The Poet's Choice - R.T.T. or C.U.P. ?
“I hear you're a bit of a poet”
A neighbour once said to me.
“Yes, 'bit of' is probably right” I replied
“and that's all I'm likely to be”.
“Oh, so what's your style ?” he continued
“I hope you make everything rhyme”
I told him that plenty of poets would say
That to do so is almost a crime.
And also whenever the writing's 'free form'
even more people strongly oppose
by stating that such styles are hardly the norm
as its obviously just 'chopped-up prose'
And so my 'style' frequently varies
from 'rum-te-tum' (that's R.T.T.)
to other strict forms using 'chopped up prose'
which some might declare 'C.U.P.'
My wife made up a novel dish
Of juicy melon slices
Topped up with cauliflower florets.
She said "One of my nicest".
"And what is more", she added
"I think they're rather jolly".
But I said, with a solemn face,
"I think they're melon-caulie"
'Look , Dad, a cow'
It must be fifty years at least
since, travelling from West to East
The train slowed down in countryside
allowing us to gaze each side
at objects near and far.
Our little girl, then almost four,
excited at the views before
her bright eyes open full.
'Look, Dad, a Cow' she said with pride.
I couldn't put her joy aside
by saying 'It's a Bull”
(syllabic line-count 2-4-6-8-2 sometimes referred to as the third format)
at the dentist
the usual check-up.
'All clear again' she said. I said
More rain -
gardens need it
but why does it have to
happen on a Bank Holiday ?
the train is in -
make sure it's the right one.
We only just made it in time.
Each year quicker
but I've stopped counting now.
Well, that's what I tell everyone.
now quite alert
and looking at his lead,
thinks 'why is he taking so long?'
Thick fog !
she comes over
from Denmark on the plane.
We have to check times and delays.
She's here !
to the big match”
(in a strange town), they said.
“Follow the crowd” We finished up in
This is not a poem decrying the validity of ownership. It deals with the current
situation and habits. Also it bears in mind that we enter this world, and also leave it, with nothing -at any rate nothing tangible. The end of the 5th stanza
leads into a declaration of the worthlessness of material possessions in any other plane of existence. The poem concludes that we cannot possess people - even those that we love.
The air I breathe is a chemical compound
Shared by us all – fantastic machines
Pulling it in and puffing it out.
No piece of air is mine, or yours,
Or his, yet we are all using it.
There is enough to go round.
The cash I use is paper or plastic
Used by us all, centred on self,
Grabbing it in and doling it out.
That balance small is mine, and you have
Yours, and we are all holding on to it.
There is not enough to go round.
The food I eat is a curious mixture.
They say we all eat far too much -
Mocking the basic hunger of mankind.
My helping or your portion, and our waste
Their death. And we are all chewing the
Fat that feeds the official pyre.
The clothes I wear are a compromise.
Just as we all, according to gender,
Play down our bad points and point up
Our fancied good, while the rebel
Chooses his uniform of non-conformity
With care – lest he be misread.
The things I own are a motley collection
Such as we all, depending on means,
Accrue as our credit in bricks and mortar
Lawns and borders, goods on order,
Souvenir hoarders – all of it worthless
Against the final debt that all must pay
So then, are all things nothing worth ?
Yes, except our love for others
And their love for us; for though intangible
It is the only one that's real.
How can this be ? I do not know,
Although I know that it is so.
Therefore, the you I love must be the treasure
Quite separate and all alone
Though sharing the world with others.
You give yourself to me
But cannot forfeit your identity.
Nor can I possess, or give away, such wealth.
Faith or Hope
Think of the thousands who have died in faith,
Sure in their sacrifice, and certain
In their early death that this last
Act provides a passport to
Their Golden crown.
Each believing that Country, Ideology or Cause
Is greater than their own identity.
Treading their blinding beams like summer
Insects, to turn in to a dancing leap
The last dread fall.
But, when faith ebbs it leaves an empty
Shore stretching away without a sign,
Marked only by the footprints of a
Time-locked pattern that we call our
Past. Telling all.
The footprints show how we have reached
Our present place, and where we should
Have kept, or changed, our course.
Picking up knowledge as we go, guided
Or dogged by past experience
We move through time, by ignorance hard pressed
and hardly seen, primed by an instinct ancient as
No men of faith have come this way,
With closed conviction lighting up
Their path, as well as granting
Guiding strength within.
And yet – there is a kind of faith that
Keeps us moving – knowledge of others.
Friend or stranger, on their separate shores
Marking their course as we do.
Perhaps someone is in the next bay –
Coming this way?
I feel a poem coming on –
Just as one might a sickness.
I must be sure, not be obscure
Or slip down into slickness.
Sometimes I’m searching for a word
I find I cannot find,
And, much as it is needed,
It will not come to mind.
Then, suddenly, it dawns on me,
Though dawn is not yet come,
Yet, if I do not write it down,
Come daylight it has gone.
The ancients knew of this full well,
They hoped their special muse
Would visit them, and also tell
That special word to use.
They also knew, or so they said,
That if one was not prepared
To receive one’s muse, and hear her views,
Her visits would be rare.
I think that what they called their muse
We might call inspiration,
But that won’t make it easier
To achieve one’s full intention.
For a poem that’s elusive
will never be conclusive
Or reach a state that others wish to borrow.
So I’ll try and get a few hours sleep.
Better luck tomorrow!
Copyright Peter Phelps