Friday, 22 January 2016

KICKING UP LUNAR DUST

Each poem should be unique. I have said this before. 
Uniqueness implies that each metaphor, each image you choose is fresh.
Discussing this post's poem with Juncture 25 recently, it was pointed out that the line: the earth a disc in their sky, was clich├ęd.
I have to confess I rather liked it but experience leads me to trust my fellow poets judgements. 
Here is the revised poem [you can read the last draft here].

THE SLOW REVEAL

The composition of moon rock did not interest me.
I was twelve.
Neil and Buzz were kicking up dust,
hopping about the lunar surface,
transported there in flimsy machinery.

I was so taken with the idea,
humans free in the universe.
Yes, I was thinking big, beyond the moon,
beyond Mars and out into the Big Black.

I am no longer twelve,
now the science intrigues,
to an extent.

I am no longer twenty four and see their compromises,
the propaganda trade offs, the political expediency
of using war criminals with their benevolent butcher's smiles.

I am no longer forty eight
and know that out there in the stars,
we would have acted out our history.
Colonisation, exploitation, atrocity.
Listening to the news, this Sunday morning,
all three seem hard wired into our brains.
The eagle eyes amongst you will notice that a word has been removed from the penultimate line.
It was felt that sopping Sunday introduced something new to the poem right at the end and was unnecessary.
My thanks to Juncture 25.
Here is Bob Marley with Redemption Song. Wondrous.

Friday, 15 January 2016

THE WHITE LINE

I spent an enjoyable afternoon yesterday discussing poetry with the other members of the Secret Poets. Thanks must go to the Secret Poets for their invaluable assistance in making sense of this post's poem. 
You may have seen the rough draft here.

THE WHITE LINE

Let's play along with the myth
of the over the hill gunslinger,
who's lost his nerve and is on one last job.
He stands outside a door wondering
if his death waits inside.

Taste his fear. See his hands shake.
He gathers himself, and kicks that door open,
outdraws the bad men
[though he is the one dressed in black]
and frees the farmers, as he was supposed to.
Absorbed in his own legend, he pauses,
is shot in the stomach, dies holding on to the wall.

Then there's me, in the dark,
right side of the white line,
Saturday afternoon films, 1961.
That scene has stayed with me since,
perhaps I was just the right age to be impressed.

I had yet to watch Vietnam unfold nightly,
or to see the American Empire begin to crumble.
What has changed? Well, it is now a shorter poem, ten lines have been removed and it is the better for this. 
One of the advantages of sharing your work with others is that you discover what doesn't work.
I also gained a title.
A word of explanation; when I used to go to Saturday afternoon films you had to sit below the white line. This was literally a white line running across the aisle demarcating where children sat in the matinee. I think it was to make cleaning up after the film easier. I was thrown out once for sitting at the back of the cinema. What a rebel.
Here is Jimmy Witherspoon and the late, great Art Pepper. I have just found this clip. Art is playing like an angel.

Friday, 8 January 2016

THE SLOW REVEAL

The chances are that, if you have read my blog in the past, you will know how the Space Race fascinated me as a child. I have written a number of poems about it. They are scattered throughout the blog.
Here is the latest.

THE SLOW REVEAL

The composition of moon rock did not interest me. I was twelve.
Neil and Buzz were hopping about the lunar surface,
transported there in flimsy machinery, the earth a disc in their sky.

I was so taken with the idea, humans free in the universe.
Yes, I was thinking big, beyond the moon,
beyond Mars and out into the Big Black.

I am no longer twelve,
now the science intrigues,
to an extent.

I am no longer twenty four and see their compromises,
the propaganda trade offs, the political expediency
of using war criminals with their benevolent butchers smiles.

I am no longer forty eight
and know that out there in the stars,
we would have acted out our history.
Colonisation, exploitation, atrocity.
Listening to the news, this sopping Sunday morning,
all three seem hard wired into our brains.
One of my earliest memories was of Yuri Gagarin. I followed every mission without understanding the science. There was a romance to the whole endeavour that went far beyond the politics.
Speaking of romance...

just after you died, I wished that rather you had ran off with someone/anyone, left me with the kids, there would have been a chance I'd have seen you again,
I could, I thought, have taken comfort in the fact that you still walked the world, and smiled, and laughed, and lent to it the easy grace you always had in life
that moment has passed
I am here with our grown up children and memories
the night is dark, I light a candle
Nothing really to say about this poem. 
I've been listening to lots of Brizilian music this week. Here's Astrud Gilberto with Corcovado.

