I’M A POET, AND I WAS NOT AWARE OF THE FACT.

There are all sorts of ways authors deal with a block, or a fallow period. One of these days, I’ll post a 5 for Friday listing some of the ways I kickstart my writing efforts.

But something I do on a somewhat-irregular basis is to dive into my archives, and re-examine some completed works with an eye to getting them onto the treadmill. After completing a poem recently, I found them time tonight to do just that, unearthing eight poems completed over the last 12 months that had been waiting for a night like tonight.

I am an occasional poet, but it means a lot to me: my first sales were poems, way back in the late 80s and early 90s, before Real Life ™ got in the way and took me away from serious writing for too many wasted years.

So, as of tonight, the following titles are completed and out in the world, and if the Universe is a just and giving endless saddled-shaped veil of beige nothingness (seriously, look it up), then I’ll celebrate the success of:

  • Hart Crane, Treading Water
  • Transubstantiation
  • Like a Leaf Falling
  • Wish Fulfillment
  • I Can Smile
  • What Good is the Day?
  • Seer Like a Stonemason
  • There is No Owner’s Manual

AND ONE OF MY OWN

And, for balance, one of my own.

I started out life as a poet: my first ever sale was a poem, to a University magazine, and over the years, I’ve published at the length far too infrequently. Good poetry is hard, and I am, far too often, far too lazy to craft and mould a good poem from its initial frenzy of wordplay. I’ve sold less than a dozen over the 15 years of my professional career, which always feels like a lack on my part: I always wish I could write more, and better.

Poetry, to me, is a proving ground of vocabulary, wit, and rhythm. I hit those scales too rarely for my liking.

Working for a Greener Narrative is one of those times. It appeared in Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine issue 36, back in September 2008. Enjoy.

Working for a Greener Narrative

Every time you say you don’t believe in fairies, a fairy dies.
Therefore, by Disney’s Law of the Conservation of Narrative,
If you say you do believe in them…

I believe in fairies,

pirates, honest politicians, dinosaurs, God, atomic monsters, the division of Church and State, yetis, a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, angels, vampires, Nessie, aliens, the Green Man, terror birds, Prestor John, serial killers, the Midgard serpent, zeppelins, children as the representatives of our future, and Daleks.

But I need to find two hundred and forty nine other true believers

Before I can set up viable breeding colonies.




WORLD POETRY DAY

Today is World Poetry Day, a UNESCO initiative to support linguistic diversity and promote the use of poetry to give native and endangered languages the chance to be heard within their own communities. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to highlight the lyrical beauty of poetry, and its ability to articulate an image, theme, or emotion within a compressed, heightened, narrative structure.

And to read poems. Because, frankly, poetry rocks.

So, in the interests of sharing the love, find herein attached my favourite poem, Little Johnny’s Confession, from the brilliant Mersey poet Brian Patten, from his collection of the same name.

Little Johnny’s Confession

by Brian Patten


This morning

being rather young and foolish
I borrowed a machine gun my father
had left hidden since the war, went out,
and eliminated a number of small enemies.


Since then I have not returned home.


This morning

swarms of police with tracker dogs
wander about the city
with my description printed
on their minds, asking:
‘Have you seen him?
He is seven years old,
likes Pluto, Mighty Mouse
and Biffo the Bear,
have you seen him, anywhere?’


This morning

sitting alone in a strange playground
muttering you’ve blundered, you’ve blundered
over and over to myself
I work out my next move
but cannot move.


The tracker dogs will sniff me out.
They have my lollypops.








So: what’s your favourite poem, and where can it be found?

A LITTLE LATE-NIGHT POETRY FOR THE HELL OF IT

So I’m taking over an hour of the Rockingham Writers Centre Tuesday Night writing group this week to throw some poetry exercises about, and to get people warmed up I’ve asked group members to write a poem starting “What good is a day…”
It’s rough as guts, very much a first draft; there are edits for rhythm and to make each stanza correspond to the sentence infrastructure of the first, BUT here, at least, is my effort:
What good is a day that ends in apocalypse?
What good is a day without you?
What good is the end of the world with no witnesses?
What good is a singular view?
Where is the sound of the rapture inside of us?
Where do our souls re-align?
Where can I go when you’ve risen away from me?
Where do I look for a sign?
How did the horsemen ride into our love affair?
How did the bed grow so wide?
How do the oceans not swallow the continents?
How many times have we lied?
Where are the angels to carry us to our rest?
Where are the wrong and the right?
Where are the chariots bringing the sun to us?
Where are you sleeping tonight?
What good is the life that creates an apocalypse?
What good a life without you?
What good in the end of a love with no consequence?
What good can I ever do?

LET’S HAVE FUN WITH HAIKU FAIL 2013!

Amidst all the kerfuffle, I failed to notice that results had been posted for the 2013 City of Perth Library haiku competition, and I managed to avoid the ignominy of actually winning anything with any of my entries.

So, for posterity and your education adn amusement, I present you with my five failed entries:

silver-bladed leaf
etched in deep-devoted words
edges drip in red



forced restructuring
empty bed and meals for one
micro-managed loss



infomercial dreams
extruded mental products
sponsored by McSleep



neon dinosaur
confused, abandoned, alone
shadowed night attacks



grey half-life faces
earthbound plastic consciousness
collapsible minds




Ah, well. Back to trying to make my fortune from short stories and late night Baldur’s Gate playing sessions….

DELICACY, ETHEREALITY, THE BUTTERFLY WINGS OF THE SOUL

As part of Connor’s home-schooling I’ve been teaching him haiku. It’s a wonderful way to learn imagery and active language, and to teach him to consider the weight of a word before using it: when space is limited, everything has to count.

His first few efforts were simple things, but yesterday, sitting in the library at Murdoch University where we were using my rostered day off to indulge in a home schooling day trip, he cracked the active-language barrier, and gave me this one:

Bony flaming wings
slaughtering humans for food
Fire-breathing reptile.

The delicacy of thought, with the bloodthirsty gusto of the 8 year old. What’s not to love?