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Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Cemetery / Magpie Tales and Writers Island Prompts / Haiku #290

Broken shapes.
The cemetery wall is topped with slates
like headstones, leaning.
How many sorrows can a wall contain?
Shapes that we associate
with death enclose the burial ground.
Mourning encloses mourning.
Beyond the wall the graveyard stones are white,
here they are blue and turning black.
Grief, too, has found its flavours,
each flavour finds its addicts.

Someone has scribbled "Mummy" on a slate.
I wonder when she died - or if she died.
If so, of what? And when? How old?
The wall is border, demarcation:
dead and living must not mix or be confused.
Inside are other borders, other demarcations.

A cortege has appeared, from nowhere it would seem.
Ghosts. People-shapes of mourners,
a black regatta
flowing first towards me, then away,
unsure of form, unsure of what to say
and stripped of all those age-old consolations,
as am I.
Only the cemetery has that sureness,
the quiet certainty we've lost.
The rest is faithless, featureless:
the wilderness, allotments
and the garden bordering.
Dust everywhere.
The dust of those traditions,
those muddled certainties.
So many lonely people.
People lonely in their different ways.

The coffin like a landscape,
sparkles in the rain.
Sparkles into life, you might say.
Almost. Beyond it,
stone steps to where the landscapes meet.
Collide and run together.
If only we could map all our
internal rifts and all our roots,
have nothing strange or mindless left
to throw us off the scent.

The dust requires some structure to be put in place.
We think a wilderness of thoughts
and try our best to bring them all together.
This place is part of that.

The rain is setting in more solidly.
I watch the wasteland and the garden edge together,
blur, and penetrate each other, pinch
each other’s frontiers further back.
Man and nature alternate
in tiny triumphs and disasters
where neither stands supreme.
Between this lost domain and that
the words that carry visions fall as dust.
A bit of bramble here,
a slither of herbaceous border,
clump of nettles... Near at hand
a coffin stacked with flowers.

The Cemetery was written and waiting in the wings for a launch date when first Magpie Tales and then Writers Island came up with these two prompts which suggested what follows:


As clear a mark of spring as daffodils,
the house flung open to the fields that wait,
and out all dust and winter festerings,
then in sweet floral scents, the mind to breathe
and make of this dark cell a forest glade.

No winter is more dour nor has more weight
than shuttered minds routinely looking in.
It's in the looking out, beyond, behind
we see the colours that are there to find.
The world is black and white or it is grey

(a veil as false as shadows on a wall
that fogs the mind as cataracts blur sight)
until the veil is lifted, bolts are drawn.
If transience intensifies the hues
it's grief that renders them in black and white.

In the bedroom once,
one thing led to another
now it's in the bathroom.


Gerry Snape said...

thankyou for these two poems. Very moving. I especially love the last part of the cemetery ...."the rain is setting in more solidly"...absolutely nailed it . Any funeral I've been to has been either cold or soaking wet and has made the sadness a physical thing as well as emotional. Succinctly descriptive words.

Dave King said...

A word of explanation, perhaps, about the haiku. It is really another found haiku, in that it represents the comments of one of the Man Booker Prize judges. In the past submitted novels contained a lot of sex, now there's very little, instead there's drugs - taking place in the bathroom, of course.

Jinksy said...

Two poems full of images to delight the mind, even as the emotions join in the sadness. Thank you for both of them. :)

Ruth said...

I hope you don't mind, but I'm walled in by the first poem for now. I'll read the second later (I did read the haiku, which made me smile). There is a great deal in The Cemetery, and I need to let it sit, and I need to read it a few more times to gather all its cohesive fragments and images. At Google Reader, the first stanza was all that appeared, and even alone, it was enough. Then there is much, much more, of lyricism, imagery, and deep contemplation of life, and death, and what's in between.

Thank you, for writing, and sharing this.

Jim Murdoch said...

‘The Cemetery’ is a good piece. It begins well with strong imagery – the first three stanzas especially – but it rambles a bit after that which is probably appropriate considering what you’re describing. It lacks a proper ending for me. I thought you’d end with the coffin going into the ground but it just dwindles away at the end. Some nice lines mind. I especially liked the stanza which begins with the line, “The dust requires some structure to be put in place.” I read that as “We, the dust.”

Unknown said...

I agree, the opening stanza of 'The Cemetery' is very strong; "How many sorrows can a wall contain?" also made me think of the Wailing Wall.
I love your offering for Magpie/Writers' Island. You have blended the two images wonderfully.
And the haiku is fun but it had me set on the wrong track, so thanks for clarifying! I reckon quite a bit of the other action may feature in bathrooms though!

Brian Miller said...

that first one is wholely remarkable the table...the flavors of grief finding their adicts...tight piece....

i chuckled a bit at your haiku...

Rachel Green said...

Uttertly superb, sir, though of the two, 'The Cemetery' will remain with me the longest, I think.

Erratic Thoughts said...

Ahh!Superb poems.
A reader couldn't have asked for more...
I loved the closing lines of The Cemetery...:)
I'm in complete awe of it...
What an interesting Haiku too...:):)

Olivia said...

Very creatively done- both.. vivid imagery.. lovely writing..

Olivia said...

How are you?

