'Schoolbuddy' by Ray Pool is Write Out Loud's Poem of the Week

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This week’s Write Out Loud Poem of the Week is ‘Schoolbuddy’ by Ray Pool. It’s a poem about finding out about the death of an old musician friend on Facebook - a friend the poet has only recently reconnected with. Ray, a recently retired musician, is a regular contributor to Write Out Loud, both posting his own poems and commenting on others' work, and reads his poetry at Write Out Loud Woking, and at the 1000 Monkeys in Guildford. He reveals more in this Q&A:


How long has poetry been an important part of your life and can you remember why it became so?

Poetry has been significant for me from early schooldays, John Betjeman’s 1960 Collected Poems being my first revelation; I still treasure the book.  My early involvements were firstly with music and writing essays, my father and two older brothers giving me a taste for reaching out to these fields.  The sixties became a fruitful period for the creative arts in general, so then I got the bug to write.


What kind of poetry do you write?  What motivates you?

I used to write what I considered witty poems, but have since extended my range to include any subject that appeals to me where I have sufficient confidence to air my views or shape an idea.  I do tend to favour tales using characters, and I think mood is a very important factor, also to invite the reader to feel comfortable.


If you could only have one poet’s work to read, which one would you choose?

I would have to choose Ted Hughes as my most admired poet for his impact and directness and range of feeling.  Philip Larkin would be another choice, quite different but equally compelling.  


Do you perform your work and if so, where are your favourite places to perform?

 I have only been performing my poetry for a couple of years, and gaining confidence all the time. The venues apart from private parties (and funerals) are the 1000 Monkeys at the Keystone pub in Guildford and Write Out Loud at the New Inn at Send, both in Surrey.


If you found yourself cast away on a desert island, what luxury would you pick?

My desert island choice would be a powerful telescope for viewing the night sky.





by Ray Pool


I lost a school friend this week to cancer

found out by chance on Facebook

we shared close times

in a band together

travelled on bikes when summers were young

challenged each other in photography

found out by chance on Facebook

while casually trawling

to find something mildly enthralling.


The statement came up ungarnished

amongst the litany of rants

dogs doing somersaults

posts to share

little throbbing squares of colour

unfamiliar faces

all points of the holiday compass

but nothing much that I hadn't seen everyday


and this is the way I found out

quite by chance

no emoticons, no birthday jingly jokes

there was a photo with his guitar gripped

and grandchildren in support

and he simply looked out onto the last

of the world that separated us


we found a connection at last

after fifty years, pictures of times shared

winged through the post

numbers exchanged

he told me then of the curse on him

but again time lapsed

his wife depressed, a certain reticence

to meet I sensed though I was willing.


I found out quite by chance on Facebook

I can't forget that shrunken look

or the fifty years it took

better than nothing I suppose

in the realm of choice nobody chose

and soon I must make my late flirtation

to the family's final invitation.






◄ After Trump: an artistic and poetic reminder of America's Great Migration

High on Rust: Ray Webber, Tangent ►


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Fri 9th Dec 2016 22:21

Thanks Cynthia for the great compliment. Feels good.


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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Fri 9th Dec 2016 20:43

Well done, Ray. It has done what poetry is meant to do - engage and inspire other people.

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Fri 9th Dec 2016 17:37

Martin, thanks for more re-inforcements of praise. I think my ego must have swollen this week with all the comments which are quite humbling actually. I find I can't read this now without breaking up a bit, so must be doing something right.


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Martin Elder

Fri 9th Dec 2016 17:02

I love the almost incidental nature gentleness that this seems to infer among all the apparent ephemera of everyday life. Like Mark I have read this poem several times to grip more and more of its richness.
Let me add my hearty congratulations Ray a very worthy POTW.

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Thu 8th Dec 2016 22:10

Thanks for your comment Natasha - also to have a lady add her thoughts! Anyway, i'm sure we all feel these basic sadnesses . I think simplicity and directness carries through and maybe reaches the parts. x

Jon i'm pleased you found favour with this. I've dreamed of getting POTW but never dreamed it would be with this kind of offering; it just came out in a rush. Probably the only way .
Thanks a lot. Ray

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Thu 8th Dec 2016 12:16

Hey Ray
A worthy winner and full of detail that will be familiar to a lot of people.
Made me stop, think and be grateful for what I have in life but frequently moan about
Loved the first stanza with childhood friend rememberances before the illness took hold.

