A crow barks in a nearby tree
relentless in its rowdy call until
neighbour, three doors down left
shouts “shut up!”
I feel his pain,
yesterday it was someone in the
street shouting “hey Joe, Joe, Joe, JOE!”
to the point where you’re silently screaming
Jesus just answer him Joe,
and for three days now it’s been a squeaky toy,
bought for a new puppy, four doors right, whose
owners’ tolerance is to be frank surreal – the
utter depravity of this relentless noise – and
really only surpassed by the surprise brought
in the restraint then collectively shown as we sit,
quietly in our Cuprinol-fenced zones,
trying to read a book or make a call or just still
the mind to contemplate the depth and purpose
and trajectory of our sodding futures, only
to find ourselves haplessly stuck listening to this shit
valiantly managing to refrain from the loud
“shut up!” deafening within.
Just shut the fuck up.
So I now, three days on, hear the neighbour shouting
at the crow who has come to represent all that is
Disturbing, Intrusive and Unacceptable in this world,
and I want to echo his sentiment, or at least support it
with loud applause, but I’m too damned British and
so instead I sit in quiet glee,
The ambience changed this week as
neighbours are, it seems, collectively
on annual leave – how bizarre – but
booked, presumably, when the weather was
fair and all seemed perfect, and so
now they light barbecues in the rain
with grim Dunkirk spirit,
smiles kept bright, voices chipper,
squeaking their fucking dog toys,
and pegging out washing overnight
that still drips low each morning,
wishing they could cut the grass
and at least feel there’d been some sort
of productivity to it all
in the midst of it
if just one
finds the courage
to momentarily shut the world up
well, for that I am grateful.
~ Zand, 24thJuly 2018
Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash
there’s a car crash up ahead
i can’t see it, i can feel it – maybe this bend, maybe the next – perhaps i should go home
listen to yoga chants eat greens remember to breathe and try and recall a time where the roads were safe and a person simply continued to move forwards without fear and the checking of maps dials rear fore – all that anticipation… and for what? why journey at all if each step is predicted?
there’s a car crash up ahead and i’m in it
for one who needs to fix each moment in an aspic concentration carefully measured, this is abandonment, a failure of duty, a release of the wheel and a foot off the pedal
for one who needs to fly, it’s achievement
for one who flits twixt flight and fall, it’s inevitability
there’s a car crash up ahead and all the yoga chants in the world won’t cease the crush of iron will and failed peace and longing and hope and noise and quiet and lies and truth as they touch mingle melt and meld into a fireball of inevitability, a journey’s reckoning
there’s a car crash up ahead
and no time to get home.
Zand, 15th June 2018
A sweep of grey concrete opens before you
Cresting, dipping, turning in to the
hard line of the commute – coloured steel
hues melding into a slow line of duty,
the flow of morning conformity.
Commute, comply, coexist, why not?
You have your foot on the accelerator
as the distant light turns from green
to amber –
closer than you think?
– you have your foot on the accelerator
as the nearing light turns from green
to amber, you are the pilot on automatic
who for a second’s moment sees impulse
as choice whilst choice becomes impulse
though who knows the Truth of it anyway?
Decisions are made, one’s own life
obtusely held within one’s own capable hands,
and the foot pauses or presses,
movement halts or flies – almost on a whim
As if nothing drove it. As though it were random.
You continue, Commuter – a momentary
annoyance for those paused unwittingly
or a heartbeat’s fear for those in your way.
Remind them: memento mori. It’s good
for the soul to de-commute for a bit.
Cease to coexist. Detach.
Be a Good Citizen of the Road
but don’t lack imagination –
when all’s said and done it’s what we have left to work with.
For now, you are the god of the road.
Decisions and choices are made by those who lead.
Conformity may be your creed but Impulse is your devil,
Choice remains your elusive Holy Ghost, and the
poet racks up another few lines no matter what.
Commuters reach their point, beyond warm concrete
which now rests a while, it doesn’t care either way.
The heart beats.
Zand, 8thJune 2018
I’m reading “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara, and this is but a partial review of that book, given I’m only a few chapters in. But, oh, the writing is so sweet that I needed to speak out early. Take this:
The other aspect of those weekday-evening trips he loved was the light itself, how it filled the train like something living as the cars rattled across the bridge, how it washed the weariness from his seat-mates’ faces and revealed them as they were when they first came to the country, when they were young and America seemed conquerable. He’d watch that kind light suffuse the car like syrup, watch it smudge furrows from foreheads, slick gray hairs into gold, gentle the aggressive shine from cheap fabrics into something lustrous and fine. And then the sun would drift, the car rattling uncaringly away from it, and the world would return to its normal sad shapes and colors, the people to their normal sad state, a shift as cruel and abrupt as if it had been made by a sorcerer’s wand.
