Tag Archives: Writing

Black Fly

Black Fly

I am currently haunted, by a tiny black fly.

I am waiting, in vain, for it to die.

You’d think it so easy, to expunge

its tenuous life, in a single lunge;

but it seems to sense my malign intention,

and vanishes, into another dimension.

From whence it emerges, to persecute me,

as I slump, half-asleep, half-watching TV.

 

It comes and goes; its movements so fast.

It often appears on the edge of the glass

I’m drinking from, full of wine, or beer.

I pick the glass up, and it disappears

into a world of dark energy, anti-matter,

where black holes suck up the spray and spatter

of dying planets. A tenebrous world;

the complete obverse of our

brightly-shining universe.

A world of negative truths, or lies;

presided over by the Lord of the Flies.

Because I have a phobia about insects – particularly wasps and bees – I keep all my windows closed, at all times.  Nonetheless, I still get the odd little intruder, penetrating my defences, from time to time.  The most recent one is the tiny black fly of the above poem.  The poem started off describing what had been happening, as a lot of my poems do.  It was only when I got the idea of it disappearing into another dimension – which had to be one of appropriate blackness, of course – that I felt the poem starting to “take off”, and the Lord of the Flies seemed to be a fitting ending.

Just a reminder, in case anyone missed it in my last post: a first collection of my poems, entitled The Bunuel Martini and Other Poems, has recently been published, and is now available as a paperback or e-book from https://www.amazon.co.uk and https://www.lulu.com

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

Bare Walls

Bare Walls

The walls of his rooms are completely bare.

You would think that it must, indeed, be rare

for a person to live within walls so bare.

But he likes it that way; he likes to stare

into the blankness enclosing his lair.

 

His mind is full, but his walls are bare.

His mind can work in the clear, plain air.

His mind can work, infused by his brain,

creating notions inspired and inane.

His mind is full, but his head is bare.

His head holds scarcely a trace of hair.

This poem can, perhaps, be read as a kind of sequel to the poem “Lions and Tigers”, that I published on this blog a few weeks ago.  I was thinking about that poem, which made me start thinking about the subject of “walls” in general.  The next thing I knew, the idea for “Bare Walls” suddenly popped into my head.

And now, some IMPORTANT NEWS FOR FOLLOWERS OF THIS BLOG.  A first collection of my poems has just been published, entitled “The Bunuel Martini and Other Poems”.  It is available as an e-book for Kindle (Price £1.99) and as a paperback book (Price £4.99), and you can get it from https://www.lulu.com and https://www.amazon.co.uk

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

Depression

Depression

A friend of mine once walked

into a greengrocer’s,

to request Russet apples,

of which he was inordinately fond.

 

He was depressed, at the time,

and the depression obviously

affected his diction,

for, on returning home,

and opening the brown paper bag,

he saw a loose gathering

of Brussels sprouts, not

the Russet apples he had requested.

 

He was truly depressed; so depressed

that, instead of expressing outrage

at this blatant affront to his wishes,

he merely uttered a sigh, of resignation;

almost as if he had expected

the brown paper bag to contain

the pungent vegetable, instead

of the sweet-tasting apples.

 

He then, without further ado,

consigned the blameless Brussels sprouts

to the rubbish bin.

Egremont Russet apples (commonly known as “Russet”) are a particularly distinctive British apple, that are only available for a brief period in the autumn.  They have always seemed to me to be redolent of the earth, with their mottled brown and green colouring, and they evoke images of apples painted by Van Gogh (in his earthy “Potato-Eaters” period) and Cezanne.  When you bite into them, the flesh seems soft at first, but is also, somehow, firm and crisp.  The taste is sweet, delicious, and unique.  The incident described in this poem happened a long time ago, but I’ve always found it amusing, and I suddenly thought that, if I recounted the incident very simply, it might just work, as a sort of a poem.

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

Endless Rejection

Despondency

Classical Music, Philosophy,

Art, Science, History,

Literature and Biography

are all grist to my intellectual mill.

 

The problem is, the wheels of my mill

are dulled at the edge, and grind exceeding slow,

producing poems and prose

that no-one wants to know.

 

Week after week, anxious, tense;

week after week, steeped in suspense.

The vain hope my luck will change; this time I won’t fail.

Then the curt dismissal: the rejection email.

 

After so much failure, I cannot respond.

I just sink deeper in my slough of despond.

Readers of this blog over the last few years will be well aware of my struggles and frustrations with getting my poems published in magazines and journals.  Apparently it’s generally accepted that most poets submitting to literary journals will have around a 90% rejection rate.  The only reasonable way of looking at it, I suppose, is to adopt a stoical, philosophical attitude to the rejections, and to rejoice when you get the occasional acceptance.  The problem for me is I find it very difficult to adopt such an attitude, and I still tend to treat each rejection I get as a personal affront.  I was provoked into writing the above poem by the latest rejection, after having built up my hopes, yet again.  I suppose I shall recover, eventually.

