Media Circus: A Poem

I’ve written before about my distaste for a life lived online or even in front of a TV screen. Of course, I do both, but only when my friends and family are not around. I much prefer genuine conversation. Except sometimes, it has to be said, the more interesting and honest conversation does take place online, when we dare not voice our real thoughts or interests to those around us. The emphasis, however, is on the term conversation, rather than shouting over each other, jeering, trolling. I lived long enough in my childhood in a place where I was told what to think and saw the darker side of herd mentality. I now want to listen to all points of view and engage in informed, considerate debate, like proper grown-ups, instead of a media circus.

Bojangles hums but brazen sky

Listens to others and shuts him down

Next, please, next!

Rainbow juggling, brilliant flash,

Tongue-twisted fire-eaters swallow their words

A pack of blood trolls swoop and snarl

Dribble slogans like so much stray mud

Follow the leader

Lost in the crush

Chirping and tumbling

Booked for daring to face life

Raw, unrevised, with no updates

How you snap those fingers,

Bojangles the merry,

And the lighter side of like

Turns to toasty concern,

So easy to warm on demand.

From celebuzz.com

I am not a political poet, but…

Fair is Fair

I cannot stomach another appraisal in the garb of friendly chat
upstairs at Starbucks
dissecting goals and stretching targets
just beyond the realm of fairytale achievement.

Business drivers and objectives, abstract terms and jargon
jostle for dominion
while a plague falls upon both your houses, tiled with greed.
Slurp your coffee in a bowl of soup,
enough calories to feed a family of four.

Check your privilege like a raincoat at the door.
Please isolate one or two areas for improvement –
oh, I don’t know, pay taxes maybe?
Fairtrade jazz too bland and quiet to offend
as I sip my hot beverage
and bemoan the drop in my shares.

REUTERS/Will Burgess
REUTERS/Will Burgess

Poetry Link-Up: Content Inside

She’s forgotten the hot shiver
of a new hand
stroking her hair

Her skin stretched and soft
like blotting paper
no longer absorbs
the ink bruise of lovebites.

Crooning a broken record of a lovesong
she tangles her hair
for the few seconds
her body convulses

And feels the power she once had given
to the nook of broad shoulders on men.

Image courtesy of favim.com
Image courtesy of favim.com

I’ve been submitting quite a few poems to literary magazines lately, so I’ve been using this blog only to post very rough first drafts or discarded poems or poems which require substantial reworking. Apologies for that! I’m still cheekily linking this up to dVerse Poets Open Link Night, which starts later on today, because I always enjoy going there for a visit. Join me if you can!

Mary Oliver and Inspiration

maryoliverI was never a full convert to Mary Oliver’s poetry. Heresy, I know, but I dismissed it as ‘greetings cards’ type of poetry – plenty of feel-good factor, but too obvious and too easy to read (and dismiss). Too much of a bestseller?

Was this slim volume of selected poems entitled ‘Felicity’ going to change my mind?

At first, I thought not. The questions were almost touching in their naivety and blandness.

Things take the time they take. Don’t worry. How many roads did St. Augustine follow before he became St. Augustine?

Why do people keep asking to see God’s identity papers when the darkness opening into morning is more than enough?

There are plenty of aphorisms, of the type which I thought had died out after the Enlightenment or Oscar Wilde:

All important ideas must include the trees, the mountains and the rivers.

Beauty can both shout and whisper, and still it explains nothing.

The point is, you’re you, and that’s for keeps.

But then I came across the poems about love. And there the freshness, candour, surprise and even platitudes suddenly seemed appropriate when punctuated by breathlessness. You can feel the delight and search for new ways to express an emotion which catches us unawares every single time and makes youngsters of us all.

I did think, let’s go about this slowly. This is important. This should take some really deep thought. We should take small thoughtful steps. But, bless us, we didn’t.

Are the morning kisses the sweetest/ or the evenings/ or the inbetweens?/ All I know/ is that thank you should appear/ somewhere./ So, just in case,/ I can’t find/ the perfect place – / ‘Thank you, thank you.’

Mary Oliver is best known for her close observation of nature – and you won’t find much of that in this volume, so perhaps I am being somewhat unfair to her. So perhaps not the best introduction to her work if you are new to it, but a useful source of quotations for your own poetry? What do you think, am I being unfair to a poet that is appreciated by so many who would otherwise not read much poetry?

 

The Meaning of the Colour Purple

Purple stands for royalty, nobility, ambition, luxury and power.

purple
Ambition pure in purple rays
squirted by sea creatures in precious gusts.
Noblemen captured it in togas and cloaks,
now paled to inoffensive and little girls.
The rinse of predilection for ladies just over the hill or
tip to toe for Barbie’s dream.
I no longer believe in what the spirit moves.
You smell of her and yet you mock
my small-minded flinching
and bruises.
We’re all just bodies,
veins and sinews,
muscle ache and porous bones,
with long seasons on repeat.
Never the dagger thrust into compliance and flesh.

I am linking this to my beloved dVerse Poets Pub. Although I am no longer behind the bar, I do enjoy popping in every now and then for a visit. Come and join me for some fun poetry and discussions! It will be Open Link Night tonight.

Greasepaint and Stage Fright

Two lines in Act Two, that’s all I get…

She treats us like five-year-olds and…

how can you remember all those steps

or carry high notes?

In the film they look cool but we are too giggly.

There’s no way I’ll learn that

when I’m not even in it!

So the squeaks and squeals thrill on…

Teenage acne and tantrum

hidden by make-up and costume measurements.

Toothless smiles and furtive chortles.

Each one the greatest star of the stage

in parents’ brimful eyes.

Image courtesy of Simply Theatre, Geneva.
Image courtesy of Simply Theatre, Geneva.

Every Single One of Us Has the Devil Inside

When the devil came out of the bathroom
they sunk a little deeper in
and thought to state truth
but lied and lied.

Jerky transitions in a city of shades
lullabies where you can find them
being forgotten like snot-filled tissue
what do I hate about
being found? They grow and change
live and love like us
yet not like us – puzzles never solved
jewels in our crowns bent heavy with regret.

Tedious telephone voices
harp at you like the common cold
and the world loves nothing more
than beating you up in a cloud of smoke.
What refuge can you find bubbling
up enough random junk to float to the surface
for our stories to want more?
Strum-drum
Tick-tock
Too late
Jock-schok
You can’t, you won’t, you want
to keep a good woman
down, boy!

All palpable, the fingers groan
as they caress the fat downy tummy of a cat
with a puff of thistles in its fur.
We see the pastoral in a sleight of hand
how mind thinks its way into and out of this boxed world
but I’m not there to cry forgiveness.

Only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

Drawing by Jodi Harvey-Brown: Inner Demons. From fineartamerica.com
Drawing by Jodi Harvey-Brown: Inner Demons. From fineartamerica.com

For dVerse Poets, Mary is encouraging us to use a line from Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem Burning the Old Year as an homage to the poet. I couldn’t resist using the lines in italics, since it was Naomi who inspired me to start writing poetry once more (and start this blog in the process). For all your wonderful poems and kind words, here’s a very special thank you, Naomi!