Friday, 17 May 2019


I have mixed feelings about musicals, there are some I really like [Guys & Dolls for instance], but on the whole I find them not to my taste. It's not that I do not love the Great American Songbook, far from it. I adore Rogers & Hart, Harold Arlen and Cole Porter. The lyrics of their songs are as erudite as anything you will ever hear and wittier than most. 
This is a preamble into this poem:


It was their children who celebrated,
turning their struggles into a musical,
all bright tunes and stock characters.
Endless acres under a summer blue sky.
The script did not foretell of the Dust Bowl,
none of the songs mentioned the First People,
now imprisoned on reservations.
No. It was all technicolor gaiety.
It’s no wonder we have to fight
for our histories to be heard.

It's not that I object to the work, it is not to my particular taste but that's besides the point. I just think that history is a contested concept. There are many different interpretations of the past jostling and fighting to be the dominant discourse. I think we need to hear some of the other perspectives.
Every age remakes the past in its own image. We need to discuss our history more than we do.
Here is a revised poem. You can read the last version here.


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.

Perhaps the secret of any life
is to find the places where you can thrive.

Essentially the last three lines have gone. The Secret Poets were of the opinion I was introducing a whole new concept. This is not a good idea at the end of a poem, a poem needs to be complete in itself.
I am leaving you with Ella Fitzgerald singing Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. Lorenz Hart was a total genius.

Until next time.

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