3 Comments

Filed under Poetry

The Philosopher and the Spider

The Philosopher and the Spider

The spider was trapped,

under the rim of the urinal.

We don’t know its origin,

or its means of arrival.

 

The spider didn’t know

when it had begun.

The spider didn’t know

when it would end.

The spider hunkered down,

not far from the u-bend.

 

Its daily weather forecast:

intermittent showers, of golden rain.

We don’t know if it felt pleasure;

we don’t know if it felt pain.

We don’t know a spider’s feelings,

or if it even has a brain.

All we can state, for certain, is this:

the spider lived, every day, in showers of piss.

Perhaps, for the spider, this constituted bliss.

 

Every time he needed to take a leak,

the philosopher observed the spider,

over a period of weeks. Should he intervene?

The consequences could be huge,

if he extracted the spider from its daily deluge.

How would it react? He had no idea.

He hesitated, torn between compassion and fear.

 

He did what philosophers do: he thought.

He pondered distinctions between “could” and “ought”.

Having probed the matter, in all its dimensions,

he acted, upon the best of intentions.

 

Two days later, the philosopher hung his head,

when he finally saw where his intervention had led:

the desiccated husk of the spider – dead.

I’ve had a keen interest in philosophy ever since coming across Colin Wilson’s “Beyond the Outsider” in my local public library at the age of sixteen.  It introduced me to Wilson’s “New Existentialism”, awakened my interest in philosophy and the history of ideas, and my life was suddenly transformed.

Unfortunately, philosophy and poetry have turned out to be not the easiest of bed-fellows, whenever I’ve tried to combine the two of them.  When I read about the philosopher Thomas Nagel and his encounter with a spider, however, I thought it might lend itself to poetry, and the above poem is the result.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Old Man and the Ice

The Old Man and the Ice

It’s the confidence that counts, that you won’t slip or slide,

come a complete cropper, land on your backside.

It’s always a gamble, walking on ice;

almost as if you were rolling a dice.

It could be a game, a bit of good fun;

but you need the confidence that belongs to the young.

 

I still remember the old man, on our street.

A harsh winter’s day; snow turning to sleet;

the ice, covering both sides of the street,

a shining, shimmering, endless sheet.

 

I heard cries of fear, went to my window;

looked out, onto the street below.

The old man, who lived further down the street;

stuck, motionless, afraid to move his feet.

Crying out in panic, clinging to the wall;

convinced his next step would lead to a fall.

A frail old man, in freezing cold weather;

trapped, alone, at the end of his tether.

 

Across the street, ignoring his cries,

a group of teenage boys passed by.

With shouts of joy, whoops of merriment,

sliding effortlessly along they went.

The energy, the confidence, the ignorance of youth;

I witnessed an eternal, depressing truth.

 

A sobering scene, in vivid tableau;

I watched it all, from my window.

Today happens to be a gorgeous day of clear blue sky and sunshine, here in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England.  The enticing hints of Spring are somewhat deceptive, however,  as it remains surprisingly chilly, for the time of year.  Nothing like as chilly as it was a few weeks ago, when we had the last of three blasts of wintry weather directly from Siberia – nicknamed The Beast From the East.  It was the first appearance of “The Beast”, back in February, that inspired The Old Man and the Ice.  The actual incident described in the poem happened a couple of years ago.  It made an impact upon me, but I made no attempt to write about it, at that time, and it was only when the brutally cold weather returned in February that I was reminded of the incident.  I always find narrative poems like this quite difficult to do – compressing a lot of information into a brief format – but I hope I’ve finally managed to convey the essence of the situation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

Cognoscenti

Cognoscenti

I started to read poetry.

Some of it made no sense to me;

I could not see how this was poetry.

 

The poetry that made sense to me

had rhythms and imagery;

had meaning, and beauty,

and this came to be

what I thought of as poetry.

 

I started to write poetry;

what I thought of as poetry.

 

The poetry that made no sense to me

was acclaimed, widely,

by the cognoscenti.

 

This was dispiriting for me.

It meant that my own poetry

would, in all probability,

be ignored by the cognoscenti.

 

And so it proved to be.

All aspiring poets, sending their poems off to literary magazines and journals, must get used to receiving rejections.  But there comes a time, when you have periods of endless rejections, and nothing ever seems to be accepted for publication, that the whole business just seems depressing and futile.  I’ve always known that my poems can be seen as “old-fashioned”, in that most of them use conventional rhyme-schemes, and that doesn’t seem to go down well with the editors of poetry magazines these days.  It’s not surprising, then, that most of the poems I submit for publication are invariably rejected.  It does get depressing, but, just when I’m starting to feel really desperate, the occasional acceptance will suddenly come out of the blue, and that’s enough to keep me going.  I started this year feeling optimistic, as usual, only to get rejections from my first two attempts.  What really frustrates me is when new, young poets come along, writing what seems to me to be meaningless gibberish, and they are praised to the skies, go from success to success, and, within a few years, are themselves presiding over literary prizes and awards – all because they are instantly recognised by “the cognoscenti”. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

The Best Way to Cook an Egg?

