I am presenting to you the finished version of a poem you may have read here or here.
We are at table and there are statistics.
One of our number informs us:
the average academic paper is read by ten people.
I crowed how many visits my blog receives,
I should have been embarrassed.
My friend has worked in China for the past year.
This meal a celebration of his return,
and he interjects, Mao, he was told many times,
had been seventy percent right, thirty percent wrong.
It is better to admit your hero has feet of clay,
to divert attention from famine,
the social dislocation of Mao's final years,
and all those ghosts.
The ones that now stand round this table.
So many in fact that they form an orderly queue
down Catherine Hill and beyond Frome to the sea.
We briefly discuss these percentages,
then the talk returns to
the aubergine pamigiana we are enjoying,
the jazz band we going to watch
that we can't remember the name of.
We rise to leave, and find we must
shoulder our way through the ghosts.
Though they do not follow,
I feel their eyes on my back
all the way down the street.Thanks must go the the Secret Poets for helping me finally get it into shape.
So what has changed?
Well one of my favourite lines has been removed:
Not the obvious count of knife and fork and spoon.
It is a case of expediency, for the poem to work the line had to go. Watch this space to see where it turns up again.
Chrissy Banks observed that much of what had been the first stanza was my run up to the poem itself- so that had to go.
Interestingly it was felt that the dish we were eating should be named as should the band we were going to see. Unfortunately I never knew their name.
Also more line breaks, shorter stanzas make the poem more effective.I'd be interested to know your thoughts.
By the way the photographs are of Mary Magdeline in Taunton. None are of Frome.
Here is a new poem.
I decided to walk through your city
the cobblestones betray no vibration
why should they?
you have been dead so long
now I am being told
by my most important other
that once she nearly moved here
then we would not have met
I bless my luck
thank the weather
then I realise you are still here
the part of us that never leaves
the seeds we sow in the minds of others
The allusion to the seeds we sow in the minds of others is from Carlos Castaneda via Jackson Browne's For A Dancer.