Without a specific brief set for myself today I decided to go for an afternoon walk around some familiar haunts. I had a vague idea in my mind about matching places I could see from the window to the five stages of grief, but in practice I got a lot more interested in what I could see at ground level; in trying to be a camera. In the end I still went for five numbered stanzas, and I think it might be possible to work through some kind of mental matching, but I’m going to look at these again in a couple of days and see if they might be better ordered for the stages to come through.
I was thinking of bringing in a little more of the process, drawing on a more conversational tone (‘I was thinking of writing about…’) but as it became more observational it felt to me like that wouldn’t fit with the sparseness of the piece, though some of that comes into the third section. This kind of observational mode reminded me of the Westernised, probably fairly distorted, version of the haiku, and though I wasn’t aiming to write haiku, I did find myself wanting to pare back the stanzas I had to something that looked similar on the page.
Each stanza – except the last, where they didn’t seem to be anything more to add – was five lines and I cut it down to three. This meant losing a couple of images that interested me – in the second stanza, ‘a row of sad blue flags tipped / further forward than they ought to be’ and in the third, a reference to a preacher’s stand I saw which asked in plain text ‘Will suffering end?’, but I think the draft is better for being more thinned out. On the other hand, perhaps it’s too sparse now. And I don’t know about ‘a vector pulled / towards an anchor’ – is there too much difference between those two things, and so a clash of metaphors, or would something more boaty just make it feel a bit more trite? As ever, it’d be interesting to hear your thoughts on the density, the ordering, and anything else.
Here, by the way, is a picture taken by Pete Horrox of me in the residency apartment, if you’re wondering what the view is like!
Not Everything Is Visible From Here
The bridge on Holliday Street —
dim iron flowers and scalloping,
soft rust — majestic as an aqueduct.
Somehow it’s still open, that hotel
with the fluted front, like someone kicked
the doors in on a concrete safe.
All the apps tell you to create spaciousness
in the mind, but you’re a vector pulled
towards an anchor every time.
They’ve packed away The Golden Boys
for cleaning; everything is scaffolding
for something coming.
Two street musicians in padded coats
tenderly lift back a velours sheet
from a carved wooden piano.