Perfect Poaching

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

But why would you want to? It seems such a waste,

no matter how good the omelette tastes.

 

An egg, the perfect package, so simple, so neat;

wholesome nutrition, a delight to eat.

But how best to cook it; in so many ways,

the pros, the cons, leave your mind in a haze.

 

To fry, to scramble, to coddle, to boil,

can all be messy, or entail use of oil.

Calorific consequence, excessive fat;

to be avoided, no need for that.

Simple poaching is not free from troubles;

the white can fragment, amidst seething bubbles.

So, how to cook it? Aye, there’s the rub;

but my proposal goes to the nub.

 

Poach perfect eggs, in a poaching pod.

It floats on the water, cooks gently, in steam;

safely delivers the egg of your dreams.

A free gift of nature, from Mother Earth;

another page, in the oeuvre of the oeuf.

Eschew wasteful omelettes, be kind to yourself;

think of the clutter, the calories, your health.

Be at ease with the world, in peace with your God;

poach perfect eggs, in a poaching pod.

I’ve always liked poached eggs – as long as they’re cooked by somebody else.  Whenever I stay at a hotel, I invariably opt for Poached Eggs on Toast for my breakfast.  Yet I’ve always found poaching an egg to be quite a tricky procedure, with the result that, when cooking eggs at home, I usually end up frying them, as a quick and easy option.  I saw a TV programme recently in which eggs were said to have an ingredient that was effective in protecting your eyes against age-related problems such as cataracts – but you had to eat at least six eggs a week, to bring this about.  Inspired by this news, I suddenly became obsessed with finding out the easiest way to poach an egg, with a view to having a poached egg for breakfast every day.  The final outcome of my researches resulted in my purchasing a couple of “Poaching Pods”, which also was the inspiration for the above poem.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

Fish Friday

Fish Friday

What cook worth his salt could contemplate

putting such an array on a plate?

 

A dribble of peas, a pitiful puddle;

his mind must be a mushy muddle.

 

The cod in batter is so dry,

it petitions a tear from my eye.

 

And what can be said of the chips?

Triple-fried? Just read my lips.

 

St. Peter risked life on the seas,

for victuals so different to these.

 

This shrivelled, misshapen cod;

a fist in the face of God.

 

How can I bring myself to eat

this farcical Fish Friday Treat?

Regular followers of this blog will know that I frequently write poems provoked or inspired by food and drink.  Recent examples of this are poems about cherry tomatoes and peach schnapps.  The Song of the Cherry Tomato was intended to celebrate the delicious nature of such miniature tomatoes, and the ease of eating them.  Fish Friday, on the contrary, was provoked by one of the most disappointing meals I’ve ever been served in a restaurant.  I’ve always enjoyed eating fish and chips, and have written poems on the subject before.  There’s something about the connections with fish and the Christian religion, together with the habit of eating fish on a Friday, that tend to generate poetic imagery.  I would have liked to have written in a more celebratory tone, but the food that was offered to me on this occasion was so awful that I was left with no alternative.

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry

The Poem I’ve Rewritten the Most

Airs

 “Airs! Airs! Look! Airs!”
The dumpy woman next to me
tugs my sleeve, insistent.
I must turn in my seat;
try to follow her gaze.

This is a nightmare journey:
trying to travel by train
in England, on a Sunday.
No trains, it transpires,
just this ancient, battered bus,
stuttering through towns, villages;
stopping, incessantly, stopping . . .
Now, it trundles through open countryside.

“Look! Look! Airs!”
What on earth is the woman . . .
Airs? Heirs? Where? . . .
I look. I stare.
Nothing. But wait . . . There!
Stock-still; next second
a pale brown streak
across the shimmering field.
Those ears! Quicksilver motion;
thrilling, so rare . . .

The woman’s eyes shine with delight.
My spirits lift, with sudden insight.

It was back in April 2013 that I completed what was to be the first version of a poem with the title “Airs”.  I went on to post the original version in this blog in February 2014.  Since then, it has undergone innumerable alterations, and I’ve never been completely happy with it; but I think this latest version is probably as near as I’ll come to being satisfied with it.

The genesis of the poem is quite simple.  I was sitting in a crowded bus, travelling through open countryside – it was supposed to be a train journey, but, due to the inefficiency of the train service on Sunday, I found myself on a slow, antiquated bus instead.  The woman sitting next to me suddenly tugged on my arm, and started repeatedly saying the word “Airs!” – that’s what it sounded like, to me, anyway.  It was only after a few minutes of concentrated gazing into the surrounding countryside, trying to follow what the woman was looking at, that I finally realized what she was actually saying – and it’s taken me over four years, trying to express it in a poem.

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry