Friday, 24 November 2017

THE LOCKER ROOM of LOST POEMS

The idea for this post's poem came in a rush, along with the title. I find titles difficult at the best of times. It is a skill to balance the poem with a title that does not give the game away, or offer a false set of expectations.
Once I had the title/line I let the poem steep in the back of my head for a couple of days. Then I spent about two weeks refining/revising the language.


The Poem's Disdain for the Poet

Above the layers of dream that hang thick over the city,
above the strata of hope that curves convex into the troposphere,
lies the locker room of lost poems.

The one's that die between thought and pen,
those no poet could shepherd on to the page.

It's a bleak affair. Metal lockers,
those thin wooden benches, bolted to the vinyl tiles.

And what an atmosphere - lost anticipation spiked through with regret,
where they mumble, where they grumble.

Oh, the poems disdain for the poet
when she fails to make them fly,
when he gets their words down wrong.

For the promiscuous poet can always follow another set of clues,
while they are written off forever.
I excised a line near the end of the process that I really liked, although it was not a fair description: like a roomful of Pete Best's.
Never having met the man I thought it was too nasty to use. For those younger readers Pete Best was sacked from The Beatles on the eve of them signing to Parlaphone. 
Anna Ternheim has just released a new LP All The Way To Rio [in Sweden at least, it comes out in the UK on the 1st December]. I can't find any videos from it on You Tube so here's a live version of her first hit [in Sweden] Shoreline.
Until next time. I am off to listen to my Swedish copy.

Friday, 17 November 2017

HISTORY IS A WORD BANGLE

We are living in the death throws of Neo-Liberalism.
Austerity has been hitting the UK hard now for nearly ten years. I wonder as to the point of it? It is not as if the country were more solvent than it had been, it is not. The NHS is being slowly starved of funds and opened up to asset stripping vultures in the name of choice. The examples of Tory-misrule are all around us.
Today I read that 15,000 scientists in 184 different countries have signed a Warning to Humanity. We have to change our ways or face extinction.
 The poem this post is about how history is everywhere, ubiquitous yet ignored.
England's Glory was a brand of matches when I was a child. I've actually just done a search and discovered they still exist!

England's Glory

Clock back Sunday morning,
it could be bin day, but it's not,
Mafeking Terrace in the rain,
the silvered pavement a foxed mirror.
Walk down Sabastapol
across Inkerman.
Flashcards for past lives
and history is a word bangle
these streets wear blind.
There was a second stanza but it didn't add anything to the whole.
Here's the first few lines.

The recruiting drum is silent,
the yellowed skin hangs slack,
we no longer follow the flag my boys.
We are individuals isolated by our differences

The danger for me is that I can become determined to make it work then you have to cut your losses.
I have been listening to some old African pop music this last couple of days including an old lp by Devera Ngwena Jazz band. After my depressing post here's something to dance to.
Until next time.

Friday, 10 November 2017

CONFLICTING CURRENTS

This poem wrote itself very quickly. I've no idea where it came from. Sometimes poems spring forth from the subconscious almost complete.
I've reworked it a number of times, but it was essentially whole when it arrived.


Realisation


Imagine the blank page as a quagmire.
Conflicting currents of quick sand
lie beneath the smooth white surface,
over which you must lay word after word.
The right ones for this poem will snap into place.
There is a temporary refuge in such words
[and let's face it you do like order,
the comfort of a sheaf of sorted poems,
firm in your hand when you stand to read],
not this pit of snake letters,
that writhes in your cupped hands.
And has led you into this swamp.
Whatever. You are here now,
so wizard word your way to solid ground.
Writing about the act of creation is nothing new, though every time we create it is different. I suppose it's like that old saying that you can never walk into the same river twice.
Thanks to Paul Mortimer for his constructive feedback in putting on a final sheen.
Here's The Nits from a long time ago.
Until next time.

Friday, 3 November 2017

ARTHRITIC QUESTION MARKS

I was listening to the weather forecast getting it wrong the other Saturday which led to this.

