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Do engineers dream
of eiderdown chairs
and perhaps a world
without gravity?
	Do they poke
	with soft pencils
	at yesterday’s dreams
	and the monstrous dark
	in the bedsit?
Do they skilfully rush
to the day’s blasting rays
at the stretch of a morning
which never delays?


I know a few engineers and they are interesting people. Many of them have a creative side or an interest in the arts. However, in profession binaries engineering (like those other sensible paths: law, medicine, business) is often set in opposition to creative professions in art, music, dance and writing.

The engineers in this poem are, of course, a one-dimensional group set in opposition with an understood, yet unmentioned artist. These engineers cannot imagine a world where chairs are made of feathers or objects to do not respond to predetermined scientific givens. With an assured, strategic and rational understanding of their lives and the world, they choose to neither entertain nostalgia nor awaken melancholia. In new experiences they are guided by caution, or even attempt to avoid change. But change, like new mornings, proceeds with its own regularity.

To all my engineering (legal, medical, business and scientific) friends who carry artist’s souls, please indulge the binary. To my artist friends – I know full well that many of us are interested in scaffolding, load-bearing walls, the chemistry of glazes and neuroscience research. It is a great pity that in the myth of professions we are set against each other by the monies and social prestige allotted to our disciplines.

Under those blasting rays, may we all sit together on eiderdown chairs, poking at our dreams with soft pencils.

I have written a few other poems about professions and work:
Professions
An Artist Works
A Bequest of Wonder
At the Right Age
A Definition, Notably for the Cloud-Dwelling Artists

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
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Books for preview and purchase:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness 

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Roll up! Roll up! To see
the hairy Caucasian lady
with her mandible chin hairs
protruding since she long gave up
plucking or pulling
or waxing them off. And
nobody else cares to do it for her.
Hairs and cavernous wrinkles! Roll up!
It’s not a wig. That’s naturally grey.
Under the chin? A wattle of flesh.
Stare on at those mandible chin hairs
sprout afresh.

For Doris, 1911 – 1998

My London-born granny, my maternal granny, was considered a handsome woman. She told me as much herself, proudly holding up a 1940s studio photograph as evidence. She remained a strikingly attractive. In these early memories, she was a formidable, confident and vital woman.

In the darkness of her bedroom, she had once shown me how she pinned her long, white hair into the trademark chignon she wore. After twirling her mane into a pony and tucking it under itself, one by one, she picked up and inserted the hairpins laid out on the white windowsill.

Gan Gan had impeccable style and a polished fashion sense. Her home in Newlands was furnished with complimentary imbuia furniture, always gleaming. She did not believe in wearing trousers, but was fond of a jacket and skirt suit. Perhaps this was an influence of her youth in London of the 1920s and 30s.

In my early teens she fell and broke her hip. Over the next five years, as she was shunted from one smelly, dismal old age home room to another, she grew more and more frail. Sensible elasticised tracksuit trousers became part of her wardrobe. Her once well-fed, upright frame crumpled. Her sturdy voice became a wobble.

“Nurse, nurse, don’t hurt me,” she’d plead.
“Gan Gan, for the zillionth time, I am not the nurse!”

Even her magnificent hair became “too much to manage” and it was chopped into a practical bob.

Then there were the chin hairs. We gave up plucking them; too fiddly for us, too painful for her. We tried waxing; also too painful for her. For a period we used depilatory creams. In the end, we simply left them for longer and longer periods of time.

As the plumpness of life left her body and face, she developed this jowly flap of skin under chin, like a turkey’s mandible.

Gone was my beautiful, fiery grandmother who terrified us all a little and would merrily sing “Knees up Mother Brown” or “Pack up Your Troubles”. Instead there was the woman with the mandible chin hairs.

My granny passed away in 1998 when I was 17.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys 
Shining in Brightness

The ordinary class 
does not  object to plastic chairs
or utilitarian rooms used for
multiple utilitarian purposes:
pre-school, ballet lessons, Sunday School,
prayer groups, a soup kitchen, evening workshops in crafts.

The ordinary class bends over
catered tray-lasagne
seeping into paper plates 
balanced on knees and 
an insulation of paper serviettes.

The ordinary class 
is certain
that their salvation resides 

Wait! Someone said chocolate cake?

Oh, a small piece.
I really shouldn’t;
Not after such a dinner.
Some tea with that would be 
lovely.
The cake was leftover from
a meeting this afternoon?
It’s really good.
Chocolatey, but delicious.
Karen baked it?
Please send our thanks.

Certain salvation 
of the ordinary class,
leftover from a meeting this afternoon,
sits in plastic chairs
attentively
noting god and good
and education,
balanced as warm and sodden paper plates
on wads of serviettes.

Our ordinary lives really fascinate me. They seem so unpoetic. Often this ordinary life and its props often just seems brutish and ugly. Plastic chairs, for example, really upset me. On one level they offend my aesthetic sensibility. On another, I wonder why we continue to sit on them and sit on them in the proscriptive, often less than beautiful spaces in which they are to be found.

I often wonder similarly about the food we eat when we gather as groups in these spaces. This food is usually served on paper plates, which do not absorb heat too well and soggy up with the juices of the dish. It is therefore not unusual to find the catered for with knees padded up with the serviettes provided. It’s like a dance of hunched sea creatures, consuming in unison during the incoming tide.

Ordinary life and suburbia feature in my two books of poetry, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys and Shining in Brightness. They are both available for preview and purchase at BeadedQuill’s Blurb Bookstore

Twitter: @BeadedQuill

Facebook: BeadedQuill