There Was a Time I Wrote Poetry…

There was a time I wrote poetry. Then it turned itself off and prose returned.

If you write, have you ever had that happen? I’m not really even a fan of poetry and rarely read it for pleasure. And yet for probably a year and a half it simply came to me on a tram, or walking down the street, already arranged in three to five-line stanzas.

Three books came from that, roughly two hundred poems in each; Corner of My Mind, Broken Pieces and The Smell of Tweed and Tobacco. Here’s a sample from Broken Pieces. See if it speaks to you…

Big Boats

Big boats and big horses, alike
The same feel between the legs
of rising power, eagerness,
galloping across watery fields

This animate thing held in the hands,
rolls and plunges under me, alive
A forty-footer, close hauled and flying
Rail down in green water, she hisses
and wind hisses back from the shrouds

Shoulders braced against her wheel,
leg out, to ride the thrust of sloping deck,
so like a shying thoroughbred
The wind is unpredictable, un-tame
It lies peaceful and grazing, head down

Then pricks its ears, neck swinging up
to snort, reminding who has power,
who merely holds the reins, sits deep
in its roiling watery saddle, waiting

Then we’re off and hunting-horns sound,
sliding into blue-green troughs and rearing
A bridle full of halyards, lines snapped taut
She’s breathing hard, this bloodline
carries years of careful breeding

She knows her way to the finish, running free
Wanting only a quiet word, a restraining hand
stretched along her neck, trimming sheets
to show respect for all these animated forces

No patience now for faulty horsemanship
Bring her close to the wind and heel her over
Big boats need their head to bring you home

I can still write a poem if the circumstances call for one, but they no longer come as they once did, twenty years or more ago. And yet I like them, pull a volume down from my shelf from time to time and crack it open randomly, making myself smile.



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