A SUNNY DAY IN HERSELF,
AS BRIGHT AND PRETTY AS AIR,
QUICK WITH LIFE AND TENDER,
SHE LOVED ALL THE WORLD
AND HER NAME WAS JOY.
THE WORLD LOVED HER IN RETURN
AND THE LOVE OF THE WORLD IS A HEAVY WEIGHT,
IT NEARLY SUCKED HER DRY.
JOY THOUGHT SHE BROKE MANY MEN’S HEARTS
THAT HAD BEEN SHATTERED LONG BEFORE –
SHE SIMPLY COULD NOT MEND THEM.
STILL TOO YOUNG TO KNOW HER OWN SOUL
AND CARING FOR THE WORLD AROUND HER
JOY DETERMINED TO CONSOLE THESE HEARTS;
IN THIS WAY WOMEN’S FEELINGS ARE CRUSHED
AND MEN, DREAMING OF RULING THE ROOST,
PLAY WITH DANGEROUS TOYS.
WITH SIMPLE GENEROSITY
JOY PLAYED HER GAMES WITH MANY MEN,
CREATING HOPES SHE COULDN’T SATISFY.
THEY GATHERED ROUND HER LIKE HUNGRY BABES
BUT ALAS, THEY WERE NOT HER CHILDREN
ONLY LOST AND SELFISH MEN.
JOY’S FIRST BEAUTIFUL HOPES WERE CRUSHED
AND HER ANGER GREW AND GREW
UNTIL AT LAST SHE HAD THE STRENGTH TO PROTEST:
“MY HOME IS BEING POISONED
AND TURNED INTO A BATTLE GROUND
BY MEN WHO TRY TO IMPRESS ME
BY RIPPING OUT THEIR HEART
AND LAYING IT IN MY HAND.
I THROW DOWN YOUR BLOODY MEAT!
YOU WON’T MAKE MEAT OF ME.
I HAVE SOME SPACE AROUND ME,
IT SHALL BE CLEAN AND GOOD.
I WILL NOT TOLERATE EVIL, MISERY OR DIRT
THEY SHALL NOT COME NEAR ME,
AND IF YOU LOVE ME
MAKE PEACE AS I HAVE DONE.”
NOW JOY’S BEAUTY WAS HER OWN CREATION
WHEN IT SHOULD HAVE BELONGED TO THE WORLD
BUT SHE WAS STILL LOVELY
BECOMING A PALACE,
ELEGANT AND COLD
NOT HARD TO FIND, EASY TO ADMIRE,
BUT IMPOSSIBLE TO ENTER
WITHOUT FAVOUR, BOLDNESS OR LOW CUNNING.
LUCKY THE FEW WHO DO NOT SEEK SUCH SHELTER
AND BRAVE THE FREEDOM OUTSIDE,
FOR PALACES ARE ONLY KEPT WARM
BY OFFERING UP THE DEAD
AND WHEN THEY CRUMBLE
THEY LEAVE AN EMPTY SPACE.
JOY HAD BUILT HER HOME
BUT AS SOON AS SHE MADE IT SECURE
SHE LOOKED OUTSIDE HER WINDOW
AND SAW THE WORLD WAS MADE OF GLASS.
[The collaboration between John Hansard Gallery and local poets continues and will again once it relocates to Guldhall Square.
My effort in response to this theme was only put on the reserve list but, with five such engaging poets in performance, even I didn’t feel the loss too badly.
nevertheless, for the record, here’s the poem I came up with]:
You Must Read the Signs Correctly
She loved me, I screwed it up
At least that’s how I like to look at it. Nowadays
As one must take responsibility for every aspect of one’s life
Every aspect of life itself, existence and all,
Which is only limited by the limits of our perception;
Your whole life is only that which you can perceive
So the senses must be acute, trained, stimulated, added to if possible
And we like to think that we can learn from what we’ve seen and sensed,
Maybe accept some guidance on occasion from the experience of others
Those who have some special knowledge, training, wisdom, insight, ability, influence
Which we might be able to apply when, inevitably
One goes over those situations in life
That didn’t turn out as one hoped they might.
It’s cheating in a way, of course –
Everything happens at once and only once –
But just in case by some miracle
Or because of the circles we are contained in
By the limits of our perception
We do get a second chance, we want to be ready,
Hope to find some fresh insight so profound
That it might turn a damaging perception around.
So, for example, when I say I love somebody, or any other word
I should always consider what that might mean to them –
To me the natural fulfilment of many a dream
To them an onerous invitation to accept some uncalled for obligation.
I may see love as a beautiful gift
Declare it as an author pronounces his latest truth
While anyone denoted by such a weighty word as love
Must refer to their own understanding of what it entails.
It may mean a lot to me, but in tennis love means nothing
And that is what I find myself served
Though the fault may be mine and the way I keep score.
