Monday, 24 January 2011

One poem short but novel at 23 000 words

I'm a poem short for my assignment. I'm happier with my work now, and they sound good (the acid test, for poetry, and for fiction really). But they have shrunk as I cut out the predictable, the clever-for-its-own-sake stuff, and various cliches. Which leaves me about a poem short. My instinct is to bypass the 'good' stuff' that's been peer reviewed in the past and go for something a bit more personal. ('good' being a relative term here!). Meanwhile, I'm living on way to little sleep. The word starts to look strange and dangerous when you're tired. I did manage six hours last night but still had to get up to send no.3 son off on the bus because the previous night no.1 son headed off at 3 in the morning to go skiing. His clock didn't go off  but that was OK, I was already up. I wish I could say all that extra time was spent writing but sadly, I'm too tired to be able to concentrate most of the time. I'm going to try and catch up tonight and get back on with the novel.

This is my November walk poem, written in one of those 'got to write this down!' frenzies after a lovely walk along the Tarka trail towards Woolacombe.

Life and Death in November

We walk, descend into valleys
creased onto glacial curves,
speckled with sheep.
Rams, indigo raddled,
scent the armchair ewes,
trying the nearly-in-season
and the just-out-of-season;
blueing their backs with attempted lambs.
We creep past the bull, massive
behind the squat fence of wire and posts,
buttressed by blackened thorns.
One horn scratches an armoured shoulder.
Crows swagger after beetles or mice,
wing feathers clattering like ash keys.
Magpies cackle in stereo.
Goldfinches arrive in serrated flight,
dropping and rising onto teazle heads.
The wind rolls over the cold-stalled grass,
strips trees and impregnates the sea
with jagged surf.
Walls of un-mortared slate
perch on banks, anchored
with shrub roots and skeletal nettles.
Berries incandesce in scarlet and purple,
shrivelling in the frost.
A sparrowhawk claps from an oak,
indifferent, amber-eyed,
looping into the next killing tree.
Mole hills erupt, earth swelling,
and wrecked shells band the footpath.
A blackbird turns splinters over
for writhing snails, bubbling in the air.
A spider hurries ahead, back to her killing tree,
mugwort, hung with seeds, belled with webs,
mazed with silk wrapped carcases.
A late butterfly loops from plant to plant,
a magpie follows, eyes on her egg filled belly.
A raven, big as a buzzard, gazes out to sea.

I have now finished chapter 8 and am slowly writing chapter 9. No. 1 son says he likes the pace and tension, and my last draft of the books died in the middle so I'm thinking about new dilemmas and dangers for the characters. I'm also doing lots of research on things like John Dee's books and ceremonial magick, which is fascinating, especially in the old English. 

e.g. ...and for as much as, many yeers, in many places, far & nere, in many bokes, & sundry languages, I have sowght, & studied; and with sundry men conferred, and with my owne reasonable discourse laboured, thereby to fynde or get some ynckling, glyms or beame of such the foresaid radicall truthes.   

Me too, Dr. Dee! I just wish I had more of an ynckling, glyms or beame of inspiration for another poem.

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