I’ve sapped this scene of all there is to write;
nothing more to draw from its sketchy frame.
Anything left to say is said in spite
of inspiration; lyric’s lilt is lame.
Woman in the corner shuffles her stuff,
skuffles by my table, and then she stops:
“Oh, you’re a poet” she says. Sure enough
she wants to chat, she hovers, then she props.
Her life’s story starts with George: “That Bastard”
who left her in ’89; battered wife
left to pick up the pieces, a discard
who’s deal it is to share – trouble and strife.
. Rhonda Sewell – the woman of seven wells.
. Well connected to Bradman – so she tells.
© Tim Grace, 18 May 2013
To the reader: With trepidation I engaged with Rhonda. She had broken my creative bubble and had entered my preciously guarded meditative zone. She was not one to regard my space as sacrosanct. Disarmed, I surrendered to her nomadic narrative. As her story unfolded it became clear she was in transit. Rhonda rode the Australian train system sharing stories with strangers; coast to coast she lived her own anthology.
To the poet: Check out “Travellers by Rail” where long-time traveller Rhonda Sewell states: “I love the SunLander because you can buy bacon and eggs for breakfast on it… you can’t get that on a plane. And the only thing you can see on a plane is the bloody clouds” http://www.railpage.com.au/news/article-4325 Need the poet say anymore? I think not.
It’s the noble cause that warrants journey;
so traversed, deserves a destination.
It’s not the distance, for its own sake, earns the
merit – might just call that transportation.
It’s the rough road, made of grit and gravel
that carves its credentials in the landscape.
It’s the ruts that give substance to travel;
the ruggedness of route that gives it shape.
It’s persistence gives a path persuasion,
makes possible a new course of action.
It’s that step, as steeped in preparation,
that gives the next stride its satisfaction.
. Distance, as travel, is all but pretend,
. Substance, the measure of a journey’s end.
© Tim Grace, 7 April 2013
To the reader: The journey and its destination. The ‘long and winding road’ that through a series of encounters leads you back to yourself renewed… it’s this road you most fruitfully travel. It’s not the high-road, it’s not the low-road; no, it’s the middle road that offers guidance and a pathway to discovery. A worthy road must do more than transport it must transform.
To the poet: According to the Buddha, it’s better to travel well than arrive. Likewise, the writing process must not treat the end as its purpose. The end does not come forward without a journey. As words seek expression they uncover meanings and reveal conclusions that are in the present formed of wonder; they deliver surprise. So, wonder and surprise are partners in the narrative of life.
It’s clear to you, I am an open book;
an easy read with all my plot laid bare.
All of me is gesture, betrayed by look:
a tilt of head, a glance of eye, and there
am I revealed… all parts of me are script.
In truth, then, I am nothing more than stage;
all of me is theatre, so well equipped
to assume a role, animate a page
with action, to be read by likes of thee.
So well trained in delivery of lines
I believe myself impromptu; falsely,
to be playwright of my own designs.
. Every thought is preceded by an act.
. It’s from gesture that meaning we extract.
© Tim Grace, 23 March 2013
To the reader: At the sub-conscious level, we have social receptors that monitor the quality of our relationships. Our senses collect an array of information; this quantum undergoes neural processing before translation into an appropriate response. Our brains filter out what’s unnecessary and appropriate what remains as useful to the circumstance. That filtering process isn’t invisible. There are many cues that provide evidence of subtle subterfuge… to the astute, we are an open book.
To the poet: The success of this sonnet relies on how well it portrays an impromptu script. The poem’s plot sits (more rightly flits) between two layers of consciousness. The reader (you) is encouraged to scrutinise the writer (me) for signs of ingenuous intention. I am betrayed by give-away gestures that make me nothing more than a scripted actor; a fake, from an open-book masquerade.
What to make of those with humourless wit,
of those who frown, those who grumble and growl;
of those who bemoan joy; awkwardly sit
upon a light-hearted jest with a scowl?
