Concrete construction, designer’s despair:
over-tended landscape, sharp and severe,
too much exactness, preempted repair;
nothing left to chance, exhausted idea.
Made to resemble somewhere else but here:
rectangled, circled, and ratio-ed square,
hint of something made transparently clear,
a misguided homage belongs elsewhere:
‘belongs’ – a possessive that’s made to adhere…
‘constrained’ – a caught-yard of rarified air…
‘suffocated’ – short of depth, too austere…
‘made to measure’ – overly shaped with care…
. The golden rule, best considered a guide;
. a general frame that’s loosely applied.
To the reader: Great garden designs have an inner quality, a core-strength, an integral thread of inspiration that leaves no doubt about intention. Design has to be a deliberate response to a problem; but more importantly, an authentic and appropriate remedy. The application of a fixed design solution (as in the golden ratio) provides some scaffolded security but overly applied strips away the virtue of design’s natural curiosity; design is an applied art – then a science of sorts.
To the poet: A poet can fail his own test. As a sonnet written about the over-applied rule, this one goes near to proving the point. A truly responsive design will be so responsive to its context that a distinction of cause and effect will be hard to determine. The environmental need and its fix become one-and-the-same. Nature is the best of all ‘fixers’ it’s also the best of all ‘mimics’ – naturally!
‘Tis one thing to be untaught, ignorant
of facts and figures; as to be naive.
Quite another to be belligerent,
to bludgeon truth and blatantly deceive.
One can accommodate some innocence,
show a little slack for lack of nous.
Such is not the case for arrogance:
long since the boarder; banished from the house.
For those with space to wonder, give them keys:
grant them all access to rooms full of room
To badgers and bullies who shoot the breeze
give to them the basement; dust and a broom.
. We learn to be wise, to know and believe,
. to stand in defiance of those who aggrieve.
To the reader: Knowledge without the balance of skills and understanding is as useful as a one-legged stool. Content can not stand alone. Context provides a subject with its reference-point. Our conservative school systems have for decades trained and rewarded the content-collectors to the detriment of children with more broad and practical forms of emotional and social intelligence. The know-all is a renowned nuisance … often a drag on the multi-talented team.
To the poet: There remain some clunky-lines that hold their place by virtue of adequate fill. In the absence of better content they suffice; for the moment anyway. Otherwise, and after some serious editing, this sonnet has some redeeming features. The context of consonance works well as belligerent emphasis. And I quite-like the line that gives “a little slack for lack of nous”. A poem is more than clever words; for them, we turn to a dictionary; with them, we build vocabulary; for more, we turn to art.
Perplexed by the passage of your passing;
the path you have chosen not to complete.
Death, that easy option, that ever-lasting
expression of nothing more than defeat.
Through your dangling obituary death speaks:
“dirges from the book of unfinished works.”
No songs of joy, hymns of praise; sadness shrieks
through a minor key, morbidly it jerks
at the heartstrings, tugs a discordant wrench;
pulls from mortality a cheap reward.
Never was the thirst for life given quench
through the cut and thrust of a broken sword.
. Rest – that which remains of a life unspent.
. Rest – that which contains all of life’s content.
To the reader: In his case, suicide was an ultimate escape; a cynical determination. A deliberate departure from life’s course; one he hadn’t travelled well. Alongside a list of other broken relationships I suppose suicide was just one more; consistent with his self-absorbed character. There were no indulgences he didn’t crave and feed to the detriment of others. Eventually his ‘smartness’ wore thin, and so he resorted to ever greater forms of obliteration; the final one rubbed him out.
To the poet: I’m sure he had many redeeming features. I knew of none. As anonymous he has become the particular avenue of my general vent. In his truncated life, I wasn’t allowed the last word; the attention-seeker makes no sense of that. But now, with his last move made it is my turn to speak. The poet’s obituary can be harsh… who bears the burden?
So be it. Luck and chance have had their fun:
coins flipped, dice tossed, cards dealt with nonchalance.
So be it. In the end the deed is done;
that flippant toss invites a strong response.
As it is. You now have a given stack:
Heads not tails, six over one; King not Ace
As it is. No point missing what you lack;
take what you’re given, put a plan in place.
Be as may. Accept that which comes to pass.
Concede to consequence, be resolute.
Be as may. Be game. Be as bold as brass;
Become that which by chance allows you route.
. So be it, as it is, or be as may
. By way of luck, or chance, it’s yours to play.
To the reader: Educators increasingly talk about gamification of learning through the lens of human psychology. Observation of ‘gamers’ in action shows a persistent response to challenges on the basis of social rewards. A social-gamer gains kudos and reputation for increasing levels of skill; admired by his or her significant community of peers. Behaviours associated with belonging reward the value-adding learner; they are badged with success.
To the poet: As I move slowly through the editing process, there’s a pattern appearing. When I meet a stubborn-draft (poorly finished) the easiest solution is to rediscover the original hook; and obviously, hang everything off that – as much as it will bear. And so, the three-word stem for every second line allowed this poem to be reframed with some semblance of original inspiration. Making-do with what you’ve got.
Spent last evening with invisible thread.
Beneath a crocheted installation,
a gossamer of words were spun and said.
And so wove the night, an incantation
of elevated thought, lifted to a lilt:
hoisted on updrafts of spinnakered air.
As carried by a cello, music spilt
in generous play; danced without a care.
Awash with mood, a manuscript of lines
described the evening and caressed the night.
Suspended hours – hung – as Art designs:
poised in proportion for fanciful flight.
. Spent last evening with invisible thread;
. an entanglement of thoughts, it could be said.
To the reader: It was the gentle ambiance I remember. My home-town (Canberra) was celebrating its Centenary Year with all manner of auspicious events and occasions. One of which was the launch of a book: The Invisible Thread. An evening of ‘light’ entertainment: readings, interspersed with musical interludes. The invisible thread by nature has an unseen presence; nonetheless, it’s strong with connective pull by association.
To the poet: In 2011, I wrote a sonnet (TG-S51) on the same theme. It’s interesting to compare the two. The first unravels the concept of ‘thread’ as an object; the second is much more metaphorical in tone. The second sonnet (TG-S220) plays with a thread’s connective symbolism. Both string together a short narrative. By way of footnote, a few edits (recently applied) gave this sonnet some extra tug.
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…