Tag Archives: poem

More from the vault


Whilst rummaging through a musty old cardboard box, I came across some more notebooks.

I found a couple more poems whose jib I liked the cut of so I reworked them. This is one from around 2003.

 

Driven to Distraction

By David Milligan-Croft

I am trying to avoid your gaze,

When you look up from your desk.

I am trying to ignore you,

When you stand by the water cooler.

I am trying not to notice the way your auburn hair cascades

When you lean over my desk.

I am trying not to inhale your Poison

As you glide by the photocopier.

I am trying not to notice your smile

From across the boardroom table.

I am trying to avert my eyes,

When your slender ankles clip-clip down the corridor.

I am trying to be ambivalent,

About the new dress you bought in Paris.

I am trying to dismiss your emerald eyes,

Framed in dark-rimmed spectacles.

I am trying to be oblivious to the way you laugh,

The way you think – even the way you blink!

And, try as I may to ignore these things,

I carry them with me, every moment,

Of every day.

Although the above poem isn’t in my collection, if you liked the style of it you can find more of them by simply clicking on the cover image below.

LETMEFAIL-COV-A

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The gift of the notebook


If you’ve read my previous post you’ll be aware that I’m going through a period of ‘writer’s block’, so I’ve been dabbling with a paintbrush instead.

Another thing I’ve been doing is going through some old notebooks. I have scores (if not hundreds) strewn around the house in various boxes, on bookshelves, in bags and suitcases, cupboards and wardrobes.

I always have a notebook on the go to jot down ideas or do a little sketch in. The problem is, I hardly ever look back on them. I guess the thinking is, that if the idea didn’t present itself at the time, then it was probably a rubbish idea. For the most part, this is true. But, occasionally, a little gem pokes its head to the surface. (And, wasn’t that the point of the notebook in the first place?)

I came across a poem I wrote in 2000. I can see why I didn’t take it any further at the time, but with a bit of jiggery-pokery I think I’ve got something quite nice. (See below the photo.)

So, the moral of the story is:

  1. Always carry a notebook.
  2. Don’t leave it 16 years to revisit them.
  3. Good ideas will present themselves in the end.

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DENIAL

By David Milligan-Croft

 

I inhale your words as you exhale them.

And I place them into separate categories:

Those that I wish to retain,

And those which I do not.

 

Words such as ‘terminate’ and ‘over’,

I place into the carbon dioxide pile,

To be expelled into the universe

As quickly as possible.

 

But the words of love and affection

I send directly into my bloodstream,

To feed my heart and my brain,

Keeping my soul sane, for a few moments longer.

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The Diameter of the Bomb


I love France.

I’ve been there many times.

In fact, I love it so much, I’d even go as far as calling it my spiritual home.

I posted this poem a couple of years ago after the Boston bombing.

I can’t think of anything more poignant right now, other than to repost it in memory of all the people who lost their lives, not just in Paris, but also in Beirut and Egypt.

Red-White-Blue

 

The Diameter of the Bomb

by Yehuda Amichai

 

The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters

And the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,

With four dead and eleven wounded.

And around these, in a larger circle

Of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered

And one graveyard. But the young woman

Who was buried in the city she came from,

At a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,

Enlarges the circle considerably,

And the solitary man mourning her death

At the distant shores of a country far across the sea

Includes the entire world in the circle.

And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans

That reaches up to the throne of God and

Beyond, making

A circle with no end and no God.

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Happy National Poetry Day


Today is National Poetry Day.

Here’s one I prepared earlier.

Much earlier.

SOMETIMES, YOU GO UPSTAIRS.

By David Milligan-Croft.
Sometimes, you might hear a bang-

Like something has been knocked over.

And, you shout out,
“Hey! What are you two up to?”

Sometimes, you go upstairs,

You know, to check on the girls.

To make sure they haven’t kicked off

Their duvets, or fallen out of bed.

But, when you go up,

You realise they’re not there anymore.

And, for a moment,

You thought life

Was like it was before.

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Alone with Everybody by Charles Bukowski


charles-bukowski-quotes3

 

Alone With Everybody

By Charles Bukowski.

 

the flesh covers the bone

and they put a mind

in there and

sometimes a soul,

and the women break

vases against the walls

and the men drink too

much

and nobody finds the

one

but keep

looking

crawling in and out

of beds.

flesh covers

the bone and the

flesh searches

for more than

flesh.

 

there’s no chance

at all:

we are all trapped

by a singular

fate.

 

nobody ever finds

the one.

