Sunday, 27 March 2011

Haikus: SJ Murphy


I would be like him
If I made you laugh and cry
I'd be my father


You departed life
Was eleven years ago
Please just one more word


Whoever would guess?
But they say we look alike
It's hard to believe

The Rialto - Poetry Magazine

I haven't subscribed to a magazine for many years but after receiving the latest copy of The Rialto [Number 71] on Friday [a nice surprise when I got home from work], reading it from cover to cover and not wanting to miss the next issue, that has to be a good enough reason to subscribe. I thought I would add a few lines that really caught my eye here: [(c) Copyright belongs to the authors]



A radio hums
low under the cat's cradle
of conversation.

I love the description of conversation while working as a "cat's cradle" - conjures up images of words and sentences cutting across each other just how lively and animated conversations work.


POEMS: Laura Scott

Maybe they're like fish
swimming inside you,
waiting for someone
to tap the glass.

I know the feeling only too well of poems inside you desperate to get out just waiting for the bowl to be tapped and look you in the eye until they are there, on paper [or on screen] and complete.


Looking forward to the next issue, number 72.

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Man Who Forgot: Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

One of my favourite poems posted for World Poetry Day 2011;

At a lonely cross where bye-roads met
I sat upon a gate;
I saw the sun decline and set,
And still was fain to wait.

A trotting boy passed up the way
And roused me from my thought;
I called to him, and showed where lay
A spot I shyly sought.

"A summer-house fair stands hidden where
You see the moonlight thrown;
Go, tell me if within it there
A lady sits alone."

He half demurred, but took the track,
And silence held the scene;
I saw his figure rambling back;
I asked him if he had been.

"I went just where you said, but found
No summer-house was there:
Beyond the slope 'tis all bare ground;
Nothing stands anywhere.

"A man asked what my brains were worth;
The house, he said, grew rotten,
And was pulled down before my birth,
And is almost forgotten!"

My right mind woke, and I stood dumb;
Forty years' frost and flower
Had fleeted since I'd used to come
To meet her in that bower.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

World Poetry Day: 21st March 2011

So tomorrow [21/03/11] is World Poetry Day as recognised by UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation], brilliant ! I'll have to do my bit for this tomorrow, as always I'm caught out at the last minute with these things but I'm sure I'll come up with something, even if it's posting a few of my favourite poems on the blog, or pushing out the "said" poems on twitter, whatever it is, I'm determined to mark it in some way, shape or form. Good on you UNESCO, you rock !!

So I'll point you towards one of my all time favourite poems I posted here on my blog back in January this year. For me, it can only be Rudyard Kipling's If. I can't remember when I first read it but I do remember it being above a doorway at a leadership school I attended while I was in the Royal Navy: some stirring lines here;

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim,

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools

and of course the last four lines;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

But for the whole poem have a look here.

Friday, 18 March 2011

My England: SJ Murphy

Just a glimpse of the sun,
Between rooftop apexes,
Mid March, mid afternoon,
Amid winter's fallen leaves,
Muldoon, the poet, in one,
Yorkshire extra strong, the other:

This, my England.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Poems 1968-1998: Paul Muldoon

After Monday night's reading at King's College I had to get hold of Paul's "Poems 1968-1998" and see what he'd written before the earliest of his stuff I'd read in Quoof. The book arrived yesterday afternoon and I was able to have a quick look through it and thought I'd share a thought provoking poem with you;


I guessed the letter
   Must be yours. I recognized
The cuttle ink,
   The serif on
The P. I read the postmark and the date,
   Impatience held
By a paperweight.
   I took your letter at eleven
To the garden
   With my tea.
And suddenly the yellow gum secreted
The damson bush
   Had grown a shell.
I let those scentless pages fall
   And took it
In my feckless hand. I turned it over
   On its back
To watch your mouth
   Withdraw. Making a lean white fist
Out of my freckled hand.

The description of his now apparent ex as the damson bush who had grown a tough outer shell, and the scentless pages where before those pages might have had a squirt of perfume to remind him, of her: these lines, for me, make this poem what it is, the receipt of a Dear John letter and the pain that comes with it. The receipt of similar news delivered face-to-face or by phone, and the same intense feeling of helplessness for a few terrifying seconds can be just as painful, but the air of being alone "I took the letter at eleven to the garden with my tea" and having the pages and the ability to screw them up with a "lean white fist" makes the scene very dramatic.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Paul Muldoon: King's College London

Well what an evening that was! As always when I go to an evening like that I was blown away, I really must become more blase about these things.

Paul was late, but hey, he's allowed to be, he'd flown in from New Jersey today and this was his first appointment while in the UK: and anyway I'm being flippant, it was only a few minutes and I wasn't clock watching and people were still turning up so it's no big deal, really, no really, it's no big deal.

