Blockhouse

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Kingsbrae 19.4
19 June 2017

Blockhouse

We have become comfortable together.
We sit, food untouched on the table,
and play catch-up with our lives.

I tell her about my writing problems
and she tells me about her hopes and
fears for the future now her partner’s
walked out and left her for a younger girl.

Later, I sit in the car while she walks
on the headland by the blockhouse.

Mist covers Passamaquoddy Bay.
There was a time when I thought
she might walk out into that mist
and fade away, but she was strong.

Now I watch her walk away and
know that she’s really here to stay.

Water Tower

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Kingsbrae 19.3
19 June 2017

Water Tower
(for Geoff)

Asked where he got the material
for his plays, Molière said:
“Je le prends où je le trouve,”
“I take it from wherever I find it.”

Here, before the water tower,
I find the tower to be a ground
level water tank, no tower at all.

The first steel band, the horizon,
is composed of yellow lilies.
Above them, the Kingsbrae Café shares
the second band with the gardens’ windmill.

Twin pointed roofs and the windmill’s
thin sails reach up to the skyline
with its background of trees
silhouetted against an egg-shell sky.

Art is in the eye of the beholder
or the artist and can be seen
wherever it can be found.

 

Waves

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Kingsbrae 19.2
19 June 2017

Waves

Some nights,
the stars leave
their constellations
to walk alone.

The planets, too,
grow tired of company
and shine in solitude.

Where now the Zodiac
and Plato’s Platonic
dance of the spheres?

Who knows why a man
will one day walk out of the house,
and never return?

Who knows why a woman
will abandon her children,
turn her back on her lover,
and look only at the wall?

I only know this: that the tide
is composed of multiple waves,
and that each one lives and dies,
alone on the beach.

Sandman 2

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Kingsbrae 17.1
17 June 2017

Sandman 2

The sandman brings sand
to put in the sandwiches
we have packed for the beach.
It’s as coarse and fierce as salt
flowing through an hourglass,
or red sand in an egg-timer,
not clockwork and wound,
but the sort you turn upside
down. Sand: it counts each
minute of each day, turns
minutes into hours, hours
into days, sands the stone
block of our lives, like a sculptor,
into smaller, more manageable
shapes and chunks. Sand sticks
to our clothes, makes us wash
our hands and brush ourselves
thoroughly before we sit down
to eat the sand that has sneaked
into the lunch-time sandwiches
we brought to nibble on the sands.

Comment: This is another example of the effects of a rewrite that takes place in a different time and place. The original of this poem appeared in the blog on my father’s birthday, 17 May 2017. Sandman 1 can be see by clicking on the title. A quick comparison shows how the themes have changed an meaning has been deepened in the later version, Sandman 2, published above. I am intrigued by the differences caused by a change of time and place.  There is room for still more development in this poem. It will be un to see Sandman 3, if it evolves further.

Y Ddraig

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Kingsbrae 15.2
15 June 2017

Y Ddraig

“Here there be dragons!”
The old maps used to say.
A sea-serpent decorated those maps,
a kraken, perhaps, or another monster
drawn from the depths of the unconscious.

In Wales there used to be dragons.
Old massive bones rose to the surface,
long ago, and there were skulls
and other artefacts lurking in the coal seams
that snaked through dark mines.

The fear of dragons is still within us.
We know they can fly in from nowhere,
setting fire to the crops, burning the houses,
killing people in an unequal battle in which
one party can fly while the other
can only run and hide,
or else burn publicly in the open streets,
Guy Fawkes figures in their multiple bonfires,
flaring in those deadly white phosphor flames.

Bonfires and bone-fires:
I have also seen the Cancer Dragon
growing within the human body
and burning the poor patient alive,
from the inside out.

Y Ddraig Coch:
the Red Dragon of Wales:
long may he stay on our flag
and rule the skies from his flagpole.
Those who wish for the dragon’s return
yearn indeed for sadder, madder, darker days.

Comment: Another ‘raw’ poem, but one that I have been thinking about for some time. It was driven from the back to the front of my mind by Carlos’s photo of the dragon in Kingsbrae Gardens. Carlos is my photographer and travels far and wide, taking photos that he then shares with me. I am very grateful to him for this sharing. I usually work my photos on the IMac, but here I am working with a PC that I am only just beginning to understand. There are so many new things happening that it is difficult to keep pace with them all. Oh yes, and this poem is an allegory [a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another, definition from dictionary. com], but I am not sure that I know what the hidden meaning actually is.

Creativity: Thursday Thoughts

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Creativity:
Thursday Thoughts
Kingsbrae 15.1

15 June 2017

The KIRA experience has been very kind to me. It has enabled me to spend time writing and thinking without the necessity of worrying about the daily rituals and necessities of everyday life. In addition, the daily conversations with the other artists in residence have kept my mind focused on the process of creation and this has allowed me to study how I am creating. As many on this blog have noticed, I have been very productive during this residency, and there are several reasons for it. I would like to share some thoughts and ideas with you.

