Friday, 29 April 2016

SOPHIA LOREN ON A BICYCLE

One revised poem this post. Thanks to Juncture 25 for the constructive feedback. I know I am a broken record where this is concerned but your work will improve immensely if you can find a group of people you trust to offer constructive feedback.

The Theory of The Coulombs
or The Eternal Lust of The Electrical Engineer


He reduces electrical theory
to Sophia Loren on a bicycle
and all us students are Coulombs
chasing her inside the copper wire.
Obviously she's the attraction,
and we are racing to catch her.
Think of resistance as a steep hill,
we have to pedal faster
because we can't let her get away!

It works for him obviously, for he has the lust,
the dreams of what they'll do once they meet.
I am sat in silence,
thinking that she is old enough to be my mother,
noting the gleam in his eye,
as he talks of getting closer...

All his efforts to impart wisdom,
to day release apprentices
are met with blank faces.
He decides we are dullards,
with no imaginations.
You can read the original here.
So what is different? 
The whole poem is tighter. Several words have been removed and less is always better. The third to last line is gone. It was: It is all our fault. As was pointed out it adds nothing to the poem and introduces a new idea, never a good plan at the end of a poem.
Here is Anna Ternheim covering Shoreline, which was originally released by Broder Daniel.
Have a good weekend. 
I'm off to see the wondrous Palooka 5 this evening. I intend to dance the night away. Come everybody, let's go tripping!

Friday, 22 April 2016

ALL THE SILENT WAY HOME

Wonderful news this post- Oscar Sparrow is back!
Visionary, editor, and publisher poet, Oscar Sparrow returns to the fray to fashion words into his own unique take on the world. He has a new venture The Virtual Cafe, you can also visit on Instagram
More hopefully from the talented Mr. Sparrow soon.
I would like to thank The Secret Poets for their sterling support in helping shape All Yesterday's Tomorrows. You can read the first draft here. I cannot stress the importance of having quality constructive feedback. Thanks chaps.

All Yesterday's Tomorrows

Karl drives a sky blue zephyr zodiac,
big and bold with wings like rocket fins,
on the hunt for flying saucers.
The urgency of Giant Steps spurs us up to Dartmoor,
driving toward A Love Supreme,
with dreams of Adamski scout ships,
as cool as Coltrane.

We are on the moor, riffing off our dreams,
to see the earth from space,
chat with an alien, out there on a tor.
Or a cigar shaped mothership above us,
that would interrupt all electric fields.

Which of us though really believes?

Night descends.
A clear, starry sky,
no strange lights,
we see no saucers.

Inside the car, mid note the music stops.
Cassette tape ribbons in my hands,
then it's the death of jazz.
All the silent way home.
So what's different? Two lines have been removed, others have been moved about and the poem is the stronger for it.

When he had fallen off that wall,
and his eggshell fractured,
shattering into who knew how many pieces,
the soldiers made the mistake of looking inside his head.
An army psychiatrist was hastily summoned, then a second.
They conferred while privates jigsawed fragments of the shell.
Ministers met to compare alternatives,
naturally the King, who was bank rolling the rescue mission,
was told in private, in hushed tones.
Suddenly everyone in the loop realised
why he had given Alice all that attention.
They were agreed, there was only one solution.
So a water cannon was called forth from the barracks,
and the streets were swept clean of Humpty Dumpty.
I'm not sure the ending there yet with this one. I see it as a more of a performance piece and I think it needs to be spoken a couple of times before it gets there.
Here is a too brief clip of John Martyn and Danny Thompson.
And here's more John Martyn, the superb BBC4 documentary.

Friday, 15 April 2016

ENCOUNTER REVISITED

Over the past two years I have been writing a series of poems about a person with a terminal illness. Here is the full sequence

Encounter

i
Sometime since the last meeting
he had been replaced by an actor,
similar to be true, but older
and slightly more coarse,
who riffed off his own allusions rather
than answer your well meaning questions.
He was angry, that was plain,
manifested in little jibes
that made you uncomfortable.

ii
Disease has depth charged his life,
percussion, shock wave, percussion,
and it will sink him in sunless water.
I cannot begin to understand how that must feel.

iii
he inhabits his history in a manner I have never had to

he developed the technique in the silences between the ticks of the ward's big faced clock

his best he now believes is behind him

a doctor has told him his immune system has gone rogue

he describes himself as shanghaied in an unresponsive body

he signals, I put ear to mouth

it was worth it, you know, 
every single fucking minute was worth living
The sequence attempts to describe his physical deterioration over a period of time, that is why each stanza is numbered. 
In the third stanza I wanted to try and catch the nature of his speech with lots of little statements and almost no punctuation.
I do not think there will be another stanza added but you never know.
Here is Alela Diane and Ryan Franesconi with Shapeless from the Cold Moon album

