Light pouring down.
The world spirit
resting on rock.
Light pouring down.
The world spirit
resting on rock.
at three in the morning,
their faces masked,
shifty in the moonlight,
slip soundless over snow,
as they move towards
the bird feeders.
They huddle together,
forming a darker patch.
I watch the feeders move,
but cannot see the seed
nor hear it as it falls.
The feeders empty,
they move again
towards the back porch,
climb the steps,
and settle once more.
I know that by morning,
all traces of seed will be gone,
devoured by Dyson and Hoover,
scavengers and professional
Comment: Light Breaks
“Light breaks where no sun shines…” but sometimes it takes a long time to happen. The name of my blog is rogermoorepoet and it’s main function is to showcase my poetry, above all, to my friends and followers. In my efforts to publish in print form, I have neglected to pay attention to the main function of this blog – poetry. Why? Because when I submit poems I always find the phrase – ‘must be unpublished – including on social media’! So I stopped publishing poetry on my poetry blog and on other social media. Okay, okay. I know. I am an idiot. BUT – light has now broken where no sun shone – Dylan Thomas, of course, another Swansea Boy, and as of today poetry is back. A big thank you to any and all who have been waiting for its return. Give me some encouragement – let me know if you like what I am doing – paintings and poetry!
Waiting for Godots
What do authors do when they send manuscripts to agents or presses? They have several choices. For example, they can listen to the sound of silence. Listen carefully to the paining above. What does it say to you? Absolutely nothing. Quite. It doesn’t communicate. It’s the sound of silence.
Another choice, they can read and re-read Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Alas, in this case there are many Godots out there and all of them are super-busy gazing at their navels – and I don’t mean oranges. Some indulge in the wonderful world of “Mirror, mirror, on the wall…” and we all know what the answer is to that question. And we know what happened to Narcissus when he saw himself in the river water. Or have we forgotten? Our failure to share cultures is also a sound of silence – two solitudes, gazing at each other, neither one having anything in common with the other one, except maybe the weather. And we can’t always agree on that.
A third choice, they can climb into their dustbins, Queen’s English for garbage cans, and stand there waiting for someone to put the lid on so they can go back to sleep. Allusion / elusion – you don’t know what I am talking about? Well, maybe we are living in two separate solitudes. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
A fourth choice, they can take up painting, and scribbling, and drawing, and doing all sorts of things. But, if the phone rings and you don’t recognize the number – don’t pick up the phone. It’s probably a fraudulent scam call. And if you don’t know the e-mail address, put it in Spam and then block it. It’s probably some bot from another country trying to trap you into giving them your bank account details and signing your savings away. Whoever it is or they are , I doubt if it’s an agent or an editor!
Tell us about yourself
That is one of the questions I most hate to be asked. What on earth is there to tell? One direction is the Muhamad Ali route – “I am the greatest!” Some people take that route and walk you down the highway of their lives, everything from winning the egg and spoon race (age seven), to coming second in the three-legged race (age 9), to finishing third in the slow bicycle race (age 11). And that’s just the start. A similar route is the 007 route – license to kill – shoot from the lip – a blast from the past – history, herstory, my-story – by me!
No way. My history is a mystery and long may it remain so. There are many magic moments (thank you Perry Como – my mother’s favorite singer) and many tragic moments. Some might be worth mentioning, most I’d rather keep quiet about. I think sometimes of the famous examination question – write down everything you know – except I can’t remember who was examining who, nor why they were being examined. Sounds a bit like the Civil Service to me, before they ask you to swear the Official Secrets Act.
On the other hand, if a person asks me a direct question, I will try to answer it to the best of my limited ability. Who is Lisi? I don’t know. Her identity has baffled the literary critics for close to 400 years and I certainly haven’t been able to solve it. Why did Cervantes write the Quixote? Try asking him yourself – but I guess if he’s been silent since 1616, he will remain silent for a lot longer. Not everyone is – or wants to be – the Memory Man – “We know Easter is a Moveable Feast, when did Easter Sunday last fall on Boxing Day?”
