Life is full of tricks
It can seem like magic when you throw a six
But we’re all expecting to perform miracles
And when our favourite sleight of hand or artful dodge fails
One hates being stuck on stage with broken illusions
In front of a crowd that won’t share one’s delusions.
The willing suspension of disbelief
Often results in a kick in the teeth
And, though faith can be a beautiful thing
A mirage seem as good as an oasis
When life’s tricks prove to have no solid basis
The calls we answer can have an awfully hollow ring.
So let life’s wonders amuse you, but be certain
To check out what goes on behind the curtain.
“The Darling Buds of Titchfield” on Monday proved to be a pleasingly relaxed and informal occasion, that allowed me and the two other poets present – Carrie Aaron and Jean Pape – to share our work with a minimum of restrictions or competitive pressure. Jean, the last to be added to the line up, proved a very willing and able reader of her poems, and proved herself a rather more substantial poet than I suspect she realises. Carrie and I also read poems of our own, and were both thrilled to hear our words delivered by actors from TFT – Kevin Fraser himself and Frankie Patterson. That added a new dimension to the work and suggests a wealth of possibilities for future performances. Shakespeare might have cornered the market in poetic drama but an individual poem can have more than one “voice” or character in it, and the thought of their being represented by the voices of different performers is exciting and inspiring.
We hope to fully incorporate poetry into TFT’s already prodigious creative output, with events which may appear regularly to welcome and say farewell to its annual ShakespeareFestival – further celebrating our national poet by providing a splendid platform for modern practitioners of the art
If we’re fortunate and lucky with the weather then TFT’s next poetry event could take place in the magnificent setting of Titchfield’s historic Great Barn, with poems performed by individual poets or actors, or with a supporting cast as appropriate. The aim would be to create an exciting performance with poetry at its heart. Ensuring that such a show would be interesting, varied and entertaining enough to attract a sufficient audience and do justice to all poets involved will take considerable thought and preparation, so any poet who would like to see their work represented should start thinking about how they might contribute, perhaps make some initial contact through this blog, and keep an eye out for future announcements.
The above clip was filmed by Ben Sadler of Juneau projects, in John Hansard Gallery Central on the day of the wrap party for the event “I am the warrior”, an open exhibition devised and designed by Juneau Projects. I also managed to get an interview with Southampton’s local paper, http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/, for an article that should appear this weekend, perhaps today!
This is mainly to publicize this event: https://www.facebook.com/events/151701195002602/ where poets including Carrie Aaron will also be sharing their work.
We’ve had a wonderfully sunny week and hope that an evening of excellent poetry will help to usher in the beautiful summer that we all need to replenish our souls and restore our spirits. In any event, TFT will continue with it’s programme of drama, including the annual Shakespeare festival, and I shall continue promoting myself ruthlessly, and poetry and theatre with almost equal enthusiasm.
I could spend a lifetime
Learning how to sleep with you
So our breathings make a sweet duet
Our arms each finding space to drift
And we hang together comfortably
As if gravity didn’t exist
Peaceful creatures in our night time garden
Sharing warmth and gentle murmurings ad libitum
At liberty to give up wrestling with the cares of the day
And I find my rest, swayed by the monumental beauty of your poor shoulder,
Exchanging precious sleep for a few moments beyond any dream
Until, convinced at last that you’re tranquil and safe
I can stop nagging and trying to read your mind
Sure that love may yet survive even though it’s blind.
As part of this: http://www.hansardgallery.org.uk/event-detail/29-juneau-projects-i-am-the-warrior/ I will be at John Hansard Gallery Central, Civic Centre Road, Southampton this Saturday, April 20th, performing readings of my poetry. Another poetic event, at a very different venue, is being planned for very soon so please look out for it!
More from Sour Grapes
I called my first collection “Sour Grapes” for a reason, and the following poem comes from its third section, entitled “Disillusionment”. Alongside personal defects such as gloom and idleness, I think the sense of anger here comes from the feeling of having one’s “work” defined and imposed upon one by external forces. We all have to struggle to prove our “worth” to society, and that task is particularly onerous to a poet!
It’s true, you know
I observed it quite dispassionately
You loved me less
When I wasn’t working.
I know love is a psychological aberration
Built on moments of joy
But I didn’t realise that it was based
On conceptions of value.
I did want to make you proud
I wanted to be worthy of your love,
I hadn’t realised
I was supposed to earn it.
You thought I should make something of myself
And I wanted to make myself better
Someone you could love, or at least respect.
It seems we both forgot what Christ said:
“I am what I am”,
There’s no use pretending
To be anything else.
On the day I told you
I had got a job
You sang a song
As though I’d recovered
From an unpleasant disease.
Were you happier then
Than when we tried to make love
Or went on that picnic?
I was glad as well,
It meant we had something to talk about.
But my interest in the subject
Of my unexciting job
Is strictly limited;
Surely you also find it dull?
I wish you hadn’t been so glad,
And said something like,
“It’s a shame
You’ll have to spend the day at work
Away from me and nature and your beautiful thoughts”
“At least it’s a start
And better than moping around all day.”
You took it too personally
When I said “I love you”
And naturally thought I was mistaken.
What I meant was
“Today I love the world and all things in it
And I’m glad to share this moment with you.”
If I’d been with someone else
I would perhaps have felt no less radiant,
But I did want and value your company
And then, of course, I made you a giant
To feed my pride.
But the beauty inside all of us,
When it manages to surface,
Is too generous to limit its love to one.
My one ambition
Is to liberate that gold within;
It melts all barriers,
It could free us all.
I was an hour late for work.
One tries to be a little less cynical these days, but we all certainly need to keep working out what the true nature of “work” is and should be.
