For dVerse Poets Pub tonight, the prompt is to write about the things that happen while we’re not paying attention, the small things in the corner of our eyes, half-glimpsed. I based my poem upon my almost unhealthy obsession with sneaking a peek at other people’s bookshelves.
as long as no grumble rumbles in our umbilical cord
as long as you stay unmarred and perfect.
Inspired by gym galas, Yummy Mummys and scruffy ones like me…
Linked to the Open Link Night fun over at dVerse Poets, where we are discussing passion over form this week. Well, my son is passionate about his trampolining, but his form… Still, in my eyes, he is the best competitor out there!
I’ve got an issue with privacy. I’ve never liked open plan offices, I don’t like people coming into my study at home, I don’t like showing my work in progress. Psychologists may see a link there with the fact that my mother read my diaries and opened my letters when I was a teenager. I just call it personal space: I’m happy for those around me to have theirs, and hope they will allow me mine. So it’s unusual for me to show you a first draft, but I thought it would be interesting (for a later version of me too, perhaps) to see how my poetic mind works. This is still too explicit, personal and verbose. It leaves nothing to the imagination. It was written after a rather frantic weekend alone with the children. I will come back with an edited, perhaps even a final version and would welcome any suggestions for improvement.
It’s been a day of shouting
Coffee-ad family picture frayed and curled,
burnt up in blood-hot temper.
Sullen moods, sulk and whine, heave and lift
of bone-breaker words:
careless second of uttering,
then a lifetime of regret.
It’s been another day of failing…
my children, my ideal, myself
and all the compensatory cakes I bake
turn to sand in our mouths.
I’m left chasing words on empty beaches,
finding other people’s discarded treasures
more plentiful than shells.
I pick up a conch and pour my anguish in its ear.
I pour all my inadequacy into a jar,
screw on the jam-stained lid so tight
then fling it back into a sea just lukewarm.
So my poems are merely turgid,
my thoughts piddling, my family average.
We muddle on and on,
imperfect and random
victims of illusions
drunk on lost words.
I’m linking this to dVerse Poets Pub, a friendly community of poets who support and help each other.
This song by David Bowie from his latest album ‘The Next Day’ always has me in tears. Not because it is a love song, but because it talks about Berlin past and present. Berlin has always exerted a powerful fascination over me, because it is a symbol of more than one dictatorship. I visited it back in the days when it was a very sad, divided town. [Incidentally, a journalist friend of mine at the time said that nearly all major cities starting with a B are heading towards destruction and unhappiness: Beirut, Belfast, Belgrade, Bucharest…]
Of course, Berlin is no longer gloomy and schizophrenic. It has become the trendy place to be for creatives and young families. Yet this song reminds me that the revolution we hoped to achieve in Eastern Europe – and which entailed quite a bit of human sacrifice ‘walking the dead’, as Bowie puts it – was supposed to be about more than having more consumer choice or becoming trendy. It was about starting over, about being brave and honest, about establishing new ways of thinking and listening to each other, a new kind of culture. Where are we now? Very far from all that.
So this is a very long-winded introduction to this draft of a poem that I wrote – am still writing – for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night, based on this idea of a failed revolution. But then, perhaps all revolutions are doomed to fail.
It’s taken me nearly a week to chew over this one, so apologies for my slow reactions, dVerse Poets Pub.
On the 9th of March, Brian Miller and Gretchen Leary suggested two different types of prompts. One was to ask someone to give you a few words to incorporate into a poem – but my own family came up with such delightful combinations as ‘poohead’, ‘smosh-smosh’ and ‘supercalifragilistic’, so I soon gave up on that one. The second was to think of a seminal song from when we were growing up and I instantly thought of Billy Joel’s ‘We didn’t start the fire’. So, for the past few days I’ve been trying to add a few verses to that song, to bring it up to date. This has been far more difficult than I thought! [Perhaps I will write another time a post about the difference between hard-working form or imitation versus spontaneous poetic outburst.] In the end, my rhymes and verbal verve are not quite up to the original, but here goes:
One day like this or a few weeks of medal fever, cheering loud,
Being nice, a good sport, no rain falling from our cloud.
Dontcha feel unsisterly vibes at work or when you raise your child?
If you’re poor, endure the jibes, you’re universally reviled!
People killed every day at the click of a mouse,
Together we are forced to stay, shore up the value of our house…
Celtic Tiger lost his roar, gulf in Spain is golf no more,
Pension plans are sinking down, bankers screwing everyone.
Gladiator, Amelie, turned all blue in Avatar.
Lucky we can drive away in our silent Prius car.
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
US is divided nation, tsunami and radiation,
Greeks protest austerity, nought left for posterity.
I don’t know where to turn – is there anything left to burn?