Another Failed Dragonfly Poem

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I used to go down to the pond at the end of our street to write poems about dragonflies the way Monet would go down to his garden at Giverny to paint water lilies.

 

The only difference was that dragonflies didn’t stay still like waterlilies did. They dashed and darted about the pond at 100 ks an hour. Even when they had sex they had it on the wing coupling like planes fueling mid- flight. You had to admire them though they were devilish to tie down.

 

I almost got one once when a dragonfly dawdled on the front doorknob one drowsy afternoon, after summer rains, then saw me and took off, its gossamer wings flashing rainbows.

 

Too Much

 

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It’s a good day, I said, the sun angling through the red gums hooking our attention.

I don’t know, he said, Friday was pretty impressive too  [referring to the hailstorm]

then he looked at me, knowing I’m a poet, and said, you gunna write about it?

& I said, without thinking, when I get time, Mark, when I get time

& I thought about it afterwards, how you could write about almost anything at all

even the least bit startling — a rock maybe metamorphosing into a frog, the hurtle of creekwater rounding a bend, a screech of cockatoos tearing up the sky

there’d be so many you wouldn’t know where to stop. You’d be writing all day

& the night would hold some surprises too — a spider abseiling down a branch,  a fuchsia sunset or a blood moon, the soft sounds of love —-

everything offering itself into words: there’d be no end to it; in the end you’d have to

avert your eyes, close your mind, do what you were told never to do and NOT listen

to the Muse; only then would you get some peace, the world so ablaze with glory

the problem is not too little but too much.

 

is that the problem with your writing — too much to write about?

or is it writers’ block?

how do you deal with it?

 

I Never Heard It Coming

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We’d just got back from the beach.

I pulled out a book, she put on a CD.

Peaceful, floaty music.

Music to paddle-board to.

But then it changed.

The tempo picked up, the violinists

Played furiously

Like The Two Cellos playing AC/DC.

It was ‘Winter’ by Vivaldi.

I thought, what’s there to get worked up about

With Winter?

Spring, yes, but Winter?

Sluggish, soporific Winter.

But those violins were working up a storm.

You do get storms in winter —gusts, gales, blizzards.

I wanted to get up and fight someone.

Bloody Vivaldi.

One minute I was paddle boarding, the next

I was tumbling in the wild surf.

You just can’t trust classical music.

 

have you ever come across a piece of music, rock or classical, that changes stride suddenly and drastically?

 

 

Creativity is a Terrible Thing

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Creativity is a terrible thing,

He says,

When it gets you in its clutches.

It won’t let you sleep, rest.

It jerks you awake,

Kicks you out of bed,

And before you know it

You’re at the keyboard

At 3 a.m.

Belting out a poem

Belting through the bleariness

To get it down

Then head back to bed

Where it starts again

The brain twitch, the jerk,

The plummet into wakefulness.

You don’t even make a living out of it

But it’s the way you’re living

The gift, equal curse

But when that sweet chariot swoops you up,

Oh the rush, the voltage,

That gift

You’d trade your grandmother for it

Were she still around.

Cauldron of Creation

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I don’t know whether you noticed but when I write a poem I slam it down on the page still white –hot from the cauldron of creation. Only when it cools do I see its cracks and imperfections. This may take minutes, more often hours, sometimes days. One poem took me nine years to write. There’s still a few I’m working on from twenty years back.

Those of you who see the still molten post will be surprised when you see the reworked version solidifying into its present state. Yes, you should edit. The trick is not to edit out the primal energy which birthed the poem.

The Parable of the Pearl Oyster

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I envy the patience of pearl oysters

Which can labour up to twenty years

To produce a pearl of great price.

 

The freshwater ones lacking the deep

Patience of their seawater cousins

Produce a pearl in a mere six.

 

But I have the shallow patience

of a gnat: a poem in a few minutes

else I lose interest.

 

No wonder I produce little of lasting

Value.