Do we discover purpose, or is that
a given; that through life, we must fulfil?
To what extent are we determined, at
what point do we grip that moment still?
Is life just another conversation,
a string of thoughts? Ruminated verbiage
that connects two points upon occasion.
A life-span, that builds a virtual bridge
from here to eternity; quite a stretch.
A void, can’t be leapt in a single bound;
can’t be fathomed; a forward passing fetch,
caught on the fly – wrestled and brought to ground.
. Life’s narrative is given spin and span,
. just enough to scuttle the ‘best of’ plan.
To the reader: The ‘universal givens’ are built into the fabric of our design. Therefore, our solutions to some extent conform to a pre-determined brief. Within bounds there’s plenty of room to be creative but as nature so regularly displays, there are some basic patterns that warrant repeat: the beautiful helix, the golden ratio and fibonacci’s spiral; to name a few.
To the poet: Our purpose; a universal mystery, that asks: “Why are we here?”. Without certainty of purpose we have no option but to explore the potential of an uncertain existence. To chronicle that collective journey, the Arts provide an open ended narrative. Without apology, the Arts interpret uncertainty using imagination as its tool of choice. To search is our purpose… the mission is unclear.
A dispossessed poet has no address.
Vagrant wordsmith finds himself lost for words.
Sunday morning solitude. More or less
a Waste Land. Quarters apportioned in thirds;
fractional allotments… absurdities.
Occupied tables, multiples of six,
or four, or two. Disputed territories.
Unilateral remedies, far from fix
an awkward treaty. Spaces between lines
become expansive; attract attention.
Diplomatic remedy realigns
position; puts possessed in contention.
. A poet in the margins, far from lost,
. far from desolate; has his words embossed.
To the reader: Rhyme-inducing comfort zones are hard to find, and even harder to keep; context is everything. For years, I’ve sampled cafe cuisines in pursuit of an ideal writing ambiance. For the most part, a hotel’s ‘breakfast room’ seems optimal. As a large enterprise, hotels usually offer an affordable option of ‘tea and toast’. With passing trade, the regular change of clientele constructs an interesting sense of community; notable but not obvious.
To the poet: If you’re outwardly observant and inwardly conscious the creative mind looks after the assembly of a poem. Once the mind is located and in-flow with the general gist of a theme it will mix and match its contribution of frames and reference points. That’s all very well, and easier said than done; practice and discipline are critical components of the process – and that presumes a conducive space to write. Conducive means interesting but non-distractive.
Mid-Winter, where I live, is wet and cold.
The place is bedraggled. A season spent
of warmth. A blanket of tarnished gold
leaves. Fallen reminders. Disappointment.
An inclement pallet in shades of grey.
Overcast sky, wet-washed to the streetscape.
Sodden concrete canvases. Damp display
of seasonal swing. Long months of cold, that shape
the calendar with frosted panes of glass.
Clouds, condensation, vaporous and sheer.
A diaphanous depression; won’t pass
without the shudder of a cold veneer.
. Mid-Winter enjambement; more or less
. a shift of emphasis, a change of stress.
To the reader: My home town is Canberra; Australia’s capital city. It was designed by Chicago’s renowned architect: Walter Burley-Griffin. He and his wife, Marion Mahony, incorporated into Canberra’s layout their social, political and environmental philosophies. One hundred years later, this small city nestles into the seasonal landscape reflecting its democratic origins; relying on thoughtful design for inspiration through social unease, political tension and Mid-Winter drudgery.
To the poet: …and that’s the thing about poetry. It’s a built environment. Full of ideas. Full of plans that require on-site adjustment. Poetry is a social experiment. An engineered interpretation of life’s possibilities; real and imagined. Poetry describes and discovers the shape and form of itself and its subjects. In the cold, poetry shivers; it feels the bite of winter winds, the grip of frosty nights and the slap of frozen rain.
A window partitioned into nine squares.
The top three frame the sky with loftiness.
A summer-haze gives rise to grand affairs;
a cathedral of blue with gold finesse.
Three black umbrellas, from central casting,
flank the populated panes; overhang
a series of light lunches, short lasting
courses: round plates, round tables; ying and yang.
A long list of legs fill the bottom panes
with passing trade; pedestrian traffic;
litany of litter and gravy-stains;
a base-load of footsteps; demographic.
. Plain-glass windows with horizontal stretch.
. Nine squares, three rows… a panoramic sketch.
To the reader: Window frames define space. Some selectively give border to a scene; while others set no limits to a vista. Either way, a sheet of squared glass delineates one view-point from another; inside from out; here from there. This invisible but very physical medium is a lens through which we look out upon a passing parade.
To the poet: Another observational sonnet. In most cases, my poetic outlook is uninterrupted, I see through the structural frames of reference to focus on a scene of interest. In this case, I was obviously struck by the window’s pre-defined partition of the visual arrangement. One large window; a tessellation of space: nine squares, three rows … a panoramic sketch.
The objectified ‘that’ – too anonymous
to hold the interest of a poet’s eye.
Too without likeness to ever be ‘this’.
Too void of character to qualify.
The unsatisfied ‘that’ – ever restless,
desperate for that substance, that gives it cause
to be anything more than a congress
of possibility; clutching at straws.
That which is nothing in particular,
in simplistic terms, featureless and vague,
untitled portraits, coarse and granular,
nothing in abundance; a poet’s plague.
. That be a name without a pedigree,
. all but a claim without veracity.
To the reader: An empty chair. Of itself, nothing more than a well-formed piece of furniture… an object in wait. On occasions it finds its functional fit and serves good purpose as a propositional place holder; a prop. For the most part, though, it signifies posterior potential and the possibility of congress; an invitational artefact… all but a claim without veracity.
To the poet: That which is featureless lacks identity, it’s dull and anonymous; bland. To some extent a perfect backdrop from which a point of incidental interest can draw attention to itself. As an early morning poet, I often begin my day casting about for such characters of distinction. Often as not, they remain elusive and I’m left to make do with what lies before me … objects, too anonymous to hold the interest of a poet’s eye.
Concrete construction, designer’s despair:
over-tended landscape, sharp and severe,
too much exactness, preempted repair;
nothing left to chance, exhausted idea.
Made to resemble somewhere else but here:
rectangled, circled, and ratio-ed square,
hint of something made transparently clear,
a misguided homage belongs elsewhere:
‘belongs’ – a possessive that’s made to adhere…
‘constrained’ – a caught-yard of rarified air…
‘suffocated’ – short of depth, too austere…
‘made to measure’ – overly shaped with care…
. The golden rule, best considered a guide;
. a general frame that’s loosely applied.
To the reader: Great garden designs have an inner quality, a core-strength, an integral thread of inspiration that leaves no doubt about intention. Design has to be a deliberate response to a problem; but more importantly, an authentic and appropriate remedy. The application of a fixed design solution (as in the golden ratio) provides some scaffolded security but overly applied strips away the virtue of design’s natural curiosity; design is an applied art – then a science of sorts.
To the poet: A poet can fail his own test. As a sonnet written about the over-applied rule, this one goes near to proving the point. A truly responsive design will be so responsive to its context that a distinction of cause and effect will be hard to determine. The environmental need and its fix become one-and-the-same. Nature is the best of all ‘fixers’ it’s also the best of all ‘mimics’ – naturally!