Friday, 8 April 2016

RIGHT-ANGLING THE SKY

I am just back from a trip to Madrid and Barcelona.
I was sat in a square in Madrid in the bright sunshine, enjoying a drink and watching the people around me.
There was one young man who slowly savoured a glass of beer while he read a thick paperback novel. When he was approached by a young woman he knew, he came alive. They walked off deep in each others company.
A musician was playing the clarinet, and before him, a man had played the guitar for whatever coins the people saw fit to give him.
A group of men at the edge of the square were drinking from beer cans and talking.
Two pigeons bisected the air overhead and no one looked up from the details of their lives to see them.
This is the genesis of the poem. 

Madrid, 29 March, 2016

This square has no statue.
His too short trousers flash blue socks,
he does not care, she is with him,
his arm tentatively across her shoulders.
Two women serious faced,
discuss disillusionment.
Peripheral men lean on the waste bin,
shooting the shit in stained clothes,
drink beer in warm tins.
They do not spill one drop.
Synthesised music accompanies the clarinettist,
as he attempts to entertain for small change.
Overhead two pigeons turn on a cent,
right angling the still air.
No one looks up.
It was a productive trip and I am at work on shaping the drafts I jotted down whilst abroad.
I've just downloaded Laura Gibson's new album Empire Builder. Here's the title track.

Friday, 1 April 2016

ST ANTHONY'S FIRE

I have been fascinated by St Anthony's Fire since I was a teenager and read about stories of whole villages hallucinating. The modern term is Ergotism. It is produced by a mould infecting wheat, usually rye [as it is harder to see]. Those infected have visions and ultimately die.
I was thinking from the perspective of two people who have been infected and the visions they might experience.

St. Anthony's Fire

1.
Michael's flaming sword drove us from the street,
through mud and water to the forest.
There the trees talked,
with voices of metal knives and faces that flickered,
as if lit by that burning blade.
It will be painful,
It will all pass.
There will be wonders.
Four hundred years from now,
you would be named walking ghosts.

I run back to the street,
towards what things I know.
There can be no redemption


2.
The solitary eye of the Jack weeps mould.
It trickles down the pasteboard card
to pool in my fingerprints.
Blue black corals on my wrist.

The floor is furred,
the oldest miner cries,
the room is a flame,
it crackles like the best music.

The cards pulse,
reflect the tongues of fire.
Smoke wraiths surround me,
I await their touch.
I wanted an anachronistic aspect to the trees. Walking ghosts refers the the stage of acute radiation poisoning when the victim appears totally healthy. It also hints that the poem is set in the 1600's.
If the first section concerns Nature then the second part is about the human world. 
I am not sure if the poem would benefit from more explanation. Usually the rule of thumb is to show rather than tell but I suspect a little telling may be of use in this case.
We shall see.
Here's vintage Neil Young with Old Man. 

Friday, 25 March 2016

IONOSPHERIC

The idea for this post's poem came from a Ray Bradbury short story, Kaleidoscope
It is about a group of astronauts falling towards a planet following the destruction of their spacecraft.

Poem
[with thanks to Ray Bradbury for Kaleidoscope]


tumbling

to the point

where it is the world

that appears to turn


take in the textures


I threshold


from the knitted black of space



ionospheric



I fall




storms await me
Layout is everything for certain poems. I wrote this one in a workshop and originally it was squeezed into about seven lines. By altering the spacing I think I have let the poem breathe. 
It is always worthwhile playing about with shape and spacing as well as stanza length.
I leave you with Anna Ternheim.

Monday, 21 March 2016

THE STONE FACED FISH

Another poem from the project I am involved in with an art class in Taunton. This poem is a response to a painting which was in turn inspired by Dream Fragment.
It is getting convoluted isn't it?


I sketched as she told me of her dream:
the cup of tea,
the stone faced fish,
the mulberry leaves set to fall...


my colours were chosen for her alone
but I know she will sigh
then speak slow words like these:
yours is a life lived without metaphor,
guileless you offer me your shoddy
as if it were a gift to give.
I could never love you.

At that point I will cry
then freeze those tears to use on some other woman.
What I like about the poem is the idea of saving tears to use again. I have no idea where it came from though.
The word shoddy refers to wool and rag waste that was used to make cheap woollens. I just looked it up and apparently it is believed to be Yorkshire in origin. I wanted the narrators supposed gifts to be regarded as substandard.
I am not sure it is complete either. I suspect the dialogue needs tightening. Time will tell. It's going into a drawer now for a month or so.
Here's the wondrous Annabelle Chvostek Baby Sleep'Til Sturovo.