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Could Do Better

March 15, 2013

It’s my birthday this Saturday and I am of course delighted to have got this far but really, I would’ve hoped to make more progress by now, as a poet, as a man, as an economic unit. Ah well, one does what one can, and the following items may hint at where I’ve been headed in the last decade.

From “Love Poems” (2004)

To a man and especially to a man in love
A woman is like a bird, so delicately poised
So precariously delineated in whatever setting
She has ascribed herself to
She twitters, chats and chuckles like a bird
Her screech is even more affecting, upsetting
And she eyes you like a bird
Warily her gaze explores you and she jerks her head
Taking another look from a completely different point of view.

You find birds in fragrant places
The jungle, a field, a grandmother’s kitchen
But a woman has a fragrance in herself
Especially to a man in love with her
The formula of her characteristic perfume
Is but one element in the composition of the scent
Which marks her trail
Like the objects she has attached memories to
Or given a function in her life
The few battered remnants that’ve shared all her travels.

Of course she is protective of her little nest
Which seems so solid and imposing from the outside
But to her seems only a breath away from the disaster
Which could bring her tumbling down,
That fine structure made of things she found
And just as much of her own sweat and spit.
When you land in it with such an inappropriate bump
Is there any positive aspect to your impact?
Will you make a nice safe spot for her eggs
Or will it be swiftly over the side
With the rest of the day’s dispensables?

Fortunately, I can’t climb trees very often
But I love birds, how they raise my thoughts aloft.

[This was one of a series of 32 line love poems I wrote back in those carefree days, when one wasn’t so bothered by thoughts of rhyme or rhyme schemes, “performance poetry” or site engine optimization.]

The Wisdom of Middle Age

No I’m not gay
I’m just treated that way
As I haven’t made enough women suffer.
While life drips away with increasing rapidity
And I live with the results of my ongoing stupidity
That burden is rough, but facing the mockery is rougher.

What else can you do
When it’s only too true
That your best days have been entirely wasted?
No stud, a dud, my grave one final public expense
Incurred by one with nothing to add to the world’s common sense
I’d little to give, and left too many good things untasted.

[This year’s crop has not been very plentiful so far, but I ask caring readers to be assured that my output generally improves along with the weather, and that what may seem like thoughts of death are just melodramatic posing. This piece rhymes so lots of people will think that’s a good sign!]

I take full responsibility for what may fairly be considered my lack of progress, but the world is also to blame! It’s hard enough to float about trying to be “a poet” and the way the culture is going is no help, as the following laments.

Mad Bard, Dangerous to Know

1. Driven Mad

Once there was a poet, gentle sweet and kind
So those without a poem in them decided
To drive him out of his mind.

They laughed at his art and mocked his belief
Made everything seem tawdry and cheap;
His despair was their only hope of relief.

Could he be so wrong and they be so right?
He asked this every day; their rejection became an obsession
His only escape was to hide away and seek release in the night.

His only true comfort, the love that believed in his art
Was turned into gossip to set them apart
Until he was driven mad by a broken heart.

2. Becomes Bad

Defeated at last, success seeped into him.
Accepted and treated as an amusing case,
He thought only of what he might skim.

They want a clown, he thought, so I’ll become one
Seek meaningless events and live off buffet food
Demand pity while proclaiming art to be fun.

Hurt furtive, snatching what he could
Sensitive, not to the world but only to his pride.
There’s no point, his madness decided, in trying to be good.

His fame grew like a colourful mould
“It’s all about the kids!” he said, licking his lips.
Each chance to be tempted making him more bold, more cold.

3. Dangerous to know

Now he’s respected, but in whispers he’s painted
As rude and mean and absurdly vain
And not to be trusted, his soul’s so tainted,

To be laughed at, if not openly hated
Another case against poetic dreams
One more moral fable to be retailed and related.

He might bite your head off for no reason
He may weep and beg for the price of a drink
Terribly aware he’s near the end of his season,

But this isn’t why he’s dangerous to know
It’s the same old fear, that you might catch his eye
And be taken places you never meant to go.

 

Well, that’s quite enough for another blog post, another year. Who knows what the future will bring? Something good for all of you I hope, as we each endeavour to “keep calm and carry on”.

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From → Critic, Poet, Writer

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