It’s day four of National Poetry Writing Month. Not one of my better days. I was doing fine until about 9.15am. Twelve hours later and I’m doing fine again. The intervening hours were a bit of a struggle. Yay, autism! They also contained something very good – taking along a bit of my writing for an exhibition of creative work by local autistic people. Again, Yay, autism!
It’s day four of the month and already I conclude, not for the first time, that I truly have pretty much no understanding of poetry. If I like the way it sounds when I say it I write it down. Apart from that, and some theoretical knowledge of a few poetry forms that I tend to ignore, I don’t understand it.
A confession: On a couple of occasions in the last year I’ve added completely meaningless descriptive language to my poems. A pretty word maybe. Or one that isn’t used much. Perhaps a couple of them strung together. But I’ve intentionally done it in such a way that the adjectives have no relationship whatsoever to the nouns. Invariably if I’ve read those poems it has been the meaningless descriptions that have been wowed at. Rather than the parts that actually made sense to me, the writer.
Yep, I have no understanding at all of what makes a good poem. But sometimes pretty bullshit seems to work! Beauty is, perhaps, in the ear of the listener not in the words or intent of the speaker. It was an experiment. I don’t want to be trying it again. Whatever anyone else may think of it I want my writing to make sense, at least to myself. No florid, torrid, scarlet scented diaspora descriptions. We’re not going to have any more of that.
Like the poet said on Desert Island Discs last year, “Most poetry criticism is crap.” I find great solace in that statement. So onto today’s poem, written in the hours of my head not doing so well. Is it okay? I don’t know. But if I read it aloud in my own voice I find it at least halfway pleasing
Perhaps one day I’ll have some understanding of poetry. For now I can’t do much more than say, “Ooh, I like that,” or “I honestly haven’t got a clue what that’s meant to be.” I’m fortunate that I’m often surrounded by the “Ooh, I like that,” variety of verse.
On the fourth day, God created …
My happiest plan cancelled.
Urgent tasks neglected unstarted.
Then, sadly unavoidable,
Lectured on Noah. How
One Christian Ark is
Slightly less biblical than another.
Restraint. Wisdom. Silent exhaustion
Before entrenched fundamentals.
Rapid escape. Overwhelming noise.
Stood shiver-soaked at bus stop.
Observed another, less fortunate:
A half-eaten, full-ripened strawberry.
Storm puddle drowning.
Oil stains on blushing flesh.
Resigned to her fate and
Settled in placed by
Discarded dirt tissues.
Can’t swim. No protest possible.
Street sweeper torrents, oil rainbows flow
In road canvas abstraction.
She, washed clean in rising rain
Then washed to soiled sewer loss.
One of those urgent tasks of course was to look at the prompts for today. At least I can now cross off “attempt to write some kind of poetry” from the job list. The strawberry part was written at the bus stop in the poetic form of “random WhatsApp message,” while turning my back to any significance in the weather.
The strawberry was lost to view as the downpour worsened. It was like cars being swept away in a Hollywood disaster movie. Except on a smaller scale and with no dramatic music. I could have improvised an epic strawberry soundtrack. Bet I’d have got a seat to myself on the bus had I sung it loudly.