A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Pre-Spring Cleaning

We are having a massive sort out, shake down and declutter. A splurge of a purge, in fact. All those dusty old boxes and airless cupboards are throwing up all kinds of things. A cache of my late-teenage poems, for instance. Most are embarrassingly über-romantic, but some perhaps show a sliver of promise. Dare I re-evoke my oh-so-sensitive and solipsistic teenage years by reading them? I laugh and cry . . .

I Made the Grade

With banner high
I made the grade
While in my heart
Confusion made
Redemption reel
Salvation sway
Temptation tempting
Day by day
Corruption called
And Satan stayed
But never mind
I made the grade

Buried Deep in Your Work

Buried deep in your work
you are inaccessible to me.
I lie at your feet like a book
discarded for the moment
to be used later. Now time
is paragraphed and space
comes in pages. Distracted
you look right through me
and into your mind, feeling
for a certain mot juste
at the tip of your tongue.
Your tongue is small
and pink. Enraptured by your
tongue, I turn over a new leaf.
I can be inaccessible too.
But no, not now, for you
are far away, beyond me,
in a world of capital letters
and full stops. My cold hand
on your leg surprises you.

Newcastle Blues

Among the scattered debris
of Newcastle, I sought you
in bars and telephone kiosks
and cinema queues.

Round the block and up
Northumberland Street — a dozen
faces were yours
but they looked right through me
into the next pub, seeking
their lovers, waiting under
a neon-lit sign: Newcastle Brown Ale.

In a narrow cul-de-sac
I saw an old man in a dirty
raincoat, shuffling among
orange peel, paper bags, tin cans,
picking up the tin cans.

The girl in green by the bookstall
had long cigarettes and a patent leather
handbag. A big red bus ran over
her reflection on the road before
the station which received me
like a grave —
lonely, empty as a paper bag,
hollow as a tin can, unreal,
head full of orange peel.


A hearty slapping of backs
and a wobbling of jowls:
in a real library situation . . .
some croak like frogs;
user satisfaction . . . automation . . .
others cluck like fowls.

Cigar smoke in the air, ash on the floor.
Is this a farmyard or a conference?
You talk with practised competence,
raiding, with ease, the store
of well-known words and phrases.
But your words are numbered;
already you work no more.
You can relax, take stock,
able to read at last . . .

The future is an open book, they say,
though lives, like books, have ends.
You gaggle of retired librarians!


Larch tree ship:
Moon-anchored in a 
Midnight sea.


Anonymous said...

I have a memory of being invited to read some of those poems (though not the particular ones you've posted here) when they were hot off the press.

I'd be quite chuffed if I'd written Buried Deep in your Work and Newcastle Blues back then. (Shades of Brian Patten?)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Quite impressive I think Robert. Reading one's own work years later always brings back mixed feelings but I think you can be justly proud of these.

Ruth said...

I agree, these are impressive. Full of vibrant images, which so many teen poems do not have! And so "embryonic Robert"!

George said...

Quite impressive, Robert. It's clear that your were an early bloomer, rather than a late bloomer.

am said...

So much more than a sliver of promise in the early days of your creative life, Robert. Thank you for posting these splendid poems and for sharing your ongoing creativity here!

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks all five of you for reading and for your appreciative comments!

It's a strange feeling to re-enter the mind of one's youth — a place of great extremes, of unbridled passion and magnificent despair.

am said...

"It's a strange feeling to re-enter the mind of one's youth — a place of great extremes, of unbridled passion and magnificent despair."

So true and well spoken. Coincidentally, I just listened to this:


Around 1:27, Johnny Cash begins to talk about revisiting an earlier time in his life through the songs he sang then and finding renewal through that process.

The Solitary Walker said...

I love Johnny Cash, as you know, Amanda. Specially the later persona. Yes, revisiting can lead to renewal.
Thanks for this!