Friday, 16 August 2019

MECHANICAL BIRDS TO JEWEL THEIR SKIES

Today's poem arose from a writing exercise.
I took a blank piece of paper and wrote whatever words came into my head until I had filled it. No stopping, no thinking about the contents and no criticism. I just wrote.
Then I read it and wondered if there was a poem lurking in there.
This came slowly out.

the silence of the great extinction
settled on the shoulders of the survivors
stalling all thoughts of celebration

as if for the first time
they clearly saw all that had been lost
as if for the first time

so set to work
shipping in from beyond the stars
mechanical birds to jewel their skies

and fill a niche long vacated
by sinew and bone
feather and wing

see how their propellers idle
as the thermal spirals then ever higher
to spectrograph heaven with their metal tongues

I got the idea of mechanical birds to jewel the skies and the propellers from the writing, the rest evolved over a couple of weeks and many revisions.

Here's The Mamas and Papas.

Until next time.

Friday, 9 August 2019

THE INTENSITY OF THIS FAREWELL


I  was in Teignmouth the other Saturday sitting on the Back Beach soaking up the sun and reading the paper. I noticed a wedding party waiting by a restaurant. The party consisted of the bride and two bridesmaids. I wondered what would happen if the groom failed to appear and this little poem wrote itself on my phone.


sun on silk
pearled bodice luminescent
a bride on the back beach
where is her groom?
Timing is everything
and this wait fuels her doubts

gulls circle
the tide goes out 



The rest of the wedding party arrived as I was writing thankfully.
I think you have to be open to whatever words arrive and make of them what you can.
This second poem was revised with the assistance of The Secret Poets. I owe them many thanks. You can read the previous version here.


Just One of Those Things

when the sea returned
the lovers had gone
to create their own energy
in a rented room

then to part
on some street corner
late in the afternoon
in a press of people too preoccupied
for the intensity of this farewell
to ever be noticed



The poem has lost the final two lines. It has also lost the fifth line in the middle stanza. We discussed whether it added anything to the poem by introducing the situation of the people in the crowd and decided that as the poem was a miniature that the focus was best kept on the lovers. 
If you can find a group you trust and respect then the benefits to your writing are infinite. 

Here's some Radio Tarifa. It doesn't seem twenty years since their first album came out. How times speeds away.

Until next time.

Friday, 2 August 2019

THE SUNDAY SINGER OILS HER VOICE


A small poem for starters:

the sunday singer
oils her voice
all of saturday
after midnight chimes
you can hear her sing
as if all was right with this world

monday morning 
brings the usual sorrows


The poem wrote itself on Saturday. No idea where it came from.
On Tuesday I met with The Secret Poets once again and I am grateful for their assistance with this rewrite. You can read the other version here.

The Sniper’s Dilemma
for Colin

He is still paying our bill,
you can see it in his eyes,
Goose Green to Belfast
and more places in between.

How does a man who cares
steer his heart through such times?
Focus on the practical,
strip and reassemble what you can
with eyes closed in the dark
and repeat for Queen and country.

Part of him is always there on that cold island,
reflecting on what they told him,
the target or two of ours.

In the blackness of this sleepless night
he hears those words again:

two of ours or him.

Whats changed? The last line has gone, the third stanza has been altered [hopefully to make it read more clearly] and the first stanza has lost it's final line.
It is my small tribute to a friend.

Here's a song by Liz Lawrence

Until next time.

Friday, 26 July 2019

CALM CENTRE OF THE STORM

 

A couple of little poems about Torquay, the place I live. Well, they are more specific than that, they are about the road I live on.


though I live by the crossroads
I can walk home at midnight
and not meet the devil
or have to hear false promises
whispered in my ear


I was thinking of the old Blues tale about Robert Johnson going to the crossroads at midnight to trade his soul for guitar virtuosity. 
The second poem came to me as I was doing Tai Chi one morning.


once in a while in a morning
sat at the breakfast table
watching the cars drive this way and that
I believe this house
is the calm centre of the storm
and I give thanks



The images are taken from an installation: The Cave Hunters and the Truth Machine by Sean Harris. It was part of a series of events organised in June in Torbay.
Anna Ternheim has a new song out and the new LP is released in September. She's playing London on 20 November.

