Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Awake before 6 am

Awake before 6 am

I’m never sure if the distant roar I hear
is the waves hitting the shore
at St Kilda or St Clair, or
some pre-working-day collective snore
rising from ten thousand or more houses,
people dreaming behind closed doors
of the day gone, or the day before them.

In gardens all around is the pre-dawn
twittering of a thousand birdsongs soaring;
then, sun rising, an end to the outpouring:
a reverence and a waiting awe for
the new day, which to bow before
humans now deplore.

Thanks to Kay Cooke for her helpful suggestion on this poem. 

After reading The Anthologist, by Nicholson Baker

Working with rhyme again, and trying to find a way to makes sense as I go along.  In his book, The Anthologist, Nicholson Baker makes a strong case for poems that rhyme.  

After reading The Anthologist, by Nicholson Baker

Your challenge, Nick, is to write a poem
in which the lines have rhymes;
I now invite King Jeroboam –
a man whose various crimes

brought Israel to idolatrous knees –
to help me with this verse.
I wouldn’t have brought in such a sleeze
if ‘poem’ wasn’t such a curse

to rhyme with, as you no doubt know,
having struggled with the form;
but sans a lesser-known John Doe
I’m having to perform

with a King whose name just fits the bill –
the only one I’ve found –
and hopefully he’s taken his pill
and doesn’t want to expound

the reason why he led poor Israel off
its proper course of action;
otherwise I’ll have to scoff
to stop him gaining traction

regarding idols, groves and bulls
where worship goes awry,
and a self-centred king who pulls
the wool over everyone’s eye.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Heaven-born Ploughman

The results of the 2012 Robert Burns Poetry Competition have just been announced, and since I didn't make the cut, I may as well include my entry here.....

The Heaven-born Ploughman

Remembered in life for his gallavanting,
his getting-with- child of too many women,
he’s remembered in death as a saint of the
people, this impoverished farmer of land
and wealthy farmer of words.

Dubbed the “people’s poet” in Russia:
his Scottish face reproduced on a
Russian postage stamp ten years
before the production of two commemorative
British ones: fourpence & one and threepence. 

Further portraiture fame came from the
Clydesdale Bank, on a five-pound note
(the reverse a field mouse and a rose):
the once impoverished poet
more profitable in death than life.

Remembered in places far-flung,                                                                
his antipodean statue  - seagulls seated on his
head – commands by place its status as
centrepiece to the Writers’ Walk
circumferencing Dunedin’s Octagon.

Like Mozart, like Schubert, like Chopin –
short-lived Masters of musical sound,
Burns was short-lived Master of the verbal:
rhythmic and wry, rustic, sincere, and
spontaneous heaven-born ploughman.

Split Infinitives

The following is the result of a nonsense conversation on Facebook...

Split Infinitives – for Matt Scott

The people who reject the rules
and sprinkle their orations  
With split infinitives and more
 egregious violations ..."  Anna Barham

My punctious pal says it’s
an ‘egregious violation
to gamely split infinitives,’
in Facebook conversation.

By ‘gamely’ does he mean in fun,
or doing it with vigour;
taking grammar at a run,
observing it with rigour?

To this the answer I’ve no thought,
but Strunk and White insist,
that split infinitives you ought
not never to dismiss.

No-nonsense Fowler
also works to rule;
considers it a howler
and thinks that you’re a fool.

But Mr Shakespeare, who
re language knew some little,
split infinitives - to show
he cared not a jot or a tittle.