You will find below the first drafts of workshop poems 'on dark places'.
If anyone else would like to follow this exercise (see earlier post, 15 minutes first draft, not incl. thinking time) please email me your poems by midnight, Wednesday 12th December.
Julie (see below) found it tricky, thinking about the project first without writing anything down. That's generally how I work, but I expect it won't suit everyone. I deliberately block out concrete 'lines' during this stage, though phrases which stick in my mind are allowed. It means I can freewheel through a large range of wobbly possibilities - without committing myself or losing momentum through note-making - until I find the image or idea that locks on and forces me, often compulsively, to paper.
A revised draft of my own poem will appear, with comments on the process, within the next week. Plus any other revised drafts sent to me.
Pont Du Gard
Stone hall for the shrunken,
black pit interior
fish-scaled in urine.
And the grim shadows of men
blocking the light.
Broad squares of sun-flash,
to blind air and buffet.
pale fins burning in water.
We sank back into darkness
at the next space,
hands well-worn on stone
blackened with water,
the rough runnels of history.
Corrugated, filigree depths
where the heart struggles to rise.
Pinioned to single file,
we passed through the low-roofed
night haul of the Roman.
Troll-trod, dwarf dominion.
Afterwards, hot dust and olives,
a dazzle of strangers
met on the long road backwards.
hiss of sea air
blind as bats the yawning jaws
dreams shrink to nighmares
by livid silence
echoes of miles and miles and miles
oil oil drippling
edging gripping ledging
tongue is drying
light is crawling
gloom is rising
A Dark Place
Gravel highway guarded by poplars.
In the far distance memorials rise
Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant.
A sea of slabs, rectangles like
plant beds. But barrack bunks instead.
Arbeit Macht Frei
The camp guide offers
to take my picture at the gate.
It’s smaller than I imagined.
How did they fit them all through?
I dreamt of the chimneys
in black and white. Daughter
of a survivor can’t stop talking
all the way through the chamber.
A town in Bavaria
can’t stand the connotations.
You flinch when I say
I caught the bus from Dachau.
Poetry In Progress
December. The month of the drowned god.
Milk-water seeps from the clay’s glands,
Clots the forest paths, thickens
Through the veins of the wood.
Late afternoon. Rooks creak
in the darkness, and westward
a tideline of sun is washed by black waves.
Greedy branches crane to cram night’s gullet
With his brief, red fruit.
Expulsion of the Blatant Beast