Friday, 30 September 2011


Do you ever actually switch off? Decide that while you are here, wherever here maybe, you will not write? I have to say I do not. I tend to be stimulated by new surroundings and different situations. I have an ongoing series of poems that I call Road Poems and that I add to when we travel.
For example these two were written in Barcelona on two different visits in 2009. The first concerns an incident we observed on the Metro, the woman sitting opposite us was fiddling with her wedding ring and as she did it dropped to the floor of the carriage. It was retrieved by the man sitting next to her, who had, to my eye, no connection with her. I spent the rest of the journey thinking about this and if on a psychodynamic level there was an ulterior to her action. Anyway the next day I wrote this:
5. Road Poem
Barcelona 2009
Ring around a finger,
Circle, turn, slide up,
Fall through frantic air,
Bounces on the carriage floor.
The man in the next seat
Smiles, retrieves it,
The gold glints
Between finger and thumb.
Sat opposite I invent reasons,
Possible divorce, Infidelity?
Anger or secret regret?
I ask what it means:
“Sometimes there is no meaning”
You tell me: “Stuff happens”
This is our stop,
We exit the Metro.
I think there is an ulterior here myself, what do you think? This second poem was written later that year, we were again in the Metro and observed a young couple, the man got on the train and the woman looked longingly after him.
6. Road Poem
They kiss,
He boards the train.
Does not look back
At her expectant face,
An almost sigh.
Split second space,
Then she walks,
You tell me:
“We are observing a failed romance
They will not last”
We walk the platform,
I hope she does not speak English.
I honestly hoped that the woman could not understand our conversation. We had glimpsed her dream and being older and more jaded could see it was not going to go anywhere. Perhaps experience makes us less hopeful, perhaps we have all been there, perhaps in time the woman in the second poem could have become the woman in the first. What do you think?
All this is a roundabout way of justifying to myself while I am here in Barcelona I am writing my blog. I shall stop now, it is festival time here, La Merce, the time that giants walk the streets and dragons breathe fire. Who knows there may even be a poem waiting for me.


  1. I don't think I ever really switch off, either. I'd be afraid of missing some detail that I could use in my writing.

    Wonderful poems. I like the way they were taken from actual observations; they make me wonder about the greater story behind those moments.

  2. Interesting speculations. I think that's what makes for great stories. And your poems are great stories. I am not as jaded as I probably should be, though. So to me, I would just see a distracted, worried woman who is fiddling with her ring without even realizing it until she drops it... it could very well be that the thing that is worrying her is her marriage, but it's hard to tell as an outsider. However, I like the idea of the second woman becoming the first... from the point of view of a story.

  3. Golden Eagle: I'm glad I'm not the only one who does not switch off, I thik having a good memory helps but I do need to write things down, partly it's the act of writing them down that makes me remember.
    There is something in just observing people and letting their actions be the basis of a story. Glad you like the poems, I've just got the setting of my poetry book to proof read, this is very exciting.
    Doralynn: The idea of the second woman becoming the first only occured to me as I wrote the post, I have to say its an interesting one. On the point of whether or not it is her marriage troubling her, who know? I just took a psychodynamic perspective that if she is playing with her ring it could be her subconscious saying her marriage is troubled-pure pop psychology on my part.

  4. I love how you linked the two poems into two different parts of the same story. Brilliant!

  5. Thanks Peggy. I presented the poems chronologically but on reflection I think they would have worked the other way round. This is the sort of insight you only get when you are interacting with other writers.