Poetry and Prose

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Welcome to my poetry and prose pages. A scrapbook of ideas and musings of original poetry, and prose. Some will find, or have already found, their way into my regular posts.

I was once asked if I wrote from experience or from imagination - I replied both: my writing is inspired by nature, art, and memories of real events, times and places, coloured by imagination - vivid pictures painted in words ...

Haiku

Most of my poems are a modern take on the ancient Japanese poetry form of haiku. So I’m chuffed to say the following haiku have been published in the Spring, Summer and Winter (2019), and the Spring and Summer 2020, issues of the Wales Haiku Journal edited by the award-winning haiku poet, Paul Chambers, and published in partnership with the Wales Arts Review.

red skies -
from wind-tossed trees
stormcock sing
drifting snow –
shattering the silence
a wren sings
drifting gull ...
beneath the mist
the river widens
distant bells
a red kite rises
into sunlight
wheeling gull
behind the plough ...
distant thunder

Looking out the kitchen window one late spring evening ... I was minded of the classic poem ‘Leisure’ by W H Davies, which included the lines:

[...]No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows [...]

Here is my take, with perhaps a passing cricketing reference ...

swallows flutter
among the sheep n cows -
we stand n stare
swallows flutter
among the sheep n cows -
rain stops play
swallow flutter
among the cows -
rain stops play

And here are a few haiku written ‘on the spur of the moment’ - inspired by the weather and the rhythm and romance of the seasons ...

swift scream
down cobbled streets
bikers follow
linden blossom
scent the streets
coffee for two
lazy afternoon
in buttercup meadows
chasing dreams

The following has proved elusive and challenging. An attempt to express Richard Jefferies’ awe and wonder in the paradox of nature (using his words) - it is both timeless yet finite - our own time on earth fleeting - encapsulated in a single moment or moments - and his frustration at our futility in imposing an artificial sense of time. He was little understood - so in a sense a lonely person.

sunrise
clocks tick
timelessly
sunrise -
clocks tick timelessly
passing the hours of spring
sunrise -
clocks tick timelessly
passing the hours
sunrise
clocks tick timelessly
a leaf falls
sunrise
shadows lengthen
a leaf falls
sunrise ...
marking time
a leaf falls

To the soul there is no past and no future; all is and will be ever, in now. For artificial purposes time is mutually agreed on, but is really no such thing. The shadow goes on upon the dial, the index moves round upon the clock, and what is the difference? None whatever. If the clock had never been set going, what would have been the difference? There may be time for the clock, the clock may make time for itself; there is none for me.

I hope I’ve ‘got it’ this time. It’s rather allegorical in nature.

Here are some words written by Julian Huxley in his introduction to 'Songs of Wild Birds' by E M Nicholson and Ludwig Koch and published as a text with illustrations in the form of sound, by H.F.& G Witherby Ltd in 1936. The poem is mine.

‘ ... When I first heard his records I was immediately struck by the way in which they called up the natural environment of the singers. As the Nightingales voice escaped from its ebonite prison under the touch of the needle and the scientific magic of the sound-box, I felt myself transported to dusk in an April copsewood. The clear notes of the Cuckoo with their blend of clear spring feeling and irritating monotony, the Chaffinch's simple and cheerful strain, were equally evocative; and with the laugh of the Green Woodpecker (a triumph to have recorded this!), the yellowing July fields and darkening green of July woods were in the room. ...’

sunshine ...
filling every room
a cuckoo calls

Here’s a haiku in the form of a riddle ...

 a blush-pink morning mirrored in feathers  bumbarrels
[...] At the edge of the wood early catkins - lambs tails - tremble and dance, sprinkling yellow gold-dust over the snowy branches. A small party of Long Tailed Tit tinkle through the delicate filigree of branches outlined against the early morning winter-spring sky [...]

And my very first haiku ... Inspired by ‘Granchester Meadows’ by Pink Floyd and an early morning walk through Chester Meadows by the river Dee ...

church bells ring
across dewy meadows
a lark rises
distant bells ...
over misty meadows
a lark rises
distant hills
across the vale
skylark sing

And here’s another early one which was originally overthought ...

still waters
meditative reflections
shattered by ripples

Conceived while deep in thought on a little wooden bridge, leading to an old church, on an island in a small secluded lake.

And partly inspired by the book by John Moore – ‘The Waters Under the Earth’ which I think I first read in 1969.

Reworked as ...

still waters
a fish jumps ... through
my reflection

I like to think of this as my signature haiku.

Colin Blundell, President of the British Haiku Society, among many other things, commented - “This final variation is, dare I say, ‘perfect’ (as perfect as these things ever are) where ‘reflection’ means two things at the same time – something on the water and meditation interrupted by the conceptual fish that often disrupts ordinary thinking in everyday life.” Thanks Colin.

A recent foray into one-line haiku saw the following featured by Alan Summers, President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society. Thanks Alan.

 magpie nest   the blackthorn winter passes over  

As the dark days of winter give rise to the sunny days of spring, on the morning of Passover a magpie flew up from the lawn into the the blackthorn hedge. I was glad when it was joined by another with a twig in its beak. They flew higher and disappeared into the ivy, where the poplar forked.

 sunshine after rain the forest s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s 

Ostensibly written after rain swept up the valley obliterating the forest as I was watching for Goshawk from the viewpoint looking out over Exeter forest at Haldon. Just as quickly the rain cleared the sun came out and I could see the forest stretching for miles and miles and miles …

Here is the haiku that I was playing around with at the time ...

watching goshawk
the forest s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s
beneath her shadow

An e-Chapbook of Haiku


 motionless a buzzard glides across the cloudless sky 

This one-line haiku is from a short collection of haiku recently published as an e-Chapbook by Proletaria. 1 It’s my first time ‘in print’ as it were. Chuffed or what!

It comprises 15 poems - 3 Monostitch, 8 Monoku and 4 modern 3-line Haiku.

You can read and download (PDF) the collection by following the link here: ‘Feathered Skies’. It looks great on a Kindle.


Read More

Artist Credit

The featured image is from an original watercolour of, I’m guessing here, the river Test in Hampshire, by Philip L Eden, member of the British Watercolour Society (1924)


More to come ... so please do pop back - I’ll be glad to see you.



Footnotes

  1. proletaria is a journal and e-chapbook publisher dedicated to the art of literary one-liners. Taking the form of the monostich, monoku/ one-line haiku or anecdotal statements. These single line or single sentence verses are inspired by politics, philosophy and the phenomena of all worldly and natural events happening around us.
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