Thursday, 25 April 2013
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
Another dual purpose poem this time. The inspiring picture was of a pair of weathered hands gently cupping a shoot that was growing from the soil. But today would also be my father's birthday and the picture made me think of him in his healthy days, in his garden. That house belongs to someone else now and last time I went past I could see from the road that they had torn everything he had built and grown down and were in the process of remaking it all in their own style and taste. There was a long, lingering moment of sadness as I realised that a part of him that had remained was now also gone.
I imagine your garden is different now.
They'll have torn down your greenhouse, your shed and your trees.
You built it all up by the sweat of your brow
They'll have made it their own, they'll have done as they please.
Your kingdom expired with your own final breath.
It passed from your hands into hands now unknown.
It could not survive past the day of your death.
Gone now the fruits of the seeds you had sown.
The row of tomato plants lining the fence,
The hydrangea bushes overgrown at the back.
The hawthorn so tangled, so thorny and dense,
Perhaps now all things that the garden will lack.
The shrubs and the climbers, the flowers and the veg
All of it changed now, all of it gone
The lawn and the apple tree, footpath and hedge,
Without their old master could never go on.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
The number of seconds from birth until death.
The average time you take drawing a breath.
The shapes of your world in both two- and three-D.
The sum of the series of all you can be.
Differentiate separate parts of the strife.
Integrate them together creating your life.
On the X- and Y-axes you consider the plot
Of your Boolean values with AND, OR and NOT.
Your waking and sleeping draw up on a chart.
Plot the infinite functions of breaking your heart.
And when it's all proven you can add QED
Where they've already carved out a firm RIP.
Monday, 22 April 2013
I'm a little unsure about this one. It would almost certainly be better as a prose piece but I was uninspired by the picture for today (of clouds) so I wrote about a true incident when I went for a walk on the South Downs and got caught in the rain.
It's a structural piece but not, I feel, an especially good one.
For what it's worth, here it is.
The morning that had begun warm
I chose to cut my walk shorter
across the downs
towards the path
along the coast.
The decision was made too late
the rain came
I tried to shelter in the lee
of a bush
at the side
of the path
Then I tried to run for the trees
And halfway to that better shelter
my phone rang
And when at last I was there
against the bark
under dripping leaves
I called you back with soaking hands
under a tree
in a storm
to just say "hi!"
Sunday, 21 April 2013
We sat at the broken table
in the wooden hut
at the end of the jetty
and drank beer,
telling tales of travels
until the barman shut
and locked the doors
and drew his own chair near.
Outside the sky turned black
the sea a darker green;
inside the tales grew rambling
and empty bottles mounted.
We waved our arms, drew pictures
with our hands to set the scene
and one by one our stories
were remembered and recounted.
And eventually it grew light again
as we had filled the night
with all our separate tales
and filled each ale-fogged head
with recollections of our pasts
and of other pasts that might
not have been our own but
which held a common thread.
And with the light we rose
and went on our different ways
to different unknown futures
from our different lives.
The momentary conjugation
that had joined our common days
had broken with the dawn,
though a lifetime later, the memory survives.
Saturday, 20 April 2013
There are creatures in the depths that I cannot comprehend,
that are alien to me with lives I can't pretend
I shall ever understand no matter how I try.
I shall simply shake my head with a loud despairing sigh.
There are creatures in the depths that are strangers to the light
that are mysterious and different to any that I might
be able to explain by a deeper contemplation.
I shall simply shake my head and admit my admiration.
There are creatures in the depths that are quite beyond belief,
and though I catch a fleeting glance it simply is too brief
to form a good hypothesis of the nature of their lives.
I shall simply shake my head with a wonder that survives.
There are creatures in the depths, there are creatures in the dark
of whom I know so little it is folly to remark
that these things called "women" are a species far removed.
I shall simply shake my head till their benevolence is proved.
Friday, 19 April 2013
There are pictures on the pages
but they're all in black and white.
Here's a picture of a dragon
who is menacing a knight.
On the next page there are flowers,
on the next page, it's a cat.
Here's another of a sailing boat
and a donkey in a hat.
She chooses one to colour
(a fine and handsome fox)
and selects an orange pencil
from her rainbow in a box.
Thursday, 18 April 2013
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
yellow as the sunflower that apes the yellow sun
yellow as the egg-yolk that splits and starts to run
yellow as the school bus that takes the children home
yellow as the amber of my mother's favourite comb
yellow as canaries singing in the trees
yellow as the corn and yellow as the cheese
yellow as a swallowtail upon a summer flower
yellow as a lemon drop its taste so sharp and sour
yellow as the buttercups uncounted in the fields
and yellow as the gold that the rainbow has concealed
yellow as the lemon with its bitterness within
yellow as the jaundice that creeps across his skin
Plans have a way of doing that. That's why I had a plan B.