Journal: On 2 March 2017, I received an e-mail telling me that I had been accepted for the arts residency at Kingsbrae. As most of you know, I keep a journal and write in it every day. On 3 March 2017, I started my Kingsbrae poetry sequence. I began by reading the entirety of the Kingsbrae web page and then watched the Kingsbrae Garden videos online. Then I began jotting down in my journal poems and snippets of poems, creative thoughts, metaphors, images,  and ideas. By the time I came to Kingsbrae, I had 90 proto-poems in place. Since they were taken from photos and videos, and were not written in situ, I saw them as prototypes, rather than as the real thing.

The Journal as Poetic Quarry: I look on the journal as a poetic quarry. It contains many stones, some tiny, some larger, some useless, and some very precious indeed. One part of my poetic journey here at Kingsbrae is to go back over these stones, turn them over one by one, discarding the dross, and concentrating on the precious material that has lain there waiting to be re-discovered. Now that I am on site, it is easier to distinguish between those essential words, the ones that really count, and the lesser words, the ones that can be dismissed. This sifting process needs time and thought, and that is exactly what the residency has given me. Writing tip: keep a journal. Mark in red those passages that contain seeds of poetry, images, metaphors, rhythms etc. Return to them when you have the time to do so. Time and space are essential: a time in which to work and a space in which to work. Without these two things , we are lost as writers. ‘I don’t have time,’ you think. Ask yourself: ‘what is more important than a little time each day, spent on yourself and your writing?’ As writers, we MUST indulge ourselves with those two little gifts, time and space. An hour a day is more than enough: find that hour, use it. Ten to fifteen minutes a day is enough to keep us ticking over: if we can’t find that ten minute space, then we are unfortunate indeed.

The Revision Process: As I develop as a writer (and believe me, I am still developing), I realize that the ability to recognize good writing is one of the most important skills that we possess. Re-reading is one thing. Distinguishing the great (oh yes, there are great thoughts and metaphors in those journals), from the good, from the average, from the futile and meaningless is a key skill. All of us have wasted precious time on an idea that just didn’t work. We have worried at it like a dog at an old bone, drooling, gnawing away, growling at ourselves and the bone, getting no nourishment. Leave those ‘dead’ ideas, those ‘dead’ metaphors. Move on to the good ones asap. Our writing time is precious: don’t waste it. Learn to recognize the good and workable from the lesser writings that waste our time.

The Creative Process: “What is this life if, full of care, / we have no time to stand and stare?” This is the first line of one of W. H. Davies’s poems. The Kingsbrae Residency has given me time to stand and stare. It has also given me time to sit and stare. Emptying myself of the daily drudge, I have been able to allow light and inspiration to enter my mind and fill me with creativity. I have discovered that there are ways to do this: meditation, an open mind, an emptiness within that slowly fills, and, above all, carpe diem, the ability to recognize that moment and seize it and exploit it. None of the above is unique to me. If we are at all creative, we are all faced with a simple choice: to develop our creativity or to let it wither. Most of us are too ‘busy’, in the worst sense of the word, to allow ourselves the time we need to create. This is a process we must reverse. We must return to self time, thinking time, emptiness time, metaphoric creative time.

The Value of Art: The modern corporate businessman’s mind is of the type that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. As a result, we have the tendency, as artists, to fall into the ‘price’ mold rather than the ‘value’ mold. If we do not stop and think, if we do not find the time to create, if we do not search for the absolute values that are represented by our art and our creativity, then we count the pennies, add up the costs, and look at the price. Nobody said art was facile. Nobody said that creating the time and space in which we could create would be easy. This residency has convinced me of one thing: that without that time and space, we are nothing but drones, workers, lifeless puppets, going through the motions as other people pull the strings, lacking the spiritual wherewithal … We must stand up for creativity, for being different, for doing things differently, for being ourselves. We must stop being digitalized consumers and become, or continue to be, active, thinking creators. The world needs creativity and art. It needs people who stop and think. It needs people who think differently. It needs artists and creators. It needs us. What we do as artists and creators is precious and valuable. Never doubt it. Never forget it.

 

Wordless Wednesday

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Kingsbrae 14.2
14 June 2017

Wordless Wednesday

All sound has run dry in my
song-sparrow throat.
Words and music no longer flow.
They need eaux de vie,
the waters of life.

Water from a bucket, perhaps,
though I cannot stoop to fill,
nor carry it, without spilling.

A hosepipe, then, though I need
to bend to make the connections
and turn the tap on, and alas,
I am too old and stiff to bend.

Rain, perhaps, though today
it must fall from a cloudless sky.
Who could pray for rain on a day
like today, with sun warming earth
and flowers and my old bones
basking, wordless in the warmth.

I long for the word drought to end.
Silent I shall sit and wait for the word
-well to fill itself with those spiritual
waters flowering and flowing deep within.