Friday, 1 January 2016

NO QUARTER

 
 Two poems that plow the same furrow this post. I shall not go into details of the origin, suffice to say they were written some time ago.

she would say you are making me do this
but he saw no straight lines of Newtonian force flow from him to her
the opposite was true
each and every savage spat
pushed her further from his heart

he left
she could not stand being dumped
an action that confirmed his place in her folk tales

he has yet to give an inch of compassion
The photograph is of a David Hockney designed blind in Saltaire. The village is worth a visit if you are in the area.
This second poem riffs off the same source.

Leonard, she told me, got one thing right, women and men are at war, constantly, and I was a fool to believe otherwise. Over time I concluded she was more Pat Benatar than Leonard Cohen, playing to the camera, all synth drums and big hair and a spiteful mind, the kind that cannot be healed. I enlisted in the army and gave no quarter.
 I leave you with Natalie Merchant and San Andreas Fault.
Until next time.

Friday, 25 December 2015

RAIN TATTOOS

A revised poem to start this post.
Thanks must go to Juncture 25 for helping me to make sense of what I had written. I knew that something in the poem wasn't right but could not put my finger on it.

In his head it is always summer,
he refuses autumn permission
to taint even a single leaf.
Across impossibly green lawns,
in high ceilinged rooms,
where fans churn stale words,
he replays his life:
driving that new red car;
dancing at his wedding;
pausing in the departure hall
surrounded by all those people.
Where are they now?

Outside his head rain tattoos the tin roof.
Summer has gone missing,
spring is eighteen months late
and freak weather has reduced his world.
All across the English Archipelago
survivors fear their neighbours,
eat up seed stocks,
worry about the sea level,
or that the water will rise in a moving wall
and sweep them away, once and for all.
There was that night some discussion as to whether you can have a two stanza poem or if it needs three stanzas to work. Not bound to the Hegelian Dialectic I am happy with two.
 A little poem that I've been working on for some time.

LIBRARY QUIZ

An improvised library lesson.
Old books, a random collection,
grown over more time than my life.
Yellow postcard, typed questions,
the e lower then the other letters.
All the facts we were told are in this room.

I couldn't find the answer I was looking for,
it was the books that were dumb,
I knew what it was as soon as I saw the question.
I walked up to Mr. Farr, all tweed and fag ash,
pointed in the direction of the nature books
and told him a bee dies when it stings.

I gambled on his laziness,
but not him stopping the class,
and announcing no one had ever found
that fact in these books before.
It was fair, he said, to give credit
where credit was due.

This was the start of my career as a liar.
It happened like it is written back when I was 11. Though I cannot remember why I wanted to answer the question in the first place.
Here's Anne Briggs and Bert Jansch with Blackwaterside.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

STONEHENGE: 22.12.2015

I am just back from watching the sunrise on the shortest day at Stonehenge.
I like to celebrate the Winter Solstice, but this was the first time I had been to Stonehenge to do so.
 As you can see it was rammed, though not, I was reliably informed, as rammed as the Midsummer Solstice. It was crowded enough for me.
What I like to take from the Midwinter Solstice is a sense of the earth renewing itself, of us swinging toward the long, light nights of May and June.
I can't honestly say that was what I got. 
I had never been so close to the stones and they do have a power to them and I was glad that I had left the house at 5am to experience it.
Next year I shall be somewhere quieter.
Happy New Year to you and yours.
May it be everything you could wish for.


Friday, 18 December 2015

THE FABLED WILD WEST

 
Last post I mentioned that I'd been working on some poems, well here is one, it's about ready for sharing. It is not finished by any means but the bones are there. 

Here we are in the fabled Wild West,
you know the one,
peopled exclusively by white men.
A land that was only new to these invaders,
whose idea of civilisation had no room for others.
So lets play along with the myth
and the story arc of the over the hill gunslinger,
whose lost his nerve and is on one last job,
that leads him to stand outside a door,
wondering if his death waits inside.

Taste his fear, see his hands shake.
He gathers himself, and kicks that door open,
outdraws the bad men
[though he is the one dressed in black]
and frees the farmers, as he was supposed to.
Absorbed in his own legend, he pauses,
watches the farmers fighting back,
is shot in the stomach and dies holding on to wall.

Then there's me, sat in the dark,
right side of the white line,
Saturday afternoon films, 1961.
That scene has stayed with me since,
the film one of my favourites,
perhaps I was just the right age to be impressed,
to buy into their world vision
- this was pre-internet,
before the communication revolution.
I had yet to watch Vietnam unfold
nightly on the tv news,
or to see the American Empire begin to crumble.
The Magnificent Seven is one of my favourite films and recently I had been talking about that scene, the one the poem describes and it led me to write the poem. Robert Vaughan plays the gunfighter but I can't find the clip of his death on line- apologies.
I did however find Annabelle Chvostek singing Racing With The Sun.