Thursday, October 30, 2014

I started writing a poem for Halloween this morning, whilst I was staying with my family at Ettington Park Hotel, reputed to be the most haunted hotel in England.

Although my poem is in its early stages of development, it is inspired by a discussion I had with my daughter yesterday evening, in which, in an effort to stop her from feeling frightened, I told her of a secret people, operating furtively and with humour between the cohorts of Believers and Sceptics. "Do not fear, nor dismiss, be a Storyteller, like the night manager who told us of the screaming lady, stage phenomena, like the concierge who, before it was stolen, periodically pulled out Walter Scott's book and left it open at the same page on the library's floor."

Before going to bed, my daughter and I climbed the stairs where there have been sightings of a murdered female servant, walked hand in hand along detergent-smelling corridors, the carpet sibilant under our feet, pushed heavy doors that squeaked as they closed slowly behind us, lingered outside room number 9, where guests have reported being awakened by another apparition trying to gain admittance, before sneaking into the darkened Long Gallery.

The small round tables looked like they had been arranged for a conference, and on one of them we placed an early draft of the following lines in an open book of French sonnets. "How long", I said, "before the night manager is telling new guests of the time the cleaner found enigmatic words, my words, in a book of Italian sonnets?" "It was French sonnets", she answered. "But that is how hearsay works, publish through hearsay and there's no need to be frightened or cynical. Be a storyteller."

Lines on Ettington Park Hotel, published through hearsay 

Whosoever stole Saint Ronan's Well,
For to piously arrest the spell
That holds The Library, or to can
It to insert into a less than
Grand shelf, in some prosaic study,
Threatens lore and the art of story-
telling, the night manager, alas;
And Narnia would be clothes moth frass
But for a book of Italian
Sonnets, and the verse lying therein,
Incongruous English verse,
                        in the Long Gallery.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lapidary 1:38am (Sense-impression continued)

Lapidary 1:38am

There's a baby's head skimming briskly above the playground wall.
The school children are rapt: how could someone so young be so tall?
There's me on the other side, arms stretched holding my son aloft,
As I walk up the footpath; and they watch the baby's head waft
By like some aberrant autumnal husk, brisk yet protracted;
And this is linear time, the role of love enacted;
The role of love, to interact, to play, to gad, thus to live;
I do not date my poems, but often I will opt to give
The notes that build towards their completion a time, and I call
These Lapidaries; a baby's head skimming above the wall,
Behind the P.E. shed for which the children are entrusted
To use The Great Wooden Key; and the wall's bricks are encrusted
With greyish-brown ivy, dying back above its severed base;
And when I stop and turn to look at death, so turns my son's face
To the school children, and he smiles; and this is the role of love:
We lark, stop, reminded of death, whilst our children see above
The wall.