Thursday, July 26, 2012

One of those pretty awful poems

On Summer mornings the house can breathe
And though when we open windows wide
The flies arrive and drive their buzzing bodies
Hither thither helter skelter, the house still takes in
Gulps of air, as though in prescience aware of
Long-closed windows come Winter. 
                        The breathing river flows from front to
Back, and cleans the slate of all the un-Spring-cleaned
Detritus.  At least in my mind’s eye that’s how it goes.
A little breeze can sometimes blow and slam the doors,
Rattle windows, fling the curtains, push a toothbrush off the
Sill, drop it into baths (or toilet bowls).

For some reason this poem (written a few years ago) was listed in my files as 'One of those pretty awful poems.'   I'm not sure I entirely agree with myself.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A poet's life

An interesting quote from Matsuo Bashō, on the life of a poet:

In this mortal frame of mine, which is made of a hundred bones and nine orifices, there is something, and this something is called a wind-swept spirit, for lack of a better name, for it is much like a thin drapery that is torn and swept away at the slightest stir of the wind. This something in me took to writing poetry years ago, merely to amuse itself at first, but finally making it its lifelong business. It must be admitted, however, that there were times when it sank into such dejection that it was almost ready to drop its pursuit, or again times when it was so puffed up with pride that it exulted in vain victories over others. Indeed, ever since it began to write poetry, it has never found peace with itself, always wavering between doubts of one kind and another. At one time it wanted to gain security by entering the service of a court, and at another it wished to measure the depth of its ignorance by trying to be a scholar, but it was prevented from either because of its unquenchable love of poetry. The fact is, it knows no other art than the art of writing poetry, and therefore, it hangs on to it more or less blindly.

The extract comes from Journal of a Travel-Worn Satchel (translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa) and quoted in the opening of Jane Hirschfield's book, The Heart of Haiku. 

I perhaps should be grateful that I don't feel that writing poetry is my 'lifelong business', nevertheless I understand Bashō's comments. 

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Remix Mashup poems

Two 'exercise' poems...making poems using the 'rules' from the 'Remix Mashup' in The Exercise Book, edited by Bill Manhire and others. 


Iamb is a poet’s word -
reminds me of I Am:
a God Word.

I am is a phrase I might duck
even though those who know me would say
‘It’ll be good for you,’
going to the height
going to the moment
going to the desire.

If I AM, that McCahon painterly phrase,
is swapped for poetical iamb,
what enclavier will I introduce into the
waddle and monitor of time?

Field Marshal Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby
introduced an enclavier for T H Lawrence,
helped him find himself the man of the
hour, though Allenby unenjoyed that
introduction, that momenting in time.
Did Lawrence repair Allenby?
Book him into the I-Am-bic mystery?

Typing this I think of Lawrence’s
typewriter – the photo’s onFlickr, that
irritatingly misspelt word. 

That I AM word
misspells me.
Iamb is a poet’s word. Reminds me of I Am.
Iamb looks like lamb.


Crawl, walk, drop.
And spell.

When you tell me you
can’t have an opinion
I tell you that’s
blather.  So jump!

Crawl, walk, drop.
And spell.

No, not spell like in the
dictionary.  I thought you were
Are you barking mad?
Have you an unmercifully
cluttered mind?
Is your brain in the proximity of
your shoes?

Your consciousness of shoes makes you
Slurp and scoot. 
How smart is that?

Crawl, walk, drop.
And spell.
Scoot the hell out of here.