Tag Archives: writing

Rooster Gallery / Living Off The Grid.

 

 

 

Living Off the Grid

The sun with rare generosity
beats down on the solar panels
on the roof of Vincent’s log cabin.

The first sentence of his organic novel
The abattoir, for once, was silent
sits alone on his laptop screen.

This is the seed from which will spring
plot, character, content.
He gets up, walks out through the kitchen door

through the tortured arch of his driftwood arbor
and into the vegetable garden
where he urinates in a jagged arc

sprinkling life-giving nutrients
on the unsuspecting butter lettuce.
Returning to his desk

he taps out another sentence:
With his mother’s mop, he wipes
the blood from the kitchen floor.

Why so morbid?
It’s warm, he’s feeling drowsy,
he detects a faint signal from a long-dormant source

like the distant ping from a submarine
at the bottom of the ocean.
He should invite someone for dinner,

the lady who sells jam at the Saturday market, perhaps,
or the angry sculptress – she of the tangled hair,
the scrap metal raptors, the acetylene scent.

The jam lady it is.
Bottle of wine from the retired lawyer’s vineyard,
salmon from the gnarled fishermen down at the dock,

try a little humor,
ask her if raspberry jam is a male preserve,
make a nice salad. What’s the worst that could happen?

 

This poem first appeared a little while back in “The Basil O’Flaherty”.

 

Another Go at Autumn/ Andrew O’Hagan at the Vancouver Writer’s Festival.

 

 

Autumn

The leaves on the trees

bordering the field

have abandoned

that chlorophyll thing

and are leaking

yellows and red

like a paint store catalogue.

 

I have played around with this poem a few times in previous posts, some poems are never finished,  I guess, they are just resting. Perhaps, in the case of this poem, it’s because the subject was pretty much nailed by John Keats in 1819 at the age of 24.

John Keats

My friend, the poet Slim Volume, once gave me this advice:

Avoid autumn and death,
They’ve been done before;
There’s little more to say
On either score.

Also, waves like marathon runners
Collapsing on the shore,
The inexorable march of time,
Don’t go through that door.

Autumn in Vancouver means it’s time for the Vancouver Writer’s Festival. Last Saturday I went to see the Scottish novelist and journalist, Andrew O’Hagan, talk about his adventures as ghost writer for Julian Assange and his ultimate disenchantment with Assange,  whom he now regards as an unprincipled narcissist. He also read from some of his own novels. He talked for close to one and half hours and is an engaging, intelligent, witty speaker who in the course of his readings imitated a range of voices from Marilyn Monroe to a group of Scottish people in an old folk’s home on New Year’s Eve. But it was a question he took at the end that more than anything else stuck with me long after the talk ended.

He was asked by an audience member whether he thought that the internet and the platform it provides for self publishing through blogs, websites etc was a good thing in general for English literature in that more and more people are now writing fiction, poetry etc. He replied that initially he thought that it was a good thing but now he wishes it would stop, primarily because of the poor quality of what is being produced. Writers are not taking the time to edit and re-edit their work, they are in rush to get something out when maybe they should be waiting. Writing, like all art, requires hard work, diligence and talent.

The next day, the sun came out after a week of constant rain, so we headed out for a walk on the beach. As we left the house, this line popped into my head: ” we walked out today to celebrate the absence of rain”. I’ve been writing haiku’s recently as a kind of mind game, a poetic Sudoku, so by the end of the walk, I had this:

we walked out today

to celebrate October,

the absence of rain.

When I got home, I went straight to my laptop and posted the poem. An hour later, I had a look at the poem again and I trashed it immediately. It was flat, wooden and had that self-consciously poetic tone  that haiku’s sometimes have. In addition, I had destroyed the rhythm of the original line by trying to adhere to a syllable count. This might have been better:

we walked out today

to celebrate

the absence of rain.

It keeps the assonance of the ‘a’s’ running through each line, plus the half rhyme between ‘today’, ‘celebrate’, and ‘rain’ and it keeps the ‘b’s’ in ‘celebrate’ and ‘absence’ close together. In addition, it’s an internet friendly length, three lines long, just the right length for clicking on and moving on.

On the other hand, I could just tuck the line away until I find a better context for it.

Is it just me, or is Andrew O’Hagan looking over my shoulder

 

 

 

2 Poems up at I Am Not A Silent Poet

Reuben Wooley over at I Am Not A Silent Poet has posted 2 of my poems. The first poem I reblogged in the post previous to this one. It’s a haiku about Northern Ireland Politics, which is quite a large subject to squeeze into seventeen syllables, but I gave it a try. The second poem is looser, maybe too loose now that I read it again, but with topical poems there isn’t time to chip away at the poem.

Both poems appeared previously on this blog, but check them out and the rest of Reuben Wooley’s excellent magazine.

https://iamnotasilentpoet.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/northern-ireland-the-morning-after-atavism-by-jim-feeney/

https://iamnotasilentpoet.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/text-messages-from-the-underworld-by-jim-feeney/

The Twenty Second Read

The Twenty Second Read

A couple of days ago, I was looking at my WordPress reader and I came across a poem by Robert Okaji called “The Nightingale”. Robert is a fine poet, check out his blog at robertokaji.com. Anyway, the reader as per usual just showed the first few verses, and a word count, then as I looked down I noticed a message at the bottom saying”20 sec read”.

I got up and went into the next room where I have a ceiling high Ikea bookshelf packed with poetry books and novels that I can’t throw out because I intend to read most of them again at some point. I pulled out the first poetry book that I bought (sometime in the seventies), The Collected Poems of TS Eliot, Faber and Faber. I opened the book at “The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock.”

“Let us go then, you and I

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table….”

That’s one of those images that snagged on my brain, the first time I read it, like windblown paper snagging on a bush. The poem was published in 1917, but to me it is a quintessentially modern poem with its antihero narrator, the outsider, the wry observer – “not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be”. My point is that I have read that poem many times since the seventies and will continue to read it because every time I do, I get something new out of it. So if today TS Eliot had a blog, although somehow I think he would prefer the relative permanence of paper, I hope WordPress reader would label his poem a “lifetime read”.

By the way, I tried reading Robert Okaji’s poem in twenty seconds, but all I could glean was that it was about a nightingale. So, I went back, a second, third, fourth time and each time I extracted more meaning from the poem. So, I would currently probably label this poem “20 seconds and counting”.