Pelicans drift with the current; sunrise
scatters its golden flecks across the bay.
Geese in formation navigate the skies;
and as for me … I contemplate the day.
Charter-boats tug on moorings; a grey cloud
muscles out all hope of sunny weather;
meanwhile, two men with coffees think aloud;
morning thoughts let loose of last night’s tether;
and as for me … I watch gulls squabbling
over real-estate, scavenging the scraps
of a left over meal; a man hobbling
his way to somewhere … happiness perhaps?
. And as for me … I sit invisible;
. pondering what is and isn’t isable.
To the reader: Morning contemplation is a rare commodity; a pleasure I’ve learned to appreciate over recent years. My solitary writing routine is just one of many day-break habits. For the socially dependent, they gather to reignite humanity’s embered coals. For the physically addicted, they re-cycle themselves with a daily grind (of coffee). The likes of me … we just watch … for there’s much to see in a new day dawning.
To the poet: … at my happiest watching words script themselves into poetry before my eyes. Some poems appear as animated scenery; translucent layers of activity, drifting planes of intermingled celluloid. The editing room converts the sketch into scribbles; sometimes with a cross-fade, sometimes with a dissolve. As a morning observation, it’s best the poem reflects rising disposition… dawning realism.
Through chorus, we express the universe:
as the single voice of a crowded thought;
as spontaneous chant without rehearse;
as the wisdom of mobs and witty retort.
Through chorus, our communal silk is spun:
as tapestries sewn of collective thread;
as blankets of comfort layered as one;
as patches of cloth on a quilted bed.
Through chorus, we conduct a life-long beat:
as rhythmic stimulants that resonate;
as echoes bouncing through dancing feet;
as musical moments that modulate.
. The frequency of life is harmonic
. Through chorus, we tune-in to its tonic.
To the reader: As a young child, of the 1960s, I grew up amidst a communal chorus; love was the word. Crammed into every three minute pop-song was a catchy refrain; a repeatable, memorable melody that bounced either side of a metrical verse. In that distant world the chorus was an invitation; a come together crescendo that united a generational voice. In full, the memory of a song fades; what’s left is the chorus.
To the poet: The fourteen lines of a sonnet easily convert into the simple pop-song formula of three verses (quatrains) and a repeatable chorus (from the final couplet). This sonnet tinkers with that relationship. Upon reflection, the result shows the difference between poetry and song-writing. A lyric needs room to lilt and requires very little internal strength. With too much internal strength melody struggles to sing.
A blunt instrument has its rationale:
simple and direct; an obvious choice.
It’s the wham-bam … SLAM … solution with snarl;
the “said and done” answer in active voice.
The mallet has enough nudge to persuade
a shift of placement; when handled with care.
The club, a more aggressive tool of trade
is nonetheless useful for crude repair.
“Bigger the problem, bigger the clammer!”
In many respects I suppose that’s true;
Justifies a heavy-handed hammer:
“Nail down the batten that won’t take a screw.”
. In the best of hammers there’s a sweet spot,
. a point at which cold steel becomes red hot.
To the reader: For my tenth birthday I was given a real tool box; an initiation gift of sorts. The hammer made particular impact. As a step-up from previous toys, this hammer expressed itself with style and performed with precision. The frustration of ‘bash and split’ was soon replaced by an understanding of ‘propper’ nailing and nudging. A good hammer knows its own strength, but prefers to act with gentle and judicious persuasion.
To the poet: ‘Heavy Handed’ seems appropriate in titling this sonnet. In woodwork terms, the nail bent, the hammer slipped, the wood split; and the thumb bruised. The joinery is clumsy. Nailing down a poem does require a convincing script; but the degree of persuasion should not be visible in the final product. In this sonnet, the finish includes far too many construction issues; its faults are on full display… apologies from a bashful poet.
I have swept the path of last Summer’s leaves;
it’s late April, so prepare the parade.
Salute the fallen; sombre Autumn heaves
a sigh; recalls the cover of green shade.
Now, on my shoulder rests a golden leaf.
What am I to do? Brush it to the ground?
How do I interpret this small motif:
as commemorative fall; from tree unbound?
Between my shoulder and the ground there’s space,
just enough space, to think about good cause.
There’s time, just enough time, to put in place
a thought… a moment for reflective pause.
. In fluttering leaves there’s a story told,
. it’s a narrative, that turns green to gold.
To the reader: In temperate Australia, the autumnal month of April is adorned with commemorative symbolism. The imagery includes bravery and mateship woven into wreathes of green and gold. As the leaves of Summer flutter softly to the ground, there’s a sombre passage of reflection; space and time to remember the fallen before winter turns the foliage to mush. Those who fought for peace, now rest in peace… lest we forget.
To the poet: A nice sonnet that turns a small personal incident into something more socially significant; and that’s the point of poetry. Through the obvious we discover truth; between gaps we discover opportunity; from now we interpret the moment – but only if we take notice. As poets, we need to observe what is and isn’t happening; for between these occurrences speaks possibility… through the poet’s eye we imagine the universe.
He came, he went, he left her with the baby.
Then (as though hardly-done) he moped his lot.
The burden of self-pity said: “save me,
I am lost – stripped of cause and future plot”.
And what of the mother with child in arms?
In receipt of half the chattels, just things
stuffed in a bag: no niceties, no charms.
A bag full of feathers, nothing like wings.
Who knows what the child was thinking. He smiled
from beneath an Easter bonnet; no blame,
no shame; a child’s forgiveness reconciled
to bear the burden of his parents’ frame.
. Children – forgive them for they do not know;
. forsaken of the gifts that you bestow.
To the reader: It had obviously been a long day of angry disputation. This was the moment of uncoupling. A dreadful determination to unpack the family. She had taken their child to a family restaurant and was awaiting the father’s arrival. He arrived with a plastic bag of bare essentials. With remnants exchanged, the child (from beneath an Easter Bonnet) glanced between the two… later … the father sat alone; weeping in a pool of self-pity.
To the poet: The second of two sonnets that reference arrival and departure. “He came, he went” with no conclusion. His legacies include an onerous gift in wrappings of self-pity. And so it is we often feel confused and bereft… the victims of choice. The April message of Father and Son was an influence on both sonnets. But neither makes extended reference to Easter; just enough to draw upon its key themes of forsaken and forgiven love.
He came, he went, left me none the wiser.
More or less, it seems, this was his intent.
I am, through him, left the improviser.
It’s mine: mine to wonder, mine to invent,
mine to discover; with free-will to dream.
I am, myself, an independent cell.
And so it was. He left me here to redeem
from his departure – that gift – a morsel
of truth so simple, so perfect, so brief;
and yet so difficult to comprehend.
I am free to doubt and state disbelief:
to question his way to my journey’s end.
. This then is the gift of my father’s breath,
. I need no longer fear the time of death.
To the reader: The perfect gift is free-will. What a clever deception. It’s like a kite; useless without string. Hand a child a beautiful kite and after days of frustration he or she will soon ask for the attachment. Upon receiving the greatest gift of all we are burdened with responsibility; we are chained to free-will’s insatiable curiosity; indebted to its reciprocal loop of expectation. The moral burden of free-will is unforgiving; ultimately, I must account for my transgressions … for the choice was mine.
To the poet: A bundle of tangled thoughts about parenting and the delegation of authority through moral expectation. Religious overtones abound… capitalise the ‘H’ in ‘he’ and you have a sermon; without, it’s a son’s contemplation of his father’s developmental influences: distantly demanding, vaguely judgemental and omnipotently present… your choice; but have you thought about the consequences and can you afford the cost? They are yours alone to bear.