“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!

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Conciseness, Regardless

As a gift from a flatmate, I got this magazine called “First Edition”, with 18 amateur Short Stories, and some poems too. While some of the stories were awful in their own individual ways, it’s a real treat to read through something imperfect and see the flaws, and learn from them. That said, I have found one short story that totally surprised me (called “Time Line” by Peter Marshall), so I shouldn’t go into reading these stories with an automatic superior sneer.

I also found a poem that shall remain nameless, for fear of Google Searches. It was a poem about a river, and here is a sample verse:

Down I trickle softly and gently

Rippling and darting during my flow

On cold dark days I travel fast and wild

Shadows of trees cast by the glistening sun

In summer and spring stillness affects my current

Cold winds brush against my surface water.

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brook

I may as well mention that the whole poem is 6 verses  of the same and similar, and that there’s no rhyme scheme, but it’s designed so the final word of each line, “gently, flow, wild, sun, current, water” is repeated in each verse in a different order.   No wonder it sounded repetitive.

This actually brings out what I consider one of my biggest weaknesses – piling adjective upon adjective (upon descriptive noun). Even in that extract I posted Mid-Week, the line I considered powerful was “your slow, tedious ascent” – two adjectives together, and the “slow” is pretty well explained in the “tedious” anyway.

So why do I do it? Partly so it fits some kind of internal rhythm known only to me. And partly because I believe that sometimes a piling up of adjectives is more powerful. In spoken conversation, it would be like thrnking of an adjective, then thinking of a better one, which multiplies the first. Which is usually how I come up with them.

Anyway, my writing task for my Midweek post is to take the complete and unwieldy poem above and trim it to something better.

In the meantime, here’s another river-related poem – and one of the first poems I wrote.

Regardless

The stream rolled on regardless

Bending, burbling on

Under the shelter of the bare sycamore.

It ran, full to the grassy banks

Glistening in the dying blush of day.

Even with that little light

You can still see cool pebbles at the bottom,

And the shadows dancing over them.

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A score of yards upstream, its path is stark

And wedged tight by tall concrete pillars

Over which the motorway runs.

There, constant carbon wilts the brookside flower,

And it is never dark, for when sunlight fades,

Two new rivers appear each night

Crawling against each opposite course,

One blinding white, one warning red,

The streams roll on, regardless.

Regardless
Regardless