I reckon if someone calls a book, ‘Come Closer and Listen’ they ought to have something to say.
Something vital, urgent, new. Provocative.
I leaned real close and listened. I wanted to be shocked out of my stodginess.
Take something away, to share with my mates at the pub Friday night.
But there was nothing.
Admittedly the poems are well crafted, And there are a few good ones
and even one stand-out poem but that’s it in 60 + pages.
But really it’s the same old stuff as in the previous 10 books.
God help us, we;re all in danger of repeating ourselves and if I do I pray someone
calls me out.
But it’s like I said of the Seinfeld book.
You coulda done better, Charles. You coulda done better.
I like to read calm sentences, she says.
No ugly exclamation marks that bully and harass.
No question marks that interrogate.
No dots or dashes.
Nothing jittery or jagged
Placid as a billabong.
Soothing as slumber,
Don and I were having a chat
about the magician’s rabbit,
the one my dog killed,
and the killer instincts dogs seem to have;
It’s in all animals, Don, I said.
‘Nature red in tooth and claw.’
Ahhh, that old Tennyson chestnut , he replied;
that would explain why ‘Cilla and Ralph [his cat and dog]
are often at each other : ‘kill, kill.’
We’re no different, Don:
you ever felt like throttling someone?
Do I have to answer that? he said.
Of course, you’re right: but wouldn’t it be nice,
if we could take off our nasty ‘genes’
as easily as we take off our denim ‘jeans’?
Don’t throw away your old stuff.
You will never have enough
new material to work with;
writing can be tough.
Put away your frail and flaccid.
put it in a book.
And in an idle moment, open it,
lighten up, have a look.
Give it iron, backbone,
a new voice, beat
find it a new form.
Let the old be reborn.
Everything will have its place.
Everything its time
the giddy, garrulous, the gruff.
Don’t throw away your old stuff..
I was halfway through the dishes when a call of nature distracted me.
When I resumed I could not find the tea towel anywhere. Where’s it gone? I said.
It’s on your shoulder, my partner laughed & there is was, dangling like a limp flag.
Made me think of that line from ‘Hey Jude’ , ‘the movement you need is in your shoulders’
& I thought, that’s it! that’s the answer: not carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders like Atlas
but shouldering your way through difficulties, so they part before you like the Red Sea did for Moses.
You hear of early risers
but these apple blossoms take the cake
five weeks of winter to go.
Couldn’t they have waited?
Hibernated like bears?
But no, something drove them on,
something shiny and imperious.
Hope maybe? Faith that some
would get through?
They certainly brighten the street
lift the spirit in these cramped covid times.
Little blossoms of faith I photograph
to remind me, and I can’t help hearing
someone whistling in the back of my head,
with his hands in his pockets
always look on the bright side, and I start
Locked between his headphones
the scraggly haired beachcomber
scours the beach with his detector
its one perfectly round ear
listening to talk-back from the sand
music to his ears :
dollar coins , gold ear rings
or bottle tops , tin cans —
relics of summers empire .
On and on he goes
in his hand a miniature spade
and a blue bucket of hope
- pic by senila ilinykn from Unsplash
Ever since the Corona virus took hold,
I’ve been trying to write this poem about silver linings,
about looking for them in the darkest of days,
and I know there’s a name for this condition,
for someone who’s insistently optimistic: Pollyanna —
& I think of Haley Mills who played the part
in her film debut for Disney, only she was thirteen,
female and wore pigtails, while I’m a senior,
white male and insistently balding; but Optimism,
like Corona, does not recognize age, ethnicity or gender;
we’re all in this together and can find silver linings
in the darkest of storm clouds
- what silver linings have you found during the past few weeks?
- is there cause for optimism?
Talking to you was great.
I felt the weight
lift off me right away.
Going to you was like
passing from night to day.
You gave me validation.
Said what I was feeling
You were the genie that took
my anxiety away.
No more heft, no more gloom.
I floated out of that room.
* have you got someone to talk to who can lift the weight right off your shoulders?