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.
Artobiography – the self-exposed.
Personal revelation on display:
persuasions, curiosities disclosed;
individual leanings that swing and sway.
Privacy – an open exhibition.
Voyeurs at large, a see-through medium,
en masse titillation; imposition;
pastiche motif; pretensions on parade.
A synthetic construct, superficial,
skin-deep patina, costume masquerade;
disguised reality – artificial.
. What of art that it adores expression,
. and yet, so crudely ignores discretion?
© Tim Grace, 31 March 2013
To the reader: Exhibitionism or exhibitionist – an empty distinction. The expose of self as art. The narcissist, an introspective voyeur on public display. Made naked for self-amusement. Inside-outside. Flesh-coloured drapes on see-through windows. Shock therapist using auto-simulation as creative medium; seminal concept becomes revelation. Artobiography – a crude craft on revealing canvas.
To the poet: Inspiration for this sonnet was a documentary on avant-garde art. The various vignettes portrayed a series of self-absorbed indulgences. Confusion over purpose was laid bear. A naked clambering for notoriety; easily achieved through public shock. Nothing more than a sideshow curiosity laying claim to creative space. As a writer, I can appeal to a reader’s instinct for novelty… the forbidden and perverse are easy grabs.
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.
Once again, death rejoices a new grave,
a soiled-over body, a buried soul;
welcomes The Dead (Le Mort) to Hades’ cave;
adds a fresh bag of bones to its countless toll.
The spoils of victory entombed, encased
in a casket of clay, in wet mud drenched,
dispirited, disposed of, laid to waste,
laid to rest in pieces; so long entrenched.
‘So Long’ farewelled, given back; dust to dust…
But listen, through the dirge, the Angels sing.
‘Hark’ the Angels sing (as so the Angels must)
“Where, Oh Death, is your victory, your sting?”
. Through nothingness Death must surrender all,
. beyond nothingness – Eternity’s call.
© Tim Grace, 22 March 2013
To the reader: He was 94 at death. An Uncle. An only son. An alcoholic… a troubled soul… a widower with children… a mechanic… a reformed alcoholic… a preacher; a man who found redemption. At life’s end, a man who had travelled a long and arduous journey of self-discovery. An adored father… a revered brother… a soul at rest; freed of Death’s sting, for “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11: 25-26).
To the poet: This sonnet is a layered interpretation of one man’s passage through, and beyond, the doors of death towards eternal peace. To begin with, words rattle with visual references, “but listen” (at line 10) calls upon a new register of interpretation: “Hark the Angels sing”. The dismissal of Death as an ending in itself (1 Corinthians 15:55) takes the sting out of life’s terminal destination. At Death we join the countless dead and become at last united with one collective spirit… so the story goes.
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!
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.
© Tim Grace, 4 March 2013
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.