bjmuirhead

on writing photography life

Category: Poetry

Ossuary

This is the step beyond which there is nothing. The unknown quanta of having been where there is nothing but remaindered flesh waiting to be burnt while memory hangs heads. A vacancy waiting to be and have not been face to face with impossible existence. This is the beyond within which no step is taken—it is not meant for you, who cannot translate life, whose steps falter, thinned by grief which judges life by the dead, littered in tears curved uglily on cheeks of long worn leather that no longer feels the puff of lover’s kiss.

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Prose/Poetry “Accusation”

This one was accepted by Islet rather a long time ago, and has finally been published. I am very happy to see it “out there”, but have to note that the online layout is a little odd, in as much as it is one single paragraph of prose, but appears (on everything I have opened it with) a little broken up. None the less, it is a perfect example of what I have spoken about in previous postings.

Somehow, one day, I would like to extend the ideas in this little piece…

Anyway, go and have a little read…

http://www.islandmag.com/im/index.php?c=61

Who You Are

Mother of someone’s children, you are the body against which many have leant; the space within which absence stretches, protected by brine of tears; the taunt of laughter glistened gleam that cannot be explained with a smile; the sun-crisped offering on sand; hope in which desire drowned, whispering wordlessly.

Another little piece of prose disguised as ‘poetry’.

The bed and the smile — a poem

 The Bed and The Smile

Always mine, this bed

Crossed in an ocean of sleep,

Holding memory dear.

I come and lie on it, your

Smile a raft over deep

Chasms always mine. To read

Always mine, the heart

Of passion randomly drawn

In the creases of the sheets,

In strange texts of skin and hair,

Guiding my way through small

Pleasures, covered and smiling.

 

The above is a poem I wrote some years ago, but never sent away to anyone anywhere. I always liked it, however, so when the opportunity to have it set to music came alone, I gave it to this musician Graham Muller. Yes, he liked it, but he wanted a few changes….

What is below is the poem as he asked me to change it. Of course, it has been through many variations before looking like this. I can’t help thinking, however, that it is a rather duller piece of writing.

Soon, perhaps, he will play and sing it for me, and I may be happier with the changes when he does this.

Comments would be appreciated….

Always Mine

Always mine, this bed

Crossed in an ocean of sleep,

I come and lie on it,

Holding memory dear

Your smile a raft over deep chasms,

Always mine to read

Always mine

The heart of passion drawn inward

In folds of sheets,

Strange texts of skin and hair

Guiding our way through pleasure

Always mine

Always shared

Always ours

Some thoughts on prose poems

It’s been years since I was interested in writing poetry in any serious way. I’ve always considered myself a prose writer whose ventures into poetry have been frustrated by a basic lack of  interest in the form and structure of poetry, but fuelled by my love of reading poetry.

The result of my inability to come to terms with poetry was a venture into ‘prose poetry’, largely inspired by the work of St John Perse. I knew nothing about what other people called prose poetry, and I didn’t really care; the style suited me, and that was enough, especially as I don’t really believe there is any such thing as a “prose poem”. What I do think exists are short prose pieces which may or may not fall between prose and poetry, and that these are what we normally call “prose poetry”. One of my favourite pieces, written in the early eighties, is this:

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Back to back

     I have stabbed myself. The wound is not deep, but puckers inwards, neat and clean with blood…

     Facile with redemption I do not dab or wipe but twis my lips to siphon the flow. Not a drop shall be lost though a sudden struggle to swallow almost defeats me.

     I retch,

     Ready another knife, subtle with release…

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This piece (published in Place and Persepctive: Contemporary Queensland Poetry, ed. Barry O’Donohue, Jacaranda Press, 1984) was pure prose which I then broke into  paragraphs, which were taken by many to be very long lines.

At the time this simply was the way I wrote all prose, despite the editor of a well known and prestigious Australian literary journal, who sent a rejection with the comment You can’t be serious!! scribbled over it. (It is the only rejection slip I have kept, with the purpose of reminding myself of just how limited another person’s reading can be… including my own.)

I guess the point I am making is simply that I used no special ‘poetic’ techinque. It was just images which flesh a tiny narrative. In point of fact, the person who stabbed himself did so whilst drunk and attempting to open a bottle of beer with a very sharp and entirely inappropriate knife, and them sucked the wound…

I could have written a story about what he did, but I really only wanted to make a point about redemption and wounding which the events sparked within me. But poetry?

Everyone is welcome to categorise my small pieces however they want, but I will continue to think of them as prose which, for the sake of convenience, is most often categorised as prose poetry.

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