“In a way I had never quite comprehended before, I realized the role I could play in court and the possibilities before me as a defendant. I was the symbol of justice in the court of the oppressor, the representative of the great ideals of freedom, fairness and democracy in a society that dishonoured those virtues. I realized then and there that I could carry on the fight even in the fortress of the enemy.”
— Mandela, 1994
I know too little about Nelson Mandela
But I do know what he means to me
Something I see in my lifetime as a great achievement of my race
By which I mean the human race
That that brave man with such a kindly face
Who endured his government’s enmity with such dignity and grace
And refused to accept all attempts to deny his humanity
Until he gave a voice and a simple cause to people who could see
That we can have no real progress without equality
Was finally set free
Not just by his own patient endurance
And the loving concern of his brothers and sisters all over the world
But by the better instincts of the very government
That might have chosen to kill him and keep on killing
Yes, Nelson Mandela’s freedom, one small step and a giant leap
The light he shines over his sunshine state
Is still bright enough to help us see our sins and hopes
and find the way to freedom
How happy it is today to recall
That Nelson Mandela is still free and with us all
Let’s not wait for a memorial celebration to recall
That special person’s story and example
Let’s remember that Nelson Mandela is alive today
And work together like he did to find the way
To freedom, fairness and democracy.
Sometimes the noise of a plane passing overhead
Drowns all other sound and kills it dead
At others a quieter aircraft appears unexpectedly, surprisingly near
Narrowly, rapidly pursuing its descending trajectory
Dominating the view from my bedroom window
Igniting a tiny unwanted spark of fear
Will it crash? Will it crash?
None has crashed yet, not round here
Serene and mostly high above they pass and rapidly disappear
Obliviously delivering such highly valued freight
As human beings back from holiday
Or the latest “smart” bombs with their messages of death and hate.
Lovely, aren’t they, and cleverly crafted
Designed so the lucky few may soar above
And feel superior to those far below
Like movie heroes just beating the inevitable wall of flame
Escaping the shocking weather to commandeer their favourite sunny getaway
Hoping that their hearty chuckles, industrial heat and noisy machines
Might be enough to wipe their unforeseen consequences clean
That beautiful desirable laboriously polished surfaces of metal
Will prove impossible to ignore, sweep or burn everything before
Enable them to tick their boxes, hit their targets, achieve their dreams
Demonstrate their righteous superiority
Finally banish any phantom thought remaining
Will it crash? Will it crash?
With a mighty effort we mount the air
Thrilled by the depth into which we might fall
Determined and ready to sacrifice everything to beat hem all
So that we can exercise our right not to care
About the losers huddled beneath the clouds
Through which we cut such an unrelenting path
Leaving a trail of promises broken and wasted resources
Dedicated to the demands of economic forces
Flying away on a ride so thrilling
It’s easy to ignore what we might be killing
And I with my feet on the ground too stolidly
Must pause and lift my eyes once more
To the rapid passing by of those who appear
To have passed the great test of life
While I tut and try to forgive the distraction
And may sometimes reflect that
One doesn’t want to be remembered for having passed
But for having been present
And that any crashing done round here
Is solely into the pillowcase
For the purpose of obtaining peaceful rest
And finding one’s dreams the old fashioned way
Without the terrible need for jet propulsion
Or the nagging stressful sensation of having had to run away
It’s rubbish round here but I’m not going anywhere until it gets better
It’s lovely round here and so are all the people
I live like a tourist so why go touring?
We have arrived at our destination
Trying to deny that would be silly and boring
So instead of flying off in search of escape and anecdotes
Why not dare to share the ultimate adventure
Of trying to have an honest and intelligent conversation?
The men all wilting sadly like unwatered flowers
Too proud to admit that they are starved of sunshine
Going crazy with need, hitting out, messing up
Missing out, clamming up
A pack of baying hounds, fighting old resentments and fears
Damming up their natural generous instincts, saved for one final round
Lost like children at their least appealing
Whining and squabbling to the point of tears
Refusing to accept that the wheel must turn.
Meanwhile the wiser ones endure and quietly prepare
Getting their brightest colours ready
For the inevitable turn of the year,
Will they be kind and charm their limp dick friends to a happier frame of mind
Or lose patience and prove again that the loveliest can be the most fierce?
Ignore your pain and dance little men
Dance for your lives
Enjoy the feast or be served up in it
Accept the sun’s warmth or get burnt by it.
It’s good to lose
Don’t let losing something give you the blues
Enjoy the time you had with it and move on
And most importantly don’t go on and on about it
Shut up and hope it or something similar turns up
Be careful or losing something can be something that burns you up
It’s good to lose
It makes you think about something else
Like how to find the thing you lost, obviously
But failing to find what you considered to be your property
As well as a pain, can be an opportunity
To find something else, if only some new memory
It all gets lost
Everybody dies in the end
They lose you and you lose every friend
Don’t begrudge what they take away with them
Be grateful for what they lend
Wherever they go, your love is something you can send.
If you will not assist you must not resist
Or the chains will have to go on
For it takes heavy rope and cunning bonds
To steer through the lassitudes of winter
You will fall into summer’s torrid seas
Unless my firm hand holds you
Long enough to feel a cooling breeze
These leashes will stop you lashing out
With consequences you will regret
My manacles will keep you beautiful
Your hair’s copper locks bound in gold
Cold grey bracelets cuffing your tender wrists
Sparing us the scuffing of your angry little fists
It’s best for you if you don’t protest
So don’t be scared and don’t turn vicious
These restraints will grant your wishes
Be at peace when your mouth is muffled
And soon our dreams will be fulfilled
The two of us severely exiled
From a world turned cruel and wild
No more anger for you and me
Bondage is our security