Perplexed by the passage of your passing;
the path you have chosen not to complete.
Death, that easy option, that ever-lasting
expression of nothing more than defeat.
Through your dangling obituary death speaks:
“dirges from the book of unfinished works.”
No songs of joy, hymns of praise; sadness shrieks
through a minor key, morbidly it jerks
at the heartstrings, tugs a discordant wrench;
pulls from mortality a cheap reward.
Never was the thirst for life given quench
through the cut and thrust of a broken sword.
. Rest – that which remains of a life unspent.
. Rest – that which contains all of life’s content.
To the reader: In his case, suicide was an ultimate escape; a cynical determination. A deliberate departure from life’s course; one he hadn’t travelled well. Alongside a list of other broken relationships I suppose suicide was just one more; consistent with his self-absorbed character. There were no indulgences he didn’t crave and feed to the detriment of others. Eventually his ‘smartness’ wore thin, and so he resorted to ever greater forms of obliteration; the final one rubbed him out.
To the poet: I’m sure he had many redeeming features. I knew of none. As anonymous he has become the particular avenue of my general vent. In his truncated life, I wasn’t allowed the last word; the attention-seeker makes no sense of that. But now, with his last move made it is my turn to speak. The poet’s obituary can be harsh… who bears the burden?
I’m living in a renovated dream.
Walls come tumbling down before my eyes.
Rose-coloured glasses wash away the theme
of ‘tangerine trees and marmalade skies’.
Gone is the porter, that plasticine man.
Gone from his station of gainful employ.
Gone is the dog-mouse with rice-paper plan.
So too the drummer, that blue-eyed boy.
Gone are those characters, lucid and bright.
Gone with the pictures on ‘green-pepper walls’
with ‘everything emptying into white…’
Gone from my reaching; ignoring my calls.
. I’m living in a renovated dream.
. Devoid of pattern, of colour and scheme.
To the reader: Through my teenage years I was drawn to lyrics that conjured-up slightly distorted visual images. Masters of the art (John Lennon, Cat Stevens, etc.) wrote convincingly between believable and plausible lines; avoiding a shift onto tracks of complete nonsense. As in vector-distortions the original image is never lost, simply stretched to entice attention. As in camouflage, clever-mimicry replaces the truth. As in this sonnet I’m living in a renovated dream…what is that?
To the poet: In some forms of deception the skilled-expert successfully arrests disbelief. The magician, the con-man and the poet all use the same ploy of managing expectation. Within bounds, an audience will allow a degree of contrived replacement. As long as the augmentation doesn’t break too many rules that contortion (otherwise that mistake) is overlooked; enjoyed as different.
So be it. Luck and chance have had their fun:
coins flipped, dice tossed, cards dealt with nonchalance.
So be it. In the end the deed is done;
that flippant toss invites a strong response.
As it is. You now have a given stack:
Heads not tails, six over one; King not Ace
As it is. No point missing what you lack;
take what you’re given, put a plan in place.
Be as may. Accept that which comes to pass.
Concede to consequence, be resolute.
Be as may. Be game. Be as bold as brass;
Become that which by chance allows you route.
. So be it, as it is, or be as may
. By way of luck, or chance, it’s yours to play.
To the reader: Educators increasingly talk about gamification of learning through the lens of human psychology. Observation of ‘gamers’ in action shows a persistent response to challenges on the basis of social rewards. A social-gamer gains kudos and reputation for increasing levels of skill; admired by his or her significant community of peers. Behaviours associated with belonging reward the value-adding learner; they are badged with success.
To the poet: As I move slowly through the editing process, there’s a pattern appearing. When I meet a stubborn-draft (poorly finished) the easiest solution is to rediscover the original hook; and obviously, hang everything off that – as much as it will bear. And so, the three-word stem for every second line allowed this poem to be reframed with some semblance of original inspiration. Making-do with what you’ve got.
An elliptical stance; a solstice night;
remnants of Autumn; blanket of leaves;
haiku syllables; captured sound and sight;
severe frost; white footsteps; icicled eaves.
Snippets, half-formed, in the absence of heat;
cold-fusion; liquid air; saturated;
frozen to a frame; cameos compete.
A fragile balance, equally weighted;
naked trees strike a pose in silhouette;
ghostly shadows dance to a druid’s drum;
the pendulum must pause to pirouette;
for that which passes tells of that to come.
. That which tilters must surrender to time;
. so be the season, the reason and rhyme.
To the reader: In temperate zones seasons swing with a contrast of moods. With reduced hours, Winter days make-do with what little warmth the sun has to offer. Long-nights, without a store of heat, settle quickly into a frigid chill. In the cold depths of night a frozen moment rearranges water particles into crystals of ice. The dark-theatre is austere, stripped of animation; made still.
To the poet: A lifeless sonnet, descriptive of a cold suburban landscape. As much imagined as it is observed. Small snippets of observation, transitions, staggered frames; brittle connections. The relationship of water and ice in-part describes the sonnet’s internal structure as crystallised. There’s a fractured feel to the poem, which at any moment could shatter in to parts.
What business has science in beauty’s art?
Is beauty to be studied, laid out bear,
exposed, analysed, to be pulled apart;
interrogated crudely, hair by hair?
I have heard ‘beauty’ many times expressed:
“… as more than a sum of parts considered.”
I’ve heard ‘beauty’ in ratios addressed:
“…nothing more than balance, so configured.”
Beauty’s been the subject of cruel compare,
the victim of insult; likened to tart.
Beauty’s been the envy of those who care
more for head and hand than they do for heart.
. Beautiology – a science absurd,
. let bells and folly tell the truth preferred.
To the reader: The probing eye of science has long had its sights on beauty. For thousands of years the mother of science has been measuring beauty’s ratio in an attempt to identify ‘that’ alluring attraction. Beauty’s design can be artfully mimicked; incorporated into works of architecture and landscape; appropriated into fashion and ornamental crafts. Beauty, if it must be measured, reveals effortless carriage of its own perfection… a natural effect.
To the poet: Unpacked, this sonnet has some interesting design features. The three stanzas are quite different in structure but stand side-by-side in logical agreement. As three debaters, they present their case in defence of beauty’s natural stance. The first stanza questions intent, the second speaks its doubt, and the third interrogates the motive; of what the final couplet calls ‘beautiology’. All in all a well rounded debate.
You are the keeper of a chrysalis.
The holder of a butterfly in wait.
Do you appreciate her emphasis;
sensitivities; condition of her state?
Are you in touch with her proclivities?
Are you conscious of her fluttering?
Do you attend to her necessities?
And, will you offer her your nurturing?
You are the hand-maiden, the Monarch’s nurse,
her companion; attentively involved:
as she ponders… as opener of her purse.
as she shudders… as closure is resolved.
. You are the hand-maiden, the Monarch’s nurse;
. holder of pleasures, and opener of purse.
To the reader: Butterflies are beautiful insects. Through stages they reach a climax of interest and intensity. The chrysalis represents a middle-stage of development when the caterpillar has pupated into a protective tissue awaiting release into its adult form. The natural wonder of an opening cocoon represents an exposed stage of life; sensitive and vulnerable. With patience and nature’s encouragement the butterfly emerges; and so completes its resolution.
To the poet: Metamorphosis. Between two stages, the chrysalis assumes a vulnerable condition; a position of suggestive anticipation. And that’s the art of poetry. Between two ideas there’s room for emergent play. Words, by association, influence interpretation; and so, meaning is subtlely adjusted. The level of cryptic subterfuge is a matter of choice; too subtle and the game is lost.