There’s nothing to say (29 May)

Really, because it means
what it says is her reply
to a foolish question that
comes after I have read it
by line
so they can see it pull at us
these marionette-stringed words
reverberating like the dancer
extending each carefully-planned step
with such poise that you
can’t believe this was ever rehearsed,
and as your eyes flickered
from the page to theirs
you could feel a knowing gaze
from them,
sense between half-breaths a floating
hesitation, eyes peeking over the precipice
and forgetting grey carpets in square rooms to
inhale poetry
whose fragrance does not need to be
labelled because after our collective silence
though we can try and distil the scent,
retrace the dancer’s route,
turn the flashlight on or dust for clues
instead we hold this note because
within it echoes, and echoes and
there’s nothing to say.

Meditation on two sculptures (21 May)

This is written more with slam poetry in mind, or at least the rhythm and roll that comes from being read aloud with pace and passion

I never folded them with my own hands.
I never took the time and care to calmly add the fine creases,
or bend edges skywards, twist and raise each corner
into the carefully finished form upon my shelf.
And yes, I’ll admit that my first reaction when I came across those two abandoned trophies
after your quick departure –
symbols of our wasted hour together –
my first reaction involved the formation of a small smile
before it turned inwards
into something closer to the needless balling up of paper.

Most days I crane my head and see them,
aging reminders of one moment and so many moments
when you or they or them or all of you
retreat and make your disappearance known in one of a dozen conjuring tricks
where you ignore this crowded hour, forget the lines and perform
only for yourself
your first trick a dozen spirals
blossoming in that empty wasteland.

There is no other trick.
No one applauds.
Should they?

And all I want to do
is to show you, and them, and all of us
that you can unfold your mind and see that blank space
is unlimited opportunity that can be refolded and enfolded
in infinite dimensions until you have so much more than
this single token.

Because you do not want to visit the edges of this territory,
do not see that this leg of the journey is in fact part of a bigger map,
unencumbered by the limits of the now.
Tomorrow is here today, but maybe I am not the guide
to show you, to take you there or you are yet to find that guide.

It need not be me.
You won’t believe it.
You may refuse.
Go ahead.

But are you searching?

But if for a moment all of those temptations and distractions
the blue lights and grey noise
with their remarkable hum
would disappear
and your evaporating vapor trails of thought
would condense
there might be something more
than this.

Because now all I do is look up and question,
look up and wonder whether I am the only one looking up.
And if I tell you all of this, not just that you have added
another crease, another fold to me
but that you have this, all of this –
this life, this moment, this opportunity, this chance –
would you still remain blind?

Or maybe I’m the one who doesn’t see?

Changing blog design

And now, a message from our sponsors. (If I had any, not that I’m looking.)

I’ve changed the design of this blog, mostly because the nature of this project has changed. When I started, my aim was to get through National Poetry Writing Month: by writing a poem a day, I wanted to dive deep into verse. Now that I’ve dived into its murky waters, I find I’m still writing regularly. (Not as often as I would like, but with a degree of consistency that I haven’t had for a while.)

My sense is that the quality of my writing is improving. Plucking metaphors and images from each day is easier. Life sings, aches with words.

Yet had you asked my young self about poetry, you would have heard something about rhythm, metre, line and rhyme (probably). Nor could I have hoped to write like this until the last few years, mainly thanks to encountering different attitudes to poetry and writing (thank you Dorothy Rowe Michaels, Tom Romano and many more). Now I write fearlessly: unlimited and unrestricted, free to stumble and succeed in equal measure. It’s the same type of confidence I hope to nurture in my students!

(So to return to the redesign: the new layout will hopefully make for more convenient reading. I will start tagging old poems and moving them around.)

Reflecting on what I’ve composed, there’s a lot that I’m actually quite pleased with, along with other poems that don’t “sing” to me. But to think that I’ve created 38 poems in the last seven weeks (give or take) feels remarkably satisfying.

