Very aptly with respect to my own recent pre-occupation with poetry writing the Guardian this week and next week issue a series on 20th Century Poets Great Poets of the 20th Century; providing introductions to a total of seven poets with forewords by present day authors. In addition, there is a cd on which the seven poets read some of their own work. I enjoy reading the introductions to the booklets, which succinctly clarify in a few pages the reasons for the greatness of the poet in question and point one to the various collections and the impact some of these had and have.
The Observer today issues number five in the series, it is on Ted Hughes, with a foreword by Jeanette Winterson. She writes what for me has become the essence of poetry and my own attempts to write some poems. Poems are short stories, and ‘an act of memory, first forged out of the need to remember what would otherwise be forgotten’.
So here follows one of my stories, which I felt was better written in the form of a poem, rather than a short story. It tries to evoke and remember the times when love seems to disappear from a relationship and how cold and ruthless that experience can be. It still needs more work, there are glitches where I feel I have not yet found the right words; nevertheless I feel quite happy with what I’ve got so far. This is an attempt at the sonnet form (twice four- and one six-lined stanza, where the latter provides a kind of ‘solution’)
We fight and when I shout you listen, your dark
and clenched fist throws a shadow on the white
and frightened table, your eyes glisten. And when the side
lamp flickers the room retreats in fearful dismay at my anger.
Our voices shoot poisonous needles that make
the empty wine glasses shiver. Our full
and now sour stomachs centrifuge your favourite
bean stew in breathless and sickening spin.
The kitchen is tidied, the sideboards are empty
but for our knives, twisting painful and deep.
While from the gurgling dishwasher all love drains
the floor turns cold and hard.
We have no kisses or tenderness left to weep,
There’s just stainless steel, stained.