing of life.

It is here I wish to stand, scoured and tested,
the viscous stultifying clutter of the past torn away.
Clear sighted, I would truly know the wonder of being,
a fierce burning joyful knowing,
rejoicing in the miracle that is life.

And if this gift of new awareness came to me
how long might that pure joy and wonder last?
Too soon it might be gone and I the poorer.
But tested I’d have seen a truth that would not fade,
that by simply being, just simply being, brings peace.
Oct 2009 · 942
A Discourse on Anger
Karen Alexander Oct 2009
Faced with danger
Fear turns to anger.
Muscles bunch,
Blood pumps,
Awareness sharpens.
A state of coiled readiness prevails.
Energy is harnessed.
**** or be killed.
The stakes are high,
Life or death,
No prisoners taken.
….
Faced with danger
Fear turns to anger.
Attack on the heart,
Internal,
This wound bleeds malice.
The retort must match or better still surpass
In delivering pain.
But who the victor
In this exchange?
Both hurt,
No prisoners taken.
….
A fatal strike
Brings confidence
A sense of mastery
And status
A survivors glory.
But that which protects, can also poison.
Human spirit crushed,
The soul’s wounds fester,
Hidden, unhealed.
Dying yet living,
Anger has wrought fear instead.
….
Oct 2009 · 5.5k
Odd Socks
Karen Alexander Oct 2009
There’s no other choice but to wear them,
The drawer offered nothing but these.
An odd pair of socks might be quirky,
Odd sizes don’t normally please.

The one at my ankle was spotted,
The other was striped to the knee
The latter two sizes the smaller,
The former quite large by degree.

This mismatch I thought to keep secret
And cover the dissonant pair.
I chose from the wardrobe some trousers
And shoes, with considerable care.

My ruse would conceal the divergence
From prescribed social standards of dress
And none would be any the wiser
My discomfort I’d have to suppress.

Now, it’s harder to mask discomposure
When physical pain has attacked.
The small sock had cramped my toes tightly
That blood didn’t flow, was a fact.

My colleagues regarded me strangely
For they could see nothing amiss
But I could feel cold perspiration,
Anxiety I couldn’t dismiss.

It was then that I felt a strange itching,
The striped sock began to descend
And round my right ankle it wrinkled
And bulged at the trouser leg end.

Dismayed at my great consternation
But clueless to what was awry
My friends made comforting gestures
Need of which I could only deny.

The moral of this story’s transparent
Socks are always best worn as a pair
Their nature is in the relationship
Which provides a well-balanced air.

And take the trouble to remember
Be congruent in all that you do
For disparity will often bring discord
And that path, you’ll certainly rue.
Oct 2009 · 3.9k
Coming of Age
Karen Alexander Oct 2009
First I thought that life was fair.
Then I hoped that life was fair.
Then I learned that it was not, but tried to make it so.
Then I knew that it was not and sensed a loss.
Then I tried to make it fair for others,
Then I helped them grieve,
But I did not
And suffered long.

Now others comfort me
And gently draw the tears that never fell.
And soon,
Perchance,
I will accept life as it is,
And change it not
And thus
It changes me.

— The End —