Friday 25 September 2015


I ran a workshop on Wednesday evening for Juncture 25. I organise one a month, it helps us keep our poetry chops honed. But this time I ran on to the rocks of artifice. Essentially I became so wedded to a conceit that my poem floundered. This is definitely a danger for me, and I suspect many other poets. I can lose my way trying too hard to work a theme into a poem. In this case I wanted to weave the colours of the rainbow throughout the poem and I stopped listening to my poetic sense and became all rigid left brain ordering. So what should have been a subtle pattern ended up dominating the poem and, as I say, stopped me listening to where the poem wanted to go. 
You will be relieved I am not sharing that particular disaster.
Instead this first poem grew out of a conversation I had with Richard Holt at CIC CIC here in Taunton. We were talking how politics can be an end in itself, politicians become too concerned with keeping all the plates in the air that they forget that there are more ways of doing things, or even that there are more rooms than the one they want us to live in. 
I was just thinking that this would make a good poem as Richard said that there was a painting in the metaphor. I have beaten him to it.

They would have you believe this room is the centre,
and the activity in the middle essential for all our well being.
While you may be invited to admire an individuals skill,
you must not question why the plates have to be kept spinning.
There is combat here, bare knuckled words
exchanged between the groups who vie to work the poles,
but if it is expedient they will expect you
to die to keep the plates in the air.

Maybe this is too crude for you?
How about the double bluff?
The Eloi still rule the poor Morlocks,
it only looks like sacrifice,
it's their ball and their rules.
We may be at the precipice
but there is still a profit to be made from the dying earth.

They would have you believe this room is the centre.
But in my father's house are many mansions,
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I shall leave you to judge how well I have captured the idea.
But I shall mention the photographs. I have always been fascinated by H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. You can read another poem here. The world that the Time Traveller finds himself in has, amongst other things, a strange glass/ceramic museum and a pagoda in it. There are two types of humans, the Eloi [all vacuous fun] and the Morlocks [the debased proletariat, who harvest the Eloi]. Wells had his own take on the future to promote, but my sympathies have always been with the Morlocks. 
The word mansion also crops up in this next poem. I once knew a man who was in a position very similar to that which the poem describes.

He is a mansion, as are we all.

Over creeping time,
he has closed each room,
thrown dust sheets over emotions,
backed away from what he once could feel.

He exists in his attic.
He has opened the trunks that hold his memories,
subjects each to the harsh prism of his guilt,
twisting each recollection until it screams.
I had been eagerly waiting for the new Beirut lp to be released and I have to say I do not get it. Whereas Rip Tide was a beautiful album of strong tunes and excellent lyrics NO No No seems to be a collection of demos. Best to avoid I think...
Here are Hooray For The Riff Raff in concert.

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