Saturday, 1 December 2018


Dear friends,

Can it really be autumn already?

Time flies they say and I guess it's true. The endless work of revision and preparation of the back catalogue has continued apace. At least when spare time is scarce there's always something I can do! It's a good and sometimes sobering exercise when one returns to old work. Having been writing for over eight years now I've learned to distance myself from a poem emotionally and analyse the work in the cold light of experience. I don't see this as a negative process at all, being able to disengage has enabled me to deconstruct and improve work that I have previously parked. One learns a trick or two. It is often what you take out that makes a poem.


Where is the punchline? Is it hiding partway through an earlier draft. Will changing the order of the poem improve its impact? Read your work out loud to yourself. Check the flow. Does it work as a performance piece? You are going to take some criticism in life and much can be learned. Be open to what others have to say. Sometimes they will be right, sometimes stick to your guns. Know which is appropriate. I have seen work reach publication and it is clear the poet has not had wise counsel. Sometimes the king has no clothes and needs to be gently told. If any of this gives pause for thought then this post has done its work. The result for both you and your reader will be a much more rewarding and satisfying experience in the long run.

Now for a few poems. Feel free to feed back, I may be able to improve them as a result!



Zeitgeist

Goddess forgive my human frailty

As I kneel before the feet

That once graced a marble plinth.



I accept responsibility for placing you here

Beyond the soiling fingerprints

Of mere supplicant desire.



Worshipping until you outshone

The feeble midday sun

You failed to bless me with increase



Instead visiting my base soul

With a secular disease

And I ceased to be a believer.



Now I return to the shell

My shallowness has left


And cry out your name.



I bring no gifts or sacrifice

Knowing the bridges have been burned

That your immortal back is forever turned.



Amid fading memories of your face
 

With a new reverence for the divine
 

I venerate this sad and ruined place.



Mictecacchuatl's Children


Across a bridge of skulls

The song of lead

A harvest gathered in.



Our altar sags with gifts

A mother agitates

Her rosary of suffering.



The dead feast on marigolds

Cast toothless smiles

On sweets from honeybees.



We dance beneath the stars

As saguaros point the way

Thorns stitch our hearts to memories.



Revenant from the soil

A gila monster

Emerges hissing from its lair



A sidewinder’s tongue

Tastes darkness

In search of sustenance.



Paths of love and loss

Enfold the dead

Mute spines pierce our hands

 

Thoughts of vengeance take flight

Beating bullet riddled wings

Swirl above a roadside shrine.



Flowers for the disappeared

Sag in the midday sun

Stoop to kiss a bleaching photograph.


 
While the unscrupulous feed

Filling their ribs with angel dust

Hungry for a few dollars more.

 
 

Pompeii Cast


Screaming hollow empty person

Twisted, gifted, curséd cast

Blistered skin, Vesuvius victim

Pyroclastic iconoclast.


 
Crawling lover, ash bound body

Eaten by the mountain’s fire

Concrete lungs, gasping, airless

Frozen in time’s tesserae.

 

Miracle


I heard your voice

A disembodied plea

Pregnant with the past

Calling out to me.



Across the tides of time

The realm where beggars chant

For some kind of release

From all the things they aren’t.



I pen these codes lines

Like spiders on a page

Like voices on a breeze

Like all the games we played.



All I have is this

A mirror soul I seek

Loving what you were

Plugging holes in me.



Things can’t be the same

Now you’ve been and gone

Leaving memories

I recall at evensong.



If I believed in God

But half of how I should

He’d open up your heart

Like any lover would.



He’d whisper in your ear

Why you should be with me

Smear mud across your eyes

Until at last, you’d see.

 

The Salting of Carthage


I understand, the light has dawned
 
Cracking across my furrowed brow.
 
See through it all,
                                                                                                                                             Like your empty glass sat next to mine.


I understand the subtle ins and outs,

The beguiling voice you used

In calculated thanks for favours rendered
 
When love was in full bloom.


I understand the meaning of those days

When hope shone bright and new
 
And desire seemed weatherproofed
 
Against the coming storm.


I understand, post thunder, as tears evaporate

And neurons weave saddened thoughts to memories.
 
I understand why the puzzle’s incomplete;

You don’t want the final piece.



Realisation pricks my heart as I ponder wasted years

Understanding is a sharp and two edged sword

Leaving wounds your studied absence daily salts.




Mark Harris has asserted his right under section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Dear friend,

It's spring 2018 and time to move forwards. Much has changed since my last post and now it is time to concentrate on writing. The decks are cleared and I'm ready to go. As I look out of the window I can see the early signs of spring. A few small flowers have appeared, the birds are singing again after the long winter months and the first buds are beginning to unfurl. The winter wasn't wasted and although time was a very limited commodity I took the opportunity to revisit and improve old poems and prepare for a new season.

