Shine through the darkness, penetrate the night.
Dawn beneath the shadows that overcast
those slumbering diamonds desperate for light;
uncovered memories, bejewelled to last.
Shine between the cracks of that shattered dream.
Gloss over edges that diminish hope,
polish up the threads of a golden seam;
discovered passions, rekindled to cope.
Shine upon a steel breeze, amend its mood.
Take the black dog and heat its cold intent
with warmth; the antidote is attitude;
recovered talents, refashioned to vent.
. Depression’s remedy is a light touch,
. a glimmer of hope, that will shine as such.
To the reader: For the discerning adolescent ear, Pink Floyd filled a ‘head space’ that responded to the musical dynamics of depth and complexity. The sound of other bands, including the Beatles, could tolerate the phonic limitations of an old record player. But, to best appreciate a Pink Floyd album it had to be dust-free and scratch-less. With the right hi-fi system, Pink Floyd could transform a bedroom into a theatre of ethereal sound.
To the poet: Pink Floyd’s first album ‘The Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ (1967) contains eight lyrics penned by Syd Barrett. Read as poetry, it’s clear Syd knew how to craft a song; he knew the rules, and had a versatile bank of ‘tips and tricks’ in his wordsmith quiver. As an exercise, I wrote this sonnet as a sampler; at the same time acknowledging the traumatic demise of a shining star … condensed to a ‘crazy diamond’.
The strength of argument is undermined
when a salient point is overstressed.
For combative sake, such is underlined;
brought to fore, emboldened and overdressed.
At front of mind keep things staid and subtle.
Let the main point grow from a single source.
Hold back on highlights, their shine can scuttle
gentle persuasion (a more useful force).
Let the shape of things assume a pattern.
By design, logic itself will unfold
its grand plan; and in good time, unflatten
that which by rights should have its credits told.
. Let the emphasis be a natural stamp.
. Let the logic of truth light its own lamp.
To the reader: Fashion often begins as a bold statement that gains mainstream approval. Singularity becomes popularity. The norming effect absorbs distinction. Peaks of interest wane; become mundane… we simply lose interest in the fad. Used sparingly, boldness is an effective attention grabber; useful in assembling interest, drawing a crowd and gaining focus. Overused, it’s a crude and ugly device.
To the poet: “Are all things to be boldly underlined?” Impacts can pack a punch and leave a lasting impression; as in a bruising affair. Then again, there’s a lot to be said for the subtle approach that through imperceptible gradations alters a line of thought or a chain of events. In poetry, novel nuance is equal to brazen boldness; our good-readers are alert to ambiguity; they’ll stop without a red-light flashing.
To this point, there’s a statement of intent:
the sending of a message; the promise
to commit; it’s this sets the precedent,
this then becomes the line of sight, from this
all else is judged upon delivery.
Against what’s known, what’s been, new things are judged:
held account; tested for transparency;
valued for clarity … dismissed if smudged.
The purity of truth is honesty:
revered as the path to enlightenment;
it’s the well-spring of possibility;
a straight approach without impedement.
. For those who are driven by conviction,
. be not distracted by contradiction.
To the reader: Up to a point, most of us can hold opposing points of view without losing face or sleep. The internal debate over right and wrong, good and bad is instructive. Occasionally, gaps widen and curious differences become stark and polarised. Through choice, we abandon one idea for another and our personal conflict is resolved. Through good government, mature societies can do the same: we live with contradiction but not hipocracy.
To the poet: “Is the line concise on contradiction?” Unpacking, then reassembling a ten-syllable sequence created for poetic effect is a bit of a stretch; for reader and poet. On the way to a logical conclusion there are many distracting alternatives; rhyme being the most significant. As one rhyme demands another the margin of error widens and the meaningful target becomes less and less a possibility. You can feel it happening… but like bike and tree there’s a fatal attraction to disaster!
Then there’s the other playground, hidden
from the cast of eyes, from the field of view.
Given shape of whispers, a forbidden
terrain that no survey could map as true.
Due regard, a somewhat wise precaution.
As with a grain of truth in rumour’s mill,
this place has no scale of good proportion.
All things can be ground to a common swill:
’til there’s nothing left of confidence,
just the remnants of dignity, respect,
and honour; nothing but shallow pretence,
a bastion of moral poverty … wrecked.
. Play, ground away, under spiteful attack,
. Brittle is its surface; ready to crack
To the reader: As a school principal, I watched with horror the spiteful subterranean attack of girls on each others’ friendships. Damage to dignity inflicts a cruel wound; one that festers long after its initiation. The attacks were often highly orchestrated and finely targeted at a hapless victim. The remedy was to some extent exposure but humiliation of the perpetrator was fuel to the fire. Reconciliation was the broker’s joy!
To the poet: This sonnet was constructed to highlight the fragility of a playground. Designed with a sharp tongue in mind. An outpouring of emotion, prone to pretence and posturing. A string of words nuanced with nastiness. If you’re listening carefully there’s a reference to self-pity; an obfuscation, that distracts attention from cause and effect. The mere suggestion of ill-will is an affront worthy of indignation. Words just words… I don’t think so.
Do you remember the playground, that place
of inherited rules, rough and tumbled
into kingdoms with short reign: King, Ace;
no certainty of claim – empires crumbled?
Humbled victors became losers. The once
proud owner of a patch relegated;
made to start again. A bottom-up dunce
stripped of position, mocked and berated;
slated; given no slack; given what comes;
given the licence to begin again;
to re-climb; to reclaim status. That’s bedlam’s
gift, that’s the playground I remember then…
. No need to keep the playground free of dust.
. The prissy playground is a breach of trust.
To the reader: The school yard is a swirling patchwork of colours and shapes. The blacktop accommodates the hoops and high bouncing balls; white slashes of squared concrete cater to the criss-cross of tennis balls; and the green-grassed fields squarely frame the arc of foot propelled projectiles. All of this in the context of highly competitive play; skin in the game delivers respect and reputation. In my memory, it was sometimes fun, sometimes fair… very rarely perfect.
To the poet: A jumble of words. A connected tangle of playful poetics. This sonnet works in three fields that overplay the shape of simple four-line stanzas. Each stanza ends with a rhyme that begins the next; text creating an extra ripple of repetition. Then there’s the enjambement that carelessly bounces over boundaries; a breach of rules; edgy, annoying but fair play.
He came, he went, he left her with the baby.
Then (as though hardly-done) he moped his lot.
The burden of self-pity said: “save me,
I am lost – stripped of cause and future plot”.
And what of the mother with child in arms?
In receipt of half the chattels, just things
stuffed in a bag: no niceties, no charms.
A bag full of feathers, nothing like wings.
Who knows what the child was thinking. He smiled
from beneath an Easter bonnet; no blame,
no shame; a child’s forgiveness reconciled
to bear the burden of his parents’ frame.
. Children – forgive them for they do not know;
. forsaken of the gifts that you bestow.
To the reader: It had obviously been a long day of angry disputation. This was the moment of uncoupling. A dreadful determination to unpack the family. She had taken their child to a family restaurant and was awaiting the father’s arrival. He arrived with a plastic bag of bare essentials. With remnants exchanged, the child (from beneath an Easter Bonnet) glanced between the two… later … the father sat alone; weeping in a pool of self-pity.
To the poet: The second of two sonnets that reference arrival and departure. “He came, he went” with no conclusion. His legacies include an onerous gift in wrappings of self-pity. And so it is we often feel confused and bereft… the victims of choice. The April message of Father and Son was an influence on both sonnets. But neither makes extended reference to Easter; just enough to draw upon its key themes of forsaken and forgiven love.