Gibley Finds: Poetry

We’ve all seen hard work, in sweat, stress, tears, and success. And we’ve all seen how too much hard work changes a person. The eyes sink with tiredness, the worked hands weaken, the posture worsens, the calluses form. All of this breeds through repetition, elongated periods of time performing the same things over and over. In one way or another, we’ve all experienced the consequences of exertion.

How Time Affects Her, today’s feature, brilliantly explores an alternative way of looking at how hard work can take it’s toll. Reddit user Jamonde kindly let us share this piece; it portrays the weight of parenthood in a way you’ve unlikely seen before: the curls of a mother’s hair have gone.

This transformation is one of decline, and cleverly acts as the physical manifestation of her character. When the curls are lost, they are no longer a loaded, energised spring, they are no longer bouncy, flexible against the world. Instead they are weighed down, drained of strength, translating to the reader how her person is. No doubt this a sad piece; a parent consumed by menial household chores, worked to the bone, who has not the time for anything remotely fun or anything that doesn’t further her work. But this poem is also one of love and labour. Nobody will tell you parenthood is easy, partly because they’re too busy with parenthood to even remark. It’s a lifestyle to adopt and persist with, and that’s what this mother is doing.

There’s no time for these little, nice things, there’s no time for the cosmetic additions, there’s no time for anything. Even the poem itself is short to one stanza, furthering how busy life has become. There’s no time to write on and on about it, because it can be said quickly. ‘The curly hair is too busy… to be curly again’ and that’s that.

A memorable piece, efficient and cleverly crafted, and a great start to the new year. Definitely a poet to keep an eye out for in the future – well done, Jamonde!


How Time Affects Her

Mom’s curly hair is too busy
Washing the dishes
And taking care of the laundry
To be curly again.

Rest Break

We passed the old church for a photograph; the bells
still toll on the hour. Everyday, as the first note

of the dull brass chimes, three little old ladies
scurry to the bench nearby, squeeze themselves on,

bunched like crows on power lines, and pass
between them the share of a lone cigarette

that dances on their lips like a tiny glowing worm
as they chatter and groan in the cold.

 

Let’s Dance It Out Tonight

Let’s dance it out tonight.
Shake the tail feathers,
Discard the clip-on tie,
Drink wine from the bottle.
You don’t need that name-tag on.
Here, your name is Freedom,
With a capital F for Fuck yes!

Let’s dance it out tonight.
That pile of papers would
Make for great confetti,
Fake snow, let’s pretend
It’s Christmas now, here’s
A gift – no work tomorrow!
Let the computers sleep.

Let’s dance it out tonight.
I’ll sing with you, forget
That you periodically cough
On my keyboard. You’re my
Mate now, and it’s all of us on
The sixth floor, hungry for more
Beer, more wine, more time.

Where The Astronaut Sleeps

The Olympic high-diving champion has won the crowd
And his country cheers from their homes,
To their televisions, to their radios.
He holds the medallion close to his chest
And looks to his brother, sat in the third row, second column,
Who as a kid, pushed him into the pool
From the first floor balcony.
The thrill of free fall cushioned the blow
So much, that he did it again, and again,
Bringing him here to the podium
In first place.

The surgeon, scalpel, scrubs and mask,
Prepares for the triple heart bypass
So that Walter Fulton, age fifty-six,
Can work at Walmart another day.
As he puts on his gloves, wriggling his fingers inside,
Pulling them tight to his wrist,
It takes him back to Tenerife, where he stood in the middle of the road
And poked a flattened frog with a stick.
Immediately, he became desperate to know
How it all worked on the inside
As the anatomy spilled onto the tarmac.

In this midnight dream, which will be retold over breakfast
To Mum and Dad,
The boy slings around Jupiter and propels himself
Into space, far from stars, far from home,
On his journey to the quiet, dark, deep.
He’s not there yet, he’s just a boy,
But right here, right now,
Is where the astronaut sleeps.

