Sixty-four poems remain in the folder I’ve confidently sharpie-penned ‘1st Collection’
It has found a title, which I’m keeping under wraps. Five or six poems are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and will probably be weeded out during the next ruthless round of decision making. I have been very ruthless to date: many a ‘favourite’ has been unceremoniously dumped because it isn’t what this particular book is about. Discovering what the book is about is a big step for me, as I’ve not thought about it while writing individual poems. I’ve never looked at them as a group before and wondered what my obsessions are outside the confines of the poem I’ve been working on. I realise that isn’t how it is for many writers: they write to a theme when working towards a collection. But it hadn’t occurred to me I was……..
I’ve been thinking how discovering one tiny thing, one obvious to anyone who has done it all before, can make a huge difference. Yesterday I had several files of poems (the physical kind, in poly-pockets. I like things physical) lurking, filed by date, 2012 to the present. I submit poems quite frequently, so the published ones are all highlighted so I don’t send them elsewhere; I note down where and when published, because that’s useful. But, now I’m getting a collection together, (it already has a home, so it’s a matter of deciding the order, chucking out or grabbing back others if I realise they don’t work together.)
So, the small but mind blowing discovery? Collate the poems like a book. Have them face each other, find where they are happy to partner up with another poem. So damn obvious, but what a difference it’s made 🙂
My beautiful rescue pooch, Noodles was four yesterday. ‘Why not tell us yesterday?’ I hear you cry. Well, I’m a terrible dog-parent and I only realised just now……
At the tidal point where ripples run like dominoes
from sea left to sea right, memory offers up decades
of misunderstandings, trying to make things right,
managing to never be right. Reality pounds in my ears
leaving no room for imagination, the crest before anything
happens is the only time our power seems matched.
There’s no turning back, no gentle retreat to look forward to,
just being plucked like a bruised whelk from its shell.
I learn my lesson over and over again, but every wave
is a little different, shifting grains into distinct patterns,
hitting new rhythms, shuffling another set of broken dreams
to fold in on themselves.
First published on: I am not a Silent Poet, 2017
Kindle is a strange beast; the instant access to endless books for those of us with the technology. It makes me think of those restaurants with an ‘eat as much as you want’ counter. We’re invited to be gluttons, pile our plates high, return to the counter and refill our plates. We invest so little into the experience, shovel everything down, leave as much as we want on our plates. We’re not required to leave a tip for good service, and it’s easy to complain. We expect the same satisfaction as if we’d carefully chosen from a menu that might meet our expectations, where the food was just what we fancied and might hit the spot.
Sitting on her doorstep, the neighbour is forming traps out of rusty wire and baiting them with something that appears to be potato peelings, but could be a more tempting lure. I see the twisting, the pliars busily snapping. I imagine the blood reddening her fingers, the tetanus jab she didn’t have; her shying away from contact with anyone ‘in authority’ makes that inevitable. Her dog, a Golden Labrador, bred to respond, is quietened by a slap of her hands. My dogs are noisy and neurotic, silenced by the promise of treats. I keep coercion close at hand, in a jar.
For days at a time they’re the only living creatures I talk to; they’re easy to understand, uncomplicated, ready to forgive without bearing grudges. The neighbour isn’t so transparent. Whatever it was that turned her against me after the first couple of months, she isn’t letting on.
November issue of one of my favourite online magazines. Happy to have a poem in here:
Download for free 🙂
That every new notch in my rifle will be
underrated until I arrive, dead. I will never
court fame, never manage to gather people
round me in crowds, on or off line. I know
that I love wine, and it helps in the short term.
I know I won’t self-destruct, because it would have
happened by now. I know I have friends, unenvious,
coping with my dissociation, an incredible son
who has seen me lie down in traffic, and try to
get him to do the same.
I know that as soon as I get well enough, I will
be dragged back into a system that will make me ill.
I know that everything has already happened, and that
this won’t be believed. My planet is ruled by me. You
rule your planet. I don’t find that hard to conceive.
I know that the derelict is as important as the famous,
that celebrity is nothing, and that generous friends,
family and animals are worth more than anything.
First published on The Stare’s Nest, 2015