This was originally written for an experimental multi-author poetry site where specific rules are given as to the form a poem should take. In this case the instructions included a view across a station from one platform to another, mentioning Rita Hayworth. As readers of my other blogs will know, I am something of a fan of Miss Hayworth, so this was irresistible.
At the station
Standing idling till the train comes
That will take me home
I look across
At the other side
Where a train has just stopped
Disgorging the young whose day begins as mine ends
Crowding into town in their lemming-like rush
To find in a brief fumble up against a wall
The closest they will come to transcendance
But they don’t think of transcendance
So taken up are they in the moment and themselves
That they see their scrawny bodies eroticism far exceeding Rita Hayworth
In their dull couplings a flame to outdo Bogie and Bacall
Or at least they would if they knew their names
So certain is youth
That they cannot see that to a jaded man
Of not quite middle age
The memory image of Rita Hayworth’s body
Her all powerful breasts
Might rival and even overpower their over exposed charms
Such is youth
And so was I when young
But I fear for them
For when they are like me
Not quite old and not quite young
With no Rita no Lauren or Katharine
Who will they have to bring some cheer into the greyness of the everyday
We have left behind the era of the gods
Bequeathing to our children a world we made without them
We thought that godlessness was better
But without the gods can there be a soul?
Here are a couple more poems that I’ve generated. They’re both a bit sad. The first reflects on something very important to me, that is the issue of truth, and its paramount importance above all other things. The second looks at the nature of identity, finding it vanishing in both the macrocosm and the microcosm.
Can we know truth?
Some lay claim to be its guardians, but,
Regardless of whether their truth is born
Of divine revelation, philosophy or of
Reason, they ban dissent. But at least
They value truth.
Some decry it, deny it, say it doesn’t
Matter, that there are much fitter gods to serve.
They fear the truth.
I know that I can have no other mistress.
I know that if forced to choose between truth and
Anything else, truth always will be my choice.
But my truth is that of an ill mind
And finds no takers.
I am so large, my body is made out of
Hundreds of millions of millions of tiny cells,
Each one a living thing all on its own.
And each of them is made of just as many
Atoms, which further subdivide into
Electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, gluons,
And, at the heart, a string, maybe a piece
Of pure quintessence. I am not in these,
Or in the atoms, or even the cells
That make the body that I call myself.
I am nowhere. When I look for me, I vanish.
I am so small, one of sixty million
On an island, in a continent, on a planet we call Earth,
The home of six thousand million people.
And Earth is only one of eight, nine, eight
Planets spinning round a star, the Sun,
Just one of hundreds of thousand millions of stars
Within the Milky Way, and it
Is one galaxy in a universe in which
Galaxies outnumber all the grains of sand
On all the beaches I played on as a child.
I am not there, the universe would still
Continue much unchanged if I, if all I know,
If Earth, if Sun, if Milky Way were ended.
And yet my mind encompasses all these things:
I can see myself as a colossus or a speck,
And even dimly comprehend the infinite.
And so I rehearse to myself each day,
This list of reasons for my non-existence.
This is by way of being my first ‘serious’ poem. That is to say, I’ve written any quantity of light verse, indeed, a whole verse play, but that was a formal exercise. This is the first time I’ve tried to say something that mattered to me.
It’s worth noting that in spite of this the piece is still pretty strictly constructed, so it consists of tetrameters arranged in rhyming couplets, as well as adhering to the classic 6 + 8 structure. I do find that a strict structure actually aids composition.
After all that, here it is. Please be kind. As I said, it’s my first attempt, but it is about a subject that matters to me a lot. So, without further ado:
A sonnet by Julian Porter
The problem’s not inside your head,
But with those who, too easily led
To judgement, cannot comprehend
That it’s them drives you round the bend,
With their falsely caring ways,
That turn to nightmare all the days.
Yet all they need’s the simple will
To not assume that mentally ill
Means mentally inept, or worse,
Which makes them unwisely averse
To give responsibility
To those of us, like you or me,
Who only want to do our bit,
And by doing become fit.