Friday 16 September 2016


Thanks must go, once again, to The Secret Poets for their invaluable help with the revising of this first poem.

Five Types of Waiting

Queues are an obvious example,
even though there's only five minutes
before the last train leaves the station,
and there are five people in front of you.

A childhood in Widnes provides many opportunities:
half-day closing;
shut down Sundays;
endless afternoons of school rugby league.

Clock watching at work may indicate
an over familiarity with the task,
or signal that it's time to find another job.

Then there's waiting for a miracle,
as I have been doing these past days,
hoping the blood vessels in your head will heal
and stop this kaleidoscoping of your personality
into an infinite parade of anxious strangers.

Oh yes, and there's the time before the ambulance comes
to take you to a place of safety,
now they have found you a bed.
This last seems the longest.
You can read the first draft here.
So what has changed?
The title for a start, it was originally Different Types of Waiting.
The there is has been abbreviated to there's-twice.
And, of course, the last line has been removed.
To make a poem more effective you need to assess every word and ask if the poem still works with that word removed? If the answer is yes, then that word is unnecessary and it has to go.
You can apply this process to whole lines. Every poet I know has a collection of favourite lines that did not fit the poem.
Now a new poem. This arose out of a chance remark by a drama teacher, who commented that the more props you use in improvised performances the more can go wrong and strangely the less believable the situation is. At least that is my memory of what he had said.
It inspired this:

The more props, the more trouble, he had told us.
But we needed to believe,
our every abstract made a concrete object,
which would make the illusion work,
and fool us in the process.
Of course it did not turn out like that,
the changes under rehearsed.
Clarity vanished under the audiences stare.
We died a death on stage,
and lived to repeat the same mistakes in life.
All the photographs in this post come from a recent visit to Margate. The first three from The Turner Contemporary, where I saw an excellent exhibition featuring some of Paul Nash's work.
This week I've been listening to a lot of Sufjan Stevens. Here's Should Have Known Better from Carrie & Lowell. What a beautiful lp.
Until next time.

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