Where is it, where is that house?
The one you remember being yourself in
The one where the windows seemed haunted
Because when you looked at the world through them you couldn’t care.
The house you could see from miles away
Because that’s where you were always going
To see all the important people there, and all your stuff
Where is it now, that house, did it ever even exist?
Could it really be in that exact same place,
Unchanged but for your not being there?
23rd February, 2010
Sorry my post is late this week, so here’s a film:
https://youtu.be/0pgUznL7L1Y (Thanks to Tony Curtis Movies for sharing this). Good to add this to the Curtis oeuvre, and most of this 1953 film is set in Macao, so it’s interesting to see how that location was perceived by Universal International in those days. It’s hard to see how Philadelphia gets involved in the final vital scenes, but it does.
Sometimes when you feel different you want to be the same
Sometimes when you feel the same you want to be different
Sometimes when you think you’re being different you’re actually being the same
Sometimes when you think you’re being the same you’re actually being quite different
It’s no wonder that when people try to see how you are different
When actually you’re the same
Or try to see you as the same
When you’re actually quite different
It’s no wonder that you seem to feel quite different when actually you feel just the same
Or seem to feel the same when you actually feel differently
Differences arise when you see the same thing in me
To you it looks different to the same thing you see in yourself
Just as things that are actually different seem the same
We are different in the same way
In different ways we are the same
In days of old, a tale was told
The tale of the chocolate fairy
A myth designed to soothe the mind
Of a boy in a garret
Or a maid in a dairy.
If you go to bed, so it was said,
With a piece of chocolate slipped under your pillow
After a night dreaming of all that love might bring
The fairy will melt that special person’s heart
And you will wake to find them saying “hello”.
So, full of belief, after brushing my teeth
I offer my final square or slice of confection
To the magical sprite who I hope just might
Take pity and sympathise
With my attempts to find affection.
Yet, when I open my eyes, to my constant surprise
And more than a little personal pain
Of fairy or love divine there is no sign
No hint of my dream coming true
Nothing but a nasty brown stain.
That’s my clothes hanging out on the line
In the good morning air of Hampshire!
In the cold, damp air of a grey So’ton morn.
Too early for me, but good to see my clothes at least
Get the benefit of the cold, crisp, misty Hampshire air
Knowing that soon the sun will warm and dry
The things I shall wear, along with the air,
The good, clean air of Hampshire!
So, the clothes on the line are happy as ever they shall be,
Dancing freely, in the breezy air of Hampshire!
Happy in their perfect moment (as Robert Browning would say).
And then what? Iron out the jolly wrinkles they’ve been given
By the brisk, brisk, moist air of Hampshire?
So I can wear them to rags with the sweat of my labour
While others strut in their latest duds
In love with the good, healthy air of Hampshire!
Now my line is empty and slack, sad and swinging wildly
At the mercy once again, of the gusts in the air of Hampshire!
But it won’t break or go to waste, this old skipping rope; it’s the only line I have
Where precious things might hang on display proudly
To dry and salute, for all to see, or just for me, and the good air of Hampshire!
What sign can I put on show to add weight to my line?
Some old flag? Dead game? This puppy? That child?
Who wants to swing, in the good clean air of Hampshire!
[Should you spot any grammatical errors in the following, please note them in the comments section below; I think there’s only one!]
I shall, I’m sure
I’m sure I shall, are you?
I’m sure you shan’t be unsure I shall, I shan’t,
But should you be unsure I shall, I’d be surprised, as you should be sure, shouldn’t you?
Should you be unsure, I’m sure I shan’t, as should you.
It’s another wasted effort, a failure, an ever diminishing set of possiblities that point to a grim future, which will continue to be dominated by concerns great and small, crowded out by petty distractions. Such are the thoughts that keep me awake when I attempt to ‘go hard core’ and cope with what passes for total silence when media sources other than television are also switched off, on the rare occasions when that actually happens.
Ah well, baby steps.
Perhaps this experience will help me understand the effect years of resorting to the box has had on my mind. It’s style of presentation – items neatly summarised and repeated so that one needn’t concentrate fully, knowing that there will be regular reminders of the main points, to be superficially absorbed and quickly forgotten without ever being explored – apeals to the need to do other things and remain on the lookout for the latest novelty. This leads to an accumulation of half heard, half understood ‘knowledge’, along with all the propaganda, which, try as one might, will have its insidious effect on the way one views the world.
Too late, I have caught myself giving offence to a dear friend by resorting to a cheap jibe based on a staple of US tv comedy so familiar to me that I assumed an ironic distance from its inherent racism would be applied automatically. It wasn’t, and I don’t doubt that that is just an example of the sort of rubbish I’ve allowed to burrow its way into my brain.