Thursday, 23 October 2014

Quicksilver Trilogy

The theme for the following sequence of poems is taken from an observation on short stories which states that characters are 'from a submerged population group desperately trying to return, to get back, somehow, somewhere.' 

The idea is to show the gradual decline of a person’s unfortunate state of mind as they go through three deteriorating stages.  The first poem shows a factual journey of a few minutes, the second poem an escape into complete fantasy and finally the desperation of someone suffering a complete and catastrophic emotional breakdown.

Waiting for a Lift

A descriptive title chosen for its’ everyday usage and while still being ambiguous I created a mechanical, sing song sound using the rhythm of the phrases to contrast with the panic and emotion of the voice. The idea is to put human qualities on a piece of mechanical equipment and to show the voice in the poem gradually descending into fear, desperation and panic.

A Letter to a Friend (John Wayne's coming for tea)

A descriptive title but not the contents one would usually find in a letter, the idea is that the letter writer has retreated into television weather reports and writes a letter based on this and a rose catalogue. If you happen to read a rose catalogue there are a wealth of fascinating names and descriptions to be found within. 

The tone of the poem is happy, almost euphoric and the form of a letter is designed to make this very personal while at the same time conjuring up colourful pictures and images. I deliberately left out punctuation such as question marks to show the decline of the writer. The initial at the bottom instead of a signature is to leave the writers’ identity anonymous and for the reader to imagine or guess at the author’s personality and identity. True to say and a rather uncomfortable thought is that it could be anyone.


A title chosen from the many different definitions of Mercury which are not usually associated with the human condition. Mercury the planet is hinted at '36 000 miles to the sun', the sense of foreboding associated with the ancient world messenger 'a conductor of souls to the underworld' and the unpredictable qualities of the metallic element are analogous to the subject’s condition.

The reference to mercury, its fluidity and characteristics of equilibrium and balance so missing from the subject was also very important. I tried to contrast the deeper meanings of the element with the mundane every day weather forecast and television themes.

The poem is deliberately dis-jointed and definitions hinted at, provoking the reader into taking different interpretations of the text.

                                                            Waiting for a Lift

A digit extends and stabs the up call

Slowly there’s life in a tired accounts hall

Worn switches send out an order to state

Impatient, 'no time, must hurry, can’t wait'

Shot nerves of steel wind tight round a wheel

'Oh no! late again, this just isn’t real'

Lumbering and shaking a journey to make

'Please! Stop the clock, how long will it take?'

Down the lift goes past clerks grey and bleak

'Finished, no job, it’s the fourth time this week'

'Doors Open' now, a tin voice expounds

Jump  in, press the fourth – no movement, no sound.

A shutdown, a breakdown, it won’t close the door

Too tired, can’t go on, can’t cope any more.

A letter to a friend (John Wayne’s coming for tea)

Dear Evelyn,

Warm wishes,
Ingrid Bergman called today to ask me to her Silver Wedding.
It’s at the Salmon Leap next to the Bridge of Sighs with music by Handel and Dusty
Springfield Singing in the Rain.
I’m going with Emily Gray and Lady Penelope should be a grand affair.
Anyway must dash, John is coming round for tea, you remember John a quiet man
rides horses.

Perpetually Yours



                                     Pendulum like moods at times
Lucid, cool, wilful
more often heavy opaque,
utterly fragile.

Fickle weather, mainly showers coming from the north
with patches of sun light
in between, unpredictable

Thirty six million miles to the light
closest of all the planets, according to National Geographic.

Yet now here in this other place
submerged, suspended, gone wrong.

A messenger of the gods, eloquent, seductive
took me deeper and deeper.
No way back, not yet, not ever.