Why do we fear what we don’t understand?
What makes ignorance the beast that it is?
Why do we crush what we cannot command?
How does good reason make sense of all this?
Does logic lend favour to a good cause?
Does logic distinguish fiction from fact?
Does logic consider the pregnant pause?
Does logic rationalise the random act?
Sadly, the answer is ‘no it does not’.
Some things defy logic; leave us confused.
Some things are awkward, contentious and hot.
Some things intrigue us, and leave us bemused.
. A reasonable logic is common sense.
. A logical reason is consequence.
© Tim Grace, 28 December 2013
To the reader: Common sense contributes to the real-life application of experience in the face of new circumstances. In a logical sense, taking a ‘common’ approach to problem solving is a bit hit and miss. Logical approaches reduce the impact of bias and error; distancing head-strong habits from heart felt emotions; favouring the cool calculation. All very-well, but hardly suited to the quirky-nature of human behaviour. We do what we do often to deliberately defy logic, to be unpredictable … don’t ask me why!
To the poet: The challenge was to defend common sense. Over logic; which at best, questions irrational sentiments and contributes to good judgement. To address the challenge, the sonnet’s three stanzas rally to explore “Why… Do… Some things …” Ironically, through logical entanglements, the final couplet struggles with the delivery of a summative punch.
Roomination, contemplation of space;
four walls expanded beyond shape and size.
Perspective’s perspective so out of place;
distance confounds me and distorts my eyes.
Lost measures and linear illusions;
with points that vanish, leaving empty seats
as evidence; compressed conclusions;
unresolved memories, the pattern repeats.
She leaves with her red knitting in a bag,
the conveyor-belt of toast keeps burning;
Benedictine eggs and the daily rag;
room for thought; the matter’s quite concerning.
. Wait-staff, the living furniture at large,
. the Maitre de, the memory, in charge.
© Tim Grace, 22 December 2013
To the reader: Internal spaces are staged environments. Suggestive social scripts. Spatial storyboards that prescribe behavioural narratives. Static decor wrapped in layers of ambience. Light becomes warmth. Sound becomes tone. Smell becomes taste. A cast of unscripted characters becomes style. And so with warmth, tone, taste and style all playing their parts our senses come alive to the stories within.
To the poet: Mostly, a cast of unscripted characters will play their parts so well they remain invisible; leaving me to mine. Occasionally, from within the decor there’ll rise a character of interest. In this sonnet, it was simply a young woman knitting a red-scarf. She did nothing more than that… but that was unexpected.
Another man died … yesterday at peace.
Not the nameless soldier who died unknown.
Far from that, far from that in his release.
Time now that this rock becomes a corner stone;
an anchored turning-point that conquers doubt.
Time now that this voice, with its mellow twist,
is so preserved as a whispering shout
that resonates upon a rising fist:
What one man can endure … so can it be.
What one man can forgive … so too can we.
What one man encouraged … so can it be.
What one man imagined … so too can we.
. Now the corner stone … the rock of ages,
. Nelson Mandela … strong and courageous.
© Tim Grace, 8 December 2013
To the reader: Many things to many people; always an activist. Throughout Nelson Mandela’s long life he was a motivating energy; a source of inspiration to those who wanted to realise a dream. Being the personification of ‘we shall overcome’ meant his impact on social-order was breathtaking. His demanding relationship with illegitimate authorities and corrupt systems provides the key to his strength of character which ever sought the dignity of freedom and justice for all.
To the poet: One of a few biographical sonnets written around this time. Mostly, a singular contrast to the previous sonnet honouring the unknown soldier as a collective metaphor. The finished product bears the hallmarks of a frustrating editing process that almost worked; not completely convincing in the end. There are elements that I like: “the mellow twist … upon a rising fist” suggests a gentle strength without reference to aggression or untrammelled anger.
We do not know this young Australian’s name.
We do not know his age or circumstance.
He lived not for glory, died not for fame.
Selfless in sacrifice, we owe him thanks.
He’s just one of many who died at war;
gave away his everything – for our sake.
One of many who rests forever more.
In his pursuit of peace we too partake.
He is all of them, and he is one of us.
He’s the collective spirit of our dead.
He’s the me, the you, the voice, the chorus,
the sacrifice; the ‘he’ who died instead.
. He laid down his life, surely not in vain.
. Let him remind us not of loss but gain.
© Tim Grace, 7 December 2013
To the reader: It’s Rememberance Day 1993, and Australia’s Prime Minster (Paul Keating) delivers a beautifully crafted eulogy honouring the Unknown Soldier. The speech ends with: “It is not too much to hope, therefore, that this Unknown Australian Soldier might continue to serve his country – he might enshrine a nation’s love of peace and remind us that in the sacrifice of the men and women whose names are recorded here there is faith enough for all of us…”
To the poet: Paul Keating and his speech writer (Don Watson) stripped back the ceremonial metaphors to highlight a much stronger message about the power of ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds on behalf of others. Free of pomp, sincerity speaks with integrity … through remembrance peace becomes our future vision. I hope my conversion of the speech does it no injustice.
For the most part, routine describes the day.
Business as usual distracts the eye.
Process and procedure keep chance at bay.
Method over madness will justify:
the practical, simple, the tried and true,
reason over passion, temper’s excess;
and so, the day proceeds, unfolds on cue.
Function, not fanfare, the mark of success.
Minimise the risk of excitement’s flare:
small steps, not large, and look before you leap!
Treat the day as hostile, handle with care.
Treat mole-hills as mountains; as far too steep!
. Today’s containment is alive and well,
. With fires to dampen and seas to quell.
© Tim Grace, 20 October 2013
To the reader: Work has an inflated ego. This self-appointed, self-anointed, arbiter of time’s worth is a small-minded accountant. Given a badge, this officious miser of minutes scrapes from employment every last morsel of production. The yard-stick is a poorly calibrated measure of busy-ness; units of labour; toil and drudgery. The accountant’s grip on work-for-work’s sake strengthens and with throttling effect motivation is all but exhausted.
To the poet: I’m working on a holiday… aren’t we all? Work’s relationship with rest and play doesn’t have to be adversarial. If work is a drudgery, then the distinction is probably convenient; as in, I’m ‘going to work’ suggesting a dislocation from other creative pursuits. Ideally, work, rest and play are a natural integration of life’s energies; with each contributing to an overall sense of wellbeing.
Business as usual
Both sides of me – glass. Across the street – glass.
A township’s reflection in silicate.
I watch a car, I see it three times pass.
Gleditsia – a sunburst in triplicate.
Waitress serves coffee, delivers it thrice.
A school bus on route to three destinations.
Thread of pedestrians – a three-way splice.
Parked vans in parallel situations.
An over-weight figure stretches and shrinks.
From the pavement’s perspective, three lines switch.
A chain of clients making awkward links.
Three panels of distortion – a triptych.
. The arcade – a see-through kaleidoscope.
. A visual illusion of words in trope.
© Tim Grace, 15 October 2013
To the reader: Taree is a small town on the central coast of eastern Australia. Over three mornings, I found myself in a coffee-spot, positioned in a neat and tidy arcade, overlooking a sleepy main-street. With glass all about me, I peered out from within my squared-off telescope and captured a kaleidoscope of reflections; as the town began its business: in country towns the streets are wide, with rows of trees on either side.
To the poet: As a stranger in town, you are invisible on the first and second day. By day-three, however, your regular habits have been revealed and noted by the observant local. The guy behind the counter knows your coffee-preference, the waitress works around your table-setting of books and pens. There’s a polite expectation, not quite an obligation, that you explain your purpose. Towns, just like people, are a little suspicious of strangers with pad and paper.