Can it really be autumn already?
Time flies they say and I guess it's true. The endless work of revision and preparation of the back catalogue has continued apace. At least when spare time is scarce there's always something I can do! It's a good and sometimes sobering exercise when one returns to old work. Having been writing for over eight years now I've learned to distance myself from a poem emotionally and analyse the work in the cold light of experience. I don't see this as a negative process at all, being able to disengage has enabled me to deconstruct and improve work that I have previously parked. One learns a trick or two. It is often what you take out that makes a poem.
Where is the punchline? Is it hiding partway through an earlier draft. Will changing the order of the poem improve its impact? Read your work out loud to yourself. Check the flow. Does it work as a performance piece? You are going to take some criticism in life and much can be learned. Be open to what others have to say. Sometimes they will be right, sometimes stick to your guns. Know which is appropriate. I have seen work reach publication and it is clear the poet has not had wise counsel. Sometimes the king has no clothes and needs to be gently told. If any of this gives pause for thought then this post has done its work. The result for both you and your reader will be a much more rewarding and satisfying experience in the long run.
Now for a few poems. Feel free to feed back, I may be able to improve them as a result!
Goddess forgive my human frailty
As I kneel before the feet
That once graced a marble plinth.
I accept responsibility for placing you here
Beyond the soiling fingerprints
Of mere supplicant desire.
Worshipping until you outshone
The feeble midday sun
You failed to bless me with increase
Instead visiting my base soul
With a secular disease
And I ceased to be a believer.
Now I return to the shell
My shallowness has left
And cry out your name.
I bring no gifts or sacrifice
Knowing the bridges have been burned
That your immortal back is forever turned.
Amid fading memories of your face
With a new reverence for the divine
I venerate this sad and ruined place.
Across a bridge of skulls
The song of lead
A harvest gathered in.
Our altar sags with gifts
A mother agitates
Her rosary of suffering.
The dead feast on marigolds
Cast toothless smiles
On sweets from honeybees.
We dance beneath the stars
As saguaros point the way
Thorns stitch our hearts to memories.
Revenant from the soil
A gila monster
Emerges hissing from its lair
A sidewinder’s tongue
In search of sustenance.
Paths of love and loss
Enfold the dead
Mute spines pierce our hands
Thoughts of vengeance take flight
Beating bullet riddled wings
Swirl above a roadside shrine.
Flowers for the disappeared
Sag in the midday sun
Stoop to kiss a bleaching photograph.
While the unscrupulous feed
Filling their ribs with angel dust
Hungry for a few dollars more.
Screaming hollow empty person
Twisted, gifted, curséd cast
Blistered skin, Vesuvius victim
Crawling lover, ash bound body
Eaten by the mountain’s fire
Concrete lungs, gasping, airless
Frozen in time’s tesserae.
I heard your voice
A disembodied plea
Pregnant with the past
Calling out to me.
Across the tides of time
The realm where beggars chant
For some kind of release
From all the things they aren’t.
I pen these codes lines
Like spiders on a page
Like voices on a breeze
Like all the games we played.
All I have is this
A mirror soul I seek
Loving what you were
Plugging holes in me.
Things can’t be the same
Now you’ve been and gone
I recall at evensong.
If I believed in God
But half of how I should
He’d open up your heart
Like any lover would.
He’d whisper in your ear
Why you should be with me
Smear mud across your eyes
Until at last, you’d see.
The Salting of Carthage
I understand, the light has dawned
Cracking across my furrowed brow.
See through it all,
Like your empty glass sat next to mine.
I understand the subtle ins and outs,
The beguiling voice you used
In calculated thanks for favours rendered
When love was in full bloom.
I understand the meaning of those days
When hope shone bright and new
And desire seemed weatherproofed
Against the coming storm.
I understand, post thunder, as tears evaporate
And neurons weave saddened thoughts to memories.
I understand why the puzzle’s incomplete;
You don’t want the final piece.
Realisation pricks my heart as I ponder wasted years
Understanding is a sharp and two edged sword
Leaving wounds your studied absence daily salts.
Mark Harris has asserted his right under section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.