Monday, November 20, 2006

Featured Poet: Paganini Jones

I'm delighted to present Paganini Jones, of Hyde, Cheshire, England, as our featured poet. She has long studied and written haiku with brilliant clarity, as well as other poetry, fiction and drama. She is also a classical violinist and performs with ensembles. She has a zesty wit and lyricism that I love, climbs mountains, jumps rope and makes and poetizes fine soup. Read and look closely here, for this is "Pags" as you have never known her before! For a recent interview with Pags, especially concerning her musical interests see An Interview with Paganini Jones.

Bio:Paganini has been writing poetry for as long as she can remember. One of her earliest memories is of being carried by her father and in payment she sang songs she made up as she went along. One of his skills was being able to sing the words of one nursery rhyme to the tune of another with an entirely different meter! Family games included making stories up 'in the round' making up new words to familiar tunes, singing 'off the cuff', so she still finds it easy to write metrical doggeral that rhymes. Some people like it, she says, but she values it very little.
Poetry was nurtured at school by a teacher who allowed her to write a poem instead of an essay now and again, so long as it was on the correct subject. The earlient poem she remembers writing down was based on 'A midsummer night's dream.' She was just 8 at the time.
Having loved and collected words all her life she often thinks and even dreams in poetry. She can sympathise with Coleridge - she can never remember them properly either when she wakes.
She feels her best writing has been influences by her study and writing of haiku. Her first haiku, written over 20 years ago was unappreciated by her creative writing tutor at the time. More recently the same poem was runner-up in a competition.
Paganini lives with her long suffering husband of 30 years, one dog and a terrapin called Meat Pie. Oh - and she plays the violin too. She would like to paint in watercolours and has taken a few classes. She is currrently working on a recipe book about soup and a novel - Gold and Aluminium.

First, appropriately, some haiku
by Paganini Jones:

fog conceals the garden
in the kitchen loud music
and burnt toast

cemetery (senryu)

by the frosted stone
snowdrops and a note
old man walks away

February 2nd

the barometer
bit me -
groundhog day

a vast crecendo ends -
in the silence
a single piccolo

water dripping
from the daffodils' trumpets
- sudden springtime shower

a bedraggled honey bee
shakes and preens his feelers

sparkling raindrops
bouncing off a grey boulder
- rich green moss in bud

chill evening breeze -
again searching the letters
for one not there

doodled on a napkin
A tiny butterfly


garden fish pond -
a kitten pats reflected
fluttering leaves

so much depends
the sound of water

autumn leaves
flutter and fall;
sparrows amongst bare branches


Cubist Flowers
by Pagannini Jones

4:18 am

baby's first cry.
the scent of pink roses
and milk

7:49 am

she does not hear
the hovering skylark overhead.
learning to thread a daisy chain
her face is solomn
for once

11:00 am

Monochrome photograph.
a single carnation
and fern
in his buttonhole.
She laughs
as they hold the knife
over the cake

2:09 pm

the curve
of her back
as she turns to the door
the toss and sway
of wild poppies in the wind.
she wants to kiss him

6:01 pm

from her knees
she turns to the camera,
waving him away
with a bunch of weeds.
bright yellow buttercups

9:32 pm

her face
pale and dry on hospital pillows.
petals fall
one by one
from the vase


footsteps fading.
aphids cover a small shoot,
suck sap, destroy it.
there is no moon

her daughter
sketching yet again.
a vase of snowdrops
flows from her pencil.
he watches gratefully

copyright, Paganini Jones 2006

Comfort food for a broken heart
by Paganini Jones

Take about a pound of bacon,
more or less - it does not matter.
Those leftover lumps will do
sold cheap at the end of the day -
And chop roughly into bite sized bits.
You held my heart in your hands
and now it is in pieces.

Take an English onion or two
Slice thinly - but
do not cut the root
if you want to avoid tears.
Your words cut deep into my dreams,
My discarded roots are in tatters.

Take a pint of chopped tomatoes -
Do not bother to do this yourself.
Tinned will do, to add red
sweetness, liquid to the mix.
Oh, we had sweetness enough,
Now bitterness taints my tongue.

Throw in drained beans - not green
but any other as you like
And dice four large potatoes,
enough to fill the hungriest family
We were full of each other yet hungry for more
But now I am drained and green

Season to taste with garlic and pepper,
and cinnamon and nutmeg maybe
or ginger and chilles.
Salt is not needed. The mix is salty enough.
You brought spice to my days,
Now my wounds are raw with your salt.

Stir well, cover tightly and leave on the hob.
Simmer very gently 'till tender.
This will take several hours.
Then serve in a comforting bowl.
And eat.
You stirred my complacency
Now leaving you to simmer
I wait.

copyright, 2006 by Paganini Jones

Thoughts on having a first riding lesson at fifty
by Paganini Jones

Like a chair
this beast has
one leg at
each corner

the similarity

In terror
she sits, waits,
sob praying

the big horse

move anything
not a hoof
nor the tail.
it has teeth

has got HUGE


beast has her

copyright, 2006 by Paganini Jones

The Queen of Hearts, The Ace of Sorrows
by Paganini Jones

She sits by the window at a small table, her spinning finished for the day. Shaking back her auburn hair she shuffles a deck of worn playing cards. As the light fades she takes a card and turns it over. She gazes at it a long time. It is the Queen of hearts, bringer of love. She smiles.

