After a career in work with offenders and drug users, I wanted to use retirement to try and develop some new skills, and to express some of my own ideas and feelings about the world. It struck me as odd that plenty of people are ready to take photographs and show them to their friends and relations, but would never allow a poem to be seen in public. Indeed, I was of such a mind but was determined to ‘have a go’. I found a poem, however clumsily formed, could be even more evocative of an experience or a place than a photograph!
It turned out that, despite leaving an upbringing in the Methodist Church behind as a young man, the roots of religion run deep and keep showing themselves as I try to distil my ideas into a poem. My only public reading was a sequence of poems based on the last seven words on the Cross that accompanied a performance of Haydn’s quartets on the same subject in Leintwardine Church last Easter.
I remain very much work in progress, inspired by some extraordinarily gifted writers in Bridgnorth Writers. My colleague writers show me how they can ‘show and not tell’, revealing the world and its wonders through objects and stories.
The Wreck of the Iolaire
Death crushed the land,
its weight centred on the vocal chords;
all the noise of the storm
was sucked into grief’s black hole,
crushed to a silence
burst the ear drums
of the voiceless island.
At first, wails escaped
to echo round the villages
until they too were sucked
into the lightless black.
The weight of all things
dropped on the crofts and trapped
survivors before the flickering
flames in their hearths;
motionless, mute, staring
into the invisible dense dark,
where the clocks stopped ticking,
and words were stripped of flesh.
Down in the chapel
the chanter’s siren
brought forth a tuneless groan
reaching up to a fierce God.