Trick question – Easter Sunday is a race horse, not a holy holiday. Boxing Day, in Britain, used to be the day for point to points and obstacle races for horses. But the Memory Man knew that. He also knew the name of every jockey, every horse, their weights, their odds, the order in which they finished, and the name of the fence which caused Easter Sunday to fall on Boxing Day.
So, tell us about yourself. No. I won’t. I am not the memory man and I will reveal as little as I can. Remember the old song – “Yesterday is history, today is still a mystery, but what a day it’s going to be tomorrow.” Right – now I am ready to tell you about myself. I am not yesterday’s man, I am today’s man, and today is still a mystery. Sorry, I can’t do better than that!
Writing in the Red Room
Dawn over Kingsbrae, as seen from the writer’s desk in the Red Room in KIRA. “A poet could not but be gay, in such a jocund company.” Wordsworth, thankfully, for how words change their value as language transforms itself and old values and meanings grow wings and flit away.
Gai saber – from Old Provençal: “gay knowledge” or “gay science”, the art of composing love poetry, especially the art of Provençal troubadours as set forth in a 14th-century work called the Leys d’amors. But one doesn’t have to be gay, in any sense of the word, old or new, to write poetry, and it is difficult not to write poetry when the sun creeps over those hills and lights up the room and the bay below.
Warmth and light flood into your heart. The pen fills with words and they splash out over the page, moving the writer as the sun moves, as light moves, as light breaks where no sun shines as yet, but will, soon, so very soon, and here it comes, filling the heart once more with wonderment, the bay with light, and the page overflowing with the joy of light.
To be here is to be honored and privileged beyond words. To be able to share that joy with others is a blessing that many seek and few find, and none possess, for, like fairy gifts, such powers fade away all too swiftly. And, when all is said and done, one can only be humble, rejoice in each moment, and give thanks.
My Teenage Self
What advice would you give to your teenage self? In one word – grow up. Useless advice really, because it happens, whether we want it to or not. That said, I have lost so many young rugby players that I coached or played with, to driving accidents and other misfortunes, sometimes self-inflicted via alcohol or drugs, that to say grow up – please! – is so important.
Each morning I read the obituaries in the local newspaper. Afterwards, I look back over the path I have journeyed. If I had perished at the age of the current ‘missing person’ – say, 45 – 50 – 55 – 60 – I think of all that I would have missed in those intervening years. Then I grieve for all that they will have missed in the life that should have lain ahead of them.
“Don’t cry over spilt milk” – Old Welsh Proverb. And no, we mustn’t cry over what is lost. We must celebrate what has been achieved, Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), one of Wales’s greatest Anglo-Welsh poets, dead at 39 – what other glory may have lain ahead of him? Garcilaso de la Vega (1501-1536), one of Spain’s purest and most innovative poets, dead at 35. What more might he have written in an extended lifetime? Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), executed, many say tortured and murdered, at the age of 38. Think of the theatre, the poetry, the Gypsy Ballads, the songs of a dark love – what more did he have, hidden inside him, that was never allowed to spread its wings and fly out into the light of day?
So, I would give to my teenage self, the same advice that I would give to any teenager – grow up – please, grow up, don’t go too soon, – and please grow into that unique and wonderful being that you have the potential to be.
Shoes and Sox
So, I am in anti-prompt mode this morning. Why should I tell you about my shoes when I want to talk about my socks? They are so closely associated anyway and you can’t have one without the other – well, you most certainly can, but it’s never quite the same thing.
So, I was walking the Camino de Santiago / the Road to St. James, back in the day, just being a Pilgrim and making a quick Pilgrim’s Progress, while on the bus, but a much slower one when I decided to get off the bus, put on my shoes, and walk. No, I didn’t have hiking or walking boots, just a very comfortable pair of sneakers and a very thick pair of socks.
I left the hotel early and set out, on foot, from Leon to Astorga. The sun shone. The heat rose up from the tarmac. I sought the shade from the poplar trees that lined the road and rapidly realized how popular they are for the long-distance walker. And I sweated. I carried my pilgrim possessions in an Army and Navy Stores backpack. It didn’t weight much, but it grew heavier as the day went on. I had expected to meet people along the way, but I didn’t. No other pilgrims. A farmer – I asked him if this was the road – and he said yes. A ragged looking priest from a small roadside chapel who invited me to spend the night. Two dogs that ran down the hill and barked at me and then ran back up again.
By the time I got to Hospital de Orbigo, just down the road from Puente de Orbigo, I was tired. I went into the first hotel I found, asked for a room, and got one. The owner gave me a funny look and let me find my own way to a room, very isolated, at the end of a long corridor. When I got there, I decided to have a shower, and took my clothes off, starting with my shoes. As I took my shoes off, it hit me – and it was a combination of week old kippers, soaked in the Bishop’s Gaiters, and anointed with long-past-it raw milk / lait cru Camembert. My sox had the pox.
I stripped off, left my socks on, and paddled in the shower. It did no good at all. I put shampoo in the toilet bowl, stood in the bowl, stamped up and down as if I were trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath were indeed stored – it did no good at all. I flushed the toilet multiple times and still those poxy sox refused to release their ripeness. I took them off, laid them out to dry, to see if that would help, and went down to the bar for supper and a brandy (or two).
When I came back to my room, inspiration struck. I whistled- as if calling my dog. The sox got up of their own accord and – I kid you not – walked towards me. I opened the garbage bag and pointed to it, and the sox walked right in. I tied the bag up with a plastic tie, added two more plastic bags outside the first one, went happily to sleep, got up next morning, and walked to the bus stop, abandoning my socks in their safety blanket for the hotel owner to find.
Moral of the story – if you want to get to your destination, don’t get off the bus until your journey ends.
“With freedom, flowers, books, and the moon, who could not be perfectly happy?” Oscar Wilde
Yesterday I bought my beloved some flowers. I searched among the bunches in the supermarket to find some that were not full blown but ready to spring from bud to blossom. I had the freedom to buy and with it the freedom that comes from having a little bit of money to spare for those frivolities that keep love alive at any age.
As for books, I read them and I write them, and sometimes they write me, and sometimes I can tell the difference, and some times I can’t. “What is this life, if full of greed we have no time to sit and read. Or when we lay awake at night, we don’t have time to think or write.”
Then there is the moon. “Please let the light that shines on me, shine on the one I love.” An old sea-farers’ song also sung by the beloved left behind on the home shore. There are few things as fascinating as a garden in the moonlight. Delightful too are night flowers blossoming beneath a full moon. “Boys and girls come out to play, the moon is shining as bright as day. Leave your pillows and leave your sheets and join your playfellows in the streets.”
So there you have a recipe for perfect happiness. Freedom from need, cash for frivolities and flowers, moonlight in which to serenade one’s beloved, and a book in which to record the recipe and keep it fresh in mind – add them one by one, stir them gently, plant them – and may perfect happiness blossom for you, too.
“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” Oscar Wilde.
“The dreamers by day are dangerous people, for they are the ones who make their dreams come true.” T. E. Lawrence.
Two interesting and contrasting quotes on dreamers. They seem to contradict each other – but do they? How do we dream? What do we dream of when we dream? What does the word ‘dream’ really mean? How can it change, that meaning when a person announces in a sharp, sarcastic voice: “In your dreams.”? Were the Everly Brothers right when they sang their version of dream, dream, dream?
There is no right and wrong with dreams. Some dreams come at night. They rise from deep within our resting – restless minds, asking questions, answering questions, doubling down on what we did, or didn’t do. Some dreams are obsessive and occur again and again. These are individual to each sleeper and cannot be interpreted, en masse, by a dictionary of dreams. Other night dreams creep in through the bedroom window. These may not be our dreams – they may be the dreams of other people, come to disturb us as we sleep. These can be dangerous dreams, disturbing moments, and that’s why the indigenous have created dream-catchers that will snare those dreams and prevent them from entering.
