Towards the Next Book of Poems…


they asked Bertrand Russell

how he would react
if when dead he found that God really did exist—
that he had been wrong all along…

what would he do when he arrived
at the Pearly Gates
to be welcomed by St Peter?

what would he say to God?

without hesitating Russell said:
I’d go up to him and I’d say
you didn’t give us enough evidence

(derived from John Searle: Mind Language & Society)

*

San Miniato

stunning edifice on a hill
overlooking Florence named after
one of the first Christian martyrs of the city
executed by the Romans
around AD250 under the Emperor Decius

having survived lions in the arena
he was decapitated     promptly got up
tucked his head under his arm
walked out of the arena
across the river
climbed the hill south of the Arno
and sat down with the head
still under his arm
where the church now stands

the guidebooks do not mention this
for fear of looking stupid

(derived from John Searle: Mind Language & Society)

*

deeply in the world

there was—the Indication of Things
and the naming of them—the Fruits & Flowers
of my small view of it:
my thought-sea beyond the Pear Trees
where the other houses were;
Golden Rod & Beeflies;
the tall fir tree on the downward horizon
marking the End of the World;
the dark front upstairs window
framing the Flash & Detonation
of the Blitz my world survived

my father who had arranged my world
off in a distant place called India
sent me rupees and a small gleaming
white bit of the Taj Mahal

*

in the kitchen

I am forbidden to bring in
carrots just yanked from the garden plot
with soil & wire worms clinging—
it’s something to do with hygiene;
not enough to wash them in the sink—
the damage is done as soon as
they cross the threshold;  not enough
that they’re loaded also with the cries
of seagulls and the squawk
of a heron rising up from its quest
in the moat for eels;  not enough
that they come oozing with spring growth
and the hooting of owls in the morning;
far more than one or two humans
who have haunted the kitchen
with their dirt and their unhygienic
argument that no amount of scrubbing
will get off;  this on account of the boss
who went on a hygienic kitchen course
in anticipation of the time
when we might entertain paying guests
which we are never likely to do

*

always somehow

on the outside of events;
the others going off to do real things
in Mexico and Egypt and India
leaving me to operate poorly
in some backwater of existence
with a nod towards the Other

never able to get sufficiently inside
another’s being to appreciate them
for just what they were

I gave up on life when I used to watch
German and English planes
chasing one another over London
in what they called dog-fights
forgetting the human-beings at the controls

always on the outside of events
but hoping one day to be on the inside;
or is ‘inside’ just a figment of my imagination?

*

rather curious

as it seems to me cutting across
the dappled counties how at the start of a day
you have no idea how it will work out—
its pattern—the ins and outs of it

the journey you will make into the unknown—
no notion that at its end (the day that is)
you will arrive (say) at a 15th Century
red-brick steep-roofed farm in the middle

of 21st Century Goucestershire with a flight
of martins wrapping up its pattern (the day that is);
when you start a poem or a string quartet
it’s just like that—no idea how it will work out

no predicting the themes & images of a day
in the making;   it’s curious of course only
when you really think about it    otherwise
it’s just one damn thing after another

*

to unfold the narrative

of the common thing—the all too obviously
common stick & stone;    the tiled roof
yellowing with lichen;   the cows lining the horizon
—our relationship with such things

unshakeable thinginess that presents itself
to us for the making of images and clusters
of images that somehow work themselves
indelibly together and always have done

in spite of the philosophers who reduce them
to mere temporary constructions of the mind
to momentary linguistic events real enough
in a context—cows in green field etc—but fading

thinly when focussed on—place-holders
for an unthingly some-thing to which we choose
to give a name or label—viz ‘cow’—the thing is
that things are not always what they may seem to be

*

difficult it is

to take the notion of ‘thing’
seriously—things are so damned available:
‘things’ can refer to imaginary realities
equally much as to real ones:

the thing that is a ghost in the loft
the stream running on washed-clean slate pieces
the things that are enormous sadnesses
in the mind—one cloud in a great blue sky

thing is a memory; a wish;
an image; a dream
a plan and a play;
an artefact and a futurable

but we are taught to understand
that things are not things at all—
mere waves & particles & processes;
this table is not rough-cut chunks of treeness

but empty air if only one could feel it thus;
the reduction of things to order strangely
dissolves them into thin air—
things managed by systemic laws

but not really things at all…
then there are the alibis by which
we contrive to avoid wonder:
mere busy-ness; hours spent

nurturing the computer; the sin-song
in the old peoples’ home; endless
reminiscence—the Good Old Days—
imagining that electronic devices

put us in touch with people far away—
inky alibis that enable us to avoid wonder
which is the in between of thinking & thing
the non-existent line drawn in between

things and thinking about things; in music
the wonder is the thing itself; the hiss  of the wind
in all the trees on the side of Cwm Rheidol
in the moment before you call it ‘hiss’

