I’ve reached that point. That point I reach. At some stage, in the middle of every large project.
This time, I’m halfway through inputting the first round of line-edits into the Magwitch and Bugrat manuscript. I’ve got to line-edit Father Muerte & the Divine after this, and plot out the synopses of The Sin-Eater’s Lonely Children and The Hall of Small Questions. I’m a long way away from any original writing. A long way from just shoving my face over the keyboard and blatting along, exciting myself as I uncover each new turn of phrase, each new plot point, each new character or narrative twist or (let’s be honest, being me) nob gag I wasn’t expecting.
I’m at the point where thoughts of poetry begin to surface.
I’ve always had an affection for poetry, particularly 20th Century absurdism: I’ve collections from the likes of Spike Milligan, Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten. I grew up with Bruce Dawe and Les Murray when he wasn’t being a right-wing twat. I started out as a poet: my first few sales– University publications, while I was studying– were poems. If I had the talent, and the patience, and the sense of rhythm, I’d probably be a poet. (For the record, my favourite poem is Brian Patten’s Little Johnny’s Confession. You can read it here.)
There’s something about the purity of thought contained in a poem that bubbles its way to the front of my consciousness while I’m slogging through the muddy fields of my longer works, desperately turning over sentences hoping to find one that’s still breathing. Whatever it is, whether it’s just the desire to complete a single, simple work or the unconscious desire to express myself in clear, lyrical lines rather than page after page of sodden description, I find myself itching to push everything aside and rediscover my poetic ambitions.
I shan’t, of course. Not until Magwitch and Bugrat is finished. Then I may indulge in a verse or two to cleanse my palate between my major projects. But, in the meantime, I’m going to indulge myself slightly and post a previous poem here for you all to snigger at.
This one’s called I’ll Keep a Green Lantern Burning. It appeared in Strange Horizons back in 2008.
I’LL KEEP A GREEN LANTERN BURNING
Out in the suburbs on Saturday night
The workaday Batman gets drunk and starts fights
Costume too tight around midriff and ass
The Batmobile running on unleaded gas
Batts has been living out of the back seat
Since Missus Batman threw him into the street
The Batdoor no longer accepts the Batkey
The Batcredit card’s maxed out permanently
The Batkids are staying with BatNan and Pop
The beers keep on coming and no-one says stop
Once a hero to someone, there’s none left to ask,
And failure’s invisible under a mask
But with each tilt of beer glass we see plain old Bruce:
Middle aged; hopes forgotten; expecting abuse
And when the bar’s closed and we’re facing the dawn,
Batman of suburbia passes out on the lawn
If you like that one, head on over to my FB author page, where yesterday I posted another previously-published offering, Working For a Greener Narrative, which first appeared back in ASIM #36, also in 2008. 2008 was a poety kind of year…