Today is National Poetry Day in the UK, and thanks to NPD Ambassador Liz Brownlee I actually knew about it before I got a loads of poetry posts on social media. This year is National Poetry Day’s 21st birthday, and folks at Forward Arts Foundation have been busy promoting it, with lots of events planned, including poetry reading on BBC4 news programmes.
The theme this year is Light. I considered writing my own poem, but somehow, with everything else that was going on, blog tour, editing the BookElves Anthology and giveaways, I decided to give you three very different poems/extracts, which at least consider some aspect of light. Be warned, there are some mild swearwords in them. If you think these are a little highbrow for me, well, I ransacked my brother’s bookshelves to find them!
My first offering is from Owen Sheer’s remarkable epic poem Pink Mist (2013), a verse story of three young soldiers from Bristol (UK) who are deployed to Afghanistan.
Can’t go there. Or there. So better stay here.
Up on Dundry Hill, under the transmitter.
Under the clear night sky,
the last of the planes coming in to land.
Stars coming out. House windows turning on.
Always a light in the dark.
Even for Hads down there in the Shire,
sitting on his mum’s sofa, trousers rolled, curtains drawn,
cast in the aquarium light of the screen
as he plays Operation Afghan
to drown out the sound
of the kids on the street mucking around
with bangers and whistles, or anything else
that might make him jump, start or shit hisself.
I love the imagery, especially the aquarium light of the screen.
My next sample is from Federico Garcia Lorca’s Selected Poems, translated by Merryn Williams. There are many references to the moon, which is always threatening and hard. My brother says Lorca uses the moon as an allegory for death, as in this poem (in the early poems section, and not ascribed an individual date, but probably around 1927). This is…
The Moon Comes Out
When the moon comes out
the bells fade into silence
and impenetrable paths
come to light.
When the moon comes out
the sea floods the earth’s surface,
the heart feels like an island
in the infinite.
Nobody eats oranges
under the full moon.
You only eat green
and icy fruit.
When the moon comes out,
one hundred identical faces,
the silver coins in your pocket
Finally, something a little lighter and more my style: a poem for our age from Now We Are Sixty by Christopher Matthew (1999), after the original A A Milne poem ‘Twinkletoes’ in Now We Are Six.
When the sun
Twinkles on the bonnet of my Golf GT
When the sky
Is as gloriously blue as it can be,
Off I go.
The air’s as fresh as grass,
On the Newbury by-pass –
Hello . . . Oh no!
I’m in a bloody traffic jam!
all poems copyright of the authors.