When I read writing like this, there’s a huge temptation to throw down my own pen – just spend the remainder of my years reading more similarly quality stuff. But, no… that’s not the Right Thing To Do. What’s essential, for any writer, is to read what they enjoy, spend time reflecting, and work out why is this so good? We should be inspired rather than defeated by another’s work.
This particular passage (and much of the rest I’ve read to date) is so damned good because of its clear and simple evocative pull. I really *am* on that train and immersed in the world of those downtrodden characters… And what else is fiction writing other than that escape into another world, no matter how grimy and Real..?
…. or ‘wisdom tooth’ as we might say nowadays.
I went to the dentist today and had confirmed that I am teething. Yes! At the grand age of 53 years, I have a Wisdom Tooth coming forth. Hallelujah! I am so very excited at the prospect of finally being wise.
The pic is my younger daughter, who turned 16 today. The other is now 18. Where does time go? In the dentist’s, a curious toddler was running his grandparents ragged in the waiting room – grandparents, I might add, who didn’t look that much older than me. I smiled, as I waited, watching his antics… and thought before you know it, he’ll be grown.
Here they are, the 18 year old and the 16 year old, obviously before they reached those ages.
I wonder what Wisdom will entail? My dentist – and my colleagues – find it mildly hilarious that I am teething. I tell them yeah, but I will be SO wise! And I actually believe it. As though, once the tooth has made its total entrance, all manner of stuff will become Known To Me. Yes.
A namesake of sorts (my maiden name is Teasdale) wrote a pome on the subject of ‘Wisdom’ and, somehow, it seems particularly apt with this teething thing and the two daughters reaching significant ages…
Wisdom – Sara Teasdale
When I have ceased to break my wings
Against the faultiness of things,
And learned that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate,
When I have looked Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange – my youth.
Happy birthday to my darling daughter who has brought, and continues to bring, such Joy.
And here’s hoping for Wisdom, for us all… 😉
I was in Oxford yesterday and happened upon a sale at The Ruskin School of Art. I had to drag my eldest in – she really wasn’t remotely intrigued – and once there, we proceeded to browse intently this offering of energetic, creative youth.
I bought the artwork shown here. It resonated, probably way more than it should have done given that I’m ancient and the artist a mere babe… 😉
The artist is: http://www.jessicaheywood.com and I liked a lot of her stuff at the exhibition. This one in particular. She also writes painful but often beautiful and raw poetry.
On the way down to Oxford – a 2 hour drive – daughter and I had waxed lyrical on feminism, politics, humanity, life… the usual fare, we have a healthy regular line in conversation… and much of what we saw adorning the walls of the Ruskin School seemed – to me – to echo our conversation, and indeed many other conversations we’ve had.
Alas, no. My daughter was quietly horrified at what she saw as (and I paraphrase here) “teenaged doodles, not art”. When I suggested we’d finished browsing and should be heading back, her relief came in a hissed “yes, let’s go!”
For me, the exhibition/sale showed more of the same youthful energy and passionate belief I see, feel and hear each time we check out another university. The energy in these places is almost palpable, certainly to one as old (!) and long-toothed as I. So what we saw at Ruskin wasn’t ‘art’ because of its skill in recognised & approved techniques, or even in originality, or indeed execution (a lot of it was sketchbook stuff), but it was art to me because of its passion and intent. For my daughter, though, it was an awful and uncontrolled outpouring of her generation’s angst – everything bad she’s ever seen on Tumblr or college toilet walls, stuff you might think but certainly don’t ‘put out there’.
Interesting. She and I may appear to agree largely on political and sociological issues and ideals, but clearly we’re approaching our view of Life from two very different angles. I’ve been mesmerised by our trips to universities – simultaneously admiring, adoring and thrilling to all these marvellous young folk embarking on their adult lives… whilst a tiny (but significant!) part of me envies them their vast choice… they have *everything* ahead! Whereas my daughter… well, this is her generation – she’s grown with them in life and all over social media and she’s just not as impressed as I am with their stance(s).
I bought another ‘artwork’ recently… a piece of hand-made paper I’ve framed and put on my bedroom wall. I love it. That’s why I call it art.
But what really is art? The experience with my daughter shows me that it can – and cannot – be anything, depending on who’s assessing.
She and I listened to a lot of (my) music on the drive to and from Oxford – and I’m always warmed when she asks “who’s this?” and then Googles it… but there’s a lot she must be quietly dismissing and, again, what resonates with me as a passionate or otherwise appealing piece, can – and does – leave her cold.
We did, once more, find agreement on certain musical pieces, though – and this one in particular:
… which, it could be said, is also a work of art.