Category Archives: Posts

Portfolio Poem? (need layout help)

Which reads better: 1 or 2? Thanks.

1.

Rumour Has It That Things Could Be Worse

City hums with secrets held within.
A tourist asks what’s that building
there and I say the Council House,
and it isn’t a lie. But for how long?
Are there plans to change, plans to
strip away the interior and introduce
new components? Soon a learning
curve, educational in nature, they say
the university has bought it up like
a square on the Monopoly board, got
its sticky fingers in too many pies,
is delusional, trying to make this
structure into something it is not.

But it’s just a building, just
an attractive exterior with
chaos and confusion clogging
up in-trays on the inside. This tourist
can take a photograph and label it
‘Coventry City Council House’ on her
hard-drive, but if that building declares
it is something else, something Other,
then is it really any of our damn business
what it looks like on the outside, why are we
so fixated on what its name used to be?
Standing sturdy since 1917, survived the Blitz –
as I’m sure we can survive this.

2.
Rumour Has It That Things Could Be Worse

City hums with secrets held within. A tourist asks what’s that
there and I say the Council House, and it isn’t a lie.
But for how long? Are there plans to change, plans to strip
away the interior and introduce new components?
Soon a learning curve, educational in nature, they say
the university has bought it up like a square on the Monopoly board,
got its sticky fingers in too many pies, is delusional, trying
to make this structure into something it is not.

But it’s just a building, just an attractive exterior with chaos and confusion
clogging up in-trays on the inside. This tourist can take a photograph and label it
‘Coventry City Council House’ on her hard-drive, but if that building declares it is
something else, something Other, then is it really any of our damn business
what it looks like on the outside, why are we so fixated on what its name used to be?
Standing sturdy since 1917, survived the Blitz – as I’m sure we can survive this.

Kavanagh (+2)

Patrick Kavanagh (+2)

Canal Bank Walk
Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal
Pouring redemption for me, that I do
The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal,
Grow with nature again as before I grew.
The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third
Party to the couple kissing on an old seat,
And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word
Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat.
O unworn world enrapture me, encapture me in a web
Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech,
Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib
To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech
For this soul needs to be honoured with a new dress woven
From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.

Lines Written on a Seat
on the Grand Canal, Dublin

‘Erected to the memory of Mrs. Dermot O’Brien’

O commemorate me where there is water,
Canal water, preferably, so stilly
Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother
Commemorate me thus beautifully
Where by a lock niagarously roars
The falls for those who sit in the tremendous silence
Of mid-July. No one will speak in prose
Who finds his way to these Parnassian islands.
A swan goes by head low with many apologies,
Fantastic light looks through the eyes of bridges –
And look! a barge comes bringing from Athy
And other far-flung towns mythologies.
O commemorate me with no hero-courageous
Tomb – just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by.

Raglan Road
On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.

On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion’s pledge,
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay –
O I loved too much and by such and such is happiness thrown away.

I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her the secret sign that’s known
To the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint. I did not stint for I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over fields of May

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should a creature made of clay –
When the angel woos the clay he’d lose his wings at the dawn of day.

Brendan Kennelly

Raglan Lane (for Patrick Kavanagh)
In Raglan Lane, in the gentle rain, I saw dark love again,
Beyond belief, beyond all grief, I felt the ancient pain,
The joyful thrust of holy lust, I stretched on heaven’s floor,
One moment burned what the years had learned and I was wild once more.
The years’ deep cries in her sad eyes became a source of light,
The heavy gloom and sense of doom changed to pure delight.
And as we walked in joy and talked we knew one thing for sure,
That love is blessed togetherness and loneliness is poor.
Then I grew rich with every touch, we loved the whole night long,
Her midnight hair on the pillow there became an angel’s song,
Her happy skin, beyond all sin, was heaven opened wide,
But as the dawn came shyly on, I slept, and she left my side.
Why did she go? I’ll never know, nor will the gentle rain,
Her up and go was a cruel blow, and yet I felt no pain
For I had known her body and soul in my own loving way,
So I lay and thanked the God of love at the dawning of the day.

Brendan Kennelly reads
https://vimeo.com/2002088 Brendan Kennelly reads five poems, ‘Love Cry’, ‘I See You Dancing, Father’, ‘Bread’, ‘Raglan Lane’ and ‘Begin’, from the DVD-book IN PERSON: 30 POETS, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008)

Dermot Healy

‘This is what the sea knows…….’

This is where they come to throw themselves,

Flesh-pebbles down mountainsides

A match in a box tumbling against the cliff,

It falls quietly

Onto the rocks screaming out to sea

Lying amongst crooked bones and ghost-gear

A nest of junk

Not his, not his

The sea has rushed away.

The breaks beat the stones to blackness

But they do not beat him.

He didn’t tumble, he only slid

A nose-dive

Just a lick down the cliff

To keep it sharp.

And now he listens

To another thing that refuses to touch him

The waves are his wife

Pitching slaps

And he can’t turn his face to catch them

Can’t reach out his hand

It’s night

Long and black

And endless like a bell about him

The same bedroom

Where his wife rolls away

A lump, a mattress-pebble

And he wants to cry out now

But the sea says nothing

It only comes washing, washing

The sand into a dull wetness.

It left him there in his wreckage

The metal of his vessel all burst apart

It’d be that that killed him

Crushed his limbs like feathers

It’d be that that killed him

Grinding his face to pulp

The sea only turned away

It carved the cliff, and the curves

Made the stones into teeth

A bristling palisade

The foam swilled between the cavities

Turns the beach into mist wreathed mountaintops

Perhaps he had wanted to fly not sink

When he hurtled off the cliff

When he let go the brake

But now he lies

Nestled in his wreckage

He listens to the waves drum

And retch

And the sounds of the helicopter

As they come to fetch him

This is what the sea knows

Another wreck in a wrecker’s cove

 

Sea’s voice (Plath style violent voice..)

He loves me still that unfished man,

I lapped down into his brother’s throat

Till I dug out his soul between my teeth

It can take hours to sink a boat,

But only minutes to sink a man.

Lungs hold less than rock pools

 

But he loves me still that unfished man,

Feet rooted in the sand, old shingle bells

____________

Blue and black,                                                                                                                                                         The waves skip                                                                                                                                                               and scratch                                                                                                                                                                   across the rocks.

The unfished man watches                                                                                                                                        The boy he pushes away                                                                                                                                                                  that comes back                                                                                                 The man he pushes away                                                                                                                                                              till he sinks.

Touching and untouched                                                                                                                                         That salt lip curl                                                                                                                                                                That free throat cry

Skimming                                                                                                                                                                      Skimmed                                                                                                                                                                              Sunk                                                                                                                                 Skimming       skimmed       sunk

A boy       a man      and nothing        nothing                                                                                      Back to nothing

Untouched                                                                                                                                                  Black and blue                                                                                                                                              The waves lick                                                                                                                                                                      and lisp                                                                                                                                                                                across the sand

Deadness       washing       deadness       dry                                                                                       Wittling it to golden corn                                                                                                                                         The lull between the rush                                                                                                                                        The echo where every lap lives        is a life

Dead faces crashing against the crag                                                                                                                                Unhappy tidemark                                                                                                                     Grave-sludge                                                                                                                                                                                      Ghost-gear                                                                                                                   Drift-tongue                                                                                                                                                               The hair of whales                                                                                                                                                                       The bones of jellyfish                                                                                               Wait for those beached tentacles to slither and loop themselves                                                       A wash       of nooses       waiting                                                                                                                           and that       unfished       man       wishing                                                                                                              that unfished man       scattering his cheek-pearls

the knife of the horizon                  peeling open the treasure of him                                         peeling       open       the treasure of him

Peeling open                                                                                                                                                                  the black and the blue

 

______

 

beached birthed abandoned

Smoothed fetuses built into the keep of sand castles

A husk a concave dish a mermaid’s decency

Parade with puffed chests

Armour shimmering with purple hearts

Swollen bossoms

Cracked by webbed feet

Children’s hands

Wadding dog piss stalks

Towered tide food

 

A castle a keep a fortress

A bucket

A child-sized hole

 

 

 

 

