Monthly Archives: January 2015

Bath Time Reading – Again



You read the great verses, in the bath;
an improving way to sustain a soak.
Two wonderful poems by Philip Levine.*
How does he do it? So much emotion,
profundity, in such plain, simple lines?
He writes about his sister, his brother.
You’d love to write about your brother:
how he looked after your mother
for all those years, while you frittered away
your life, dreaming of writing masterpieces.
How she died, and left a void, into which
he fell.  How he is still bravely clambering
out of it.  But how can you write about him,
while he’s alive?  And he’s several years
younger than you. . .
You’d love to write about your sole
surviving uncle.  Just how and why
he is The Most Irritating Man in The World.
The eccentricities, peculiarities;
the leech-like existence.  But how can you
write about him, while he’s alive?  He’s well
into his eighties, but you just know he’ll
outlive you, out of sheer, malign perversity. . .
So, here you are, the first weeks of January;
a new year beginning.  Here you are,
still frittering your life away, dreaming
of writing like Philip Levine.  Yes, here you are:
a man who writes poems about
a man who reads poems, in the bath.


  • * “Listen Carefully” and “What Work Is” by Philip Levine.

Followers of this blog will be familiar with my habit of reading anthologies of poetry whilst relaxing in a warm bath.  They will also be aware of how this led to me writing a sequence of seven poems, all entitled “The Great Verses”.  Although the sequence could have continued indefinitely, I decided to bring it to an end, towards the end of last year.  “You Read The Great Verses” is a new poem, intended to stand alone, although it obviously has a tangential relationship to the sequence of seven poems.  It is partly a tribute to the American poet Philip Levine, and fans of his work may notice a similarity of style.  This is deliberate, on my part, reflecting the fact that the man in the poem is “. . . dreaming of writing like Philip Levine”.





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All is Dust


Down comes the dust,
on the good and the bad.
Down comes the dust,
on the happy and sad.

Negating, erasing,
as it does, as it must.
Endlessly falling,
down comes the dust.

You flail, you struggle,
when weak, when strong.
Stubborn, determined,
fighting, life-long.

Hoping, praying
you might just
leave some imprint,
in this world of dust.

But effort, unceasing,
cannot avail.
The dust, defeating;
you fumble, you fail.

You argue, you question;
why is it thus?
In silent seething,
and windless rush,
the question unanswered,
down comes the dust.

Apologies for posting the above poem at this particular time of year.  Readers might, justifiably, expect something optimistic, even joyful, for the beginning of a new year.  I don’t even have the excuse of publishing a newly-written poem that simply insists on seeing the light of day, as “All is Dust” is a revised version of a poem I wrote quite a while ago.  I must admit that – like most people, I assume – I have spent the last couple of weeks away from my usual haunts, celebrating Christmas and the New Year with family, friends and relatives, and inspiration for the writing of poems has been sorely lacking.  Casting around for something appropriate to post in the blog, I suddenly realised that one of the images associated with “All is Dust” could be that of an hourglass, with sand sifting slowly from one level to another.  In that sense, then, the poem could be relating to the passing of time; one year ending, as the new one begins. . .

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