Saturday, February 09, 2008

Last Oak

Last Oak

Soot sunk oak tree, tarred question mark
it had stood
since the last forest burnt, blind old man
surrounded by stumps
still smoking creosote, an unlit tower
scoured and bare
yet proud in its final hours as mad Lear
in his wreath of dead weeds
or Ginsberg’s locomotive sunflower,
peering through red mist
to where sun was,
its last leaf-memory of green,
green things and wild.


This poem was published in Seam poetry magazine last autumn. The new issue of Seam is due out in the next few months (it's published twice yearly) so I'm hoping the editor - also a poet, Anne Berkeley – won't mind too much if I reproduce that poem now on Raw Light.

'Last Oak' was originally intended to form part of a book-length poem sequence based around a quasi-eschatological and environmental theme. That's how I envisaged it during the act of writing, anyway. This link will take you to a previous blog post about the Seam launch last year, by the way, where I discuss that unfinished sequence further.

In the end, of course, only four or five poems from that sequence - provisionally entitled End of Days - were ever written. And of that meagre handful, I imagine that only two will make the cut for Camper Van Blues, my third poetry collection, due out later this year from Salt Publishing.

'Last Oak' is definitely one of them ...


Bo said...

I like that very much. It's you at your most Hughesian!

Jane Holland said...

Do you think so? I'm not so sure. It felt like a good idea at the time though ...

See you on Wednesday evening btw, around 9.45pm, assuming you haven't forgotten I'm due to dine with you on the 13th!

I'm on a diet but can probably break it if that's going to be inconvenient. Unless you want to eat out somewhere?!

Baked oak leaves are probably quite low-fat, I imagine.

Bo said...

I hadn't forgotten. Might be good to dine out as the boyf' has to be up at 6am. Curry?

Andrew Shields said...

"Camper Van Blues" is an absolutely fabulous title, says this old Camper Van Beethoven fan. "Just get high while the radio's on!"

Jane Holland said...

Thanks, Andrew!

I'm so glad you've said that, since I've mentioned the title to a few (terribly high-brow) friends and had some negative reactions. Never a comforting thing. But I wanted something both apposite and anti-poetical, which this title seems to be.

Bo, curry sounds fabulous. I've been dreaming of curry for weeks now ...

and peshwari naan, heavy on the coconut ...

Steven Waling said...

Camper Van Beethoven - ah, memories of John Peel playing "Take the skinheads bowling, take them bowling..."

Jane Holland said...

I've obviously started something here ...

Andrew Shields said...

Or every Deadhead's favorite:

We saw Jerry's, we saw Jerry's

I think the Camper Van is out of the bag now, Jane! :-)

Anne said...

Glad to see the poem here, Jane. Thanks for the link.

Anne said...

PS. "Camper Van Blues" is a great title.

Jane Holland said...


:smiley icon: