Archives for posts with tag: longing
Digital clock of a basic design commonly found in hotels. Photo shot by Derek Jensen (Tysto), 2005-September-29 via Wikimedia Commons

Digital clock of a basic design commonly found in hotels.
Photo shot by Derek Jensen (Tysto), 2005-September-29 via Wikimedia Commons

The electricity tripped.
Time fused
at 05:17.
I woke to the flashing.

On my ‘phone 08:03.
The day well underway
and no new messages.

I waiver over the buttons
to recoup the extra hours.
Inside this digital turn-back machine,
once a bedside radio-clock,

05:17 is closer
to that stolen other time.


This poem reminds me of another I wrote when I was younger – ten years younger, which made me do a double take when I realised that I could have ten years behind me and have been writing for over a decade.

I posted “Knowledge,” the poem in mind, on Monday. You can read it here.

A friend asked me recently about negotiating the cross-over between topic and auto-biography. When I wrote the postlude to my first book of poetry, Shining in Brightness, I still aimed to disembody the writing I produced from me, the person who lived some of the source experiences. I have since come to a different understanding of creative process and its resulting work. I shared as much with my friend in a reply comment:

In the beginning I tried to pretend, “Oh, this is this is the through the conduit of the Narrative Voice” blah, blah. Now I care less. I just write my stuff. It’s all the laundry of my mind, clean, filthy and otherwise. People must deal, or not. Anyway, many other creatives shamelessly mine their own lives for material. Look at artist Egon Schiele, or even [writer] JM Coetzee, or any songwriter. So do celebs. They just make more money by selling their stories, together with photo-spreads, to the tabloids.

So, yes, today’s new poem derives from personal experience and specific observations. Sometimes I do write solely for myself, but if I make my work public, it’s meant for an audience. I hope you also find some stolen time in the turn-back machine of this poem.

On a lighter note, I must add that I am of the generation that loved the Back to the Future trilogy. I cannot think of time machines without a twinge of nostalgia for Doc, the DeLorean and Back to the Future III, which is my favourite because there was a smart, pretty lady in a crinoline with whom the Doc fell in love.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

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Mulberry Street NYC c1900 LOC 3g04637u edit

Mulberry Street NYC, c. 1900. Image courtesy of the United States Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s been a year,
Yet your presence lingers
in strangers who cross

the road towards me.

In a quest to educate myself and use my time more constructively I’ve scheduled reading before bedtime. In addition to poet and writer Salena Godden’s memoir, Springfield Road, and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, I’ve been reading two or three Chinese poems (in translation).

In the windfall month when I bought Bukowski’s Pleasures of the Damned, I also picked up an anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry translated by renowned scholar David Hinton. It’s taken me nearly a year and a half to delve into my indulgence.

One of the great amusements of some of these poems is the scene-setting provided by the titles. Consider for example:

“On the Summit above Tranquil-Joy Temple” (p. 409)
“On a Boat Crossing Hsieh Lake” (p. 414)
“Written on a Wall at Halfway-Mountain Monastery” (p. 355)
“At Truth-Expanse Monastery, In the Dharma-Master’s West Library” (p. 224)
“Staying Overnigh in Hsü’s Library. Hsieh Shih-Hou and I are Driven Crazy by Rats” (p. 341)

The titles are not all about libraries and monasteries –

“8th Month, 9th Sun: Getting Up in the Morning, I Go Out to the Latrine and Find Crows Feeding on the Maggots There” (p. 340)

I derive great pleasure from imagining the suggested location and atmosphere for the unfolding poem. It’s like reading directions in a script or screenplay. I’ve used a similar device before in my poems (see “118A Creighton Avenue” and “St Paul’s, Covent Garden“), but it’s a comfort to know the greats did it, too. Today’s title unashamedly proposes the verse’s location.

(For interest, my poem “Postmarked from a Café” nods to Bukowski.)

Reference:
David Hinton (editor and translator), 2008, Classical Chinese Poetry: An Anthology, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York).

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Earthworm 1 (PSF)

“Earthworm” courtesy of Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I posted “Impatience” this time last year. It’s a poem about seeking goals. The first lines follow the hard work involved in aiming towards goals. The later lines move towards how things seem not to be working out. The Astro Turf suffocates the earthworms.

Earlier this year I revisited the earthworm motif. In this poem I list how we dismiss the seemingly insignificant earthworm. The poem pirouettes to end with a different conclusion. The earthworm has its part to play.

If these lines seem too downhearted, I recommend “Dante’s Barmaids” to cheer you.

Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

T: @BeadedQuill
F: BeadedQuill

On the fringe of grey
bring some blue
set above white and petal disks.
Green is a good addition.
Lay down black as tarmac.
Square everything in
Your life and love and happiness
A tree!
No less

Grey like silver
grey like gold
grey like suits
tales of old
grey like hats
grey, like pointer hounds
grey without you
or £100.


I have written before about my habit of dating drafts and ramblings in my notebooks. The above are dated 1 August 2013. Grey, together with blue, is a colour that has featured much in my poetry. Grey is an ambiguous colour for beyond its melancholic associations, it is also an elegant colour with an aura of detachment and timelessness. In the urban and suburban environment it is the colour of utilitarian buildings, paving, transport shelters and waiting platforms. Since I was a child, it has fascinated me that the colour can be written with either an ‘e’ or an ‘a’. Like clouds, the word itself can change its internal dimensions. So many London mornings start with a sky cloaked in grey, so it has become a colour of origin for me and often features alongside blue to bring atmospheric or location transition into a poem.

Here are some other poems with grey in them:

On a rock amongst rocks – about the melancholy of a transient moment alongside grey sea

An Artist Works – the painter Constable captures clouds

Another Summer’s Day – also from 1 August 2013 (note subject matter and thematic resonances)

I was born of poetry – the grey of a cardboard box

Pavement Walker – commuters return home on a grey evening

Look At  – documents a walk on a suburban London High Street

Conscripted – about rain


Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill

Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness