Not long til Christmas now! But that also mean’s that it’s not long til exams. One week, to be precise. But hey, at least it’s my only exam.
Speaking of exams, there are two types of people in the world, those who are studying for exams and those who aren’t.
It’s a Scottish Literature exam I have next Monday and one of the texts I’ll be studying for it is William Dunbar’s The Tretis of the Twa Mariit Wemen and the Wedo.
It’s essentially a satire, this one and it covers a number of styles and genres. It’s longish but totally worth reading. Is it a satire of women? Is it a democratization of democracy? Does it give women a voice and is that voice really one that should be heard?
It’s quite a baudy text, and quite explicit in places. It’s worthy of note particularly because it comes from an era where women were very much seen and not heard, and although the action in the poem takes place through the eyes of an eavesdropping/peeping tom narrator, it’s one of the very few medieval texts where women have a voice, even if it doesn’t seem to be a particularly flattering one.
We went long into distant family homes,
With a man who can write, but has no idea of prose,
He obtained stilted grammar, and spat it out on a page
Almost like English is a foreign tongue,
Even though he’s English born and bred,
We were almost never impressed –
Childish fiction, comic book in orientation
Writing in half-baked academic tones
Because for so long that’s all he had ever known.
Something I submitted to a poetry competition but never won.
My heart swivels when you leave the room
to follow the faint scent of your perfume.
Creases on the pillows,
bedcovers tossed back like an arctic willow,
your wrinkled outline frozen to the sheets,
bitterly hinting at the sense of longing
that your morning departure will bring.
Two egged omelette and a slice of toast,
Sunday breakfast enjoyed in warm content silence.
But amongst the crumbs I can tell what you’re thinking,
the same thing as I; the night before.
Your hourglass figure melted, curved and contracted into mine
for a time,
followed by a snug slumber that could defy the ages.
Four lungs breathing in perfect harmony
playing together in a major key.
It is a beat that repeats over and over
but it never gets boring.
After a while it’s time to leave
and things cool off as you pack up your things;
icy blue bag zipped up tight,
escorted to your car in the crisp daylight
it is in that moment, mere inches from a cold car door,
that I’d give anything for you
just to stay for a little bit more.
Wee bit of Tom Leonard for y’all today. A truly wonderful poet.
by Tom Leonard
the pee as in pulchritude,
oh pronounced ough
as in bough
the ee rather poised
(pronounced ih as in wit)
then a languid high tea …
pause: then the coda –
ray pronounced rih
with the left eyebrow raised
– what a gracious bouquet!
That was my education
– and nothing to do with me.
Hot off the press after weeks of tinkering.
The clocks go back and winter moves forward,
all along the Clyde windows start closing.
Trees retract, leaves fall back and winter moves
further north. Morning makes frost shatter in
the sun like the memories of summer
and spring; broken hearts for another year.
It seemed like autumn was yesterday, when
the trees shed their skin arbitrarily,
the cold removing the life from the air.
Then we wrap up warm as the icy winds
begin to get under the skin of our
increasingly distant bodies; we’re
all more than a little miserable
during the time the wind gets at your bones.
In cold distant space, the sun has never
been further away. The time has come to
hibernate, and wait for life to begin again.
Still learning how to be a writer. Or a good writer. Or, at the very least, a decent writer.
In a creative writing class recently we were given the following poem and asked to use that as inspiration for something of our own. We were allowed to use any part of it as a jumping off point. I’m sure you’ll agree that the poem itself is quite lovely and uplifting.
I’ll post my inspired work after it, but I’ve never done anything remotely like this before. I suppose what I’ve done is almost like a sequel to this, and I thought it would be cool for people to see the inspiration behind, and (almost) complete work that followed. I’m not going to pretend that what I’ve written comes close to touching the original in terms of quality though. It’s not a comparison, merely an exercise.
Recipe for Happiness Khaborovsk or Anyplace
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
One grand boulevard with trees
with one grand cafe in sun
with strong black coffee in very small cups.
One not necessarily very beautiful
man or woman who loves you.
One fine day.
One cold winter morning six months on
we meet in line for what feels like
the first time,
but nothing is new and nothing’s the same.
Some more black coffee, a new blend,
hands meet by accident,
cold and fleeting and scarce.
Over a greeting we share
that which brought us here
to this cafe, at this time.
Stars did not align;
that’s reserved for romance.
Then you brushed off with the triumphant scent of roses.
There are things that haven’t changed,
not even your hair.
Not The Beatles song.
Getting the poetic confidence back, though.
Between the aisles you
sweep around the floor
in a neon daydream
coveting that which you don’t know.
Or maybe you do know
and you just wish you knew more
of the compulsion and comfort
found on the shop floor.