… used to write observational ditties.
Sunrise anecdotes, as they rose to view.
High-rise moments that could tickle and tease.
Bric-a-brac messages from me to you.
Kept them in a folder, tattered and torn:
My Complete Book of Unfinished Works.
A mixed anthology of statements, sworn
to the master of truth; where danger lurks.
It’s a people watcher’s compendium,
an unbound collection of clever quips:
“slivers of silver – soft as cerium.”
“the tighter one grips – the faster one slips.”
. Life is just a series of thoughts condensed,
. cryptic adages, over days dispensed.
To the reader: Snapshots of life in passing are soon lost to memory. Short-term moments that catch your interest but quickly fade from view. These are the ingredients of doodles and ditties. My notebooks are full of sketchy lines and idle jots; half capturing a fleeting thought. And there’s the problem; at some point, do these bits and pieces make collective sense? Unlike entries in a diary or journal these snippets have a weak relationship with a string of time.
To the poet: Side-by-side two poems will often reflect a shared relationship with the poet’s current experience. As often as not they might also reflect the poet’s quick shift of focus. Some poems make reference to past or recurring interests and therefore resemble poems written in a distant period. In poetry chronology and sequence are quite separate issues… two threads; one rope.
Do not give that poet licence to print.
Trust him with nothing more than a bent quill.
Give him no room to manoeuvre, no hint
of suggestion; no modicum of thrill;
nothing to spill upon a naked page.
Just for his own amusement, he’ll distort
an innocent phrase; blatantly upstage
the messenger with elevated haught.
He’ll brazenly award himself credit
beyond his due; without hesitation,
he’ll tag himself as first to have said it…
Man of Words … with big imagination.
. This ‘Man of Words’ is just a dictionary,
. just a parrot, well-skilled at mimicry.
To the reader: It’s not words that commit the crime; it’s the choice of those words in combination with intent to harm or damage reputation. And so, the shady area of exploitation is encircled by interpretation. The cunning ‘poet’ will cleverly disguise his ambiguous message with layers of obfuscated connotation. Using every trick in the book, he’ll burden the reader with responsibility for word association.
To the poet: The parrot might be able to argue his words should not be taken literally. But, as a poet, you do have to take responsibility for the syntax and semantics of your artistic expression. Your deliberate acts of subtle word-play can cause a mischief that requires remediation; or at least, explanation. Blaming the reader for his/her sensitive interpretation is hardly the act of a chivalrous sonneteer.
Made in his likeness. More true than correct.
A permanent resemblance, confirming
his rigidity. In every respect
a replica; and in that sense, a thing
to be admired. As would justify
impressive compliment: so highly classed,
so desirable to this maiden’s eye.
Thus, besotted by his enduring cast,
she would praise upon him commendation.
Wonder at the depth of his conviction.
Absorb his strength, ride his motivation;
’til resolved of Cupid’s contradiction.
. Conviction is not a measure of length,
. without substance we have no strength.
To the reader: Stature has less to do with shape and form; more to do with conviction and substance. While the proportion of a figure provides insight into its mechanical advantages, the nature of its pose and posture suggest its depth of character. Poise and style are features of an impressive presence; something to be admired.
To the poet: Shakespeare enjoyed a little naughtiness. Sprinkled throughout his sonnets are references to all manner of subtle titillations. His last two sonnets (153 and 154) provide the most obvious examples of his brand of bawdiness. Never salacious or explicit just suggestive of something a little spicy. Could that be … surely not?
I am nothing but myself without you.
You are the key to every lock I own.
To say you are my everything is true.
Without you I am never more alone.
You are my Spring, you are my Autumn-flush.
Without you I’m a Winter-plot unkempt.
You are my Summer – every flower’s blush.
Without you I’m a year that wasn’t dreamt.
You are my awakening; my morning would
be nothing but the softest dew at dawn.
You are my sketch, that pictures me as good.
Without you I’m an image never drawn.
. You are the life in every day I live
. You are the gift in every thing I give.
To the reader: Love is an ingredient that confirms completeness, enriches purpose and satisfies our intimate desires. We nurture partnerships through love’s tenderness; it’s love that cares about a broken heart, it’s love that freshens an exhausted soul, it’s love that brings joy to adult affairs. Love’s generous abundance is in endless reserve; love replenishes love; love’s gift is love.
To the poet: The first quatrain is tentative, the second a bit soppy; and the third, hopeful of a climax. The final couplet provides the post-literal summary. When ‘love’ becomes an object of attention it resists exposure; love is shy and reserved in nature. Love is rarely captured without damage. Like a butterfly… most beautiful in flight.
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.
There’ll be ample time to talk of wonders;
but for now, you have the gift of eyes and ears.
Silence speaks as loud as lightning thunders.
Save those unspoken thoughts for coming years.
As for now, take note: watch the world unfold,
watch the patterns change and the colours dance;
watch the hand shake, the foot step, the toe hold.
Recognise yourself in a friendly glance.
As for now, listen: hear the change of tone;
hear the rhythm, the pitch, the count of three;
hear the heart beat, the ear drum, the jaw bone.
Make yourself ready for the change of key.
. Two eyes, two ears, but just one mouth for each.
. There’s much to be said for the gift of …
To the reader: It’s not that babies can’t vocalise; it’s more the point, they can’t speak. And all for good reason. The receptive senses of hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling need time to grasp the rituals of living. In this sensory world, babies communicate reactively; using spontaneous gestures that display their simple understandings of the comfort continuum. Our physical glossary precedes our emotional vocabulary.
To the poet: Our first language belongs to the body. And I suppose through body-language we can express the sentiments of any poetic theme or form. Words are just subsequent translations of abstracted notions the brain has previously rehearsed; remnants of an internal theatre. Before speech performs its reductive act, let the first scene be one of mental gymnastics … creatively dance within …hold that thought.