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Thursday 11 March 2010

The Displacements

Night drew in at platform one -
the only platform as it happened.
Tiny wayside station,
its sun competing brightly with the starry
windows gleaming warm and half-inviting,
frost-filigreed one side, misted on
the other. Passengers mere silhouettes.
Where had it been to gather such a fug?
Snow - a dusting only -on the carriage roofs.
Difficult to see the train for what it was.

Tiny wayside station,
the guard, red flag in hand,
was on the platform in a jiffy,
No one taking any notice. Crowds
were boarding, not a soul dismounting.
Only I was hesitating, who would
later follow on, though still unsure,
to find myself a quiet compartment,
warm enough for meditating, open
to the stars - a time of simple joys.

So night chugged on through blazing cornfields,
a moment always short of holocaust,
the sun a scorching winter overhead.
A half-light passed us in the cutting,
returning to the frosts we'd left behind.
Clack, clack and tickets please! the wheels
went in their rhythm on the track.
I, who had not meant to go with Night,
thus being without ticket, hid my eyes
and trusted to the stars to see me through.

Soon crossing the Displacements -
acres, hectares, landscapes, people,
couldrons, ice-wells on the move.
Between them: turbulence - and refugees
caught up in earth-quakes, floods and conflagrations.
Camel trains of old, we saw them searching out
the next oasis and the next. We passed some
frozen into hillsides, their eyes still
scanning the horizon for a land
somewhere or water capable of life.

Tanka #2

Weatherman relents
and forecasts warmer weather.
I claim the credit.
Though I'd thought he might just frown,
it seems my haiku shamed him!


Jim Murdoch said...

There are a lot of good sounds in ‘The Displacements’, Dave. Clearly thought’s gone into the internal rhymes. Have you tried reading it aloud? I ask because the rhythm feels a bit awkward to my ear. It works fine on paper, it makes sense, but I kept finding myself wanting to add in or drop the odd syllable. For example, the second stanza, the line ‘the guard, with red flag in his hand,’ I would have made ‘the guard, red flag in hand’.

As for the meaning of the piece I get the feeling I’m missing a key piece of information, something on the news perhaps, that I should know what specific displaced peoples the poem is about. Which I don’t? Am I right?

Last stanza is the strongest. It reads well.

Rachel Green said...

There really are some images in here that would delight the most hardened soul. I love this.

Shadow said...

how i like your 'responce' to the changing weather forecast. i hope its right!

JeannetteLS said...

I'm not sure whether I have to know what was on your mind Dave, but for me? It captured a moment of one person hunted, haunted--fleeing amidst a world that is fleeing. That's enough for me.

It's different from some of your poetry... The rhythm changes and, for me the many unstressed feet create something of a train moving slowly, unevenly, like life on this earth at this point. Uncertainty, "a moment always short of holocaust."

Maybe I missed your point, but I found one in the reading and it worked for me. It put me on edge, it hurt my heart. I think it's supposed to.

Of course, then I read your Haiku and laughed, so there you are! Thanks for another entry that just got to me.

Chhaya said...

Read this twice, Dave. Loved the feel it gave me. i dont know why, but it reminded me of the Taggar Railroad from Atlas Shrugged, the Ayn Rand Novel.


PS: thanks for the lovely comment @ my blog. i m following u now :)

Yousei Hime said...

I love the passing images. So glad you visited my sight and lured me here. Thank you for sharing this.

Carl said...

I like this one. another haunting poem. It made me think about the Children sent to live in the country or with relatives in America during the bombings of World War Two. I realize the point of view is of one who is older than that, but it conveyed the feeling (at least to me) those kids were feeling.

It definitely left a strong impression on me.


Unknown said...

Hi Dave,

There is a haunting quality to this. I may not know from what the people may be fleeing but life has sufficient hardships from which to choose.

Thanks for sorting out the weather!

Kass said...

I liked this poem. It had a driving force and at times the rhythm reminded me of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." I also loved the feeling of scanning anything - land or relationship capable of (sustaining) life.

Dave King said...

Thanks for e really useful set of comments. I do take the point about the rhythms. As you will see i have amended the the line inn the second stanza. I had in fact modified it several times, once at the last moment, which was probably a mistake.

Most interesting to me was the comment that the last stanza was the strongest.It was the last written and quite quickly with almost no rewrites.

I'm afraid you were off the mark, though, with the thought that there may be some extrinsic key to its meaning. There was no particular item of news etc. I had read an article suggesting that climate change would cause both massive land movements and movements of people, but it was very much concerned with statistics, no descriptive narrative, no visions of how it might be etc. It suggested a series of images rather than a poem as such. In the composing, though, I thought I could connect them in some non-linear, maybe non-logical way. Almost like a dream sequence, I suppose, concentrating on the emotional charge of such an event, the feel of itChhaya. Oddly, I did then have a dream - not quite on the same subject - that I am thinking of writing up into a poem - or trying to!

That's a pretty satisfying remark, for which I thank you greatly.

Must be right. Man on telly said.

Your first para is spot on. Later there are many fleeing, some inopposite directions, but you have the gist of it. Thanks for the response.

Thanks for that. Look forward to seeing you around. Appreciated the comment. Interesting comparison.

Welcome and thanks for the comment.

Yes, I can see the connection. The comparison is a good one. Many thanks for it.

At least we haven't to flee from the weather - just yet!

I must confess that I do not know "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere". I must look it up. Thanks for the comment.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dave, the final lines are powerful, they evoke a solemn tragic condition more than ever vivid in this day and age.
Refugees, deportees and even the crowd in the first amd last section of The Waste Land
" If there were water..."

Conda Douglas said...

I've missed your longer poems, Dave and now I remember why. Only one word bumped me, "fug". Remember this is a Yank speaking.

Nikki... said...

Wow Dave, the imagery is awesome.. I could visualise a man seeking refuge,trying to escape the demons (both internal and external), hoping to find solace among the many nameless and homeless.. Just my intepretation :)

Dave King said...

Mmm, hadn't thought of Eliot, but always glad to be compared with such! Much thanks.

Sorry about "fug". I was brought up with it and tend to think in such cases that so must everyone else have been! It's basically an enclosed atmosphere of warm, stale - often smoky - air. Unhealthy but cosy! I think it's a derivation of fog. Thanks for commenting.

Well, I can find no fault with your interpretation. Thanks for visiting and for the comment.

Fragrant Liar said...

Really thought provoking images, and, in the end, sad and hopeless.

In the words of Spock: fascinating.

Lucy said...

I thought it was a dream, one of those you don't know whether you're happy to wake up from or find the imagery so compelling you want to be back there...

I haven't picked it apart, but it did grab me, as some things do, instantly.