What to make of those who by nature rile
against the frivolous; heavily mark
the wistful as trite and in sombre style
dismiss the chortle as an errant lark?
What to make of those with dark demeanour,
those who do nothing but darken the sky,
casting shadows on polished patina;
those who take a dim view of all they spy?
. These are they who chain good-fun to a cage,
. and for laughter’s sake, will a smirk engage.
© Tim Grace, 17 March 2013
To the reader: Some adults unlearn everything they once knew about fun and laughter; they become morose and sullen. No doubt they have good-reason for such stern reproach of light-hearted follies. Chronic absence of a smile response robs these grumpy souls of the happiness surge delivered by endorphins and triggered by something as simple as a genuine smile. The health benefits of smiling are impressive; so too the social impact of this friendly gesture.
To the poet: We can take the pursuit of happiness too seriously; drain it of fun and become disheartened. Writing a sonnet can suffer the same chain of events. In its original form this sonnet had an unintelligible middle stanza that was lost in its own search for meaning. The ‘editorial rescue’ ripped out the guts and inserted a verse. The final structure of three verses and a chorus brings me no great joy!
The dinosaur. Well and truly buried.
A sedimentary relic. Petrified.
Given to the past; a long time slurried,
muddied-over, laid to rest, fossilised.
Entombed worrier. Stabilised in stone.
Imprisoned posture; contorted, compressed,
a calcified temple, chambers of bone.
A cathedral where hides the dragon’s nest.
The lair, from where darkness is cemented
to shadows; re-dressed in fear and loathing.
Where naked bones are re-fleshed. Tormented
skeletons. Cupboards of ghoulish clothing.
. From the dust of bones the dragons rise,
. to be the carriers of cruel demise.
© Tim Grace, 11 March 2013
To the reader: The dinosaurs’ demise was dramatic but to some extent not as final as their stone graves suggest. In miniature, birds (as feathered remnants) and reptiles (as scaled mimics) echo the intriguing traits of their prehistoric ancestors. And without too much stretch of logic it’s easy to see how with a flight of fantasy we’ve invented the mythical dragon. Skeletons and rattling bones can send a shiver up the spine.
To the poet: This sonnet begins with short sharp statements of finality: the dinosaur is dead. And being so, the dinosaur has become a larger than life assemblage of intrigue and fascination. From ‘calcified temples and chambers of bone’ the dinosaur has given birth to the dragon; a cantankerous creature renowned for having a quick and revengeful temper. Some things are best left buried.
Things, nameless remnants, objects in a drawer;
trinkets that tumble out of time and place.
Garage gadgets, artefacts of war;
unidentified objects, out of space,
out of reason, out of function and fit:
oddities, obscurities, curios
long since departed from inventor’s wit;
having lost the memory of ‘who knows’.
Relics in a box, contents in a trunk,
a job-lot of stuff, a deceased estate
to be sold-off cheap, to be bought as junk:
what’s good for nothing makes a paper weight.
. Nothing more nameless than a nameless thing.
. All deserve a title – be it subject or king.
© Tim Grace, 17 February 2013
To the reader: I discovered an eccentric great uncle: the bird man. He was featured in a national display of urban characters known for having an inventive wit related to ‘things’. Uncle Henry Grace, was a bird-listener. He rode the country-side listening to warbles. Fittingly, he then invented his own form of warble-notation to capture distinctive ‘calls of the bush’. Then, he would create tin-whistles that imitated the various cheeps and chirps. A century later they are ‘things’ of interest; curios.
To the poet: In its first-draft this sonnet began with: ‘Objectification, the stuff of things’… borrowed (I remember) from the more contentious notion of ‘Subjectification, the sport of kings’. Quite a nice beginning, but the rest of the sonnet was hopelessly lost in trivial detail. And so, the long task of re-writing began. A complete upheaval takes some effort. Holding on to the essence, discarding all else … that’s the thing.