My Three Favourite Words

Someone once asked me what were my three favourite words? I had to think. There are 171,146 words in the English language so there’s a lot to choose from.

After many days, I came up with three words but they weren’t even English words. They were the names of places. Mogadishu, Timbuktu and Trincomalee. In recent times they have all been war-torn places so it wasn’t the places themselves that I loved but the sound of their names, Not the shape of the words but their sounds as I swilled them in my mouth: like the best cab sav or the best dark chocolate or better the cab sav washing down the dark chocolate. A rich, sensual taste. One that lingers.

Now there is another. A name just as magical. Talloola. It is a mythical place, a country town conjured by Carolyn Cordon, a friend of mine and a fellow blogger. Her cozy murder mysteries which she is writing now are set there. I can’t wait to read a draft

* what are some of your favourite words?

*pic courtesy of Wiki Commons

I forgot to Remember how a Poem Works

Let’s see. Firstly there’s the way in.

‘The Way In’ sets the poem going,

it also sets the tone: what sort of poem

it’s going to be: jaunty, jocular , or,

thoughtful and serious, a poem with heft.

Then there’s the ‘Exposition’, I suppose,

where things indicated in the opening lines,

unfurl with some detail and gusto,

however restrained. Neither undercooked

nor overdone. A good poem is like

a good meal, satisfying and sustaining.

  • is that a fair summary, do you think?
  • what have I left out?

Rumpole

This is Rumpole.

Rumpole is a plaster of Paris statue of a real dog that wandered away nine years ago and never came back.

We tell tales of where he might have gone, what mischief he got up to and the puppies he might have sired.

We still think one day he will find his way back home which is why we leave the side gate open.

Meanwhile the statue is comforting. We know he’s not really there

But every Halloween he cocks his leg and pisses on the pavers to remind us he still is

Me and the Ant

Me and the Ant go way back, ever since we discovered

our mutual Achilles’ Heel: coffins made of steel: Lifts.

He’s not a big fan of car boots either or small caving tunnels,

so the Thai cave rescue would not have been high

on his agenda. One thing’s for sure: Ant is an SAS commando

& instructor and if he can’t handle lifts, what chance

have marshmallow men like me got? It’s in my Will:

‘to be cremated’; just in case

Mystery on a Bridge

There was someone on the bridge

Curving high over the dark water

About half way along

Then there wasn’t.

Someone with a mop of ginger hair

an orange top and grey track pants

Standing against the railing

Looking wistfully out.

I looked away when a siren sounded

On the headland then looked back.

No splash.

No disturbance of any kind.

No bright lithe form spearing

Through the water.

No one emerging from either end.

Nothing.

Just someone standing on a bridge

Then there wasn’t.

I Have a Problem with Mary Oliver

I have a problem with Mary Oliver.

Much as I like her

and I do have a book of hers

all of her poems after a while

seem the same.

It may seem harsh but it’s a judgment

people could make of my poems

or, for that matter, any one’s poems.

Each poet has a voice, just as each singer has,

each artist, and that voice inhabits each of their poems.

You can recognize a Billy Collins poem,

a Charles Simic poem, a Lewis Carrol poem,

or, for that matter, a Shakespeare or Ben Jonson poem.

Each poem within a poet’s work is, of course, different,

but the song, to use  Led Zeppelin phrase, remains the same.

There is no way out of it. No way around it.

Maybe familiarity does breed contempt.

But many of us find comfort in familiarity too,

Swings and Roundabouts.

But is it poetry, John?

But is it poetry, John?

You mean, is it like Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’

you know the one, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’

or ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’?

Probably not.

Well, How about Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost?

Come on, we’re talking 2020 here.

Then what?

A little bit of Billy Collins, I say, and Billy Connelly,

a sort of mad mix, the demotic and demonic.

We let our dirty laundry hang out. moon the pious,

but always in an Aussie accent. Your country first.

Does it have to rhyme? you ask. Probably not.

It’s not like Aussie Rules. There are no rules.

Though it’s a game anyone can play.

Just let it rattle off the tongue, roll off the mind,

Ignore the referees.

Have fun.

Forever Outsiders

Is this you in the photograph? Big, hulking, alone among others, a little menacing?

Writing is an hermetic act. Only other writers understand this. It can be seen as purely selfish . “You are wrapped in yourself,” I have been told more than once. “Bloated with your own self-importance.” Non-writers feel cut off, shut out, alone, forever outsiders. I do not know the answer to this, except to share what we write with our loved ones and hope they do not get envious or jealous of our special gift. Or perhaps it is better not to share, to beat others over the head with our little creations.

Perhaps it is better for writers to pair up with writers, like Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath though we all know what a disaster that turned out to be though I am sure there have been happy unions.

*what do you think?

* this post was inspired by Carolyn Cordon’s most recent post

* photo by alex plesovskich on Unsplash

Five Seconds

We were speaking about the disproportionate

use of force by the Allies

during World War Two

esp the fire bombing of Dresden

when he brought it up

to the present

& personal:

when after an eighteen years’ cold case the police

finally caught up with him

& he was sentenced:

just think, he said, shaking his head,

fifteen years

for five seconds of madness