Conceptual poem experiment

Touching Things

1

An envelope
The  door handle
The key
The button
The door
The button
The door
Another door
The button
A door
Another door
A button
Another door
A different envelope
The money
The envelope
Then the key and a door
A button
A door
A door
The handrail on the stairs
The key
The door
The door
The door
Then the money again

2

A card
A door
A chair
A table
A coin
I brushed a palm
They brushed mine
More coins
A glass
A laptop
A book
Words words, no not words
A glass
The cold, no that touches me
A glass
A glass
A toilet

I’m trying to think back
To all those old selves, dead selves
I have shed those touched skins
Pelts that pleased
I am wondering who last brushed this self
That man who kicked my heel getting on the bus?
That khaki shoulder, fur trimmed eskimo that whipped past me?
All wrapped up, insulating their bareness, barrenness
No others no others
I am married to doors and buttons
Wedded to change and plastic
Flesh is only a whisper
A wisp-wisp of currency
No sparks, only crinkled paper
Just dull disc connectors in the circuit of tired faces

I pay for my lack of intimacies

I pay
I pay
no surrender
Empty glass
Door
Button
Door
wait for blackness
wait for silence
wait wait
Door
Button
Door

 

Poem a Day Sample #2

Student ID

Needing a pass
to scan in
and out
of doors
like Broadmoor
prepares us well
for being housed
in the two-
tiered system

of elitist cages
stacked up
all the way
to the heights
of ivory towers.

Not everyone
can get in
this building,

not everyone
belongs.

Sometimes, we
are allowed
visitors.

 

Press Release

as long as
your answer
is outrage(ous)
enough, nobody
will remember
the question

so hold hands
with hysteria
and form a
ring around
the truth
to block it
out

Still I Rise

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/still-i-rise

Hi all,

Since Tuesday was International Women’s Day, I thought of this poem. If you don’t know it (or if you do!) click the link above and then click the button which looks like a megaphone to listen to an audio version (not read by Maya Angelou herself but a beautiful reading).

Deidre mentioned Angelou for strength, and this is one of the strongest poems I’ve heard.

Emily x

Minifesto

As someone whose poetry writing in adult life has been limited almost exclusively to some written during a couple of residential writing workshops, writing a poetic manifesto did not really seem appropriate. Of course one could just say “Ah, sure feck it! i’m making up for lost time” but I haven’t done that.

Anyway here goes.

Wordsworth was all for “emotion reflected in tranquillity”. This may produce better poetry but sometimes one needs to rant and rail against the darkening of the day. And poetry is a good tool for this. In reading it we can see a reflection of what we feel and sense and an articulation of what is, for much of life, incoherent or incomprehensible. Reading poetry can give us a safe space to explore experiences and emotions and become more whole. “A book (especially poetry) must be the axe which smashes the frozen sea within us”. (Kafka)

Poetry gives us a lens in which experience can be magnified, distilled, encapsulated and reflected. Sometimes when reading a good piece of lyric, I am transfixed, trying to decide whether to re-read what I have just read, re-experience its delights or move forward to see what else it can produce. An intensification of experience is a quality I would like poetry I write to have.

Poems don’t have to have great and lofty themes or settings to be great. Kavanagh suggested how Homer created the Iliad our of a local quarrel. Niedecker, a new and delightful discovery for me, reflects both the universal and particular in her Paean to Place. Heaney shows us how truth can be captured in the small moments. Rilke suggests that it is a case of looking properly -“for a long time nothing, and suddenly one has the right eyes.” I would like pieces I write to draw out the insignificant, yet beautiful and give them a moment of visibility:

Dewdrops on an onionskin,

in a compost bin.

Eyes on a world

too small to see.

Poetry can have the function of bearing witness – (a huge debate in itself, and not for today), a vessel for truth. In this it has a social function, enlightening rather than didactic. here Brecht has something to say, in Motto from Bückower Elegien (1953)

“In the dark times

Will there also be singing?

Yes, there will also be singing

about the dark  times.”

In bearing witness, one is looking for truth, for personal authenticity and honest writing. This is a stumbling point for me – facing what is difficult and using it honestly…………….

To misquote Grace Nichols:

I have crossed an ocean,

I have lost my tongue

From the roots of the old one

A new one may spring ” (NIchols…has sprung)