A little time spent writing each day pays dividends in the end. If you think of a good line write it down and it will be there for you later. Springtime is a simile for new beginnings, for new life. I've been fortunate to find a new poetry group - Poetry Plus - and am making new connections.  I've been able to resume regular performances. Now it is time for new material drawing on those lines I saved when life was too crowded with other more urgent things that had to take priority.

Are you looking for a new stimulus to writing? Do you need to make new connections or revisit old work with a fresh perspective? Have you banked up lines and ideas to draw on going forwards? Are there new directions you can take your writing? Now is the time to get going on those ideas you set aside. Your perspective is unique, write about your life, how you see things. I'm am positive the greater the investment the greater the return. I sincerely wish you every success in 2018!


Kernel


Fluttering against the glass

Still he beats his wings

After long and fallow years

On the outside looking in



A lonely, frightened mocking bird

With gold dust on his tongue

Carrying the burden

Of an imagined Midas touch



So much to say, so little time

He would sing for you

Bring precious stones, a holly wreath

Things borrowed, old and blue



It’s cold out on the margins

The brittle edge of time

In deepest dark the brightest stars

Gleam in solitude divine



Within this darkest hour

A kernel only night can bring

He awaits the cusp of sunrise

When he’ll catch your eye and sing



Decades
 

I saw you playing

In the forest

Amid sunbeams and flowers

Dancing shafts of light



I tried to touch you

Reach out and touch you

But you faded away

Into memories.


I heard you laughing

Somewhere amongst the trees

And tried to catch your words

As they passed on the breeze



I tried to listen to you

Really listen to you

But you faded away

Into silence.



I watched the seasons turn

Leaves redden and fall

Like myriad lips

Kissing the soil



I gleaned the bones

Of the forest by night

Searching for footprints

Amid moonbeams.



When spring returns

To the sleeping trees

Bringing birdsong and flowers

Dancing shafts of light



I’ll try to find you

Reach out and touch you

Fill the years that remain

With new life.



Schwere Arbeit


Time passes slowly in this place

Minutes are not of the same duration

The enjoyable ones fly by more quickly.



I stare at the clock and the hands distort

Slowly, Dali like, it loses form

Slipping down the wall leaving a snail like trail.



Trial by time and torture by telephone

With its umbilical cord

Waiting to give birth to some new complaint;

“I’ve been given your number to call when someone dies”.



Machinery whirs, faintly humming

An electronic ode to the passing day.

I insulate myself like an electrical cable

Mustn’t make the mistake of listening to the



Interminable tap-tap-taping of the lesser-spotted keyboard

Clicking like crickets in the long grass

Clickety-clack, clickety-clack


One mating board calls to another

Marking out territories on veneered desks.

You don’t fool me!

No tree has a grain so symmetrical.



Grains falling through the ether like

Sand falling through an egg timer

The egg a symbol of life

Especially at this time of year
 

Pregnant with promise as

The trees outside celebrate in the sunshine.

Spring arrives in a vivid burst of fragrance and colour

Which the dark little mushrooms in here can see but cannot feel.
 

 
Japan

In a different way of looking at things, it is the moment of sublime perfection

 
When beauty stretches its fragile fingers as cherry blossom fronds.

 
That instant is the one to die, the passing in itself a supreme majesty.


 
Nothing is permanent and they know this, with their ancient wisdom.

 
They celebrate the moment that the blossoms fall, fluttering down

 
To settle on the water, thin pink droplets like fragrant tears.


I shed myself the same for you. Lay upon your still waters for a moment

 
Passing a torrent of myself, like blossom, through a needle gate.

 
That instant is the one to die, the passing in itself a supreme majesty.
 
 

 
Exquisite Seam
 
I am told these scriptures come from beyond the self
That the ebb and flow of productive thought must end
That one cannot continue to delve into the self ad infinitum.
Yet I find the deeper I dig the richer the vein becomes, until I hit pure gold.
Pure gold is your smile and every thought I have of your exquisite beauty.

 
 
Au printemps à la salle d'attente

Spring spreads its wings
Outside the waiting room
Icicles dissolve
People thaw out
And unfurl their arms
Remembering what it’s like
To live and love.

The sky clears its throat
And coughs out clouds
Daffodils erupt
Through broken soil
As trains ply to and fro
Spitting out passengers
Engulfing waifs and strays.

Spring illuminates the fields
Empty minutes pass
The hour glass
Re-fills itself with sand.
Sunlight pierces the realm
Of battered dreams
And promises warmth
A train, a life to catch.
 




                                                                                                      







Saturday, 18 February 2017

Dear friend,

Since my last blog update a lot has been happening in life in general and poetical terms.

