Sunday, January 20, 2008

Poetry Corner

Carol Anne, the famous sailing blogger, challenged us to write a poem about "Where I'm From" based loosely on the model provided by the poem of that name by George Ella Lyons. I don't think I've written any poetry since being forced to do so in English Literature class at school. I was a nerd back then and hated all classes other then science and maths. Come to think of it I'm still a nerd.

As I understand it, poetry is a form of writing where it's impossible to understand directly what the author is saying as he or she always expresses things with obscure and indirect references that only make sense tangentially. A bit like waking up in a dark room and wondering if that shape at the bottom of the bed is (a) your wife on her way back from the bathroom, (b) a trick of the light, or (c) one of Stephen King's vampire ghosts come to suck your blood. Have I got that right Carol Anne?

Anyway here's my best shot. I've included some metaphors (poets like those don't they) and references that only three or four people in the known universe will understand (and none of them read this blog). If the poem doesn't make any sense to you I will have succeeded in my mission.

Where I'm From by Tillerman

I am from coal and grit
smoke and steam
Vick and Vim and vests
and cod liver oil.

I am from the allotment and the river bank
stinking sprouts in frosty mud
sacks of musty spuds
stinging nettles
and wriggling tiddlers in a jam jar.

I am from the union
and the co-op
don't be a snob
wait your turn.

I am from always wear your cap
be quiet boy
stand to attention
polish your buckle with Brasso
and squeeze the trigger slowly.

I am from descended into hell
and sits on the right hand
he's a bummer
praestare valeamus
and plain bob minor.

I am from the L.N.E.R. and the canal
bomb sites and air-raid shelters
factory whistles and cops on bikes
pork pies and pickled onions
fish and chips and mushy peas
light engineering soup.

I am from the Boer fighter and brewer's drayman
from Frederick who waved a flag and rode the rails
from Amy the Lincolnshire lass sent into service
and from the Geordie girl who sailed alone to India.

I am from the cardboard box in the sideboard
stuffed with snaps from the box brownie
of grim-faced young men in khaki uniforms
of jaunty old widow ladies in hats and winter coats
and of a handsome young couple with eyes full of hope
watching a skinny kid running across the sand
into the grey waves of a northern sea.


Menchuvian Candidate said...

That is lovely, Tillerman-nice to meet you:)

bonnie said...

I actually know what plain bob minor refers to.

Is that by any chance one of the ones you didn't think anyone who read your blog would get?

Interesting challenge & a nice evocative poem.

Kathy said...

I think I got some of those metaphors. Nice poem.

However, I object to your claiming nerdiness for just science and math geeks. They were hardly my favorite subjects. Mine were English and languages, and I was still considered a nerd. Basically, anyone who actually LIKED any subject and made a decent attempt to pass it was a nerd. Consequently, I was surrounded by lowbrows who thought anything academic was nerdy.

They're still there living very small lives. I'm not.

On with the poems.

tillerman said...

Oh kathy, I guess I meant geek - but nerd sounded more poetic.

PeconicPuffin said...

I've spent twenty minutes looking into plain bob minor and still don't get it. A sequence of bells okay but every web page I find on the topic seems to assume I already know what's going on!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the poem.

tillerman said...

Well there you go puffin, sometimes a metaphor conveys an unintended truth.

Carol Anne said...

with up so floating many bells down

tillerman said...

children guessed but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew

Anonymous said...

Great poem. You seemed to describe who you are very well. Feel free to post any of your sailing poems on my website. I love poems people write when they are on the water. Peace.

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