*

some thing

sandwiched between the totality
of the universe and the assumed
attributes of individuals as it might be
a sparrow on a concrete mushroom
early in the morning or two blackbirds
filling their beaks with worms
out of a new-mown lawn

human freedom increases
not insofaras we subjugate things
—habitual assumption—but
just as we give them their due—
then wonder is the middle term
that joins our freedom
to the true dignity of things

I wonder at the cabbage-white
that suddenly flaps about in front of
stream’s implacable green bank
and at the sideways eddies
of the great wind in the valley
distributing the scent of buddleia
and I rest content in the middle term

*

it was night

the full moon was out;
thinking along paths of current associations
unnoticeably my thoughts
passed again to the question
which had become fully transformed
into the idée fixe of my inner world

under the influence from one side
of a distant hollow hum
from sounds of milliards of lives
of all possible outer forms
and from the other side
of an awesome silence
there gradually arose in me
a critical faculty of unprecedented strength

on the one side my blunders
and imperfection of method
on the other side a clarity
about how I ought to have acted

I remember how my strength waned
with such tense thoughts

I do not know what would have happened
to me had not the three camels
nearest to me sat down

(derived from—Gurdjieff: Life is Real…)

*

I am the God of my inner world

so the question arises:
what is there in my general presence
which if I could remove it from myself
would always
in my various general states
be reminding me of itself?

(derived from—Gurdjieff: Life is Real…)

*

theory

was an attitude—openness—
a disposition on our part
to receive what simple things
had to tell us…

the Greeks (whose term it was)
listened often in wonder
to what the ordered whole—
the Cosmos—could tell them

the import of individual things
and what they might tell us
about themselves and about us—
the thing that is my self

(derived from Kenneth L Schmitz: The Recovery of Wonder)

7 thoughts on “Towards the Next Book of Poems…

  1. Just a quick response, I’ll get to the whole thing later. The first poem. What a great example of the pendulum. The other side being, You gave us more than enough evidence. Somewhere in the middle there’s a wonderfully strange world. A balzing something or other. Imagine if people went around without the weight of abstractions around their neck. There would be a lot more dancing, spontaneity would look like desert cactus bursting into stars. Just got home from teaching technology and found these wonderful poems! The trees here are giving us quite a display of color, their own way of transforming. Thanks Colin!

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  2. Many of the poems in this collection jostle with each other, extending colored and rhythmic threads that pull on the elusive meaning of “Things.” In the poem “rather curious” Blundell adopts curiosity as a way out of a life where the days blur into a hypnotic state of despair. The poem’s open ended philosophy roots our attention with the lines, “the journey you will make into the unknown – / no notion that at its end (the day that is) / you will arrive (say) at a 15th Century / red- brick steep-roofed farm in the middle / of 21st Century Gloucestershire.” These lines upset our techno driven millennium, and places our bones in two places at once – the “Unknown.” If we are too busy with other “things” our once delightful sense of curiosity will turn to rust, and the speaker’s tone in the last three lines will become our fate. “it’s curious of course only when you really think about it otherwise / it’s just one damn thing after another.” The poet here knows too well what can happen when our curiosity dries up, and what is happening in the 21st century, with its click and receive information gathering. The speaker in this poem manages to keep his curiosity from rusting, but the tone at the end of the poem knows how easily this gift is being swept away. In the poem “theory” wonder alerts our being to “receive what simple things had to tell us…” Do they still? These simple things are speaking to us and we can speak back to them with new well thought out questions. This reciprocal dynamic is usually not taught anymore.It doesn’t serve the right type of testing. Kids are ungrowing-up too fast. The idea of asking a tree what treeness is sounds crazy (which is a form of wonder-essence) it’s the voiced question that if done enough begins to gain in us, and we move off from our ordinary track of thinking. Click & Receive, Click & Receive, Click & Receive is now becoming a method to write Super-Modern haiku, but that’s another glob.

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  3. In the poem ‘difficult it is’ there’s a felicitous typo – ‘sin-song’ – which I think I’ll leave…

    When I get these poems ready for publication as a proper book, I’ll come to Tom & Patrick for an introduction! 🙂

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