I wrote about whales last week in “Ulterior Motives.” It’s odd then that this time last year I posted “In the ocean one night,” a poem about whales that I had transcribed directly from a dream. Yes, I kid you not. This was one of my genuine, vivid sleep-time dreams.
The poem inspired the title of my third book, which was published last year.
10 hours ago
I must remember
to tell everyone
4 hours ago
a few seconds ago
finished my poem!!
Yesterday evening I read this post, 7 Ways to be Insufferable on Facebook. Ohmyme! Guilty, of all seven misdemeanours, I am quite certain. The post made me laugh so much and 3) The Literal Status Update with its banana-contemplating stick figure, especially so. I couldn’t resist. Here’s another gem of a very short Monday poem/non-poem. It’s almost literally as short as a status update.
In other literal update news, I had an all-day workshop yesterday. There are parts of my ribcage that ache when I breathe out too deeply. I had not realised my ribcage could ache when breathing. Is this normal?
I often write to capture moments that I have experienced in solitude. Consider for example the afternoon that produced this poem, “On a rock amongst rocks“. I had walked out beyond the beach of white sand to the rocky inlet beyond the seafront houses, the fishermen and the dog owners. Each day I used this landmark as the half-way point measure of each afternoon’s walk. That day I climbed onto the rocks.
These rocks are the jagged kind. If you walk across them barefoot, a delicate tread will still not circumvent the occasional stab to your sole. The sky was grey. Into the tide-carved chasms between the rocks dashed the waves. As the wave foam tossed against the jagged rocks, a further alchemy transpired. I would not have noticed the elemental magic had I not stood on that spot in stillness.
As the sea spray dispersed, it caught the light. On the rocks, bordered by the sea, encased in this salty mist, I stood within an orbit of tiny rainbows.
They who serve
the suction of daybreak,
beneath the earth,
beneath the dew,
beneath the kitchens where there’s burning toast
bury, with the morning light,
their hope of hearing birdsong.
My commuting is less than a tenth of many who live and work in London. But when I am on the move, I often slot in writing, people watching and eavesdropping. Journeys by bus and Tube (and occasionally, by train) have become both companions of and subject matter for my writing. The Tube in particular has featured in a number of poems. Hereunder some from the growing set of related verselets:
After finishing “Tunnel Days”, I recalled that I had linked daybreak with grapefruit in an earlier poem. In “Dead Star” (2006) I referenced the fruit’s colour and palate-cleansing taste in a description of morning rays.
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“Dead Star” is one of twenty poems in Shining in Brightness, a book of selected poems about travel, love and growing up.
Through the character Emily, I wrote twenty poems offering insights about life, love and work for the Modern Boy. You can preview Emily’s Poems for Modern Boyshere.
“His father beat him around
Only a little bit
on Wednesdays, after pay day,
or on Friday late,
after the races.
Clean up your mess, boy!”
The teachers preferred
her creative writing
to include such
So mature for her age!
In the accompanying essay to yesterday’s posted poem, I wrote about my creative process. Today both poem and essay are a comment on subject matter.
In my youth and during my brief teaching experience, I noticed a tendency towards a certain tone of pathos favoured by school creative writing. Describing meaningful life-knowledge in correct language and with well-chosen form, students showed maturity of expression. Such were the conditions of mark allocation.
As a pupil, when I wrote to emulate the style of this School of Pathos and Poignancy, I knew very little. My own life did not seem mark-worthy for creative writing submissions. There seemed to be nothing of Pathos and Poignancy in what I did know about – my suburban home-life, our small family dilemmas, my adolescent anxieties about would it all be ok, the constant balance of schoolwork and extra-murals and monthly visits to the renal clinic. Oh, how I dreaded Tuesday nights, because it would be tomato-bean-sausage pie for supper. My worst!
Now I have grown confident about my small life. I have also been fortunate to meet many who have shared of their lives. In these stories have I been touched by life’s school of pathos and poignancy.