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Wed 7th Dec 2016 22:09

Nice surprise to find your comment Kyle to add some refined weight to my poem, which seems to have hit squarely in the mind's eye, thank goodness. As you have a broad and mature viewpoint in your work, I do value it.

Cheers buddy.

Kyle McHale

Wed 7th Dec 2016 14:00

Ray, this hits hard in a quiet, normal way.

I think that is why it is so effective as it highlights the moments we stop, or are forced to stop unexpectedly in the normal daily routine to be reminded of something meaningful from long ago and what made it so.

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Tue 6th Dec 2016 22:16

Thank you Mark for your revealing comment. I have been overwhelmed on this ; there seems to be a common link emotionally that we can all recognize. I think the main thrust is the dashed hope of another meeting, really a forlorn one . I am not familiar with the film but you reveal the story which seems to conform well.

Cheers. Ray

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 6th Dec 2016 17:41

I have read this poem a number of times and it stands up
so well in its intrinsic shared humanity and recall of times
gone. I was reminded of the opening scene of one of my
favourite films "Stand By Me" in which the main character,
now a man and successful writer - has heard of the death
of his own best friend when a boy long before. Touching
and true to the way we have of never quite letting go of
those extraordinarily powerful links with others as we grow up.

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Tue 6th Dec 2016 16:04

Hi there everyone. This acknowledgment does mean a great deal to me and i'm bowled over by all your thoughtful and nice comments. Dominic and Stu, to quote Betjeman my heart is a little thumping fig (of colour) at your line spotting. Stu, can't wait for the badge. Colin, blimey I am blushing! It sounds like a hard act thanks so much.
David, love you and your valued opinions.
Greg, Always ready to stand and deliver.
Graham, a valued and salient point you make which adds extra dimension, and thank you for placing your generous comment.
elP, A big thank you; I think your observation is a good one and true,
maybe if their is a hope for us all it is best expressed simply.

happy Xmas all. Ray

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Graham Sherwood

Mon 5th Dec 2016 22:03

The problem (acutely observed here by Ray) is when one only has access to a photograph that relates to more than half a century further than one's minds eye can recall, there can be no vitality, no personality, no inkling of how life has gone.

This is a lovely dedication and it goes without saying a worthy winner of poem of the week.


Mon 5th Dec 2016 20:27

You know, Ray, I was just looking last week to see if any of your poems had made it here and had a good idea that you were due soon to be recognized. You have a great down-to-earth style and I've noticed how you treat many subjects regarding our humanity with needed tenderness.

Good to see you here.


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Greg Freeman

Mon 5th Dec 2016 15:59

Well done, Ray. Richly deserved.

<Deleted User> (13762)

Mon 5th Dec 2016 09:55

a situation difficult enough without the in(ter)vention of social media to add that extra kick in the gut. Your subtlety of expression and understanding of the human condition is second to none in its compassion and warmth - yet that finality is also well documented, feared and revered.

this has been well chosen for POTW and Ray, you are a worthy winner any day - your writing goes from strength to strength and never fails to thrill, enchant and question our moralities. Keep 'em coming good sir.

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Stu Buck

Sun 4th Dec 2016 18:46

very moving ray, weary and critical with plenty of introspection. i would also bring up the line 'little throbbing squares of colour' which is pretty excellent really..
congrats on POTW, your membership pack is in the post. please display your badge at all times and ensure you present your laminated POTW card at any wetherspoons to receive 50p off a meal of your choice.

*offer is not valid weekends

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Dominic James

Sun 4th Dec 2016 18:16

Gently conjured up Ray and your thoughtful words an antidote to the trivialisation of a Facebook obituary - which never can sit well among a litany of rants... little throbbing squares of colour. Drawing the thought out you show there is always time for reflection in a poem.

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