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The Chaos and the Calm

Poetry by Rose Staveley-Wadham

All about me

I am Rose Staveley-Wadham, an aspiring novelist and poet and everything between. I have so far written four as yet unpublished novels, all of which contain a strong female protagonist, depictions of intense relationships, and are set in the county where I grew up, West Sussex. Some are historical, and are based on my lifelong obsession with the mysteries of the past, that are flavoured by the Gothic and influenced by the temperamental beauty of the Sussex countryside.

I studied English Literature at Durham University, where I gained a First Class Honours Degree in 2013. I studied everything from Old Norse through to Elizabeth Bowen, from Chaucer to Elizabeth Gaskell, and I concentrated my essays on feminism. My dissertation was on three Thomas Hardy n
ovels, and looked at the interrelation of his female characters with the environment.

Since graduating, I have written four novels, and in 2014 I travelled to Spain for a 3 week long writing retreat, which I spent in the mountains above the Costa Blanca. It was a magical experience, and is now a treasured memory, and inspires me every day in my quest to become a writer.

I created this website as a space to share my poetry and my musings. Having been concentrating on my novels for a few years I have fallen back into writing poetry and I wanted a space to share these poems. I find myself writing obsessively, essays, vignettes, and I need an outlet for this creative output. Hence the creation of this website!1557444_10152232470511639_473086206_n

Featured post

The Portrait on the Wall

It was better, wasn’t it, when I was a dream?
Unbearable and fleeting, you could never quite
Catch me, for when you woke you could not
Touch me. Oh yes, that picture you painted
Was perfect and dazzling, how I shone
With green eyes glowing
You threaded my hair with kisses of chestnut
Gave me the figure of some other woman
And it was this Frankenstein you admired
I was disjointed, and I was so very chaste
Because I remained elusive, you wanted me more.

And when I was a dream, I could never hurt you
But I did haunt you, I’d be there behind you
Staring from the mirror on your wall
And I’d catch your eyes and hold them there
Such was my extraordinary power
And you said you despised the distance
That held us apart, but if you had drawn me
Closer, you would have touched only air.

Then, I did not know how a dream was something
To be created, plotted minutely out
Like the intricacies of a detective novel.
I thought of dreams as real things with
Minds and hearts that beat on their own.
But when your dream of me turned nightmarish
For you realised I had grown thoughts
All by myself, and all by myself I had learnt to love
You, above all you, only you, you thought it
Better before, when I was the portrait on the wall
Born to be admired, adored like something holy
But there is nothing holy in what passed between us
As I sketch you out and away, warts and all.

 

Rose Staveley-Wadham

Shadows of Summer

The summer is savage and it knows no mercy
My inspiration is gone, evaporated,
Like the dried up ponds wet with silt
And memories of more verdant days
When we took water for granted.

I’m stuck in the city, and the pavements
They breath out heat, the tarmac
Laughing with fiery demons, and the cars
They beat with nauseating flare
Too many people, too many bodies,
I long for the dappled shade, to be alone,
Alone again, for even the silver birches trees
They understood me, they knew me,
Shaped me as I grew and knew what kind of
Creature I really was, but now, I don’t know
Who I am, the summer has taken away my shade
And there is no place to hide or to find
The fragments of my melting self.

I’ll close the blinds, and make
An aroma of decay, trap the heat and make
It darker, and settle in then to wait
When the rays of the sun will dissipate
Bring me rain, bring me any sort of pain
I think the muse sticks to the shadows
Of the whispering tall willows, lurks
In countryside places, fields and lakes,
The familiar faces of the rolling hills
I’m sick for it, I want it more than lust
For it will bring peace, and stick back together
The broken pieces of my dissipating self.

 

Rose Staveley-Wadham

TRIBE

This is the lure, the dark pall of hot tears,
Wrenching out from my chest
Fear not: I’ve not forgotten what it is to feel
Only that I appear to feel too much.

And now, I give myself to that wave
Of black emotion, torpid grief at midnight
I want to weep and to wail, and surrender,
Surrender to the swirl of comfortable darkness
For my sadness becomes me, it is me,
And although I’ve made a show of keeping
My head up above the water
My struggling strokes go slow.

And I wonder, what it would be to
Finally go to sleep and forget
All this sweet blazing grief
It’s been like a drug to me
And I could stay curled in a swirl of
Awful oblivion, and not face the day
The streets full of hate
There are so many faces but I’m always
Alone. Where is my tribe?
Where are my people? Where did they go?
I need them to save me from myself
And the honeyed abyss.

But I know, as I lie alone
And regret every second thing I ever did
That only I can look to myself to pull
Me back up by the shoulders
And remind me of such wonders
That somehow even getting up and going out
Is a small and precious victory
That each breath tomorrow
Is a slap in the face to the shadow that
Sits behind me waiting, foul weather friend,
Watchful dirty fiend who bides his time
And waits, gorges on mistakes and holds
Out his gloved hand and invites me in
Oh, that I could never be lonely again,
He’s wicked and he’s tempting
But if I must walk alone, alone I will walk
I’ll shrug off the shadow, and make my
Own tribe, and never hide the sorrow
That lingers on like the notes of a distant
Song, because although I have been to hell
I’ve come back, and that makes me strong.

 

Rose Staveley-Wadham

Now That the Rain Is Back

I am so glad now that the rain is back
I barely knew I missed it
There’s something exquisite in the way
It kisses my windows
Makes the world outside marbled
And exotic.

The street outside is darker now
And inside I’m marooned
My little room a cocoon
Of soft yellow light
The rain outside whispering
Reminding me that I’m not alone.

I am glad to see the rain again
It’s true that it is my companion
It talks over the echo of my thoughts
Cleans the world and makes it
Marvellous, unravelling spells
Over pavements
A symphony of wind and water
We are cleansed, ready,
To face the sun again.

