Gibley Finds: Poetry

The stream of consciousness technique, perhaps most famously used by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf (Ulysses, To The Lighthouse), allows the reader a real sense of thought process. If you were to write exactly how thinking works, it’s sporadic, mad, and from the outside it’s easily seen as random and chaotic. However, like Joyce and Woolf did, there’s a definite skill to making these thoughts coherent in writing, granting us a rare, priceless portion of character. Today’s find, no stars, shouting lights, is another great example.

I love how this piece starts: ‘i’m cold and don’t / know what to do.’ There’s no set up, there’s no introduction. The writing is quick to grab you by the collar and thrust you in with the problem. As well, there’s no capitalisation; clearly, this isn’t the start and we’re catching the midst of anxiety. Reading this is like walking onto a treadmill that’s already racing at top speed. There’s no acceleration and you’re immediately sprinting, joining the narrator in a lost and confused state.

The use of enjambment, too, is excellent. It gives a real feel of intoxication and disorientation. It’s like spinning around, and as one image leaves your sight, another has already begun to take its place. With the lack of punctuation, fast pace and repetition, we get a proper sense of thought process. As well, there’s an air of adolescence, where the narrator has somehow found themselves, possibly again, in a hopeless situation; the surrounding world is relentless and unforgiving and we can’t help but to sympathise.

Author T.M. Puype kindly let us share this piece and I think it’s brilliant. This poem may seem to be a simplistic style, but it’s truly deceiving; there’s a lot going on here, and the multitude of poetic techniques together piece a relentless image of what it’s like to be shaken.

Enjoy!


no stars, shouting lights

i’m cold and don’t
know what to do and
neon lights are shouting that
the night is still
open for business,
and I’m tired and lost
but still hoping
that some good might come
from this night
that it will not be like
yesterday night
or the night before
yesterday
or the one before that
and i’m drunk
but not enough
never enough
and the sky is clouded
and i can’t see
any stars
and the moon isn’t out
and you aren’t here
and i don’t know what to do.

Under, Over

Hamish Campbell took to the fields,
churned up the rich earth with his Father’s spade
in hope of finding a ripe diamond or hidden artefact to sell.

Bonnie Trotter stood on a milk crate, just above the sea of pedestrians
in the high street, and wearing her rosewood dress and lemon sash,
she sang for a sixpence.

Originally published March 2016

24/7

It was every ambition, to pry apart our ribs,
cease our little frantic hearts, venture inside
the abandoned warehouse, and test ourselves
as young adults, with no fear of the dark and forgotten.

It’s gone now. Not a week ago,
some building demolition team
plowed the thing into the ground
and set up a mini-mart
that stays open after midnight.

I go in for milk and bread sometimes.

Nesbit Likes: The Earth Hums In B Flat by Mari Strachan

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This book has been on the shelf for a while. There’s a few up there of which I can’t recall where they came from. Perhaps they were bought, borrowed, appeared overnight, or were left behind by a friend. I do make an effort to slowly read my way through them, because you never know what you’ll discover. In this case, it was The Earth Hums In B Flat by Mari Strachan. Tucked behind an old thesaurus, I’m glad to have decided to give it a go, and here’s why.

There are no spoilers below!

The story goes. Set in the 1950’s, twelve year old Gwenni Morgan lives in a small Welsh village. She’s sweet, kind, and a little odd. When a neighbour goes missing, she decides to become a private investigator and solve the mystery. Her mother, strict and controlling, does everything to stop Gwenni as well as to halt her weird behaviour, which is apparently a paramount task. Of course, that doesn’t stop her, and aided by her wild imagination and charming oddity, she discovers more and more about the world around her in her search for answers whilst stirring the pot of conspiracy.

To put it simply, this book is about secrets. There’s a whole crowd of skeletons in the closet, and with so little room for more, it’s only a matter of time before the beans are spilled. Although there’s an incredible sense of family, and although it’s a small village where everyone seems to knows everything about everyone else, there’s a lot of mystery, and this is a story about the slow unravelling of dark pasts, and the consequences of inquiry.

Strachan’s writing is great. It’s poetic, vivid, and strongly weaved with real Welshness. The pace is steady and doesn’t fall into bad habits of repetition or staleness. As well, there were quite a few passages that were absolutely sublime, and all required a second read to relish the sound and fluidity. I would say that this is a book that could fall into the young adult category, but the issues of mental illness and social stigma, and how they’re handled, explores how difficult life can be, suited for the mature reader.

It’s not an easy task to portray the mind of a child. Whilst we have all been young, to replicate it isn’t straight forward. However, Gwenni’s naivety and innocent perspective of the world is brilliant, and as the story unfolds, it’s a refreshing break to learn it as she does. The dynamics between the family members are truly organic and immersive in every quirk. At times, it’s certainly funny, and at others, it does get dark. It should be said that whilst this book may not rock the cradle, it’ll bring a chill to the sense of security and comfort given to you in the opening chapters.

It makes this week’s recommendation because it does a great job of transporting you back to childhood, and allows you to feel again what it’s like to question everything, to see the world for all it’s beauty and simplicity. It’s a new adventure that funnels to a claustrophobic environment, where the clues are naturally stumbled upon, and the lives of the locals change drastically in the process. If you liked Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night Time, you’ll likely love this. It’s an easy read but nonetheless thoroughly endearing and delightful, with a side of uneasy company.

The Man Who Waits

There’s a man on the platform.
A sign with a woman’s name in one hand,
red roses clutched in the other,
a faint smile connects his cold cheeks.

She may not turn up, this name,
and he’ll retreat home alone,
renew the roses to water,
review the train times for another day.

Or, he’ll be greeted, and the two will dine
outside the station, where there’s a special
on spaghetti meatballs and garlic ciabatta,
two meals for ten pounds.

His story, however, ends as I leave,
in limbo of amity and loneliness.
To me, he’ll only ever be,
the man who waits on platform three.

 

Backing Track

From the spotlight,
he demonstrates his almighty strength,
summoning soft strings, a shy clarinet,
a humble piccolo that pipes from the back,
bringing us all out of our seats and into a melodic
swirl of a world, harmonising angels sweet
and soothing.

There’s a gentle bend in his knees with each wave and rise,
each bloom and push with his hands,
his arms sweeping to the sides,
sending the sound across, kind and caressing.
Thirty-six years old,
his eyes closed in the moment.

In the fifth row, fourth seat in, sits his father,
stirring the amphitheatre air with an index finger
like a curious gecko
guiding his son to welcome the allegro.
His tender smile is proud and his eyebrows rise
as the music lifts.
The quiet cartographer for the silent composer.


This was another piece originally written for the book. It was based off a personal experience (translated to a father watching his son compose) and it found it’s way to a piece of poetry. However, there’s been a bit of a barrier, and improving the piece to be completely happy with it isn’t working. I loved writing it but it’s not meant to be. Hopefully someone will enjoy it on the site!

Our Place

Some find refuge in the crevices and caves
where the sun never enters and it’s cold with shade,
the air is stale, among the company of oak desks,
wooden chairs, and remnants of scribbled, thoughtless poetry.

Not to worry. The potted daffodils I kept in the corner,
far from the kitchen window, all bloomed
in the mild desk lamp light sat beside,
orchestrated by the hum of a 40 watt bulb.