Tricky thing this #poetry lark.
Regular readers will be aware that these past few days I have been experimenting with. for want of a better term, nonsense. There is a deep and philosophical underpinning to this process, that is rambling and involved, and since the process is focused on finding simplicity the irony is amusing.
Thus I chopped about the crie de gut, Come Leaves Burst, due to adverse reaction from the literalists. To be fair, the alteration was not totally windblown crowd pleasing. Nor was it artistic self-harming at being called a pseudo-poet by an overly honest critic. The second half of that poem, with it's runs, and triples, while nicely capturing the joy I felt on that morning, seeing a single ray of sunlight breaking the fog bank, and lighting up a white walled house among the grey barren trees; well it is a bit rhetorical. I wanted something more Anglo Saxon, more sparse, less Hymns Ancient and Modern.
dreak sun breke shap
yon dale frost
yolk hird whit wurn
blit spar cowt
heft sky barwake
drip t'aft nowt on
snow ript hird
yon Queen bayns
all winter rain
hooked eyen shut
bayn virgin hills
nost an' nost an' rast
'What does it mean?' the literalists, sigh.
'It means what it says to you,' I reply.
At which point we (I) spiral into debate about the reader having more responsibility for the content than the author. And how unfair it is that writing is the one art form to have dismissed modernism; and worse to have shrunk in its scope to become pandered genre spoon feeding, not unlike television.
But I digress...
Some of the feedback has wanted to know if it is dialect. Clearly 't'river' and such are, and there is an air of Northumberland sheep farming about it. I might add that as a pseudo-poet I was aping Anglo-Saxon and Medieval poetry, in a very pseudo way... when April winds do sprout the first of May... and all that. But mainly the aim is to draw a map of sounds, so that at a later date, I can return to the skeleton and draw fingers across the blackboard.
That is until someone directed me to the Urban Dictionary. Where apparently 'dreak' means to accidentally enter a lady's residence through the tradesman's entrance, when invited to call at the front door. Not quite the vague notion of 'dreary/bleak/just a word sound', I imagined when I made the word up - or not depending on how you look at it. 'Cowt' is also in there, as is 'blit', and we don't need to go into their definition of the word 'plunt'.
All of which rather pleases me. As quite by accident, any literalist seeking to find the meaning of the poem, in the sterile sense, will be told where to go.
And so, having firmly planted my flag as the champion of modernism, I....
... read A Child Ill by Sir John Betjeman, managing just to hold back the tears, and then Business Girls, and A Lincolnshire Church - There where the white light flickers,/Our Creator is with us yet,/To be worshipped by you and the woman/of the slacks and cigarette. - in case you are wondering, Grandma has come to stay; and she likes a bit of rhyming verse, and it doesn't hurt for the children to hear - even if they insist 'Come Friendly Bombs Fall On Slough' requires the chant of 'BORING, BORING....'
At which point it would be remiss not to mention, 'In labour-saving homes, with care/Their wives frizz out peroxide hair/And dry it in synthetic air/And paint their nails.'
I make no apology that what follows is inspired/magpie thieved from/whatever Betjamin.
From the moment I saw the verse structure, four lines, the first three rhyming, the last either blank or sometimes as a wider refrain, I wanted to use it. And if you are seeking simplicity, Sir John is an excellent tutor. Not least because of the liberties he takes - at times is he almost punk rock.
That evening on the saltmarsh before Stiffkey is a wonderfully happy memory. Early Seprtember, sinking sun, the sleepy gulls calling, the shouts of children, the blackness of the mud, the coolness of the breeze, the warmth of the scorched day trudging across the miles of sand to rest beneath the blanket of the sea. It was something that I just had to write about. Something personal, but universal.
looking at my notebook...
mudflat ditch with water lapping
overhead call gulls a flapping
with eager children bent on crabbing
from the wooden bridge
overs barked, cries ring out
mums on net
A village beach socks rolled down
away from pleasures found in town
That didn't progress due to the danger of it being about how blooming expensive Candy Floss is... when I were't a lad...
I thought no more about it. How could I? with the hangover from the trip to the Beehive still doing the rounds. Then I as was putting the nipper to bed, intoning my way through my version of Snow White, I stopped to listen to the change in his breathing, in order to make my escape, when the line 'out beyond the samphire beds' came to mind.
And out it came...
out beyond the samphire beds
muddied shoes muddied legs
hang expectant over bridge’s edge
dangling for crabs
saltmarsh ditch with water lapping
seagulls hang with wings unflapping
sunset pink with all the trappings
frame this gilded scene
beneath serene North Sea sky
big brother emits triumphant cry
for mother with her net to try
coordinate the catch
whilst over off a little way
dad and little brother play
amid the mud and oozing clay
throwing sticks and stones
the bucket fills at quite a pace
as gentle sport becomes a race
with other families neatly spaced
along the bridges' span
dad calls out in ballyhoo
little brother’s lost his shoe
his foot is stuck in stinking goo
right up to his knee
the can of tuna almost gone
shadows match the sinking sun
its time to get our jim-jams on
and into sleeping bags
from the tilted bucket pours
two dozen crabs maybe more
scamper sidewards ‘cross the shore
into the pitch dark dike
salt air breath conveys the talk
of crabs and wormcasts as they walk
with tiredness not conceived or thought
for custard creams and cocoa
Oh the literalists were pleased, as was I, as was Grandma.
Cue random picture in veneration of the facebooks
The Blue Book, only $2.99