There is a certain expectation of what #poetry is.
In my post on V-effect I offered this grappling definition,
"In essence it should be a vacuum that by use of rhythm, and possibly rhyme, creates the space onto which the imagery is punched. There is a certain soporific quality to it. The problem is that often this is interpreted as niceness - both in the literal sense and it's kitschy common usage."
Perhaps another definition would be, you know what it is when you see it or hear it.
Anyone who has ever sat down to write a poem - as opposed to sat on a bus or a train and composed a poem to pass the time - will know that dreaded moment when the pen hits the paper. The opening of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor sound in your head, and out it comes. The poem will either finish you, or you will finish it. Words start appearing that you would never use in common speech. And in the worst of cases, you will create a work of art; something deep and profound, unalterable, impassive, monumental; and akin to a crucifix in a jar of urine.
I shall climb down off my high horse.
Occasionally, the organ in you head will sound out those heavy chords, and the opening line will not be to a poem. It will just be a line. It will sit on a scrap of paper, or in your notepad, sometime for weeks, or months, or minutes.
And thus it is with the line, 'The sun sits high past the noontime,'.
At the time I was writing a short film about a man who tells his girlfriend he is a rapist because he doesn't want her to find out he is a tranny. She knows he is lying, but thinks he has told her his big secret because he is having an affair. So when she goes to his house and catches glimpses of a woman, she breaks in, and.... well, I'm really sure what happens after that, as I didn't finish it.
Instead, I gazed out of the window, looked at the summer day, doodled the line, made a cup of tea, made another attempt at rewriting my version of the Bacchae, had another cup of tea, this time with a biscuit, played spider solitaire, had a bath, and generally bidjed about.
Later the line found me again, and for whatever reason transported me back to the 1970's, and those glorious hot summers of 1975 and 76. 'I know,' I thought, 'I'll write something about my childhood.'
Which brings us to, The Rabbit God.
The Rabbit God
The sun sits high past the noontime,
the flat land, new mown,
ambles away to the river.
And, in the last field before the railway lines
I lean against the stake of the barbed wire fence
and watch rabbits.
The year before the roadsides had been littered
with the blinded debris of mixi.
He is two months younger than I;
taller, more willing to fight,
though maybe my equal in strength.
We have just had a wheelie competition,
in the dust of the abandoned road,
which runs arrow straight over the crossing.
Our brown-berry legs,
in short trousers,
carry the scars of play,
in these dying days of the summer holiday.
He tells me to wait outside,
I kick stones:
he re-appears with the gun.
I am nervous.
He tells me it is fine,
that his parents won't mind.
And, anyway, they are both at work.
The gun is nearly as tall as me.
And as he pulls the trigger,
it nearly knocks him backwards:
though he says it is only a 4/10,
and he's fired bigger.
The rabbit looks shocked.
One moment it was chasing its friend's tail
the next it is moving sideways,
then looping into the air.
The field which moments earlier
had been dotted with grey dancing,
lies fallow and still
a sea of watching eyes.
It is larger than I imagine.
'A female,' he tells me, laughing,
squeezing the guts,
gushing out a yellow stream.
I tell him to stop,
but he says you have to do it.
He breaks the gun, and casually carries it on the hip
holding the now cleaned doe
by the ears.
The last time I was in this garden,
we used a catapult
to test the parachute of his Action Man.
And, I think of this
as he slits the rabbit from pelvis to neck.
The torn flesh and purple innards
force me to retreat to the corner of the house.
When I peer around the wall,
in response to his urging,
I see his fingers enter the cut,
hook the skin,
pull the hind legs back:
with a deft cracking of bones.
It comes off in one piece:
the skin from the meat,
like the sound of a wet sandcastle being turned out.
That the poem occurred at all is somewhat surprising, as in the period it was written I was doing the performance circuit. And this has none of the jokes, firecrackers, knowing asides, that play well when performing. Nor does it have the deliberate confrontation to the audience to like it more that what comes before or afterwards.
There is V-effect and duality, so from the perspective of seeking to create an artistic integrity within my work that is pleasing. The duality being that there should be nothing ominous about two boys killing a rabbit, it's what young boys have done since time-in-memorial (a prize if you can spot the V-effect and duality in that statement)
If we go back to the grappled definition, the poem certainly has that vacuum within it, the space for the reader, and the image. When Bach's fugue had ceased playing, replaced by On the Road Again for the editing process, I hacked at the text to give it as much air as possible; leaving the briefest of descriptions to paint the scene, and focusing on the relationship between the three characters.
It also contains the art of the ordinary. Which is a concept I like very much, and will no doubt explain my rational at some point. But for now, suffice to say that rather than go through process to produce a crucifix in a jar of urine, you go through process to produce the cap off the toothpaste tube, or a receipt. Those things that are overlooked.
It's a shame that the Dadaists and Futurists failed to understand the expression in restraint, If they had perhaps there would not be such snobbery and fear towards the modern, and particularly the post modern.
Cue random picture to make the facebooks look dressed....