Tag Archives: poetry

The Dying of the Light

I have just finished eating a miserable, boring and tasteless meal. Low salt baked beans, low fat oven chips and cheap burgers. Even a large spoonful of chilli jam couldn’t bring it to life. This is, I suppose it’s the cost of being healthy.

Not for the first time, I have found myself pondering if life is worth the trouble if you have to extend it unnaturally by eating pap. In fact, after my last few weeks I’ve been asking myself the same question in general, regardless of the quality of my diet.

Even having another haibun published hasn’t cheered me up.  Generally I like to mention my successes in posts, smile modestly and simper a bit whilst feeling mildly smug. This morning I just looked at it, saw all the imperfections and uttered a small sigh.

Click here if you want to read it. But don’t feel you have to, if you are here to hear me moaning about life just read on. For a good poem, click here.

I wonder if Dylan Thomas ever looked at his poems and uttered a small sigh.

Today’s annoyance in the shop was a gas man, who insisted on walking round the shop with a meter, checking for gas leaks. We don’t have any gas leaks. This may be because we don’t have any gas, but we had to have it done anyway in case they were leaking next door.

Tomorrow they will be digging up the road in front of the shop looking for a gas leak. I’m not sure if I mentioned it last time they dug the road up looking for a gas leak. It was about a month ago. There ought to be a rule that if they have to do the job twice they don’t get paid for the first one.

As if that wasn’t bad enough they have just started major gas works, with road closures, on our way to work. The signs say it will take six weeks. It didn’t cause too many problems this morning, but it’s school holidays so things are always easier on the roads. The real test will be in two weeks when the schools go back.

When you’re growing up your parents never tell you about days like this.

The Scone Chronicles – Number 7 – Done as a Haibun

As usual, there is a queue at the cafe in Sainsbury’s at Arnold. The woman behind the counter is working hard but the system is against her. So is the customer she is serving, who can’t make his mind up.

I have two scones – one cheese, one fruit. Julia sticks with a single cheese scone. We select them, then we wait in line. They are small, neat and hexagonal.

Eventually I go to find a table because my knee is playing up.

The first two tables are too dirty to clean by wiping with a paper napkin. The third is passable, but dirty underneath. They have at least four staff and I’m not impressed. I think of writing a stiffly worded letter of complaint but it won’t do any good and the insincere reply will annoy me even more.

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A dirty floor – Sainsbury’s, Arnold

The cheese scone feels hard as I slide the knife in. It is not a light and fluffy scone, though I had expected this from the small and regular shape.

There are specks of visible cheese, and it tastes good.

The fruit scone is moist inside, in a doughy way, rather than a good way. It still tastes good but looks strange in the camera viewfinder.

A slightly doughy fruit scone

A slightly doughy fruit scone

At one time we would have ordered the cream tea but we are getting too old for all the sugar and fat.

evening draws on

the rotund blogger

photographs his food

 

 

The Second Day

It’s the 2nd of January today, and New Years Day seems to have slid by imperceptibly. I’m trying to decide on a new project, though I’m struggling at the moment. I may need to finish my other two projects first, and may even allow myself a rest.

For the moment, as I said yesterday, I’m going to write a few clerihews. They are short, the rhymes are simple and they don’t need to scan. They don’t need nature words either.

I’ve learnt a few things about such projects – one being that poetry requiring nature is probably best written in spring. There’s not much variety in autumn when all you get is leaves going brown, leaves falling off and leaves doing things on the floor. It’s worse in winter – you have twigs and frost. And, so far, we haven’t had much frost this year.

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Sherwood Forest

Another thing is not to see the 1st of January as a starting point for new projects. I’ve been conditioned into starting things on the first day of the year and I bought a diary, with the plan of writing something every day. With the posting and haiku challenges I’m  struggling for time and inspiration. On the other hand, I don’t want to leave the first two weeks of the diary empty.

I’m not expecting too much from the rest of the day as Julia has plans and I’m taking Number One Son to the airport at 4.00 this afternoon, so I’m not going far.

I’m thinking of writing a poem about a man who becomes nothing more than a taxi-driver for his family.

 

 

 

 

 

Fallen at the 26th Hurdle

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

Twenty six days into my hundred day blogging challenge and I fell asleep in front of the TV. That’s not unsual. Unfortunately Julia had gone to bed after a hard day in the Mencap Garden and I slept, undisturbed for several hours.

That took me through until the early hours on Saturday morning, missing my midnight deadline.

Ah well, it’s annoying but it’s a target rather than a deadline. Nothing bad will happen as a result of missing it and I will just potter on. The new target is to do 100 posts in 100 non-consecutive days. I’m on 32 posts in 25 days so far.

