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.
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.
The manufactory, factorium;
the industrial site of production.
Home of the functional consortium;
built environments under construction.
Masters of repetition: like-for-like;
duplicated sameness, line after line.
Fabricated forms; strike upon strike;
Engine-uity powered by design.
Natural systems, copied, reassembled;
untangled, delineated, processed,
deconstructed, contorted, stretched and pulled;
to give new form: and so shaped; and so pressed.
. This, a short-lived strategy – one assumes:
. built-in obsolescence – itself consumes.
To the reader: In the 1550s, a ‘factory’ describe an estate manager’s office. This descriptive noun borrowed from Middle French (factorie) with much earlier Late Latin roots to ‘factorium’. The common ‘factor’ refers to a doer or a maker. Having had its use describing humble farm mills and presses, the factory had its sights on bigger industrial enterprises of the 19th Century. A production house that included machinery manufactured goods in buildings known for a short period as manufactories; later shortened to ‘factory’ – so the circle is closed.
To the poet: Etymology sculpts a poet’s productive mind-set. The notion of a wordsmith forging meaning out of molten-sense is close to my reality. As I wrought-meaning into shape I often delve into the pedigree of words to release their poetic potential. The familiar sight and sound of words is suggestive. It’s often the case that coincidental relationships create the crux: at the heart of poetry forgery lies.
Ornamentalism: an assortment
of collectables, domesticated
bric-a-brac, imports from the orient;
samplings of stuff, made sophisticated:
the leather-bound folio, paper-backed
penguins, specimens in formaldehyde.
The trinket, the hand-crafted artefact;
exotic and familiar, side-by-side.
Foreign objects, ambassadors abroad,
international treaties exercised.
A continental-shelf, cross-bow and sword:
“en garde!” – the world has been homogenised!
. We explore the unfamiliar; enough
. to give it status; substance over stuff.
To the reader: I’d been sitting beneath a decorative array of ‘exotic’ ornaments that in a moment of attention had me intrigued. The eclectic display was purely ornamental with no hint of suggested expense or value. “Ornamentalism” I thought. As it happens, the term ‘ornamentalism’ was coined by David Cannadine who expanded on the concept to describe ‘How the British Saw their Empire (~1850 to ~1950).
To the poet: Through the appropriation of exotic customs (including artefacts) the modern Imperialists integrated non-British cultures into a homogenised new-world order. The strict interpretation of a sonnet is similarly transformed by the introduction of slightly foreign influences; and so the form adapts and retains its significance. In this way, a structure keeps its relevance and meaning. Through ‘ornamentalism’ we loosen the grip of conservative hierarchies; and so, become familiar with alternative possibilities.
Ornamentalism Acknowledgement: Title: Ornamentalism: How the British Saw their Empire Author: David Cannadine Publisher: Allen Lane (2001)
Nothing more than a glimpse of slivered light;
delivered right of stage, left of centre.
Just a hint, a glint, of something bright;
so she came, just as light had sent her.
She was not drawn from darkness, not from pitch;
far more rich, she glowed with lumination.
She posed no question, she required no switch;
far from this, she shone with explanation.
Not a candle, not a bulb, not a torch;
too warm to scorch the scene with burning flames.
She cast no shadow, nothing to debauch
the instant truth that light so brightly claims.
. With a light stroke, her presence was revealed.
. She came complete, with nothing more to yield.
To the reader: Light’s revelation can slowly dawn to uncover what darkness hides. Vast horizons emerge as night becomes day. Light can also cast an instant beam of illumination. Delighting the eye with small surprises. In just a slivered glimpse, the eye captures a passing moment… a flash of brilliance. Within that slivered aperture is the essence of art’s sensuality… form is given shape.
To the poet: Art is responsive. It can be reactionary in a spontaneous fashion; impromptu and unrehearsed. It can also be reflective in a mulled-over sense; practiced and refined. Mercurial-art is more likely to be associated with an artist’s unique character… a flash of brilliance. Lingering-art has time to contemplate and wonder; time to lose its originality … as form is given shape.
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.