Arrival & Departure

In a previous post I said that I don’t like to inflict my poetry on the reader of this blog. So, being contradictory, here’s another poem, and a rather long one at that. But first some background: I stopped writing poetry in 2006 (see my previous post). That’s a seven year dry spell. Then, last week, it started coming again in a half-formed poem, and this week it’s gone totally crazy and has become a piece called Arrival & Departure. As it was pouring out I decided to write a section for each of the seven years of my dry spell: seven poems, all sonnets. Now, by funny coincidence this cycle of poems is known as a ‘crown of sonnets’. If you manage to plough through Arrival & Departure you’ll see how it works.

I started writing the poem last Monday, and the first draft was finished on Wednesday. That’s 98 lines of ‘poetry’ in three days; well, not quite, because one of the pieces was written much earlier as part of my London Sonnets series in 2003. If my maths is correct that still makes 84 lines of poetry in three days. Today, Thursday, I’ve bashed it around a bit, so what you’re seeing here is a second draft. Oh, and if interested, the opening two pieces and the closing two pieces are Spenserian sonnets, whilst the middle three are Italian sonnets; although poetry purists would argue that one.

I should add that I don’t think this poem has any merit. It’s probably self-indulgent doggerel with my usual clunky metre. I’m not sure if it is worth working on, and I’ll probably bin it. But the point is, I’m writing poetry again and this limbering-up exercise has given me lots of ideas for ‘real poems’. RMG is back…

Arrival & Departure

Arriving with nothing and leaving with nowt:
hyperbolic beginning, a narrative hug,
amniotic contractions, this poem’s about
umbilical scansion, a pelvical shrug.
Quatrain effacement, those hot muscles plug
blood odes and fluids, the conceit then comes:
dilation and sweating a metrical slug.
Crowning commences and storks do the sums –
the zillionth in number then something succumbs:
music and rhythm start crashing the brain.
Placentas are steaming beside screaming mums,
blank sheets now singing a novel refrain.
Quick sands are falling, all life is contrived:
with stinging flesh you have arrived.

With stinging flesh you have arrived,
the yellow bruise of playground days,
eternal sunshine as I tried
to kiss Lois in manly ways.
Custard prunes on dinner trays,
spotlight rays and faulty stars
(forgotten lines in wobbly plays).
Bluebell carts and miniature cars,
footballs bashing window bars.
Our confidence was spun like silk:
the dentist’s chair with life on Mars,
it’s time to monitor the milk.
Our woody den, where we’re supposing
the brass bell rings, it’s time for posing.

The brass bell rings, it’s time for posing:
A cart-shaped wreath, a toilet farce;
the lads are lashed, the women pass
smelling salts (Dan’s decomposing).
A yellow grin, for Mo’s just seen a
therapist, her cough all tarry,
joining in Dan’s death safari:
3 packs a day to emphysema:
a last bet on the Old Kent Road,
some jellied eels and rancid toad
in the hole and auntie Glynis
almost followed from too much Guinness;
with flowers, dirt and coined regrets
we turn away, light cigarettes.

We turn away, light cigarettes,
do tellers tell the cost of health?
We spend our lives pursuing wealth,
puking time on throw-away bets.
Imperatives are silhouettes
in the scurry for bauds and beads.
From 9 to 5 the spreadsheet reads
pins and needles and nightime sweats.
We dance around another ‘ism’,
hot traders forge the umpteenth crash,
everything’s a Dickensian prism,
the debts rack-up, we’re out of cash.
Foodbanks slurp on grubstake grief.
It’s the price you pay for your belief.

It’s the price you pay for your belief
in fairies and a specious story
(the idea all is hunky dory):
you’re forced into a fake motif.
How do you make a blind man see
there’s afterbirth, not ever after?
(cue the sound of manic laughter)
Time faces our mortality,
but human nature then abuts
a psyche warped by savage cuts –
just listen to those Bronze Age tales,
the porkies are as big as whales.
Yet still we crave the faithful pill:
humongus feast, orgasmic thrill.

Humongous feast, orgasmic thrill,
let’s light-up and go on talking.
her tits and hips are known as Jill
Hands away, or I’ll be walking,
I’ve had enough of frenzied stalking
with puffy lips and bedded eyes
So why do guys just keep on gawking?
her snatch is moist between her thighs
the fingers move and meet her sighs
You never ask about my feelings!
just feel my cock’s enormous size!
Tampon time and career ceilings.
Impaled she catches one last breath:
life’s really just a petite death.

We say life is really just a petite death.
Four score or more is considered a blink
in time we will stumble and find our Macbeth
without comprehending a Darwinian link.
Phantoms and potions and cruel demon drink
serve as our steerage through God’s mortal coil.
These hours are empty, there’s no longer sync.
The gears now are seizing and thirsty for oil.
Internal combustion, bacteria boil.
A ghost leaves the host, it’s the end of the game.
The ravens are calling and steel turns in soil –
you’re going to return from wherever you came.
The meaning of life is without any doubt
arriving with nothing and leaving with nowt.


Editing in: in the three weeks after writing the above poem, another two crown of sonnets poured out. They are called Socialist Sonnets and Salvador’s Trout.

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