I invite you to join our poetry community at http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/,
It would be great for you to take a look at our playground, sign in to follow if you wish,
our major event is Monday Poetry Potluck, you are encouraged to link in one of your favorite poem, or write a poem over the weekend that is related to our theme, (week 6 is seven sins), hope to see you stop by, do let us know when you do and leave us a note so that one of our officials gets back to you....

Our Monday poetry potluck is open from Sunday 8pm to Wednesday, 8am. you have 60 hours to submit one quality poem and share.
Writing your entry ahead of the time and link in as early as possible would get you more traffic and is strongly recommend...please let me know via email if you have further questions...

Happy Weekend.
U Rock!

Madame DeFarge said...

I do like the Cemetry, especially that fourth line. It is unutterably moving in all regards.

Friko said...

I couldn't say which of the two poems I like better.
Both speak to this melancholy soul directly.

I read the line you quote as a haiku in the review. i
suppose it would take a reader with a constant eye for the poetic line to recognise it and catch it for their own.

Tess Kincaid said...

I love the notion of the flower-topped coffin being a landscape. Lovely piece, Dave. Thanks for coming back to Magpie!

Kristen Haskell said...

Three poems each so different, all beautifully written.

Tumblewords: said...

Man and nature alternate
in tiny triumphs and disasters
where neither stands supreme.

Fine lines! These are terrific pieces - fine posts, to be sure.

Kass said...

Very nice poems.

I especially identified with the flavor of grief and it's being black and white.

Windsmoke. said...

A haunting poem describing the cemetery with images and grief thrown in, very enjoyable. Drug taking has never really turned me on it's to dangerous to fill your body with unknown deadly substances, best to keep right away.

Reflections said...

The cemetary one will handg around for a while, doing it's haunting memories... Very well crafted of both.

Nice writing.

Rachel Fenton said...

I thought the first wonderfully conjured up the experience of the cemetery, the structure evoking the place beautifully.

"Between this lost domain and that
the words that carry visions fall as dust." These lines stood out for me.

The second prompt picture reminded me very much of the opening and end of this Bat For Lashes music video for e song Precilla:

Dave King said...

Thanks for really helpful feedback. Much obliged.

Thanks a lot for those remarks.

I do not mind in the slightest. Quite the reverse, I appreciate the fact that you are taking so much trouble over it. Thank you so much for the visit and the comment.

Appreciate that critique very much Jim. Amazing how much hangs on terminology, though. The rambling was intended, though I had hoped it would be seen as meditation! That the we might be taken to refer to the dust I had not anticipated, though I see now, of course, how it can be. Even so, I feel qiuite relaxed about it.

Thanks for that Derrick. The reference to the Wailing Wall is interesting - as is the thought of what activities might grace the bathroom!

Both comments extremely helpful, but especially the first, for which much thanks.

Which pleases me if only because so much more effort went into the first one.

Erratic Thoughts
And what a generous comment! Many thanks for it.

Welcome and my thanks for stopping by to comment.
A very big thankyou also for the invitation. I shall certainly look in.
Hope to see you again.

Thanks so much.

It's strange, I think, what makes a line jump out occasionally. It doesn't happen often, at least not to me, but it's - usually - fun when it does.

Thanks for that - and enjoyed the Magpie visit.

Many thanks for the comment and a warm welcome to the blog.

And a lovely comment - thanks.

Always interesting - and useful - to know what folk most identify with. Thanks.

Thanks for the first remark. As for the second: so true!

Hi, and welcome to my blog. Thank you for commenting. Useful feedback.

A really interesting set of comments, for which much gratitude.

Carl said...

I am blown away by the imagery. Will read it over and over.

Dorraine said...

Brilliant, Dave. You could make the dead rise with this piece. I wouldn't change one hair of a word in this.

Especially relished: The wall is a border, demarcation: dead and living must not mix or be confused.

And: The dust of those traditions.

Every bit caught and held me,right down to the coffin stacked with flowers.

cheryl said...

You are a true bard David and I read in awe.

Unknown said...

the imagery and flow and the first piece, magnificent.. I am speechless

the second stanza on your second piece..brilliant

and I loved that haiku..a bit of fun after the heaviness of the first two..a well timed laugh, though I suspect it's dark humour.

Dave King said...

Nice of you to say that. Thanks.

Welcome and very much gratitude for such an encouraging response.

A warm welcome to you. My thanks for such a generous comment.

Thank you so much. You leave me a little non-plussed at such praise - but very welcome!

Lucas said...

I think the two poems link perfectly and take off from the images in an entirely original way. I like the imagery of the first poem - i can really see that wall and the effect the rain has on the landscape.
The second poem is very finely balanced and the final two lines are succincly fine.

Stafford Ray said...

"No winter is more dour nor has more weight
than shuttered minds routinely looking in."
My pick of lines from many that impressed. So I promise to take more cues from outside!

Raj said...

drugs?! oh.
the pervert that i am, i had gotten to think about +/- tests :-\

they are lovely by the way,
both of them.

How many sorrows can a wall contain?
Mourning encloses mourning.
Grief, too, has found its flavours,
each flavour finds its addicts.
Someone has scribbled "Mummy" on a slate.
I wonder when she died - or if she died.
If so, of what? And when? How old?

marvellous lines sir.