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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Not a poet

I'm no poet, but recently I have found myself conversing with poets and trying to understand the poetic form.

It's a different world out there in poet land, different objectives and different ways of achieving them. I've read more poems this last week than I probably ever have; mainly in an attempt to understand why I fail to 'get' a lot of modern poetry. I'm beginning to think that poetry is like a guitar - one of the easiest instruments to play and one of the most difficult to play well. And maybe that's why there's a lot of poetry out there which is, sort of OK but not particularly good.

So, if I am not a poet, then why am I bothering? Because, like a pianist who decides to learn the guitar in an attempt to become a better musician, I want to learn poetry to become a better writer. There is a place for prose to be rhythmic, melodic, to embrace metaphor and vivid imagery; those are all tools of the poet's craft. If I learn those things well enough to become a mediocre poet, maybe they well help me become an excellent writer.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lady in Blue

Continuing down the poetry path, I was set a challenge - to write a poem to go with a picture. I can't show you the picture, because it wasn't mine but ...

Picture; a silhouet of a lady sitting alone in an otherwise empty restaurant. The restaurant and the window she looks out from are at the stearn of a ship. The sea and the wake stretch into the distance. On the table sits her handbag.

Now back to her childhood ...


Standing, frozen.
Staring at the broken glass,
   the sea of milk,
      the bedtime treat;
   now flowing,
round her island feet.

Larger hands had lifted up.
Gentle voices made it right,
and told her
there would always be
another glass, another night.

***

Sitting, frozen.
Staring at the broken past,
   the crests of dreams,
      the wake of time
   the endless sea,
her barren, island life.

Who now, would lift her up?
Who now, would make it right,
and tell her
there would always be
another day, another night?

Her bag; a small tomorrow.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

The longest poem in the world

Someone over at My Writer's Circle had a brilliant idea: why not get all the poets on MWC to collaborate in writing the longest poem in the English language? Its a sort of poet's journal of thoughts and events as they unfold each day, but each one has to link to the one before it. If you want to watch it unfold, go to: http://www.mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=8437 where it is all taking shape.

If you want to contribute then you will need to join MWC (it's free) otherwise you can just browse.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Winter

Cemetaries may not seem like a good place to spend writing time, but they can be. I went looking for some inspiration for a story and came across the grave stones of the "Winter" family. Husband and wife died years apart and three children all dead at around a year. I made notes and tucked it away for another time. Then, when I came back to it recently, what I thought was a story turned out to be a poem:

Winter

Ghosts of breath hang,
drifting silent above your stones.
Robert, 49, husband of Beatrice, 79.
What happened, Robert Winter,
that you left so soon?

Harry never filled his first page;
Robert and Beartrice, eighteen
when he was ripped from their book.
Surely it tore a ragged edge,
when he left so soon.

Charles saw just one candle.
Did he take a step before he left?
Did you joy as he fell into your arms
before he went to play in Harry's yard?
Why do Winter boys leave so soon?

Ivy Thelma, thirteen months entwined.
Did two names give you two chances?
Why did you use them so quick
in the rush to join your brothers?
You, the girl that left so soon.

Was it always winter living
or were there summers too;
unrecorded in this place of endings,
where ghosts of breath hang,
drifting silent above your stones?

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

You Drunken Lout

Last night the heat
was too much
for an Autumn night
I lay tossing
sleepless in
the still darkness
until you came
down our street
at eleven-thirty-three
P.M.

You drunken lout!
banging gates
playing footy with
the trash cans
left ready for
the rubbish man
in the morning

God, were you noisy!
just you on your own
thrown out when
the isobars closed
funneled in the gradient
of barometric pressure
to hurl yourself against
the walls of my abode

So

I closed the windows
pretending
you weren't there
and lay drifting
in the darkness
trying not to heed
your cacophonous brawl
as you vent your spleen
for all to hear
and I wondered ...

to whom can one report
a Nor'west gale?