Soon, too, I want to start returning to prose – it’s the type of writing I’m used to, the style that I’ve always tended to embrace. To that end, I might start posting the writing I do in class, those brief opportunities I have to write alongside my students. Slowly, slowly I hope I’m building writing communities. And I know there’s a poem in there somewhere!

Other goals:

  • Recruit a bigger audience…
  • Help promote the popularity of poetry (a big stretch, but I can start small)
  • Start some sort of poetry appreciation society (a smaller stretch? Perhaps I’ll post in a visible place tomorrow.)
  • Missing Poem (April 14)

    Was it déjà vu or just
    The endless tumble of history’s
    Cycle, Sisyphus now doomed
    To perpetually rinse and repeat?

    Frothing, foaming questions that
    Seem faded and colourless
    Are thrust into the whirling mess
    Till only spin remains.

    So many replies, retorts, responses
    That only get lost in the current
    But not acceptance, agreement, antipathy
    To greet the roaring waves.

    Go ahead: stare into the machine.
    It washes you, too.

    (Author’s Note: one of my poems from NaPoWriMo went missing. Here it is. Not my best work, but I guess that wasn’t the point of creating this blog. It’s all about regular writing, more writing, trying to improve my craft.)

    Fallen growth (May 19)

    Maple tears shed in a hundred tones:
    parchment brown, canary yellow,
    plum wine, burnt umber, ochre,
    ruby red, bronze, faded magenta
    resting beneath barren eyelashes
    or lonely dendrites of
    mournful sentinels.

    We measure emptiness,
    spaces and absences
    never repaired to
    mirror-image perfect.
    As they linger, so we
    pace months in stillness,
    marking intervals of life
    as empty hollows
    until something

    Street scene (May 15)

    In unison they commence
    this daily waltz, slowly
    lured in by some silent magnet
    to this well-trod dance.

    What physics can explain this
    daybreak convergence,
    exponential congregation of
    flapping legs and masked faces:

    eyes forward, never turning
    once to see beyond their spheres,
    lonely atoms blind to their
    bonds drawn only onwards

    as if once locked in this
    steel capsule, only for one moment
    they might turn off the world,
    shelter within internal monologue

    before sun-muted, at once day is
    rewinding? Magician-quick it
    folds away, replaces its pieces
    in position for tomorrow’s encore.

    At the glass (May 11)

    Not for the first time these
    fragments leech from your hand
    leaking through darkened grates
    forgotten in murky traps

    where that first spit-shock smack
    of invading mint against your tongue
    sets in motion a dozen night-lamps
    clicked to dark, launching

    countless nocturnal journeys
    back to first night, bordered by
    permanent hum of pulsating
    electrical breeze that amplifies

    your tick-tock inhalations
    metronomic rise and fall
    teasing out the timeless hours
    before another fading fragment.

    Glass (May 8)

    Wraps up, conceals, sequesters a hundred private worlds
    in cellophane birdcages whose silent screens
    project and magnify startled occupants:
    accidental recruits for daybreak pantomimes.

    Divides and shatters all with raging force:
    a humourless warrior cleaving foes
    in twain with pitiless, guillotine edge
    enforcing the final separation

    of these hands, our touch untouching
    across your crystalline surface
    where we remain milimetre-close,
    never daring to break your reflection.

    With Improvements (6 May)

    Circling pairs first at their station
    break, prey on their own creation:
    unbidden soon truth is showing,
    bloody drops are freely flowing.

    What wicked tango short begins
    as quick we see that purpose spins
    now gliding in a crimson flight,
    vampiric etching breeds delight

    with each dash, turn and madcap cross
    exclaiming loud all work a loss.
    Rewrite this dance, compose anew:
    else this, and more, you’ll fast undo.

    (Note: This is based on a draft for an old poem that I’ve largely rewritten. What started as a meditation on one topic has ventured off into something remarkably different. Though the idea still remains, I’ve transformed it. Strangely, I don’t know if I prefer this version to the original. All the same: publish, publish, publish.)