Today’s business awaits my attention.
A loose assemblage of things still to do.
An assortment that hangs in suspension;
At the precipice of ‘now’ … fallen due.
Unfinished jobs have no place on the shelf.
And so, to that list; that drop-box of chores:
bullet-pointed messages; notes to self;
reminders that only a fool ignores.
And so, to that list of missed appointments:
that stalled project; that interrupted task;
to all that, that is yet to commence.
To that pending pile: “be patient” I ask!
. All in good time, each matter’s attended.
. It’s at that point, the file is suspended.
To the reader: Two weeks after retiring, I started my next job. The plan was to down-size expectation and workload; get things back to a manageable perspective. To some extent that was the reality but the fundamentals of paper warfare move from job-to-job and desk-to-desk. Projects are the enemy of state. They form the territory upon which office activities spiral out of control in the name productivity. Projects – front-line battles that draw upon scarce resources and redirect energies towards hot-spots of disputed service.
To the poet: As a single-minded sonneteer, I manage my own poetry project – an anthology of sorts. As far as I know “One More Sonnet” has no project-plan; nothing to coordinate its resources and deliver its services. With hindsight, I could back-engineer a plausible plan that makes what I’ve done look organised; but in fact, the whole project grows like topsy. From one idea to the next I lunge and lurch … help wanted; must be good with pen and caper!
Firstly, I read the desiderata:
“Go placidly amidst the noise and haste.”
Gave myself approval (imprimatur)
to make my list of lists. To cut and paste
my chart of wisdoms; distilled of strife,
refined, reduced to an essence of truth:
– Experience is the practice of life.
– One must have the grace to surrender youth.
So on, the list progressed … dot after dot:
– To enjoy time’s passage, go with the flow.
– To know who you are, don’t be who you’re not.
– The more you think you know, the less you know.
. Wisdom is suggestive, best known by gist.
. Wisdom is illusive, shy to enlist.
To the reader: The reduction of wisdom, to a list of truisms, is an attractive contemplation that leads to a refined sample of ‘best of’ behaviours. The first few, often confirm acts of social responsibility; sealing the contract between oneself and others. These ‘responsibilities’ are soon followed by the ‘accountabilities’ that establish (as good) generous reciprocity. And so it seems, the wise respond to needs, they take account of wants; and most of all, they share the benefits – in the interest of common wealth.
To the poet: Around this period of writing, I was also retiring from thirty-years of career building. Not surprisingly, events were associated with a strong-tinge of reflection on change over time; and lessons learnt. The economical nature of phrasing a line of poetry is similar to the construction of a truism… the verb and its subject make obvious associations with a familiar object – in the interest of common sense.
With my attention divided, I sit…
Pen, poised above the page in readiness;
hopeful of a script that would see it fit
the purpose of a quill; and so, impress
its thoughts upon a blank page. It hovers
above the line with nothing yet to write;
the grip of an unsteady hand bothers
the nib; uncertainty – in pensive flight.
In anticipation it contemplates
the possibility of nothingness;
a void in the universe that equates
to unwritten principles – more or less.
. True to word: a pen without instruction,
. finds absurd the point of its production.
To the reader: The physical translation of my poetic thoughts onto paper is through a pen; obviously, a free-flowing versatile pen is preferred. It needs to be an ergonomic pen that sits comfortably in my hand; happy to be twiddled, over-worked and under-paid! All the better, if that pen is well-weighted; designed to manoeuvre and embellish as it imprints letter onto line.
To the poet: Those fancy ostentatious pens that ooze with opulence are far too pretentious to be of any use in drafting. I’ve given them a try. Their notable features demand attention; they want to finish with a flourish and leave indelible marks. Signature pens are dressed for occasion; singular in purpose, unready for sustained action. As a medium, the perfect pen must neither interrupt nor distract from the creative process.
Communicates with influence; he does,
he states it as it is – impressively.
He situates a phrase; gives emphasis,
he waits – delivers it expressively.
He orchestrates his audience; at ease,
he waits for sense and sensibility.
He situates a pause; an awkward tease,
he baits the line with sensitivity.
He modulates his tone; to rise and fall,
creates an uplifting draft – wafterly.
He contemplates what might be possible;
skates the surface, and nurtures novelty.
. He agitates his company; he stirs,
. he celebrates the mix – as it occurs.
To the reader: Tangles can be fun to unravel. I remember, as a child, finding balls of discarded fishing line on the beach. A mess of sand and tackle, endlessly wrapped in coils of knotted nylon thread. The business of unravelling had little purpose to it. I was learning that through frustration you could find satisfaction. Within most things we do, there’s an opportunity to play with ideas; to craft creative solutions – for pleasure’s sake alone.
To the poet: It wasn’t until late in the editing process that I stumbled on why this sonnet was proving a stubborn beast to massage into shape. I’d forgotten that the “Oh, so clever poet!” had decided to apply an extra set of rhymes to the beginning of each line. Something he thought might have been fun to do but later regretted. Upon reflection the extra-effort has probably detracted from the final outcome; and so it is.
Let go of your dependencies; let go.
Let go of what has gone forever more.
Cut free of insecurities; and so,
lay claim to your capacities. Be sure
that what you have, you have in all good faith;
all good faith, that underwrites the absence
of certainty. Believe in what you have.
Believe in the goodness of good intents.
Take hold of opportunities; take hold,
take hold of that which offers more to come.
Seize the moment; as the nettle. Be bold
in your intent; for pluck outplays a strum.
. Let go of insecurities; and so,
. become an opportunity to grow.
To the reader: To be a free agent assumes a level of independence that few of us have license to acquit. Over time we accrue a host of responsibilities, dependencies and expectations that nail us to the floor. Up and leaving is not so easy. Before departing on a free-spirited journey there are things to do. Leaving behind a trail of unfinished business is hardly inviting a warm welcome upon your return. Sure, let go, but take good care … of things before you leave.
To the poet: Strength of message can be bolted to a sonnet. In this free-flowing lecturette I’ve assembled a few commonly known phrases; then, replaced any expected conjunctive using a generous spray of repetition. The repeated elements, through the creation of emboldened space, establish room for emphasis. I’ve not repeated the message, simply repeated the pattern surrounding it.
‘If’ is temperamental and hardly worth
the effort it requires to hold it still.
‘Then’ is non-committal, swings back’n’forth
then comes, then goes, then pendulums at will.
In separate states ‘they’ push’n’pull apart;
good order suffers – everyone’s confused.
‘Then’ makes a mockery of a clean start.
‘If’ takes liberties (not to be excused).
What if/then in union these two are brought
to heel; made to see reason; in a sense?
What if/then, as bridled, these two are taught
to harness the logic of consequence?
. Then good reason will support a good guess;
. therefore, what follows will also impress.
To the reader: If/then logic is a basic tool of computer programmers. Coded scripts embed consequential actions that take place according to if/then decision-making processes. Evaluators use if/then sequences to unravel cause and effect relationships. And, our socio-cultural institutions apply If/then statements to establish and reinforce behavioural codes of conduct; law and order. Without a logical connection between ‘if’ and ‘then’ the two stand at odds and create confusion.
To the poet: The sonnet relies on a sequence of nested references that by association resonate with a reader’s interest. To engage curiosity, a loose level of ambiguity creates intrigue; and to add a twist, many sonnets feature what is known as a volta. The volta provides a turning point at which the direction of the poem changes; moves towards some form of resolution. In this sonnet the volta consumes the final quatrain; setting up space for the answer which comes in the final couplet.