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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Trying to Know Myself

If as a new born babe
I was a blank page
to be written on

I have become
a note-book, spiral bound
and scribbled on all through.

Do not write off
my crossings-out.
They are the better part of me.

(not so much the roads
not taken, as the by-ways tried,
found wanting,

crossed by others
which I took instead --
or walked back on myself.)

All this is written on
one part or other
of the I that I know

or the me that others
meet from day to day:
face, psyche... heart perhaps.

it's there in conversation,
in writing, on a walk,
in dreams or idle thought.

I'll recognise in some
unguarded moment, threads
long buried, briefly brought to light.

But no one ever was
a blank page
to be written on.

Some things were there
before I saw
the light of day.

Others came as a response
to my environment.
My father's craftsman's hands

did not come down to me --
unless from them came art.
For sure from them:

a strong sense of
inferiority -- today
how flat-packs panic me.

A D.I.Y. refuse-nik,
product of the myths
the family concoct.

So when the small boy said
I'll be an artytett
the myth was born:

my brother was to build
the houses I designed.
(It might have come to pass.)

Was I as would-be artist
damaged, incomplete?
Perhaps - the theory's rife.

From illness and from myth and self-
fulfilling prophesies came
emphasis on inner life,

abhorrance of conformity
and love of books and poetry,
heresy in faith,

dislike of uniform
and uniformity.
The child is still in me;

I feel his impish ways,
his love of the irreverent,
his prompts to artlessness.

Face to face at times we stare
as to and from a mirror,
broken, multifacetted:

a nose, a broken piece of mouth,
an ear, a cheek bone out of place,
and all of them irregular.
.................................
Hobgoblin2011, at dVerse Poets' pub, prompting for Poetics, set us to compose a self portrait.

20 comments:

Mary said...

Dave, I really enjoyed this. Loved verses 1 - 3, definitely would like to see your crossings out.

I agree no one was ever a blank page.

And the child there within you? I see him too. And the artist in so many ways.

I feel I really got to know you through this poem, Dave.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I like the idea of being a spiral bound notebook Dave - this means I can easily go back to episodes in my life with hardly any effort. A good metaphor that.

Brian Miller said...

wow this really picks up for me as it goes along...what a scene there in the end facing the child you were...a little abstract...but very cool...and i like your thoughts on what was there before even the story began...

Laurie Kolp said...

You dug deep, Dave. Thanks for sharing this with us.

A Cuban In London said...

(Stands up and claps) Bravo! What a marvellous poem. I loved the part about "the roads not taken, as the by-ways tried, found wanting, crossed by others which I took instead - or walked back on myself".

Many thanks. Your poem has definitely put a spring in my Sunday step. :-)

Greetings from London.

kaykuala said...

abhorrence of conformity
and love of books and poetry,
heresy in faith,
dislike of uniform
and uniformity.
The child is still in me

Dave,
It's good that you maintained your non-conformity and everything else. The child in you allowed us to savor all the goodness of poetry that you had extended all these while. Thanks for sharing!

Hank

Sabio Lantz said...

It is interesting how childhood memories are still such a large part of older adults. We are indeed not blank slates.

manicddaily said...

I deeply enjoyed this, Dave. First the image of the spiral notebook is such a great choice - I can picture it with all the rings, some bent, the little ripples at the side of the torn-out pages, and the cross-outs - another terrific metaphor there, and all that they add in - the genetic component - the "predestination" by parents that is true and that is not - that is genetics vs compulsion!
And the last image was especially powerful for me - I too recognize the impish child - but you described the face to face confrontation in beautiful terms, I especially like the lines about as in the mirror.

Well done. k.

Heaven said...

I love your painting Dave...the notebook with crossings-out, I can relate....and always keep the child in you. You will never grow old ~

kkkkaty said...

I also like the nonconformity aspect of this..and you know yourself well enough to move beyond the artificial barriers put up by others...and the notebook..very effective..

John (@bookdreamer) said...

Clever use of metaphor to illustrate experiences experienced by many

Beachanny said...

I think I could have known all this from your work; but it's a lovely, poetic iteration of who you are, how you see yourself, always an impish child, always an artist and lover of words, always tying and untying, finding and re-exploring, always thinking, always changing, always writing...yes, that's how I imagined you all along.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

hail to the child's "impish ways"!

Gerry Snape said...

I like that the byways were tried!

Linda said...

Thank you so much for sharing, Dave, you are giving us readers a chance to get to know you.

rallentanda said...

This is a wonderful poem.Simple with meaningful substance. I could relate to much of it.Ha...intimidation by flat packs..loved this!

Cloudia said...

I flatter myself that I see Me in your apologia too.



Aloha from Honolulu
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Fred Rutherford said...

Dave, really nice job with the self-portrait. Really appreciate that you really took this prompt and ran with it. Tons of cool insights in here
Do not write off
my crossings-out.
They are the better part of me.

is my favorite stanza in here, but the entire piece is strong, with a fantastic last few stanzas as well. Great portrait. Thanks for sharing

The Elephant's Child said...

This is a lovely piece. Thank you Dave. The roads meandered down several times are an image which leapt to my mind.
I like the concept of the inner child but have to confess that, when around people who release their inner child onto the unsuspecting, I have longed for a babysitter.

Dave King said...

Mary
Thank you for a wonderful comment - the sort that reminds me why I blog in the first place. Much appreciated.

The Weaver of Grass
Yes, you spotted the point of it. Very reassuring that. Thanks.

Brian
Thanks Brian. Yes, I agree it is a little abstract, but I was struggling with this one.

Laurie
Had to!

A Cuban in London
Thanks muchly - I lust hope other commenters don't think I'm paying you!

Hank
Thanks, but I suppose I ought to confess that I'm not quite as non-conforming as I once was. We wrinklies tend to become less anti you know.

Sabio
Yes, something that has often impressed me. Maybe the subjects of the memories were more vivid at a younger age.

manicddaily
Thank you so much for this. It really does mean a lot to me to get such a critique. It is both rewarding and helpful. Thanks again.

Heaven
Wel, sometimes I feel the child is straining at the reins, but I know what you mean, and I thank you for it.

kkkkaty
Hi, a warm welcome to you. Thank you for your visit and your so kind comments.
Good to have you aboard!

John
Thanks John. Really appreciated comment.

Beachanny
Such a lovely thing to say. But being brutally honest, I suppose I ought to say its how I'd like to be, but whether any of us are what it says on the tin... thank you for such a supportive comment.

Tommaso
I bow to your hail. Thank you.

Gerry
Thank you. Yes, that is how I see them. And myself lured onto the roads that crossed them.

Linda
Good to have the opportunity. Thanks.

rallentanda
Thank you - flat-pack intimidation seems to know no boundaries!

Cloudia
That's brilliant if you do. Hey ho!

Fred
Much thanks for this. It was a brilliant choice of prompt and although I took a while to get into it, I found it rewarding once I was in. Really good to have your thoughts on it.

The Elephant's Child
Great reply. Enjoyed reading it and loved your meandering roads. Yes, that puts it exactly. As to the inner child, I do know what you mean. I guess we're back to the difference between childish and child like.