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Tuesday 13 April 2010

My Words

These words have been my children now
these many days. They're well behaved,
I've nourished them and guided them
the way a parent should,
found niches for them where I hope they'll thrive.
I've packed their bags with all their likely needs.

They're off, of course, as soon as I release them,
to lands beyond the orbits of my thought,
so far outside the faintest whispers that have reached me -
how can I anticipate
what will befall? or know how they'll conform?
Their bags contain a wide variety of clothes:

allusions and resemblances are there -
the usual dress - along with echoes
from the lives they used to lead,
way back before their present souls
were formed. A range of meanings,
too, is there, along with nuance,

derivation, correspondences - the old,
familiar underclothes. I picture them
alighting on those foreign shores
where skills have other ways with them,
where what they wore when leaving me
is wildly inappropriate. Their difference

erodes their birthright, seals their fate.
There, where the language does things otherwise,
the words assume the roles we could not give.
In local dress they're too conspicuous
to ply their subtle trades. Once firmly lodged
in other climes, they'll not come back to me.

I'm blaming this one on Jim at The Truth About Lies. Commenting on my post of April 5th he wrote: I keep coming back to the idea that a poem has two phases of life that it’s a chrysalis from which a thing of beauty – an imago, such an appropriate word – can emerge once it comes in contact with another’s mind. We, the poets, never get to see our poems like that. Before he got to suggesting there might be a poem in there somewhere, the first few cells of its embryo were already forming.

Haiku #114

Hospitals deemed good
will operate on those that ail -
assisted scrubbing-up?

And one I will not dignify with a number...

Earn ten pounds an hour.
Sleeping bag tester - Halfords.
Sleeping essential.


bard said...

Beautifully written. You've expressed your thoughts in a wonderfully profound and poetic way.

If nothing else, blogging has taught me that my words only belong to me until they are posted. Once released, they are like children that we have molded to the best of our ability, but who still have to grow up and take on identities of their own. We may provide the original material, but their identity becomes forged by those they connect with.

Karen said...

I've often thought about the second life of the poem - that moment when it ceases to be the property of the creator, full of intention to become the creature of the reader, alive and breathing someone else's breath

Bagman and Butler said...

Great poem. And true. The poet only plays a moderate role in sending words forth. The poem is never complete until the reader fleshes it out.

Elisabeth said...

So clear and accessible this one, Dave. And it's a pleasure to see how it was first fertilised in your mind, via Jim's words.

David Cranmer said...

"They're well behaved."

Oh, that's very good Dave. And the whole piece is terrific!

Unknown said...

Hi Dave,

But how often I wish they'd come (wherever their origin) with a note, outlining their expectations and my responsibilities !

Both haiku are worthy!

Shadow said...

i just love how your 'children' grow. so enjoyable to read.

Linda Sue said...

Your offspring, always welcome here, some well behaved,some hilarious, some so remarkable they end up living in cottages of their own- side by side in "my favorites". Some I visit so often they think I am a relative - that crazy lady that lives down the lane who pops in-sighs, and then gets all catatonic, pretty much useless for a couple of hours...This poem will be among them- LOVE THIS . You are so generous, Dave!

CiCi said...

Great writing. I never thought of words as children, but I can see how that could be. I have always lived with the belief that when the words are sent out, they are no longer mine, they have a life of their own. So it coincides with your writing.

Kass said...

Sometimes it is hard to send our babies out into blogland. I appreciate this poem and see the careful parenting.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear Dave, I enjoyed the directness and frankness of this poem which has also produced hearty comments by your blogfriends, the one I feel particularly close to is the first of the list which gives a great answer to the vast majority of poets' works: "their identity becomes forged by those they connect with"... and I am once more feeling I've got a poem which can "talk" with yours...I am going to post it.

Friko said...

yes, wholly so. Words once released take on the meaning the recipient gives them.
You said that beautifully, Dave.
I would say that it is even more likely to happen in blogform, because there is nothing one knows about the poet and writer except their words on paper, which one has already interpreted acc. to one's own understanding and mindset.

The haiku are very clever, you are on a roll with that idea!

Ronda Laveen said...

I loved witnessing the birth of your word poem.

Also, I'd like to apply for the job of sleeping bag tester. I have strong credentials...just ask my husband.

Dorraine said...

Letting them go is the hardest part; the children and the words. But once we do, look what beauty comes back to us.

@ctors Business said...

Brilliant as word-smiths shaping, forming the phrases, bending the words to make the form, we have to let go, allow the words to grow up and leave the nest

Dave King said...

Many thanks for the opening compliments. Yes, I agree, writing the poem is the first part of a two-, even a three-fold process: the second and/or third part(s) being the shifts in meaning and emphasis which take place in it when being processed in the reader's mind or when being spoken aloud. (Please see also my reply to Tommaso.)

Yes, an intriguing subject for contemplation, I agree.

Bagman and Butler
A good way of putting it, thanks.

As I said, it's really all his fault!

Of course, the "well behaved" bit is a somewhat pious hope - but then poets have to be optimists!

Mmm... what about some form of identity papers?

Thanks for that. Much appreciated.

Linda Sue
That's a wonderful compliment. Many thanks. (I'm not sure who the crazy lady is, though...)

I think that is a very important truth that not everyone fully appreciates.

I agree. I think it is always hard.

Yes, thanks for repeating that. It made me reconsider and indeed, the more you think about that statement, the more there is in it.

Whic raises the interesting question of how much one should need to know about the writer in order to grasp the work. I do take the point, though. I had not thought about it before specifically in connection with bloggerland. Good to hear the Haiku are connecting.

Thanks for that. The job works out at £600 per week, apparently - but you have to sleep on it, not later!

In terms of the contacts made, you mean?

Precisely - and we can't alway say: "There'll always be a bed for you here!"

Jinksy said...

I like to think words have a life of heir own, once the reach the page...

Dave King said...

I'm sure that's true. They do.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Love the meta-poem :)