We Were Different

Our parents came from soil.
They struck the ground with iron, raked the earth with metal,
Planted carrots, green beans, rhubarb and fennel
And left behind the oil.
Not once did they come home with clear skin.
It was caked in dirt, brown and raw, all to feed their kin.
Even their hoarse voices, that herded cattle and sheep,
Could become butter soft when they soothed
Their children to sleep.
“Rest now to rise up. Rise up and early!
We can still see the stars in the morning.”

We were different. No muck, no mud.
Instead, our hair was combed
And our fingernails were clean and cut.
Big Apple weekends, smoked salmon,
Cream cheese and chives,
In famous expensive restaurants
Where the rich were televised
To our living rooms, to our kitchens.
Our employment history wasn’t in the ground
Nor in the woodwork or land.
It didn’t give us shade,
But only told us
How many cards we punched,
How many nights we slept,
How much money we made.

There’s no sparkle here.
Only in streetlights and neon signs.
Our pewter skies are too exhausted to shine,
They are coughing, clogged and charred
Because our stars wear sunglasses
And are driven down boulevards.

Our parents came from soil.
We came from concrete.

—–

Back for the day to share this piece. It’s been in the poetry oven for quite a while and not sure where to go with it – if anywhere!

Nesbit Likes: And The Days Are Not Full Enough by Ezra Pound

If you were ever looking for the shortest poem that spoke the loudest, it might just be this one. The piece is one that is known by many – however, if this is your first time reading this poem, you surely won’t forget it.

Pound encompasses our fears in one, short stanza. Life is fleeting. Keats similarly touched upon the subject and it’s heavy and haunting; there’s just not enough time to complete our goals – whatever they are. Time escapes us. As poets, as writers, it’s a feeling too familiar that although there are thousands of ideas we have in our heads, it means nothing if it isn’t written down.

For me, this poem is the epitome of the wake-up call. Whatever it is you want to do in life, whatever it is you want to achieve, whatever it is you want to become, it requires work, it requires time, and you have to start right now. Turn off the television, put down the book, finish your pint. It motivates me in wanting to not only shake the grass but tear them up from the roots, salt the earth behind and let everyone know that Nesbit was here.

— — —
And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass

Under, Over

Hamish Campbell took to the fields,
Churned up the rich earth with his Father’s spade
In hope he’d find a ripe diamond or hidden artefact to sell.

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

To The Stars Above

On the morning commute, the office clerk
Stops by a shoe-shining stand. The kneeling boy,
Earning money for a new bike, rapidly transforms
His footwear from a grubby worn leather look to a polished
Black finish that reflects the morning sun.
Head down and working hard, he wipes
The sweat from his brow with a stained, grubby cloth.

That same clerk soon enters his office building.
Fuelled with oat flakes, dark roast coffee and a tangerine,
he writes the weekly report, due before lunch.
His head beneath the cubicle wall horizon,
He furiously types to triple the pace
Of the ticking plastic wall clock.

The boss receives it with gratitude
And sends everyone home early.
That afternoon, he drives a pink golf ball to the 18th hole.
It sits inches from the pocket on the shamrock green.
He bows his head, lifts his putter and puts it home
In a gentle, swift hit.

At the end of the day, these three humans
Crane their curious heads to the skies
In unison, like saplings to sunlight.
With their Earthling eyes, they trace the meteors
That glitter the dark, space fabric of night
In gentle streaks of silver.

Symphony for the Office Worker

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Our conductor, name tag and tie,
Marker pen baton, spouting, spy
Every bee who’s half asleep, lie,
And brave the morning allegro.

His cuffs tight, mouth flapping,
Coffee clerks begin tapping
Square minds, overlapping
To print, report, file, (don’t) retort.

Harmonising phone calls,
Thin colour, cold walls
Our people thrive, enjoying all
The music of the office.

Fingers dance, alphabet synergy,
Listen to our Prophet, margin your
Ambitions to reach that scatter point
Target. It’s written in permanent (don’t th)ink, just sign here.

——–

There’s something orchestral about the 9 to 5 office job. I’ve been both fortunate and unfortunate to have experience the lifestyle and despite the time not entirely being enjoyed, there was harmony and rhythm to it all.