Thursday, 23 October 2014

Quicksilver Trilogy

The theme for the following sequence of poems is taken from an observation on short stories which states that characters are 'from a submerged population group desperately trying to return, to get back, somehow, somewhere.' 

The idea is to show the gradual decline of a person’s unfortunate state of mind as they go through three deteriorating stages.  The first poem shows a factual journey of a few minutes, the second poem an escape into complete fantasy and finally the desperation of someone suffering a complete and catastrophic emotional breakdown.

Waiting for a Lift

A descriptive title chosen for its’ everyday usage and while still being ambiguous I created a mechanical, sing song sound using the rhythm of the phrases to contrast with the panic and emotion of the voice. The idea is to put human qualities on a piece of mechanical equipment and to show the voice in the poem gradually descending into fear, desperation and panic.

A Letter to a Friend (John Wayne's coming for tea)

A descriptive title but not the contents one would usually find in a letter, the idea is that the letter writer has retreated into television weather reports and writes a letter based on this and a rose catalogue. If you happen to read a rose catalogue there are a wealth of fascinating names and descriptions to be found within. 

The tone of the poem is happy, almost euphoric and the form of a letter is designed to make this very personal while at the same time conjuring up colourful pictures and images. I deliberately left out punctuation such as question marks to show the decline of the writer. The initial at the bottom instead of a signature is to leave the writers’ identity anonymous and for the reader to imagine or guess at the author’s personality and identity. True to say and a rather uncomfortable thought is that it could be anyone.


A title chosen from the many different definitions of Mercury which are not usually associated with the human condition. Mercury the planet is hinted at '36 000 miles to the sun', the sense of foreboding associated with the ancient world messenger 'a conductor of souls to the underworld' and the unpredictable qualities of the metallic element are analogous to the subject’s condition.

The reference to mercury, its fluidity and characteristics of equilibrium and balance so missing from the subject was also very important. I tried to contrast the deeper meanings of the element with the mundane every day weather forecast and television themes.

The poem is deliberately dis-jointed and definitions hinted at, provoking the reader into taking different interpretations of the text.

                                                            Waiting for a Lift

A digit extends and stabs the up call

Slowly there’s life in a tired accounts hall

Worn switches send out an order to state

Impatient, 'no time, must hurry, can’t wait'

Shot nerves of steel wind tight round a wheel

'Oh no! late again, this just isn’t real'

Lumbering and shaking a journey to make

'Please! Stop the clock, how long will it take?'

Down the lift goes past clerks grey and bleak

'Finished, no job, it’s the fourth time this week'

'Doors Open' now, a tin voice expounds

Jump  in, press the fourth – no movement, no sound.

A shutdown, a breakdown, it won’t close the door

Too tired, can’t go on, can’t cope any more.

A letter to a friend (John Wayne’s coming for tea)

Dear Evelyn,

Warm wishes,
Ingrid Bergman called today to ask me to her Silver Wedding.
It’s at the Salmon Leap next to the Bridge of Sighs with music by Handel and Dusty
Springfield Singing in the Rain.
I’m going with Emily Gray and Lady Penelope should be a grand affair.
Anyway must dash, John is coming round for tea, you remember John a quiet man
rides horses.

Perpetually Yours



                                     Pendulum like moods at times
Lucid, cool, wilful
more often heavy opaque,
utterly fragile.

Fickle weather, mainly showers coming from the north
with patches of sun light
in between, unpredictable

Thirty six million miles to the light
closest of all the planets, according to National Geographic.

Yet now here in this other place
submerged, suspended, gone wrong.

A messenger of the gods, eloquent, seductive
took me deeper and deeper.
No way back, not yet, not ever.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Man From God Knows Where

Florence M. Wilson
Into our townlan, on a night of snow,
Rode a man from God-knows-where;
None of us bade him stay or go,
Nor deemed him friend, nor damned him foe.
But we stabled his big roan mare:
For in our townlan we're decent folk,
An if he didn't speak, why none of us spoke,
An we sat till the fire burned low.
We're a civil sort in our wee place,
So we made the circle wide
Round Andy Lemon's cheerful blaze,
An wished the man his length o days;
An a good end to his ride,
He smiled in under his slouchy hat
Says he: "There's a bit of a joke in that,
For we ride different ways."
The whiles we smoked we watched him
From his seat fornent the glow,
I nudged Joe Moore, "You wouldn't dare
To ask him who he's for meetin there,
An how far has he got to go?"
But Joe wouldn't dare, nor Wullie Boy Scott,
An he took no drink - neither cold nor hot
This man from God-knows-where.
It was closin time, an late forbye,
When us ones braved the air
I ne'er saw worse, may I live or die,
Than the sleet that night, an I says, says I,
"Ye'll find he's for stoppin there."
But at screich o day, through the gable pane
I watched him spur in the peltin rain,
An I juked from his rovin eye.
Two winters more, then the Trouble Year,
When the best that a man could feel
Was the pike he kept in hidlin's near,
Till the blood o hate an the blood o fear
Would be redder nor rust on the steel.
Us ones quit from mindin the farms
Let them take what we gave wi the weight o our arms,
From Saintfield to Kilkeel.
In the time o the hurry, tho we had no lead
We all of us fought with the rest
An if e'er a one shook like a tremblin reed
None of us gave neither hint nor heed,
Nor even showed we'd guessed.
We men of the North had a word to say,
An we said it then, in our own dour way,
An we spoke as we thought was best.
All Ulster over, the weemen cried
For the standin crops on the lan
Mony's the sweetheart an mony's the bride
Would liefer hae gone till where he died.
An hae murned her lone by her man,
But us ones weathered the thick of it,
An we used to dander along an sit
In Andy's side by side.
What with discourse goin to an fro,
The night would be wearin thin,
Yet never so late when we rose to go
But someone would say: "D'ye mind thon snow,
An the man came wanderin in?"
An we'd be fallin to talk again,
If by chance he was one o them
The man who went like the win
Well, 'twas gettin on past the heat o the year
When I rode to Newtown fair;
I sold as I could - the dealers were near
Only three pounds eight for the Innis steer,
An nothin at all for the mare -
But I met McKee in the throng o the street
Says he, "The grass has grown under our feet
Since they hanged young Warwick here"
An he told me that Boney had promised help
To a man in Dublin town
Says he, "If ye've laid the pike on the shelf,
Ye'd best go home hot-foot by yerself,
An once more take it down."
So by Comber road I trotted the gray
An never cut corn until Killyleagh
Stood plain on the risin groun
For a wheen o days we sat waitin the word
To rise an go at it like men,
But no French ships sailed into Cloughey Bay,
An we heard the black news on a harvest day
That the cause was lost again;
An Joey an me, an Wullie Boy Scott,
We agreed to ourselves we'd as lief as not
Hae been found in the thick o the slain
By Downpatrick Gaol I was bound to fare
On a day I'll remember, faith
For when I came to the prison square
The people were waitin in hundreds there,
An you wouldn't hear stir nor breath
For the sodgers were standin, grim an tall,
Round a scaffold built fornent the wall,
An a man stepped out for death
I was brave an near to the edge o the throng,
Yet I knowed the face again,
An I knowed the set, an I knowed the walk
An the sound of his strange up-country talk,
For he spoke out right an plain
Then he bowed his head to the swingin rope
While I said, "Please God" to his dyin hope
An "Amen" to his dyin prayer.
That the wrong would cease an the right prevail -
For the man that they hanged at Downpatrick Gaol
Was the man from God-knows-where