The poets down here don’t write nothin’ at all


When the poets dreamed of angels, what did they see?
History lined up in a flash at their backs
When the poets dreamed of angels, what did they see?
The bishops and knights well placed to attack

David Sylvian, When the poets dreamed of angels

I honestly never intended this to be a poetry blog. I had no idea I would be including poems here beyond the lyrics of my favourite songs. The fact is I almost never write poetry. And yet here I am, just eight months in with over fifty poems now posted. How did that happen?

If I’m honest, my original reason for deciding to give it a go was that I wanted to explore the more erotic aspects of our story (I’ve branched out a bit since then) without it reading like, well, porn. The emotional and physical intensity of our love is a huge part of all of this and I felt I had to find a way to address that.

Poetry seemed to offer an opportunity to capture that intensity without going into too much gory detail (not that I think there’s necessarily anything wrong with doing that. I know some bloggers are very happy to write intimate prose about their sex lives and more power to them, it’s just not the direction I wanted to take here).

The power of a poem is that it can convey so much and still leave space for the reader’s own imaginings and interpretations. I vividly recall a high school English class where we explored a very moving and disturbing poem about the horrors of war. It was called The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner and ended with a particularly gruesome piece of imagery. Here is the poem in its five line entirety:

From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,

And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.

Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,

I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.

When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Randall Jarrell, 1914 – 1965

The whole class, including our (male) teacher, was in agreement as to what the poet’s message was. All, that is, except for one young woman – she would have been no more than fifteen I suppose – who was convinced that the entire poem was about an abortion from the perspective of the fetus.

Now, at the time, I remember being quite frustrated with the girl and the way she stubbornly stuck to her interpretation of the piece in the face of overwhelming opposition from the rest of the group. Looking at the poem again after more than thirty years, I can see exactly what she was saying.

I’m still just as convinced as I was then, that the poet intended the piece to be taken literally. But the imagery certainly lends itself heavily to the other interpretation. I see that now, though I couldn’t then.

That’s absolutely the best thing about poetry in my opinion. There is always another way of looking at the piece. The reader will bring their own insights to a poem, imbuing it with new layers of meaning that even the poet may not have considered.








9 thoughts on “The poets down here don’t write nothin’ at all

  1. Kudos to you for even attempting to write poetry in the face of a world that is (with exceptions) largely indifferent to it. It’s a nice break in the da. And while I mean to read more poetry, somehow never seem to get around to it. And hey, if you change your mind and decide to write porn, no complaints here. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I don’t feel like you cross the line, so mea culpa if you took it that way. I like your poetry and, at least to me, although you might mention specific details, the overall impression is more fluid and universal. But since we brought it up (and if you feel like checking it out) here’s a link to one of my own poems which was roundly criticized on a “site that must not be named” as being too personal:


  2. [Had to start a new comment since we ran out of reply options on the previous thread] See, this is what I relish about folks in far-flung corners of the world being able to connect digitally. We have a conversation, I share a poem, you share a song that opens a door I didn’t know existed, and we both get a little nudge on our paths to wherever it is that we’re going. Reduction of simpatico to a finer essence…

    Liked by 1 person

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