New Zealand is notorious for its Nor'west gales, nowhere more so than Canterbury. So, when a 'goodun' blows up we know all about it.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Café in Akaroa

Sometimes I work, sometimes I write; they both begin with "w" and I get easily confused as to which I should be doing. Lately there's been far too much working and not enough writing. So, Mrs fordy and I took off for a weekend 'blob fest' over the hills to Akaroa. Where, on the twentieth anniversary of our coming to New Zealand, we found ourselves lunching at a street café and watching the boats bobbing on the harbour...

A Café in Akaroa

A winter's day
we sat outside
a café
in Akaroa
warm in the low-sky-sun
twenty years to the day
since we embraced
these shores
expectant, as the gulls
watching from the pier.

A far cry
from an Anglo new-town's
concrete sharpness
to a green hilled harbour
with Gallic sounds;
Rue Jolie
is where we walked today
to sit outside
a café
in Akaroa.

A child ran
dad in hand
across the shore
laughing for his mother
and I wondered
at the dreams we chased
that brought us to this place
to sit outside
a café
in Akaroa

Globe of time
burst by pinprick light
reflections on the water
make me wonder
will we remember
the first of June,
the winter sun,
the day we sat outside
a café
in Akaroa?

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Shorties

There is one thing about poetry, even if life takes you away from spending much time writing (as it is doing with me at the moment) there is always time to scratch out a short poem. Here's one from today ...

Winter's Game

Blobs of colour
dart in winter sun
yellow, red across the green
feet run, foot to ball
in breathless ancipation
of the goal.

And over all, the mountains
dressed in winter's coat
watch from afar
ancient touchline parents
beaming in the sun:
well done James!
well done!

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

A long break

It seems (and is!) a long time (4 months) since I posted here. It has been a busy four months and there has been little room for recreational writing and, I am sure, you wouldn't want to read some of the stuff I write for my day job. Anyway, here is a somewhat 'mystical' offering which has been appreciated elsewhere.

YOU Utter Me

You utter me, making of me a Word,
pregnant with lesser words,
though end-to-end would not spell
the name yet spoken in part.

Day, Night, lips restless;
You sing me, a living lyric
to a tune of my choosing;
yet the full score, is before You.

Others call a name for which I answer,
but Yours, the unfinished agnomen,
a double helix of sound
wound 'round the years,
spoken with laughter, tears,
sounding the footfalls of time
'til the echo fades and I will have been spoken.

Only then shall I know my name,
know
whom you are calling.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Stacking Wood

Stacking Wood

Twenty-eight degrees and the phone rang.
(not those tiny F'ng degrees I grew up with.
not twenty-eight - just below freezing
but those big, fat, scorching Cee degrees.
that's twenty-eight percent boiling.)

Hot.

"Want me to bring round that truck of wood?"
(that's fire-wood, not lumber.
Big bits you can measure in fractions of a tree.
Might get two at a time in the log burner;
some bits won't fit at all.)

"Now?"

I want to say, "come again another day."
(But like rain, wood isn't always there
when you need it. Grab it while you can;
you'll not regret it when the snow piles up
on the power lines and brings them down.)

"Sure."

He turns up, smiling, "Nice day for it."
(The mountain tips out with a rumble.
I can work up a sweat just looking at this
amount of work. Today I don't need to bother.
I'm twenty-eight degrees boiling already.)

"Yeah."

"That's one-hundred and forty please."
(So, now I have to pay for the privilege
of working my but off
on a twenty-eight degree day.
Hell, that's five bucks a degree!)

"Thanks"

I start stacking wood in the shed.
(Turning a shapeless heap of logs
into a neatly stacked cube of firewood,
sweat drop by sweat drop, ain't easy;
not like the wooden blocks I had as a kid.)

Carefully.

Twenty-eight degrees and I'm stacking wood.
(It's true; wood makes you hot twice.
Hot in the cuttin' and stackin'
and hot again in the burnin'.
But this wood is burning me up.)

Delirious

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