Very rough drafts of poetry

Never throw out old notebooks, even with the looming threat of an overseas move. I just came across these lines of poetry. I transcribe them as they are, unpolished, but there is room for development at some later point in time.

I come from a long line of peasant women
plodding uphill on the hottest of days
tilling the soil
harvesting potatoes
lifting full metal buckets of water
dropping babies in the cornfields then back to work.
Men gone to war on fronts left and right
cattle rounded up for troops
making do with bone soup and cornmeal pap
nettle soup and pumpkin plump.

I come from a long line of stoics
who expect no respite from labour
no love everlasting
work is their curse and due and praise
and rest comes too seldom
no one owes anyone happiness.
They crawl up the mountain like a murder of crows
in their black widows’ garb
laugh with gaps in their teeth
grey plaits swung firmly under kerchiefs.
They have never dieted in their lives
food fuels their bending and plucking
running after sheep.
They can drink men under the table.
They’ve endured
and bred in me a fibre
smacks of backbone
yet fluid like a reed
when the breeze turns into storm.

Peasant women in the field, by Camil Ressu (1880-1962), a Romanian painter who often painted rural scenes
Peasant women in the field, by Camil Ressu (1880-1962), a Romanian painter who often painted rural scenes


This is one of the last poems I wrote before my laptop was stolen.  Or rather, a different poem with some of these elements, as I cannot remember what I wrote, but I do know it was very different from the snippets I had in my notebook.  So here is an attempt to recreate the feel of that poem. 

Each day he wakes when dawn

is cracked, egg-like, on a sleepy fog.

Before the mist clears, he pulls on lurid togs

and sets to pound the streets

into submission.

The thud of trainers swells his head,

gives voice to remarks left unsaid at meetings,

those witty exchanges he rehearses right up to the door

of his boss.

Only at dawn can he come up with answers

only dawn gives him good honest sweat

which he sluices off in the shower.

On go tie, shirt, cufflinks, the uniform of corporate man,

socks the only choice in his day.

The next few hours, many hours, his will be silent,

his voice be muffled,

his prayers unanswered.

The killer is not change

but perpetual continuation

to stupid lengths and beyond.