Glancing through the window she sees a young man in the courtyard below. His doublet is patched and frayed, his hose far too short. He waves, shouts something she can't quite hear. Nevertheless she smiles to him, then blushes. Turning back to the pack she shuffles it again, again draws out a card. Silently she begins to weep. The Ace of spades, bringer of sorrow and death lies before her on the table.

"To the Queen of hearts
is the Ace of sorrows
He's here today,
he's gone tomorrow.
Young men are plenty
but sweethearts few.
If my love leaves me,
what will I do?"

"Mama," her daughter asks, pointing though the casement, "What's that?" She looks to the cairn in the valley. "That?" she says, sweeping the tiny child into her arms, "They say there's where the young prince was buried with all his treasure."

Later, her daughter asleep at last, she lays cards out on the kitchen table. The knave of diamonds - the young prince's card and the ten of diamonds - bringer of modest wealth. Finally, she turns over the ace of spades, the card she drew from the seer's pack the night before cavaliers came for her husband.

She sighs, and is silent a long time. When she moves it is to light a candle fragranced with lavender, said to soothe sorrow and bring peace.

"Had I the store
in yonder mountain
With gold and silver
there for counting,
I could not count
for thought of thee,
my eyes so full
I could not see"

Once the house is quiet she slips from her bed. Taking a small key from the ribbon about her neck she opens the small mahogany casket wherein she keeps her most precious treasures.

A worn pack of cards lies beside a single sheet of folded paper covered in his beloved handwriting. She takes the paper, reads and re-reads it, smiling gently as she does so. Folding it carefully she replaces it, taking out the tiny, tissue wrapped parcel hidden beneath. Opening it she places the ring encrusted with garnets and diamonds on the ring finger of her left hand.

She thinks of the promise he made to her. "I will write to you when I have made my fortune in Virginia, so that you may join me there". She wonders how soon that will be. She will consult her cards.

She selects a card, turns it over. It is the Ace of Spades. Furious, she flings the cards from her, hot tears starting to her eyes. What would the cards know after all? Hasn't Victoria, the new queen said that such things are superstition and not to be countenanced by modern young ladies?

"I love my Father
I love my Mother
I love my sister
I love my brother
I love my friends
and family too,
but I'd leave them all
and go with you"

It is late at night yet she cannot sleep. Arthritis in her spine will not allow her to get comfortable. Turning the radio on she searches for classical music, and finding the Bach double violin concerto, leans back to listen to the melodies inextricably entwine.

As the music ends, she reaches for her old pack of cards, from habit shuffling them and whispering a secret wish. She draws forth a card. It is the Queen of Hearts, bringer of love. She smiles, remembering. In her mind's eye she sees a young man in doublet and hose. That could not have been, she thinks. Her mind plays strange fancies sometimes.

Shuffling again she draws forth a second card. It is the Ace of Spades, bringer of death. Again she smiles. She is old enough now to know that that death may come as a friend, that there are many worse things.

She hears footsteps on the stairs yet she is not afraid. She recognises that tread though she has not heard it for sixty or more years. A young man with red hair and blue eyes stands in her bedroom doorway. She runs to him, pain forgotten, takes his hand, looks up into his face and accepts his kisses. He strokes her long auburn curls.

"To the Queen of hearts
is the Ace of sorrows
He's here today,
he's gone tomorrow.
Young men are plenty
but sweethearts few.
If my love leaves me,
what will I do?"

It is morning. They come quietly, half knowing, a little afraid of what they will find. The lavender candle burns low. She is in bed, her white hair wispy on the pillows.

Playing cards are scattered about the counterpane and on the floor. On her bedside table are an old letter and a rather old fashioned gold ring set with garnets and diamonds. In her cold, stiffening fingers are two playing cards.

Standing by her bed, they are awed. Her face shows no trace of pain, but there is tremendous love. She is smiling. 'She does not look 94,' they say wonderingly.

One snuffs out the candle. A thin trail of smoke meanders upwards.

15th April 2001
(Note - the traditional song quoted is believed to be at least 500 years old but still delights audiences today. This story is expanded from my short introduction to the song.)

copyright 2006 by Paganini Jones

Below a conversation between Kath and Pags about "The Queen of Hearts":

What is the tune of the song...?

Pags:you can find it, though a little different from how I sing it (that first B should really be a G and the rhythm is a bit strange and lumpy) , at
I have attached the music: you'll need to click on the thumbnail to read it though

A fragment of Joan Baez's version is available on Amazon:

KathIt is beautiful, this whole
scene... the mood---and the words you wrote.

PagsThank you

KathYou should perform it.
Or have someone do it!
You could at least record it, and make a cd.
I would certainly like someone with ability to do so. It has never been performed, or recorded. Do you envision it actually acted out? It is cinematic.

I had never thought of it in that way but I guess it might make a 5-minute short!

teacup haiga copyright, 2006 by Paganini Jones


Anonymous said...

WONDERFUL!! a fabulous dedication to a fabulous poet. loving the teacup haiku

love from starla x

Anonymous said...

me too :)


Anonymous said...

loved comfort food! how bitter to eat all those memories. great juxtapositions!