Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man

When I was seventeen I thought I wanted to be a poet. Doesn't everyone? Of course, I discovered that you have to be really very special to stick at it, nurturing the muse over the years. Like John Ahearn. I couldn't write poetry now - my soul is too empty, sucked dry by the years.

Back then I knew I was trying to find something new and different in my writing. I didn't know what it was and I cloaked my ignorance in obscurity. Still, I've been re-reading some of those early poems and I think I made a valiant attempt. They're not much good but I admire my linguistic bravery. Braver then than now, maybe. Here's an example:

There lies latent a past time
in the heavy honey flow of music.....

Against the window
of glass
the snow makes music:
beat hard the harsh drums. Beat these drums upon me.

I have lived a thousand rolling years
long in this room, until now the light
retires under the safe music that
charged high with many violent living leaping colours
struts round the room, precedes
ahead, behind and over to
cloud into me
with easy mobility.

I did not wake this morning you know, yet
all this long time the music that paints
the walls cold grey did
not cease dry-flooding me and moved this
to feel
the steel-sharp stirrings of the
still-dry hidden seeds of being.

Almost almost almost there
through the music
a clean transfusion
into half-formed images
slipping painfully into me through
mixed and broken memories
that cry out of the music.

Ah, but the music burns down down down now
and the
time for
return is
the endless heavy honey flow of music is

Callow or what? That's my photo to prove it. Laugh as much as you like, I won't mind.


  1. Anonymous6:09 pm

    Call me a philistine, most would. I see poetry and art as a very black and white concept. I go with gut reaction, like/dislike, I make my own choices...and I liked this.

    The soul is never empty Pund, it just patiently waits until uyou decide to dip into it again. Get your head and heart in the right place and write something new. You may be surprised!

  2. Daddy6:26 pm

    Wow! Don't stop. Your poetry is scintillating. You should keep writing verse. Your talent is immense, deep, longitudinal. I'm jealous, of course, because I always wanted to write poetry, but discovered, to my arrogance's dismay, that I have no talent.

    Poor me.

  3. You do yourself a disservice. Not callow. I thought it was strong and empassioned - full of youth and vigour. I really liked it.

  4. Handsome devil, too. Bit of a rake, by the look of him.

    You won't hear me laughing, anyway. It takes courage even to read our first efforts, much less show them to others. Many of mine--well, not only don't they scan, most of them don't even parse, and are populated with words like a rush-hour mob, each going in its own direction with no thought for any other, only a single minded desire to get home and start drinking. Here's one from 1966:

    Hally painting life on insect trunk,
    window onto rainyday October trees.

    I hidden halfway in light
    speak invitations of a certain gloom
    you with eye to silence,

    Whew. If that doesn't kill all the fish in the stream, they're safe. Yours, on the other hand, makes sense, and has feeling. If it lacks craft, it has honesty. No shame, Bill.

  5. Thanks, folks, for your kind words, but I think I'll leave the poetry to JTA - he really IS good at it.

    What I will do tho' is try and push the boundaries a bit more with my prose writing, just like I tried to do when I was young. And maybe a little bit of poetry might then creep in too.

  6. Pee ess, as the Minx will say, I can repair that photo--email the highest res file you have.

  7. Er, are you offering to touch me up, JTA?

  8. comment.

  9. Anonymous1:15 pm

    Oi jta, stop nickin' me post scripts, get your own!

    pee pee ess, seems like a reasonable offer Pundy, repairing your crumpled self. I've got a photo that needs something doing to it. Any chance you could remove a couple of hairy warts jta?

  10. Minx, you may send your hairy warts forthwith. I'll do what I can.

    Pee ess: Could someone over there please come collect Mr. Christopher Hitchens? The party's over.