So I've signed up to teach a summer course. No summer holiday for me.
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Somewhere there is a wild place
that none have ever seen,
where the sapphire of the lake
laps against the emerald green.
Black mountains striped with snow
circle round the shore.
Deer drink the cooling water.
Above the eagles soar.
No man has set foot here
and no man ever will.
It is the final secret place
that lies beyond the hill.
No human eyes beheld it.
No skin has felt its breeze
or sheltered from the noon sun
beneath its towering trees.
There must always be a last place
that none have ever seen
remembering the world
as, perhaps, it might have been.
Monday, 15 April 2013
The clicking of a stick upon the ground
behind me as I walk to the shops.
A face that, in its contours,
Fish cakes at a dinner party
the way you made them.
Cliff Richard on the radio
"I like him," I hear you say.
An amber teardrop pendant in a shop window
like the one you lost.
A smell of lilac in the park -
you sleep in a chair in our old garden.
A folded wheelchair
in the corner of the pharmacy.
A few raindrops spatter against the window:
umbrellas in funereal black.
Lines, bright and dark,
join me to the past.
Sunday, 14 April 2013
I remember the rocks
a hundred feet below
the cliff top path
where we waited
palm to palm
in the salt wind.
I remember the ocean
every swell and blow,
pink within grey,
as sunset created
beneath its shifting skin.
I remember your breath
as the cold encompassing air,
your silent sighs,
and secret dreaming.
I remember darkness：
the sun no longer there,
taking with its fire
the light from your eyes
and leaving love's
single final gleaming.
Saturday, 13 April 2013
Sometimes I think there is no surface to be breached;
that the ocean is infinite above me and infinite below me.
Sometimes I think there is no destination to be reached;
that the future and the past alike have naught to show me.
Sometimes I think that every word of meaning in the world,
is a word that other voices have already spoken.
Sometimes I think these bubbles that enclose our lives-
these surface tension spheres - cannot be burst or broken.
Sometimes I think these random, dancing interactions
as we jostle side by side have deeper matter.
But sometimes I think we are no more than teeming water
in which the bubbles touch only briefly, and then scatter.
I have stalled on my poetry writing recently so I am doings a new project 35 days – 35 poems. It's one of those writing exercises people do to get unblocked.
To this end I have done a random search for stock images on the internet and picked, more or less at random 35 of them. For the next 35 days I will be selecting an image a day and writing a poem inspired by it. The images are intentionally diverse and hopefully will produce some good new work.
As the images are only there to kick of my mental processes the final results may have little or nothing obvious in the way of connection with them. So the poems will be presented here without the images.
If you already have my email please feel free to comment. If not, sorry. Comments are closed on the blog for reasons already mentioned.
The next post will be poem #1.
Thursday, 4 April 2013
And the car stank of alcohol all the way back.
Monday, 1 April 2013
There's a scene that crops up in American TV shows and movies as diverse as Friends and Psych, The Rockford Files and Independence Day, that I wonder about every time I see it. I guarantee you have all seen it in something, no matter what your taste in entertainment. It's the scene where the hero wanders down to the park to find someone and there are lots of old men sitting around playing chess. Whoever he is looking for is usually busily involved in a game.
It always makes me wonder if this is an accurate depiction of something that is commonplace in the US or just something that is commonplace on the screen.
I can say with certainty that it's not something that I have ever encountered in the UK and my highly scientific straw poll of two other people indicates that they have never seen it either.
The reason I mention it now is that in China it isn't just commonplace, it's ubiquitous. My walk to school in the morning is a couple of hundred yards. It takes under five minutes if you include the five flights of stairs from my apartment to the street. On that walk I will rarely pass fewer than three groups of men sitting around a table on the pavement playing. Sometimes they are playing Chinese Chess, sometimes cards, sometimes Mahjong and sometimes a strange and inexplicable game with long thin cards with mysterious writing on them. They are always playing something.
You see it in the parks, outside the shops and on every street corner.
And, unlike the version in American programs, this is no sedate and thoughtful battle of the wits. This is a lively and animated pastime. They slam the pieces down onto the board with vigour. The chess pieces are heavy, round, wooden discs about two inches across that are pounded onto the board with the force of a pile driver. The mahjong tiles rattle as loud as a train going by. Even the cards hit the table with a violent slap of the hand. And all of it is accompanied by shouts of triumph as the winner exults in his victory.
Moreover every game gathers a crowd of eager spectators, avidly watching the action and cheering and groaning along with the fortunes of the players.
It's one of the typical scenes of daily life in China that I have never seen anywhere else. Definitely something different.