 

the city dumps fill

the junkyards fill

the madhouses fill

the hospitals fill

the graveyards fill

 

nothing else

fills.

 

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How do I Love Thee? #71/365


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Sonnet 43 – How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

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Things I am grateful for #40/365


Okay, you lucky people, you get an extra one today as I’m behind on one.

This is one of my all-time favourite poems by W.B. Yeats, 13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939.

He was an Irish poet, founder of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, the first Irishman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 and also an Irish Senator. Not too shabby.

NPG x6397,William Butler Yeats,by George Charles Beresford

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

W. B. Yeats

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

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Things for which I am grateful #36/365


The poet Wilfred Owen.

Please note, this post contains graphic and harrowing images of war.

In the year when many are ‘celebrating’ the centenary of the First World War, it is worth sparing a thought for those, such as Owen and Sassoon, who spoke out against its horrors and our government’s mishandling and inept military tactics. Particularly at a time when such things were unheard of.

I’m a lover of poetry and history. And it sickens me to to the core to see how many men’s lives were sacrificed needlessly due to incompetence and profiteering.

I went to the Somme once on holiday. (Ibiza isn’t really my cup of tea.) The thing that struck me most was that one minute I would be strolling through the undulating, idyllic French countryside on a summer’s afternoon and, the next, I was confronted by tens of thousands of white marble headstones.

Inscribed on one gargantuan monument I saw in Arras are the names of 75,000 men and women. They don’t have any headstones. Because nothing was ever found of their bodies. They were vapourised by shelling. Ponder that for a moment. Vapourised. Their atoms scattered to the winds.

‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’ roughly translates as: ‘It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.’

Remember, this poem was written at a time when most poets romanticised or glorified war. And also a time when governments could censor and suppress what the public read or saw.

Dulce Et Decorum Est

by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

N.B. Wilfred Owen was killed in action one week before the end of the First World War.

SommeEnd

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Revelon, gefallener Deutscher

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So, on the one hundredth anniversary of the War to End all Wars, spare a thought for all the victims, whichever side they fought for.

I know it doesn’t seem like something which I should be grateful for, but pioneers like Wilfred Owen, paved the way for the rest of us to dissent against irresponsible governments. For that, I am truly grateful.

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Things for which I am grateful #33


Peat fires.

peat-fire

As we’re in February, I thought we might have a little recap: Well, we’ve got hot and cold running water (#2); we’ve got food in our bellies (#29); we’ve got a cheeky bottle of Shiraz (#28); we’ve got an indoor lavvy (#14); we’ve got a roof over our heads (#32); we’ve got a bathtub (#4); I’ve got my two little rascals (#1); and we’ve got music courtesy of Katell Keineg (#30). What are we missing? I know, a peat fire.

To be fair, any open fire is good. My step-da was a coal man, so I’m used to the smell of a roaring coal fire. But having lived a long while in Ireland, I’ve grown used to the smell of peat. It’s rich and earthy. It’s a bit like the open fire equivalent of a malt whiskey.

And no, it isn’t a fossil fuel. It’s actually renewable energy because it is made from decomposing plant life. It’s just a very, very slow form of renewable energy.

It burns up a lot quicker than coal, but then, it’s easier to light to get the fire going.

Here’s an old poem I wrote which features a peat fire.

WAITING FOR THE FIRE TO GO OUT.

© David Milligan-Croft

I remember a time,
When I couldn’t light a fire –
Coal or peat.

You always lit them:
Kneeling on the hearth rug,
Building it up
With sticks and firelighters,
And bits of screwed up paper.
Wiping your nose,
With the back of your hand,
So’s not to soot your face.

You’d sit a while,
Watching blankly, to see if it’d take hold.
Then you’d stand like a statue
Drawing it with a broadsheet.

I light them now.
I make a little castle with my peat briquettes,
Like it shows you on the firelighter box.
And I sit with my poker,
Staring into a space beyond the flames.
My hand burning. My face burning.
And I wait,
Until you go out.

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Le cadavre d’exquis, de l’amour – new poem


Le cadavre d’exquis, de l’amour.

Draguignan, 1999.

© David Milligan-Croft

Outside the vineyard,
Droplets of rain refresh us,
Along with the bottle of white wine,
On the wrought iron table.

There’s a sunflower between us
On the cover of your notebook;
We take it in turns
To write our exquisite corpse, of love.

Occasionally, we stop,
To exchange wine through baisers,
While the rain makes our words bleed,
Like your mascara at Nice airport.

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