K’s fond of haiku,
Michael senryu, its jokey cousin;
Mia, ‘a struggling author’ writes tiny tales,
Richard American sentences,
put them together,
and what have you got?
a slim, selection
a breviary of brevities
a pocket book of poems
for the wee small hours
I got my sea slug poem
but not the one about yr cataract
how when it was removed
& the dressings came off
you went out into the world
like Mary Oliver did
amazed at all you saw.
going Wow! Wow!
yr little expostulations of beauty.
You could have knocked me over with an albatross
when I heard that four off-kilter waltzes I was listening to
were by Samuel Coleridge Taylor. Hang on, I thought,
my favourite Romantic poet [ sorry Wordsworth] whom
I studied at Uni, who wrote one of the great lyric narratives
of all time, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ was also
a classical composer? How did this just become known?
Did he moonlight as a musician, did he snuggle up
to the great composers of his time? But then the announcer,
as if reading my mind, clarified that the composer was
Samual Coleridge Taylor whom his mother named after
the great poet. After I calmed my farm, I settled back
and listened to more of Samuel C.
Who has written these poems ?
as I browse through the pages
of this commonplace book.
I have neglected to name their authors.
There’s one about
Tennessee Fainting Goats
which calls to mind
my ‘Cows in a Paddock’ ;
another about women in a junkshop staring through a window
at the rain
‘where a taxi as yellow as a forsythia
is turning a corner’,
and a snippet about snow over Xmas and New Year
hanging around long after
‘like the drunk at the bar
who needs to go home’
Could any of these be mine?
But the one about the fortune cookie is Ed’s.
It’s got his mark all over it.
But the others? I just don’t know.
Could I be that good?
I don’t think so.
When I was a kid in High School we learnt things ‘off by heart’:
poems by Keats and Coleridge, extracts from ‘The Ancient Mariner’,
soliloquies from ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’, whole passages from Dickens;
chronologies of The Persian Wars, War of the Roses,
biographies of the Tudors; not neglecting the sciences, we memorized
physics and maths formulas,chemical equations, and slabs from The New Testament —
we were walking Wikipedias; now I’m a big kid, into my senior years,
I’ve grown rusty, which is why I’m in the backyard walking up and down —-
the bees must think I’m mad —- learning by heart my NEW mobile number
which everyone but me knows
- what things did you learn ‘off by heart’?
- do you still remember them ?
Now it is spent and lying limp
and placid at my feet —
a contentment of inky blue
but the other day if you
could have seen it bucking
with energy , flailing its
wild hair and arching its back
[ sea mountains surfers abseiled
down ] you would not have been
surprised to see it thrust
its loins again and again against
the soft white dunes nor after
to see the body of the foreshore
bruised and torn nor its rump
so foam wracked .
pic by Lachlan-Ross on Pexels
It wasn’t the person from Porlock; it was my aunt
Who got on the bus, brought my poem to an end.
My notebook slumped on my lap as she told me
The long sad story of a friend.
When she got off I had my chance but this young bloke
Sat next to me, iPod blaring, hair swooped back.
It was the White Stripes live from Splendour.
How could I not listen ? It was Meg and Jack.
But then a cross-eyed biker got on, hair in a rat’s tail,
Skin graffitied with tatts. How could I not look?
His arms a graphic novel. Then a woman got on
Shouting into her mobile, angry as ‘The Angry Book’.
The sad sack on the other end was out for the count.
Luckily Coleridge didn’t board this bus
while he was dreaming ‘Kubla Khan’. He wouldn’t
have written a word. The poem would be dust.
- picture courtesy of Pinterest by TheTatt
If I were to change my name
I would change it to something
light and leafy like Forrest Gander,
the name of the poet whose poem ‘Pastoral’
I am reading now: ‘swarms of midges
bobbed up and down like balled hairnets
in the breeze’; nothing blunt and earthy,
like his nearest namesake, Forrest Gump
would write; but ethereal; I see he has a degree
in ecology and was born in the Mojave Desert,
all part of the grand design; his photo
portrays him, smiling, upstanding, arms outspread
as if ready to take off on another flight of whimsy.
photo courtesy of Ulle
Reading an article by David Remnick,
editor of ‘The New Yorker’
he was born in Paterson, New Jersey
the same place as Philip Roth,
the novelist whose biography Remnick was profiling,
as was Ginsberg,
the man who wrote “Howl’
that poem that still echoes down the decades.
the same place too
as William Carlos Williams,
the man who wrote ‘the red wheelbarrow’
and wait for it,
the comedic partner of Bud Abbot
whose films split our sides
in the fun house of the fifties;
what do they have in the water of Paterson, New Jersey,
that so many famous people
grew up there;
it must be quite a place
I wasn’t going to wear it. ‘A hoodie is not a cardigan’, I said.
‘Anything that does up at the front is a cardigan’, he insisted.
‘A flack jacket does up at the front; is that a cardigan?’ I said.
We were off and running like the cabbie who couldn’t get us
to the venue fast enough. And then he started on my silver hammer,
why I used the word ‘silver’ when the important word was ‘hammer’.
I could have hit him over the head. And then he said I was embellishing
the tale. ‘I’m a writer’ I pronounced from the saddle of my high horse.
‘It’s the writer’s prerogative to embellish,’
‘You call yourself a writer,’ he said. ‘Your poetry doesn’t even rhyme.’
Now I admit calling him a ‘Neanderthal’ didn’t help matters.
But it’s not just writers who are prickly.