The challenge was about self-discipline and regularity and 25 consecutive days isn’t bad compared to the erratic posting I was managing.  It may be a failure in terms of falling short of the target by 75 days, but it shows what can be done and, like all failures, is best seen as a foundation for future success.

This is a huge subject. I’ve seen adults paralysed by the idea of failure. I’m sure it prevents many people being happy and successful. All I do is smile sweetly, apologise and move on to Plan B.

As I may have said, the challenge doesn’t help with the quality of writing. It may help fluency and speed but I’m not sure it helps anything else. I really want to be a writer of posts on important, serious and thought-provoking issues. Instead I’m not sure what I really am, though current possibilities for subjects include waking up with a nosebleed, the poetry of Les Barker and curry for breakfast.

Which reminds me, I’m peckish and there’s a large pot of curry on the stove top.

Time to move on and read a very fine comic poem.

Lack of Sleep and an Accidental Poem

After rising at 4.40 am yesterday I expected to sleep well last night. I didn’t.

First waking at 3am I was up again at 4.30, 5.30 and 7.30. Good bit of planning there – I missed 6.30 and slept through the alarm.

You’d have thought that after 60 years I’d have got the hang of sleeping, but it appears not.

As part of my cruise through poetry I now know that if I add a haiku to this post (and grandiloquently call the post an essay) it becomes a Japanese-style poem called a haibun.

Following on from yesterday’s condensed sonnet I’m going to condense another well known poem into haiku form. I originally tried to condense Daffodils, but it kept trying to turn itself into a Limerick. This one worked better. If I acknowledge a debt to John Keats it will reveal the base poem, even if the first line doesn’t.

mist and fruitfulness

poppies and the cider press

swallows gathering

It even falls into 5-7-5 format, even though I wasn’t aiming for it.

 

And Another Clerihew

When I checked after posting yesterday I still need to use the word canicular in a poem. And yes, I use term loosely – it’s the clerihew again.  Here goes.

George Croydon Marks 

Designed railways for parks

And the famous Saltburn funicular,

which is fun on days canicular

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Clerihew, it’s OK to be bad, in fact it’s almost a feature of the form.

Having said that, this is definitely taking us into William McGonagall territory. Do I dare hope that one day I will be elevated to the status of The Great McGonagall and Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings?

 

A Lack of Undiscovered Places

What happened today? Ate bacon, eggs and sausage, couldn’t park outside the shop, packed parcels, sorted coins and saw customers. Not a bad day but not exactly adventurous. It’s the sort of day that used to get explorers in the mood for travel. Thanks to generations of bored explorers there are now no things left to discover, so I needed something different to do.

I thought I’d try feeding poems into on-line translators and see what happened. I used Tall Nettles by Edward Thomas as it’s quite short and he’s been dead for a hundred years so it’s out of copywright.

TALL nettles cover up, as they have done 
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough 
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone: 
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now. 

This corner of the farmyard I like most: 
As well as any bloom upon a flower 
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost 
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower. 

I translated it into Welsh, because it’s quite a poetic language. Then I translated it back.

TALL BALLS pay for a length, as they have done

these in many wells, the rusty oblique,

the Long digestion curve, and the roller make of stone:

Only the lamb stomach is at the top of the breathe now.

The corner of the yard I like most:

As well as any flowering on a flower

I like the dust of the flame,

never losing exclusion to experience shower mimster.

No, I couldn’t find “mimster” in the dictionary either. Next I tried Italian.

TALL nettles cover, as they did
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plow
Long worn and stone roll:
Only the bottom of the elm is on top of the nettles.

I like this corner of the farm:
As well as any flower on a flower
I like dust on nettles, I’ve never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.

It seems to have stayed closer to the original.

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Nettles in the Woods

 

Then, of course, I had to try Xhosa. For a language that includes a lot of clicks it stayed reasonably close to the original.

RULE is issuing sticks, as it does
These many sources, the riding horse, the farmer
Long term, and stone roller:
Only elm butt elevates fat now.

This farmhouse is my favorite:
Together with any bloom of flowers
I like dust in the ministry, never lost
Besides showing the enjoyment of a couple.

I know what some of you are thinking…

TALL is cut short, as it does
The many creams, the rusty crest, wing
Long-term value and stone:
Communication is too late.

This clogfe bag would like more:
Add any flower to the flower
I love the dust with fat, and I do not lose it
In addition to trying to eat food.

Yes, it’s Welsh, Italian and Xhosa, and no, I can’t find “clogfe” in the dictionary, which is a shame.

So, apart from teaching us to ignore exercises in poetry books, what does this tell us about the nature of poetry?

Let’s be honest – nothing.

It does, however, give a possible insight into the difficult nature of international politics and the role of translators.

And it’s a good argument for keeping computers out of the hands of men with time on their hands.