Sunday, 6 November 2011


This week, slightly later than normal, I thought I would explore the ancient idea of the poem as a story. Ok you say, so far so very Homeric and I would have to agree, but I thought it would be interesting to share a couple of older poems that arose out of real life and imply if not explicitly tell a story.
Four people,
Four view points,
Four chairs around a table.
One secret is shared by three,
Exclude the other,
Fear her reproach,
Yet allude to the secret openly,
Describe the one perspective.
Discord divides the circle.

The originator speaks:
“I do not consider myself the same
As other women who have affairs.”
Note this evening,
This moment as a reference point,
A snapshot of relationships.
Four chairs around a table.
The logic of Euclid
Will disprove her proposition.

Inevitability crawls towards them all.
This poem evolved after one of the diners told me about their experience. I think it was sparked by the included dialogue, the illusion that this time can be different. Another example of this illusion is The Gamblers Fallacy; apparently it is common amongst people who gamble to tell themselves after not winning for some time that they are due a big win to even things up. But then again the human mind can convince itself of anything.
I liked the idea of a circular table and the four chairs as points around that circle; as I remember the idea that three of the four diners shared a secret enabled me to play with the numbers. I also thought the story marked a potential crossroads in their relationships, by this I mean that there is here the chance of the relationship floundering.
Someday you’re going to get careless,
That’s how fire’s start,
Speak the wrong name in passion
And your life will burn apart.

The air is becoming heady,
The heat begins to climb,
Her flesh is so incendiary,
As you ignite one more time.

Some day you’re going to get careless
Then the flames will start,
And all of your safety procedures
Will not save your heart.

I have a secret phone,
Store it next to my heart.
Lock both in my briefcase,
They help to keep me apart
From a wife and a lover,
With time divided I can cope.
Can either woman change me?
They just haven’t a hope.

The three poems in this post are of a piece. They were written close together and concern the same situation. As you may gather, there may be more than a hint that one of the participants worked for the emergency services. I had been reminded of the triangle of combustion after reading a section of a health and safety manual (yes, I am that sad that I read such things) and that triangle chimed with the human triangle that I could see in front of me. It was relatively easy to weave the conceit into the poem.
At the time I think, I viewed the participants in a rather negative perspective; if I am honest rereading these poems before posting, I feel sorry for the four of them. It feels like another example of the Gambler’s Fallacy that, after a period of unhappiness the desperate deceit would bring some kind of happiness. I do not think it did.
At the beginning of this post I made reference to Homer; perhaps for any human to be viewed as heroic many years have to pass.


  1. Interesting post; especially your last point about heroism.

    Enjoyed reading the poems.

  2. Very nice! I love them! However, I do NOT love being the fourth excluded person.

  3. Golden Eagle: Glad you liked the poems, they are about 12 years old and were written about a situation I observed around that time.
    Peggy: I agree, if I had been the fourth person i would have felt excluded,as did the person who narrated the content of the meal to me. In Transactional Analysis terms, the three people doing the excluding were playing a Game, it was not nice, as you imply locking the fourth person out.

  4. We all have our secrets. I find it's best not to share them. I worked in a casino for six years, both as a dealer and a pit boss. During all those years, I only gambled about twelve times. Partly because I'm not a gambler, but also because I witnessed that Gambler's Fallacy up close every day. But I have another reason for mentioning that. It's because there are a lot of affairs going on in casinos. My friend James always said something when one of them would inevitably go wrong. It isn't poetic, but these poems made me think it. It was, "the screwin' they do won't be worth the screwin' they get." And naturally, he was right. (Coarse, but right). None of those affairs ended well. But I'm sure each person thought it would be different in their case. I enjoy your poems. A lot of people write poetry, but not many write it well. You write it well. I've posted a couple of poems at my blog. Maybe someday I'll post more.

    And thank you so much for ordering my book! I hope you enjoy it!

  5. Hi Doralynn, I agree with James, I suppose we can all fool ourselves that it wont happen to us, that was certainly what was going on in this case. Thanks for your comments, I'll look at the poems on your blog, and am waiting for the book to arrive.

  6. that picture is so psychedelic. and thanks for sharing your stories through poetic structures. nice work.

  7. Aguilar: thank you, the photograph was taken at Purbeck Folk Festival and is of a hula-hoop with lcd lights inside, it looks incredible doesn't it, I set the camera on a long exposure. There are a couple of others in different postings.