Friday, 30 August 2019

THE SILENCE OF THE GREAT EXTINCTION


I woke up on Thursday morning feeling that I was living in the final chapter of Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye To Berlin
The bad people have won. The callous, mean spirited, utterly ruthless, neoliberal, careerist politicians have acted with characteristic disregard for democracy. Words fail me.
I can only see the situation becoming ever worse. We can prepare to wave goodbye to the National Health Service, the few remaining employment rights we have and get ready for the end.
None of these politicians have the gravitas [or the intelligence] to save humanity from catastrophe. Be that from the environmental breakdown, species extinction or the ever increasing greed of the few.
Here is a revised poem.

the silence of the great extinction
settled on the shoulders of the survivors
as if for the first time
they could see all that had been lost

and so set to refashion their world
shipping in from beyond the stars
mechanical birds to jewel their skies

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

having captured the thermal
see how their propellers idle
as they spiral ever higher
to spectrograph heaven with their metal tongues 

You can read the original here.
I have altered the layout [thanks to the Secret Poets for their input] and tried to make the final stanza flow more smoothly.
At this moment, if I am honest, I don't see our species surviving. We seem hell bent on making the situation ever worse. Hope packed its bags and left some time ago.
I leave you with John Coltrane.
 

Friday, 23 August 2019

WATCH THE TOWN CONTRACT

I spend a very enjoyable afternoon this week picnicking with the Secret Poets on Babacombe Downs. It is always a joy to meet up and the conversation and constructive feedback is superb. Thank you.
Here's a revised poem. You can read the earlier draft here.
There have been a number of changes, though I am not sure the poem is finished.

on first hearing that the 256 bus route has been discontinued

1. so called progress

trumpeted efficiencies
planned changes
equals
more people fewer buses

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

2.
autumn comes to Wolverhampton
the chill of looming winter

at the concrete finger bus stop
Rachel waits most week days
for thirty years or more stoic

buses are as regular
as politicians promises

there is no poetry on the number sixteen
just smudged windows
through which to watch
the town contract


A couple of lines have been changed around to aid the poem to read more fluently. Reading your work aloud is essential. You need to hear the sounds of the poem. Poetry was after all an oral art form.
For me the poem captures the times. Our high streets contract and coarsen. We are a collection of individuals not a community.


I received my copy of the Kathryn Williams Anthology yesterday and what a treasure trove of delights it is.
At 20 cds I'm still working my way through the beautiful music it contains.

Until next time.

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.