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.
The scenery at large is much the same.
Division of the canvas is at scale.
My chair’s vista, its aspect, holds its frame.
Too much of the same; how soon the fresh goes stale.
And so, in search of interest, I observe
the nuance, the difference, at closer range.
The ant upon the banister, the curve
of filagree, the butterfly’s exchange,
the magpie’s meanderings, the sun’s glint
brightening my pen, sharpening its edge.
Dislocate from distance a fine-grained hint
of interest; extract one leaf from its hedge.
. Beneath a broad brush there sits a fine stroke.
. Fire finds new flame from an ambers poke.
To the reader: Big picture spaces have big dimensions, sized to fit larger than life characters committing acts of great courage or crimes of deep passion. Scaled-down, the miniature world has its equivalent perspectives. With the lens in macro we can watch nature’s smallest surveyors staking-out territories; acting-out tragedies… eking-out existences. All creatures great and small have a frame of reference.
To the poet: The poet’s lens is endlessly variable. From a static vantage point, characters move in and out of fields of interest and intrigue. A single character can occupy layers of landscape; moving in and out of focus. Poets select their foreground, and from within that loose-boundary construct a depth of field. The narrative’s success relies on how convincingly a curiosity emerges and then interacts with the imagery… context is everything.
A cool morning breeze, whispers crisp and sharp.
Dappled shadows scattered in commotion.
Rustling leaves give voice to a scratching harp.
Splash of mauve begins the day’s devotion.
Mottled yellow, wattled gold, rusted bark.
The hint of blue horizon, just a glimpse.
Canopied layers flicker; light and dark.
A symphony of birds in soundscape scrimps.
A fresh gust agitates a squawk of wing.
Palm fronds, dry with age, hang-glide to landing.
Metronome branches in pendulum swing.
. Five starlings make an oddly mark in time.
. Give cause for notice of the sun in climb.
To the reader: A fresh scene triggers interest. And so with heightened sensitivity, the watchful mind becomes alert to novel observations. The play of light and colour, along with the sound of movement interact to become a new definition of time and place. Small characters emerge from the static scene; branches swing and swish; birds flit and flirt; a mauve cloud is tickled by a golden ray of morning light; the sun lifts the curtain on a new day.
To the poet: If you listen, visual landscapes are also aural soundscapes. Together, sight and sound form the focal points of this situational sonnet. Considered as one layer, the visual element has been receded to bring forward the sounds of nature waking to a new dawn. The first version of this sonnet was simply a list of of fourteen observations, which I later over-dubbed with rhythm and rhyme; to satisfying effect. I like this sonnet.
Not all that I write is to be read, you see.
Lift your eyes from this page. Enough of words.
They talk of freedom; speak of liberty.
They are tethered, tarred and feathered. As birds,
these words are clipped; pressed into pagination.
Nothing more than flightless words, all a-flap
with instinct; pinions of agitation.
Unwitting conscripts with wings under wrap;
press-ganged, enlisted into servitude,
perched on parchment and anchored to the page;
gripped too tight, stripped of height and altitude,
flattened, compressed of colour, dressed in beige.
. Heavied with the weight of purpose words die,
. They can not sing, they can not dance; nor fly.
To the reader: The beautiful lyrics of John Lennon’s ‘Across The Universe’ relate to transcendental expression. The lyrics’ relationship to meaning is through soaring imagery not literal comprehension. The song has been crafted to fly. As an aerodynamic masterpiece the internal arrangements are light with adherence to rules that overcome gravity with blissful ease.
To the poet: John Lennon’s recollection of writing ‘Across The Universe’ is instructive in understanding the uplifting power of poetry. The song began as a grounded response to being caged; captured and contained. Through a meditative process, it seems the lyrics became cathartic; they transcended his pent-up anger and delivered instead a peaceful state of mind. Until his next rant, at least…
An amplified invasion so disturbs
the peace; a cavalcade of decibels
on drill: marching the streets, pounding the kerbs.
Exploding sound-grenades and mortar shells.
A wall of sound, invisible to touch,
yet so capable of prickling the skin.
Audible ferocity; far too much
to absorb – loud and deafening din.
A relentless, raucous calamity;
no definition, a cacophony;
no room for nuance, blunt audacity;
no conduct befitting a symphony.
. To turn down the volume is sound advice,
. Those who cannot hear pay a heavy price.
To the reader: Walked past a bar in Bondi… note to self triggers idea for sonnet: “Loud defines itself as big and bold; amplified beyond a normal range of tolerance. And that’s the point – tolerance. Loudness has a relative setting calibrated to a social context. There is no right or wrong volume but there is an appropriate volume. Big and bold is admirable to a point; beyond that point it becomes demanding and intrusive.
To the poet: Walked past a bar in Bondi… loud noise obliterated social exchange. There’s a pleasure in writing from experience. The non-contrived foundation establishes a convincing script. Chances are an authentic narrative attached to a real reaction will resonate with others. And so it was, that evening in Bondi, I was ambushed by an amplified invasion of noise; grabbed without consent.
Sadly, one certainty of life is death.
And so, it is for all of us to end.
Somewhere, there awaits our final breath.
Inhaled, not for exchange, but to expend.
This breath, of all breaths, is to be remorsed.
It’s the breath most wasted and least returned.
Consumed for the purpose of life’s exhaust;
of continuation, it’s least concerned.
Somewhere, then, this final breath sits in wait…
to be swallowed deep but not ingested.
This breath has destiny; a half-used fate;
incomplete, resolute, uncontested.
. But for one-breath, we have life’s abundance.
. It’s through this-breath, that we meet redundance.
To the reader: Not breathless, simply exhausted of life. It’s the last breath taken and not returned. Delivers a terminal solution. The act of living is respiration. Recycled air; a generous spirit. Acts of goodness get taken for granted. We begin and end our lives with a gasp. Air is a rich and abundant resource. Not a trivial keep-worthy trinket. Not to be held for longer than needed. Its living purpose is spent and renewed.
To the poet: In ‘to the reader’ I collected together eleven sentences loosely connected to the topic of breath. Each sentence is ten-syllables long and follows on from the previous; but it’s not poetry. The difference has something to do with a missing thread of consciousness. The thread of poetry is tied by the poet and un-ravelled by the reader; one gives the other receives … together we breathe the spirit of art.