I must begin by paying tribute to the late Leonard Cohen, simply the most important male poet in my personal pantheon of greatness. Amongst his many works Cohen's "Book of Longing" has probably inspired me more than any other piece.
I cannot overstate its importance to me.

Closer to home I'm nearing the end of my degree course and will be able to turn my full attention to creative writing after June 6th. Its been six long years to get to this point and I feel a mix of excitement and tiredness, the last lap seems to be the hardest one! Despite the inevitable demands on my free time (I'm doing the degree on top of a full time job), I have been able to finally complete Jackalope, a project of ninety poems, dealing with transition and change, appropriate as we are in the early part of 2017 a time of transition and unease for many.  There is also another idea for a project in the pipeline but it's early days yet, more will follow as the year unfolds!

The best thing I can do at this point, rather than wittering on, is to share a few pieces from Jackalope. As ever, I hope you enjoy them.

Precious Memories

I know I will forget your face
Although fighting

The thief called time
Every inch of the way.

Binding precious memories
With cords around my heart

I’ll treasure them happily
Until the passing years betray

And you drift just out of reach
Becoming a beautiful dream
Warm, fuzzy, indistinct...


Maple Leaves

She loosened the band and her hair fell
Like a red waterfall
Like fire tumbling over her shoulders


And in that moment my heart ran free
Through ancient forests
Through carpets of fallen leaves

She loosened the band and her hair fell
Unfettered across the curve of her neck

And she flicked her head
Her fiery hair describing an arc
Like an autumnal goddess

Her hair, red as a maple leaf
Promising the open skies of the wilderness
Her eyes as deep as the forest

She loosened the band and her hair fell
Wild and untamed
And I raised my head and howled to the moon


Kernel

Fluttering against the glass
Still he beats his wings
After long and fallow years...
On the outside looking in


A lonely, frightened mocking bird
With gold dust on his tongue
Carrying the burden
Of an imagined Midas touch

So much to say, so little time
He would sing for you
Bring precious stones, a holly wreath
Things borrowed, old and blue

It’s cold out on the margins
The brittle edge of time
In deepest dark the brightest stars
Gleam in solitude divine

Within this darkest hour
A kernel only night can bring
He awaits the cusp of sunrise
When he’ll catch your eye and sing


Celestial Fall

I wished upon a shooting star
In its celestial fall
Hoped my love would unlock you...
Prayers provide the key


My heart burned in solitude
As it arced across your sky
Although worn upon these sleeves of mine
You never batted eye

Love burned brightly for a season
Now darkness has returned
Silence blankets everything
All trace of where we were.


All the Things

All the things I’d written for you
A final touch, a careless stroke
And everything is lost


A screen full of emptiness remains
Lilly white, like my coward’s heart
Pierced on a crown of words.

Irretrievable sentiments
Brimming with all the things
I never had the strength to say.


Au printemps à la salle d'attente

Spring spreads its wings
Outside the waiting room
Icicles dissolve...
People thaw out
And unfurl their arms
Remembering what it’s like
To live and love.


The sky clears its throat
And coughs out clouds
Daffodils erupt
Through broken soil
As trains ply to and fro
Spitting out passengers
Engulfing waifs and strays.

Spring illuminates the fields
Empty minutes pass
The hour glass
Re-fills itself with sand.
Sunlight pierces the realm
Of battered dreams
And promises warmth
A train, a life to catch.


Flight of a Swallow

Same place, different season
Times unchanging flow
A bitter wind...
Investigates our weakness.


From right to left
The grey sky cracks
Across this frozen place
The land that time forgot.

People perch
On battered stools
Perfectly preserved
Recovering
From peace on earth
And mercy mild.

Who would think
A swallow flying up
From deepest Africa
Could make its home here
Beneath the eaves
A few short months from now?


Cities of Glass

A silent flash
Announces the fall
Of a star to earth


The power of the sun
Boils rivers dry
Sucks life into the void

Possesses souls
Fuses thoughts to glass
Leaves only shadows on the walls


The Beating Heart Metaphor

Here I spoke ...
Heartfelt words
A brief confession
How I wished things could be.


Here I gazed
At a foreign shore
And a distant smile
Through rose tinted hours.

Here I unfurled myself
And tried to fill
An empty space
On an inner sea.

Here surf broke
Over expectation
As I battled the tide
And dared to dream.

Here ozone scents
Mixed with rain
As hope departed
In lamentation.

Here a seagull mourns
As sunlight fades
And footprints concede
To callous waves


Drink Dissection

The body curio
Tilts its head
And swallows...
Wondering how

The sectioned muscles
Would appear
In an exhibition
Or a glass jar
For all to see.

The pen moves faster
Ink unravels
Scaring the page
With spider trails
And amputations.


Mark Harris has asserted his right under

Section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

To be identified as the author of this work.