For a short while I was a member of the local Arts Club where we read our poems to one another.
I always remember reading aloud the below poem, and afterwards there was a silence. Then the person sitting next to me said, "Wow, Verbal GBH"
I think it was a compliment but I'm not sure.
Ah, pale pleasures, chemical ecstacies;
Nerve-ending euphorics -
You are my enemies!
Cursed spell of mown grass!
Bird enchantment - opiate air -
How treacherous you are - giving me hope -
This neural trip, synapatic sensations,
Untramelled by memory,
Unlike my soul
Looking out of its opaque window,
Which you have flung wide open - you liars!
Again, cyclic measures
On my lawn, children's cries,
Transistor magic, seabriny dawn -
Ah, wounding treasures, let be,
Let me rediscover truth;
Drawn pain from my spirit, desist!
Open your windows upon the inner Eden
And grant there your promised perfection.
Would you call, you gulls?
You thought you had reason; your lives
Yet using your voices
My seasons revolve
A nd come ever cycling
To no end. Have mercy!
I take all my substance
And shake it
Like washing, it turns inside out
It offers that tenderness yet
To the vapid waste of affectations,
Able to wound me because of
Their lack. Soft wounds! Oh what torture!
Give me back my senses, and withdraw
Your world - I regress.
Let me stand at your door, never caring
And harden in breezes so chill,
Like clay, like iron, like brick, like steel,
Unmelting, unmoved, unfeeling,
Then when you have done
Your song, your air
Your fulsome life, your all, so all it is,
I'll find it not enough
And late, at last, find Love
Where no mind moves, no sparks of life
Cross gaps, no eyes, no speaking voice,
No touch of air sears skin;
Unwrapped of life but finding life within,
I lie insentient, replete,
And of my pleasures freed.
(Each line begins with the letter of a word.)
In this case, the words spell out the seasons of the year. Mrs Green's journey is both the changing seasons, and her struggle with old age and illness.
S She stumps by, thin as a sapling, bent as a daffoldil bud,
P Pressing fingers like fresh twigs on the bare stock of her stick;
R Round her withered head, a flowered scarf tied in a bow -
I Intent on shopping at the top of the rise, bright-eyed,
N Not caring that her journey takes an hour, she is a
G Girl of eighteen in a body of eighty.
S She stops at the peak to undo the top button of her woollen coat.
U Under a builder's sign: Ten Luxury Homes To Be Built On This Site.
M Murmuring, as in a Druid's rite, her face squinting into the sun,
M Most of the shopping list she had carefully compiled
E Earlier in the day, with the assistance of the Home Help,
R Rolling each heavy stone again up the hill of her memory.
A At last she reaches the level path, her journey nearly done.
U Usually her breath comes easier here, but
T Today her heart threshes like branches in the wind.
U Until the storm passes she waits, rooted to the street, swaying,
M Mustering her remaining powers, conserving them like late fruits,
N Not noticing the fallen scarf, trampled at her feet.
W When she sets off again, stiffened by the chill in her blood,
I It is with feet deadened, as if imprisoned by ice;
N Never has the shop been so far away, impossibly far!
T The wind snatches the last rose off her cheek,
E Every limb creaks with the rusted immobility of old age, and
R Reaching a bench she slowly falls - an old leaf that they will soon sweep away.