Other dreams come by day. Day-dreaming is a rite of passage for many young children, trapped in boring school rooms with an ageing teacher droning on and on. “Knowledge is that which passes from my notes to your notes without going through anyone’s head.” I woke up enough from my day dream during that particular first-year lecture to note those words in my notebook. They were the only notes I took in that class and I day dreamed my way though a year of that man’s pseudo-lectures.
But the dreams we dream by day – yes, they can indeed be dangerous – because we can make them happen. One person dreams of being a doctor and, against all the odds, that person becomes one. Another visualizes – another form of day-dreaming – breaking a world record. And does so – such people fulfill their day-dream. Some, like Don Quixote, dream the impossible dream. These are fantasists whose dreams will never come true, for they are based on unrealities, and not founded on the essential truths of real life.
“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight.” Much as I love this quote, I am disturbed by the adverb ‘only’. It is so limiting. Dreamers, as I have tried to show, can find their way by day as well. “His punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” This, too, I find enigmatic and disturbing. Why should dreamers be punished when they can also be rewarded? Why is seeing the dawn a punishment? Why is seeing the dawn before the rest of the world a sort of double punishment? And why does the dawn punish people? In order to answer that question, we must define the dawn! Maybe we’ll do that in another post.
A book is a book is a book
“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” Oscar Wilde
A good friend of mine once told me that her creative writing writing prof in the MFA program told the class: “We are not writers. We are re-writers.” Our mission in life, then, is not just to rewrite, but to think and to revise. The art of writing lies in analysis, research, thought, and thinking carefully about (a) what we are about to write and (b) what we have just written. As a great Spanish writer once said “I write as I speak and when writing I count my syllables.”
So can the same principle be applied to reading? In my undergraduate poetry courses, one of my wiser profs announced that “It is better to read one poem a hundred times, than a hundred poems once.” Is re-reading better than reading? Good question. But it is what I call a swimming pool question: it has shallow ends and deep ends. Joke – it depends, you see, upon the quality of the material one is reading. For example, does a single reading of the Bible suffice? I read it through, page by page, when I was twelve years old. Was that it? No, I still return to it – the good book – from time to time, selecting, remembering, checking, looking for comfort, advice, or sometimes, pure joy in the sound of the language – King James version, of course.
What other books have I read and re-read? Lazarillo de Tormes, Don Quixote, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The first book in the Harry Potter series – it reminded me of elements of my own childhood, especially the cupboard under the stairs. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt. The Wind in the Willows, Gongora’s Polifemo, Quevedo’s Metaphysical Poems and his Cycle to Lisi. Octavio Paz’s Sunstone / Piedra de Sol, Lorca’s Romancero Gitano, his Poet in New York, and his plays. Platero y yo. Charlotte’s Web. Several of Shakespeare’s plays, including McBeth, Henry V, King Lear, and a couple more. Rudyard Kipling’s Kim and Stalky and Co. Mary Gentle’s Golden Witchbreed. Robert Bly’s Morning Poems, Iron John, The Sibling Society. Unamuno’s The Tragic Sense of Life and his Niebla. Enough, no more. It is not as sweet now as it was before. And there are so many more to which I have returned, again and again.
So, think about all the time wasted on trivial books, books that remained unfinished, books that have never been opened. One person’s vegetarian or vegan’s fare is a carnivore’s poison [sick]. Sometimes a book mirrors our thoughts. Sometimes it challenges us to rethink our lives and our philosophies. Sometimes it comforts us or takes us back into our childhood. And sometimes it just bores us and we cannot finish it.
A rose is a rose is a rose. A book is a book is a book. Or is it? We are not readers – we are re-readers. And if we aren’t, we ought to be. Think about that. Carefully.