Until next time.

Friday, 19 July 2019

TROPICAL PRESSURE 2019

Last weekend I was at the Tropical Pressure Festival and what a fab festival it was!
I ran a poetry workshop on the Friday that was great fun. I'd like to thank the people who attended for their hard work and wonderful poems. I also read on the Sunday.
My workshop was on finding treasure and involves imaging clearing the house of a person who has hoarded everything for many years. Here is the poem I wrote. 

if this room could find its voice
hidden as it is amid this sea of boxes
would it bother to speak
to spill its secrets to strangers
when its story is written on every creased surface


It is a jewel of a festival and the variety and quality of the music is superb. 
LA-33 a salsa band from Columbia were amazing on the Friday evening and Tetes De Pois played two storming sets on Saturday. They were my band to watch from the festival.
I'd like to thank Antonia and all her team for their hard work in making the festival so enjoyable to both work at and attend. Thank you.
Here's Tetes De Pois so you can judge for yourself.

Until next time.

Friday, 12 July 2019

LIFE CONTINUES MECHANICALLY

 

This poem has long troubled me. The final line of the last version [which you can read here] was just wrong. It let the intensity of the poem evaporate into thin jargon. Thanks to the Secret Poets for the time spent analysing exactly why it didn't work.
This revised version I feel is better.


Sheila's Poem

We had hoped for death.
Crash landing
on this unexpected plateau,
where life continues mechanically
and the identical days merge.
Sometimes, across a great distance,
you speak,
words faint
ever more slippage.
There are no dials to turn,
or amplifiers to power up,
that just for once would
take us from this barren place
back to how it used to be.


It is a private poem and I have nothing to say about it.
I'm off to Tropical Pressure this weekend to run a poetry workshop and read.
On the 8th I heard that João Gilberto had died. As a child the Bossa Nova he helped to create along with Tom Jobim was part of the soundtrack to my childhood along with The Beatles and Psychedelia.
I was only listening to João's early albums last week. Superb music. Thank you João.
Here he is singing Triste.

And here is Insensative.
He will be missed.

Until next time.

Friday, 5 July 2019

THERE IS NO POETRY ON THE NUMBER 16


 Back in 2012 I wrote a poem about a friend of mine daydreaming on a bus, you can read the poem here. The bus route in question was the 256 in Wolverhampton. I recently had lunch with my friend and she told that the 256 had been discontinued, that she now travels to work on the number 16, adding that I should write a poem about that.
Here it is.

on first hearing that the 256 bus route has been discontinued

1.
planned changes
trumpeted efficiencies
lead you to count progress in losses
means more people less buses

the 256 has run its course
so joins the other phantom routes
those ghost transport numbers
that fade when the last driver dies
and the final passenger forgets


2.
the chill of looming winter
autumn comes to Wolverhampton

a concrete finger bus stop
Rachel has been here before

most week days
for thirty years or more

a stoic wait

buses are as regular
as politicians promises
of the harvests to come

but there is no poetry on the number sixteen
just smudged windows
through which to watch
the town contract
The sharp eyed and well travelled amongst you may realise that the photographs are of Manchester. They were taken back in November 2015 and I have been waiting for just the right post...
I think [hope] the poem speaks for itself. The previous poem was rather playful and light hearted but I think the times have got more serious. There is less to laugh at. 
Here are a couple of videos of Everything But The Girl. I was listening to some of their cds this week which prompted me to search out their videos.
I love this one because it must have cost about £2 to make.


Whereas this one, a couple of years later, would have cost a lot more...

Until next time-buses permitting.