Last Saturday

The weather forecast bullied them into carrying umbrellas,
arthritic question marks they waved at the blue sky,
while muttering that it is better to be safe than sorry,
17% of which will be forgotten on trams and in bookshops.
A typical Saturday really.
Discussions with Paul Mortimer concerning amoeba led me to revise this poem.

A Small Step for a Man

As usual the Americans were busy,
semi-secretly murdering monkeys,
no say, one way passengers,
locked into war surplus V2 rockets.
It kept the newly naturalised Nazis happy,
hidden out of the way at White Sands, Arizona.
Still the Soviets top trumped them,
proudly sending a stray dog into space to die.

There was no stopping either of them after that.
It was like Noah's Ark in reverse.
How many animals could they send to their deaths?
So let's not forget the monkeys,
the rabbit, the rats, all the fruit flies
and not forgetting forgetting the amoeba,
who came to realise
that a small step was a step too far.
Here's the Mountain Goats with one of my favourite tracks off Goths.
Until next time.

Friday, 27 October 2017

SOMETHING KINETIC

No preamble today. Straight into the poem.


Closure

At first I thought you slept,
lost in the self-profiling bed,
amid the necessary machinery
that crowds your room these days.
I can't say how I knew,
something kinetic had gone,
slipped away in that last sigh,
the one I missed, stuck in traffic.

We wait for the duty nurse to sign you off.

Mourning begins,
as if everyday we had not wished
you to be at peace
and now you are gone,
leaving the four of us
with our individual beliefs of what comes after.
Here's REM with Half a World Away from BBC Two's Late Show.
Until next time.

Friday, 20 October 2017

TOP TRUMPED

I've mentioned the Operation Paperclip before. It was a top secret strategy to bring into the USA and the UK useful Nazi scientists of dubious virtue. Among those so sanitised were Wernher von Braun and his V2 rocket engineers. The fact that they had used slave labour to build the V2 was glossed over.
Once in America they were sent to White Sands. The OSE was simply relieved that the Soviets had not managed to capture them.
They spent the end of the 1940s testing V2 rockets with monkeys locked inside them. The Soviets were doing similar things.
Neil Armstrong, when he first set foot on the moon, said it was a small step for a man.
This weeks poem is about of all this.
A Small Step for a Man

As usual the Americans were busy,
semi-secretly murdering monkeys,
no say, one way passengers,
locked into war surplus V2 rockets.
It kept the newly naturalised Nazis happy,
hidden out of the way at White Sands, Arizona.
Still the Soviets top trumped them,
proudly sending a stray dog into space to die.

There was no stopping either of them after that.
It was like Noah's Ark in reverse.
How many animals could they send to their deaths?
So let's not forget the monkeys,
the rabbit, the rats, all the fruit flies
and the amoeba,
who came to realise
that small step was far too steep.
I have been working on this poem for some time. It has benefited from being left in a drawer for a couple of months. When I came to look at it again I could see the flaws.
The photographs were taken at a reclamation yard in Somerset that used to have an old missile amongst its stock.
Here is the wondrous Annabelle Chvostek. Any chance of a tour of the UK?
Until next time.

Friday, 13 October 2017

BLUES TO GREYS

I wrote today's poem over the course of a day, returning to add and alter lines as the day unfolded. 
The inspiration came from being stopped by a traffic accident. As I reflected on the time I spent in the traffic queue looking out of the window I made my thoughts into this poem.

Night slips into dawn,
Russian blues to greys.
Each brake light neon red,
a stilled steel wave
stopped on the crest of the hill.

Most solo driven,
lonely bubbles of plastic and glass,
whose digital clocks countdown
until, at some point, we move,
to crawl past the cones.

I try not to see the trembling woman
but glimpse her new complication,
a wrecked car,
yellow metal skin ripped open.

In two seconds I have passed by.
The day is light,
the open road leads me
back into the details of my life.
As usual there is no title. Perhaps I should be one of those poets who simply number their work. It would be easier.
I am not sure if it is complete. I intend to put it away for a couple of weeks then see what it looks like.
Here is 13 minutes of superb music from Brooke Sharkey.
Until next time.