Introduced by the evening's compere, Hannah [surname gone - sorry], Paul looked a bit embarrassed by all the accolades and acknowledgements Hannah made to various awards Paul has won during his, quite lengthy, poetic career. Up he got to speak and with his quite soft, Northern Irish accent, went on to read from Maggot [his latest collection] and I think it was his 1968-1998 collection he was reading from, a yellow Faber & Faber. I had known he was not one of your usual brash Northern Irish speakers, I'd heard him read a poem on the internet and knew he wouldn't be your Reverend Ian Paisley type of ball-breaking Irishman: but something is always present with the Irish [although now I mention it I could never, hand on heart, say this of the Reverend just mentioned] the humour was there. A wink and a nod often more than enough to set the audience ablaze with laughter.

Paul's explanation of Quoof and it's meaning within his own family [the Muldoon family name for a hot water bottle] was quite difficult for him, as you could tell, he all the time knew in the back of his mind the literal meaning of the word: the farty noise a penis makes, similar to that of the female anatomy, following sexual intercourse.

My copy of Maggot signed and a quick chat with Paul and the evening was done. Paul did ask, after me telling him my name so he could put it in the book, if I was a poet, to which I replied I have been known to put pen to paper. I think I'll send him a copy of my book, the worst that can happen is he can throw it in the bin or reply and tell me not to bother anymore. I'll send him a copy !

I did write something while I was waiting to go into the college, I called it;

Who is Tom?

Waterloo Bridge to my right,
King's College left,
London Eye beyond
Thames Clippers:
Upon a terrace I sit, a placard,
"Warning sheer drop!"
The hum, back and fore,
On the Embankment.

Waterloo headed, buses, all red,
Feral Pigeons below, gulls up above,
Neon light advertising National Theatre,
Across on the distant South Bank:
Tom's Kitchen, Tom's Deli inside,
I'm sitting, on the terrace,
Of Somerset House,
But who the hell is Tom?

A very good evening and more to come I hope.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

I love black and white photography

Love; old buildings in black and white;
the arches; and the way the tram
lines draw you into the picture
Another "townscape" with old advertising
in the foreground and lovers
in the background
The eyes and each wrinkle have
thousands of stories to tell
Pure and simple - sex appeal

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Soggy Wet Boots: SJ Murphy

I didn't know, I still don't know,
Where I was going that day,
Along Somewhere Street and Nowhere Way,
With soggy wet boots, winter's sleet and snow.

But walk I did, and carried on walking,
Where I was going, no-one knows,
Along Random Road, into Casual Close,
Wandering along, not seeing or talking.

And still I went, for t'was a worthy trip,
And then I found it, hidden, within a hazy hue,
In Hit-or-Miss Mews or was it, The Avenue?
I saw it hiding, and grasped! Didn't let slip!

It was hidden good, oh t'was hidden well,
For, t'was love, t'was hidden in that hazy hue,
Not Hit-or-Miss Mews but The Avenue,
T'was love, t'was hidden so good, so swell.

Where I was headed that day, I'll never know,
But I found love, through the hazy hue,
When I ended up, at The Avenue,
With soggy wet boots, winter's sleet and snow.

I would really like to know what people think of my poetry, if this has moved you in any way, I'd really like to know; great, crap, fun, whatever your words, they're your words, as mine are mine and *all* should be appreciated, thanks for coming by, cup of tea next time ?


First Spider of Spring: SJ Murphy

First spider of Spring,
Has surfaced in the bath,
To torment and bring,
An arachnophobes wrath.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Epitaph for an Unknown Soldier: WH Auden (1907-1973)

To save your world, you asked this man to die:
Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?

What a lovely poem this is: in the guise of Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke almost, who both died very young as a consequence of the First World War. What would have become of these two poets if they had not died so young? What would we, as poetry lovers, have had the privilege to read? Like others in history who died at very young ages; Buddy Holly, James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin; there was so much more to offer from each and every one of these performers, but to love what they left, for what it is, is a gift in itself.

You can tell from these two short lines of poetry that Auden was a controversial character. I know very little about him - "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, ... " is one of Auden's, the one in Four Weddings and a Funeral - "He was my North, my South, my East and West, my working week and my Sunday rest," words read so evocatively by Matthew [John Hannah] at Gareth's [Simon Callow] funeral. Auden was homosexual, as were Matthew and Gareth, which made it fitting for Matthew to read the poem at Gareth's funeral.

Just reading through some of Auden's work today, the first thing that struck me was his superb use of form: rhyming in unusual form added to the beauty of the poems I read today and has made Auden a definite on my list to read more of.


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

I sit, listen, and stare: SJ Murphy (short poem)

Waiting for life,
To take me somewhere,
Morning birdsong,
I sit, listen, and stare.