Friday, 26 October 2018

TO KISS YOUR MEMORY

Another poem about those moments of satori that occur unexpectedly.
That's all I am going to say about it.

That we should decide to cross the border
is hardly surprising,
we live in the debatable lands.

Twelve hour passes are all that’s on offer,
because our lives are lived
inside the movements of our favourite clocks.
Still we hope for something built to last
and tell one another we go for experience.

Days lived like this prompt memories,
because in this place words reveal their power,
conjure simulacrum who people the spaces
between the shafts of light
between the notes from the turntable
between the breaths that form the words.

We were there now we are here.

In the quiet of our return a song plays
that was written after you died,
yet I know you are in the room,
have followed us back across the lines,
wearing a sad smile for what might have been,
gently I move to kiss your memory.

An old song that sort of fits the post.Carl Sagan by Loch Lomond.

Until next time.

Friday, 19 October 2018

DATA IS COLLECTED

A poem inspired by observing a lecture this post. 
I decided to attempt to write as clear an account of the session as I could. It is an interesting exercise to simply record what you see. I find that as I do so the meaning of the poem becomes clear, by this I mean the shape and purpose of the poem reveal themselves.


Research Methods in the Sports Hall

they are required to sprint
between the pairs of tripods
which record their times

he gives them brief tips
before they repeat their runs

data is collected
half the university away

so far it is all abstract actions
unconnected calculations

this is still the second year

Making yourself write about what you see can be a useful exercise. It is one I use when I am in a new environment. You can never write enough, practice really does make perfect.
I'm seeing the Decemebrists next month. I've managed to see them every tour but one-when they cancelled the day I was due to see them in Bristol.
I have to confess I have found their later albums rather hit and miss. I feel the songs are more sketches than complete works and that they have come to rely on slick productions to paper over the cracks. That said they are usually a good live band.
I leave you with January Hymn from The King Is Dead.


No mention of The Decemebrists is complete with their most amazing song.


Until next time.

Friday, 12 October 2018

A SPECK IN THE INDUSTRIAL IMMENSITY

The photograph is of the turbine hall in Tate Modern. The ceiling is 35m [115 ft]. Every time I visit I am reminded of the turbine hall of the power station at Castner-Kellner Works in Runcorn. I mention this because it features in this poem.

SPACES

Sideways
through a letterbox in the earth,
then crawl on your stomach
and dive through a sump of dark water,
to emerge where? Don’t ask me.
I failed the first task.
When slithering into the fissure
the weight of the world was compressing
I was backing out apologising.
Extremes are not for me,
neither the confines of the cave
or the naked space of free air.

You see ten years or more before,
when I was first an apprentice,
I had to climb the cold metal ladder of the turbine hall
to inspect the integrity of the overhead cranes,
but when I emerged on to that tiny platform,
a speck in the industrial immensity,
I could do nothing but wait to be guided down.
These are not my worlds.

Perhaps the secret of any life
is to find the places where you can thrive,
there is always another life after this,
and an infinity of lessons to be learned
each successive incarnation.


I am not sure how the poem came to me. I had an idea for the first line and let it percolate for couple of days before I attempted to write it down. This is a method I seem to be using at the moment.
The view from the ceiling of the turbine hall stays with me, all that space...
Recently I happened to hear Steve Goodman for the first time in years. There were a couple of songs on the end of a CD-R. I had forgotten what a good songwriter he was. 
Here's Banana Republic. I think the lyric is superb, transposing words and tune in the chorus is a work of genius.

I saw him at the July Wakes Festival in 1976, he was a guest of John Prine. It was a standout performance.
His most famous song is City of New Orleans but here's Yellow Coat from his first album. It is such a subtle song.

Until next time.

Friday, 5 October 2018

A SLICE OF THE 1970s

I have been doing some travelling recently. I visited Porto and I sat in a square and wrote this poem.

Gaia

Crossed cranes over the cash and carry
- a dull red building to the right hand side
of the equally unimpressive municipal office,
with five trees in front of it and a kiosk.
The wide selection of magazines flap in the breeze.
This square is a space for passing through,
not a place to stop as I have done.
I am sat at a table with a beer
watching other people’s lives unfold,
it’s just that type of day.
Gaia is the area across the city from the old town. 
As I was saying last post it is a useful exercise to sit somewhere quietly and write what you see.
This next poem wrote itself.

the day before we sold the family home
me and my sister
walked through each room one final time
in the name of thoroughness
I stepped into the loft
and found a slice of the 1970’s
packed away in boxes

we walked back to her house
arms full of more than memories

Thinking of the 1970s here's John Martyn with I Couldn't Love You More.
Until next time.