Wednesday, 5 April 2017

National Poetry Writing Month... Day (Part 1)

April is National Poetry Writing Month, when poets across the world attempt to write a poem a day for thirty days. This might sound simple on paper, but constantly looking for inspiration, finding the time to write, and trying not just to write meaningless dribble to fill up the slots can be quite challenging.

As I mentioned before in a previous project, the 100 Poems Challenge, for me, the aim of the challenge is not prolificacy, but to maximise the scope for inspiration, to find meaning in small events, beauty in the seemingly insignificant.

I've done NaPoWriMo before, but with my dad being very ill at the moment, I've passed on it this year. However, a thought came to mind: might it be possible to take one free day and write thirty poems? After the 100 Poems Challenge (writing 100 poems in 30 days), I was keen to see just how many poems I might be able to manage in the space of only twenty-four hours.

I went to sleep last night, attempting to drift off, but ideas for two poems came into my head. I made some notes on my phone, and returned to the pillow. But sleep was evasive, and another notion crept in. Notes for a third poem formed. As I got sleepier, a fourth idea drifted in from somewhere. Too tired, I told myself I would remember it in the morning.

And somehow, after seven hours sleep and a bit of rattling through my brain in the morning, I remembered it. So here it is... the start of the challenge. I'll be posting in blocks of six, five times to make the thirty - if I can. Let's see how it goes!

(A disclaimer: everything here is obviously a first draft - not much time for editing. Undoubtedly, some of it - most of it? - will be piddling nonsense, but hopefully, some pieces of potential might come through).

Here are the first six poems:

1. Do Republicans Dream of Electric Fences?

God raised man from the clay
and added a soul.
is a poor substitute for a soul -
just ask Frankenstein
or John Murray Spear.

So where will your fences fall?
And what will your bricks be made of?
Not clay, the dust of us all,
branded with LIFE.
The wall you plan to build
belongs to a slaughterhouse,
each brick a golem,

To make them shift
and climb on top of each other
you remove the 'F', forming a LIE,
just as you remove the voice
from the mouths of the clay men and women
you cannot mould
and tell them to get the f___ out.

2. Semaphore

Lying in bed
with both arms under the sheets,
you lie as an introvert
   or just cold.

With both arms in, extroverted
   or just a summer's night.

With one arm wild, over the duvet's edge,
the other tucked in like a wounded bird,
you are indecisive
   or comfy
   or holding onto a lover
   or asleep and lost to your limbs.

3. One for the Trolls

Keep your tongue
behind your teeth,
and if you need to
snarl in disbelief

or jealousy
may I suggest
that a silent tongue
is really best.

If words are bitter
then make yours sweet
and swallow down
all your conceit.

Take rising bile
and hush it dead
... then go online
and tweet instead.

4. The Quick Step to Fame

People don't want to see
technical wizardry,
they just want a good time,
nothing deep or sublime.
Don't waste time practising,
just build a circus ring.

The equivalent
of money well spent
is a satisfied
crook with net cast wide
and hidden talent.

Give them non-stop
flash bang whallop,
what a fixture!

So you see
you can be,

a god,
a cad,


5. Learning the Guitar

If each note is a word
and each sentence, a chord,
then your guitar is a foreign language.

Fingers unable
to bend alongside imagination:
in your head, a symphony,
of hammered fretboard, bent string,
the nimble tap of a speed typist.

Riffing over the backbeat of sleep,
you dream of augmented ninths
and suspended fourths.

On waking, you are left with a poor echo.
You speak pidgin music,
searching for metaphors
amidst blue scales,
a speech impediment of bum notes,
broken arpeggios,
language barred.

And so you took
to poetry instead.

6. The North Korea Problem
(Quotes taken from statements by the Trump administration)

"The United States has spoken
enough about North Korea.
We have no further comment.”
Silence is no panacea.

“We would have loved to see
North Korea join the community
of nations, they have been
given that opportunity

in different dialogues
and offers over the course
of four administrations."
The situation's getting worse:

“The clock has now run out,
all options are on the table.”
Let me translate this -
diplomacy is unable

to breath under the weight
of a nuclear glasnost;
trigger-happy Perestroika
means everything is lost.

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