 

Rose Staveley-Wadham

The End of Affection

Gone is its lustre, gone is its sheen
An ancient cobwebbed vase made clean
Stripped of its mystery, of its guile, and
All the while I reach out to catch the hem
Of a disappearing dawn, stretching out
My fingers, flexing for a feeling that lingers
No longer, it’s like waking from a fever
When it leaves you, calmed and still.

Down by the river I now walk, and I spare
No thought for you, perhaps I might see you
In a glimmer of the shivering water as it
Giggles below my marching feet
And all the while my blood beats
Magnanimously around my body, what cure
Is this? The fresh air I’d rather kiss
Than your needy lips.

For gone is your lustre, gone is your sheen,
Gone is the life you made in me
I picture you now below in the stream
A skull secreted with the river weeds
It’s gone, gone, the summer passion is spent
And I lay you to rest in the river bed
It’s peaceful there with the reeds
The only witnesses to your silent deeds
You’re lost to me, gone from me now,
And I feel nothing, no, because your
Lustre and sheen have quite departed
Vanished, all those things in me you made
The rages and the savage lusts, obliterated
Turned to dust, the river carries away with it,
All the memories of what was, and it’ll wear
You down further, erode you, crunched up
With the rocks and pebbles, you’ll brush
With oblivion and know what it is to be
Forgotten, because I waited so very long
To forget you, and to leave you there
Trapped in the river where you belong.

 

Rose Staveley-Wadham

Advice for My Niece

Let your light shine, and brightly,
No man has the right to take away
The things that make you beautifully you.
All my life I have thought that I must be
Someone else to earn the love of others
Skinnier, prettier, trendier, but being a
Woman is when you can own yourself
And know that your flaws are the recipe
That created you in perfection
You are you, and nobody else.

But they’ll tell you, that womanhood is
A curse, they’ll say that ever since Eve
Was cast out we’ve been cast under
But let me tell you, that we women
We rise with the thunder
We have the wit to speak with bright red
Lips and to rip the status quo asunder.

And so take your glamour and your style
Take your vim and your guile
Stand up in the crowd and be noticed
Never hide your face or voice away
And stay loving always, for we are
Loving and strong, that is our battle
Song and throws our foes into strange
Confusion, because in our unity
We love ourselves and each other
And that will earn us our victory.

 

Rose Staveley-Wadham

Turn Off The Light

Like a light I would switch you off
Like a candle I would blow you out
And in the darkness I would live
Hidden, no, I couldn’t see you there
And if I couldn’t see you, perhaps
I may not care? I’ve been steeped
With worries like sloe berries in gin
Lashed like a sinner might get rid of
His sin, why cannot I forget?
Why is all I touch tarnished, every
Moment drowned in regret?

So like a light I would turn you off
Like a candle I would blow you out
Give me the peace that I crave
I’ll be brave, like an addict I’ll shake
Away the shakes, before my heart breaks
But I know, I know, what’s taking shape
In that mind of mine, give me the wine,
I’ll find the matches, light you up again
Don’t you see, you need me? I need you
Batten down the hatches, here I come
Another tawdry love song, chanting
In your ears, all the night long.

And so you see, that I cannot
Take the light and switch it off
Blow out the candle and forget
The fable of our impossible love
I’ll be standing here all the while
Shivering in my denial, it’s cold,
Cold out here, but I’ll wait,
I’ll wait and wait forever, my dear.

 

Rose Staveley-Wadham

The Cemetery at Kensal Green

Katie stood amongst the graves
And pondered on the waste
The bones beneath her feet
That grow ever obsolete.

She had expected to find
In this the garden of the dead
A little light she could shed
On the ways of the afterlife
But only found that this life
Is so little caring, that she despaired
Of the grass that ran wild
Over the abandoned stones
Like the moans of the mourners
Of centuries past, but now the
Names of those they lost are lost also
Shrouded beneath the neglect
Kept secluded by the brambles
As nature swallows back her own
Into the greedy black earth.

So Katie stood amongst the graves
And thought it strange
How the bereft could forget
The bones around her feet
The monuments splayed apart
The engravings that cannot last
The winters and all the rains
The seasons that complain
And wipe away the dead
And make of them a curiosity
This is no cemetery but a tragedy
And man in his pride forgets
That for him too in the end is the crypt
That the only end can ever be in death
And wouldn’t man want a little more
Remembering than the blustering
Of the wakeful grass and weeds
Shaking in the dirty breeze
No memorial in lilies, words on stones,
Just the moan of the flyover
Voices from the canal, life all around,
All memories buried deep in the ground.

 

Rose Staveley-Wadham

Blossoms at Midnight – A Walk Along Saltram Crescent

It’s not so long ago that I stood at midnight
Under the white blossoms of the trees
I had not known the streets to be so perfect
Nor that I could find in this city peace.

But the blossoms under the streetlights
Became a blur of distant halos
Glowing and trembling with a whiteness
Unknown to me in this dirty busy city.

There was purity in the clarity of
Their gentle iridescence
And they reminded me of a
Dark northern street far away
Where the drooping branches hung
Like stilled raindrops, and I moved alone again.

And the dead seemed to me to speak
In their words were comfort, a closeness
I could never decipher in the waking
Brightness of the lurid day.

Perhaps it was because alone I lingered
And was not bothered by any living thoughts
The burst of stars above my head were
The only hidden faces that I saw.

And now the moment is gone, and I long
For the peace of the blossoms at midnight
I thought before that only in blank oblivion
I could finally be free, but in the darkness
Of the city streets and their March blossoms
I found another kind of liberty.

 

Rose Staveley-Wadham

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