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Michèle Roberts sitting in her gardenIn my garden, here in the bocage
mayennais, I grow veg. for potage
also herbs such as chives, parsley, sage.

At night, promiscuous moles rampage
from bed to bed, and rummage
through rosemary, thyme and lovage.

Bursting through borders they put me in a rage
next day, when I survey the damage
done to mint, tarragon and borage:

all my neat plots messed up. Like vast blots on a page
these erupting earthworks revive the adage:
the unconscious is always with us. So I'll engage

to free my Inner Mole. I shall no longer wage
war on the Mole Within. Out of my cage
I'll tunnel through the New Molennium Age.

© Michèle Roberts


Michèle Roberts gardenColette, adding spinach to lunchtime garbure
just after finishing writing Le Pur et L'Impur
but before beginning La Naissance du Jour
was following Sand a fur et a mesure
-laissez verdure.

It began like this: as a young troubadour
whose ideas of writing were green, not mature
Sand serenaded the Muse shut fast in a tour:
why won't you be mine? O, your coeur is trop dur
-laissez verdure.

Said the Muse: if you want to write on l'amour
please join the orderly queue in front of my door;
When it comes to jouissance, it's chacun son tour;
I can't allow you to be non-sequitur:
-laissez verdure.

So, like a gardener both smiling and dour
Sand learned to curb as to coax la nature.
Her romances improved. Quoth she: je te le jure
Candide was right, je dois le conclure
-laissez verdure.

She loved Flaubert chastely and well, in age mur
tho Baudelaire wrote off her life as ordure
likewise her books; but inspiration was sure
when desire provided her mulch and manure
-laissez verdure.

Some find her vieux jeu, her novels obscure
but for others her influence will always endure
a legend like Madame de Pompadour
and like many another woman, passee or future
she enjoyed trying to have the last word (that's part of her allure)
-laissez verdure.

© Michèle Roberts


Photo of Michèle RobertsDon't let your heart shrink to a dingy house
don't starve your soul like a grey church mouse
on crusts and crumbs, all that your priest allows

leap out of bed, let greed for words begin
breakfast on bread and honey, butter spread thick as sin
let pleasure on the tongue release the angel within

drape your cat around your shoulders and stroke her till she's purred
-the part of yourself that is brindled and furred
and can hiss, and pounce, and disembowel a bird

unclasp your hands from bibles and prayers
let your desire race you whistling up the stairs
over threadbare regrets and faded love affairs

inside the attic, where the future knocks
throw back the lid of your dressing-up box
put on the most sumptuous of all your party frocks

let your skirts flare out, gold petticoats bright
as a rage of seraphs, jostling tight
as a rustle of sunflowers that burn with light
be brave as these- sit down and write.

© Michèle Roberts


Potted plants in Michèle Roberts gardenYour job's to work the surface. Don't
go too deep.
A spit's just fine. Leave
the unconscious mind alone
though you may bless
the commas that wriggle and slither up.
You make it go from left to right:
lines of scrawl along
and down a page.
The story follows on
and on. A proper narrative. The plot's
rich metaphor; composted. All you have to do:
keep on
turning it over and over.

(Hover here for answer)

© Michèle Roberts


The River Thames plunges up and down:
a sleek brown animal that leaps in London town.

One day a mermaid swims up from the sea
under Southwark Bridge, and past Queen's Quay.

Her eyes are green as broken glass; her arms are cold.
Her tail is scaled with mosaic of gold.

She floats along the river Lea, she glides along the Fleet:
all those watery tunnels beneath your feet.

She ripples through your dreams; she wants to find
the secret city inside your mind.

© Michèle Roberts


The Queen of Naples, painted by Ingres
looks perfectly dingue
wearing a hat shaped like a well-risen black soufflé or black meringue.

Decoding the painting feels like some sort of a test:
is that a funeral lamp or a Kleinian Breast
dangling above her? I'm also impressed

by the way she appears coolly not to mind
the erupting volcano- seen through the window behind
her. It and her hat are certainly two of a kind.

Does such uprush of mountains and millinery represent
the hope of resurrection? Passion not yet spent?
I'm not exactly certain what Ingres meant.

© Michèle Roberts


Hands must be washed
as soon as poets come in from the street.
Hands must be washed
before tasks such as cooking are commenced.
Slippers must be worn
inside the house at all times:
bare feet must never
make contact with the carpet.
Bare feet that make contact with the carpet
must be immediately washed.
Not more than three glasses of wine
may be taken in any one day.
Anger is not permitted on these premises.
All angry women entering these premises
must be immediately washed.
Desire is permitted to be exhibited on these premises
once a week for a period of twenty minutes.
Before and after
the female genitals must be immediately washed.

© Michèle Roberts

A sketch by Michèle Roberts