Rain

Yes, Rain. In Spain. And before you even start, I’m not on the plain.

Torre de Hercules, La Coruna
Torre de Hercules, La Coruna

I’m in La Coruna, which is the North-west coast of Spain, in the lovely Celtic Galicia. They speak a variety of Spanish here called Gallego. I got a student in Barcelona to give me a few expression in my notebook, and I’ve tried using them in various situations, but I’ve just had bemused looks from the locals. Oh well.

My kids are doing their final exam, and I have kindly stuck on some music for them during it. Only two of them remain at this stage, but it’s all gone reasonably well. According to them, I am both the coolest and best teacher in camp, because I taught them to play poker (using pencil sharpeners as currency) and because, when one kid got out the guitar in front of the whole camp, I was the only one to stand up and join in with Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” I am now sick of this song. I loved it, even on repeat, for a good month, but this camp has just overdosed me. Strangely, these Spanish kids also love “Summercat”, by Billie Vision and the Dancers, which was my song of Summer ’07. This love had nothing to do with me, but it reminds me of old times.

Anyway, I’ve been given an honourable mention in the blog of my good friend Ted, who is on his way to being a professional comic book artist and writer. Pop on over, he’s got lots of lovely artwork, and he updates every day.

As I anticipate more people looking at my blog this week, I’d better whip out a good bit of poetry. And as it’s rained so much recently, I’ll go for something I’m actually pretty proud of. It has its faults, but in this particular case, I refuse to list them as I think its merits outweigh them. Almost the entire thing was written in one go, which is often a good sign. It’s only been tinkered with, since, and never massively rewritten.

Rain

Why, when often we shrink
from the cool chill down-the-back of the neck,
damp on the head, hunched up,
cold unbidden tears of our red cheeks,
soaked through to skin, shivering –rain night car

why, when driving through a dark-orange night,
a thick sheet of gliding water on glass,
the dancing pairs of will o’ the wisp lights
the beating crackle that feels as though it will
break through, a rush of terrible exposure –

in both, a sense of shelter. A longing, yearning,
cosy comfort, lost or maintained.
So why, one day with you, does the world spin?
When we shed our coats and dance,
our squelching feet laughing in celebration.

“A giant visits the river source”

Just discovered something new about me and writing – I do it more when I’m cold!

Sant Pol de Mar
Sant Pol de Mar

It’s hot here in Barcelona at the moment, so I may try and do more of my writing on the balcony on breezy days and in the shade, rather than in my room. because even with the window full on open, I get too hot to think and go all dopey. Considering this is early May, this doesn’t bode well for July…. last year, I lived in a cool marble palace, so I survived the summer. This year…. not so much.

Anyway, the task I set myself last time was to take a long and heavy Sestina poem about a river, and make it something shorter and snappier. I considered doing a Sestina myself, but one of the inherent difficulties with the form is that it means the poem has to be six and a half verses long. It lends itself to a story progression, rather than a series of dialogues on the same theme, which this river poem was. The writer’s choice of the word “current” to end lines was a particularly troublesome one. Look at these, taken from different verses:

“Wildlife from all worlds visit my current”

“Another day, another hour just me and my current.”

“Photos capture my good and bad current”.

“The banks contain my stronger more powerful current”

and

“My temper can flare and exaggerate my current.”

Maybe in the not too distant future I’ll write a poem in which I try to redeem the poetic value of the word “current”. Wish me luck.white flower river

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What I actually have for you tonight is a poem I wrote this evening on the theme of rivers. But rather than restrict myself to following the style of the first one, I’ve taken it off in a different direction. I wrote a second one that is like the original, but in a different voice. Just re-read it, and it’s a pile of steaming bilge, so I’ll hold on to that one for now.

This one is a first draft – I’ve not slept on it yet, so I’m sure it’s packed full of flaws. Enjoy.

“A giant visits the river source”

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A giant visits the river source

once a year, walking in the hills,

and when he cries, the water swells

and when he laughs, he scatters flowers –

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big bright flowers with no name

that gracefully dance downstream.

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I wait for happy years with reverence,

my shore solemnity meets his joy.

In sad years, I swim in the murk

and dip my feet to the bottom.

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Come back this weekend for a finished short story!