[for Trevor, 17.9.1947 – 11.12.2012]

I am sixty-five now too and
see a different landscape

though understand well the
relentless grey and cloud.

We did discuss further
darknesses, you illuminating

there and then with
lessons from history

and the depths of your
knowing, those roots in

experience and a prodigious
reading to inform others.

Today you’d make searing
jokes about Machiavellian

truths, then draw incisions
across these lies to expose a

lineage of treachery. Your
line speaks to the despair

of it all, how hard it is to
repair when no one listens

or hears. How in such wit and
wisdom there can be doubt

speaks to now when there
will be yet more ignoring.

The Man and the Boy and the Fish


The man holds a fish
and this small boy

swims on a floor
in a sea of purulence.

The man does not
see or hear the fish

speaking; he cannot feel
how it flapped and gasped.

The boy can only hear
his breathing as it

struggles in the cold
and hard waves lapping

like a pummelling, like
a punishment.

The fish is empty inside
and this boy survives.

The man still holds his
dead fish, but doesn’t

look it in the eye. He did
not understand anything.


Farewell to Small Poems

How a little conception deifies attention and
feelings to its most reductive reefing and
unreefing – sailing onwards within a wind
of bravado. Or famine. Every fourteen lines of
this steady poetry’s breeze devotes itself to ropes
holding all in. At the helm of sails, small poems
are imprisoned by that wind, steered to their
corrections – those temple-walls. And in this
sectarian spirit, the difference of opinion devotes
to a chance of what might happen within; what
might be. There is an open ocean of hauling
beyond, disentangling lines onwards as bidden
not hidden – the farewell to such remedy – and
elevated for this devotion to a little irony.


[Found in Coleridge’s ANIMA POETÆ]

Me Beauties

As mentioned in a previous posting, I am currently reading Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ANIMA POETÆ, a collection of unpublished writings from his note-books, edited by Earnest Hartley Coleridge.

These are fascinating. The bulk [or what I have read so far] is made up of aphorisms, mainly brisk poetic/philosophical observations, easily digestible and certainly quotable. They seem to represent and reflect the perpetual bursts of thought from both the creative and intensely busy mind.

The following quote struck me because it is a maxim that I follow whenever reviewing artists’ work, whether poetry or music. As a principle of criticism, I would always want to comment on the positive, and always look for it. This doesn’t mean avoiding being critical [and I don’t mean anchored necessarily to ‘constructive’, though this is always purposeful], because then there is never discernment. What I mean – or how I embrace Coleridge’s argument – is I don’t tend to comment on work I don’t like! I wouldn’t seek out work that doesn’t appeal in order to articulate that dislike. This doesn’t make sense – unless, of course, it is a political or educational premise/doctrine/assumption with which I disagree and would want to promote preventing its insidiousness being adopted by others.

The quote:

Never to lose an opportunity of reasoning against the head-dimming, heart-damping principle of judging a work by its defects, not its beauties. Every work must have the former—we know it a priori—but every work has not the latter, and he, therefore, who discovers them, tells you something that you could not with certainty, or even with probability, have anticipated.


The First Smile

The soul’s reason
a smile after sickness,

light dropped
by glow-worms

stretching after stars.

Sickness smiles, then,

half by system
and the other

whirling for joy.

This is the system
for reasoning,

light at an end
through looking-glass

the reason it displays.

A prayer
of the human species,

a force of the gust,
kissing itself in

tales of continuance.


[The first poem from a found sequence started today using Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ANIMA POETÆ]