Reader: Miss Moore, your poetry is very difficult to read.
Marianne Moore: It is very difficult to write.
Marianne Moore 1887-1972 American Poet
I went to Aberystwyth University and took levels one, two and three in poetry. We were asked to write a poem in the style of a favourite poet. I know Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas isn't a poem but it is just about the best damn piece of writing I've ever read so the following is in homage to Dylan.
Dark Before Dawn
It's early, black early before the dawn, before the cock crows or the birds sing.
Black before the sun opens one lazy eye and peers through the autumn mists.
It's early; the sheep are still in their woolly slumber and the cows somnolent in their grassy meadow.
It's early, no one stirs, not the butcherin his tripe rippled bed.
Or the teacher chalking up the z's on the blackboard of night.
Nor the virgin riding the waves of desire in the darkness of her lonely bedroom.
No one stirs except the farmer, who drags himself from the deep mattress of his rest and the voluptuous body of his wife.
A ghost of a smile playing lightly about her lips, she's dreaming, but he'll never know what about.
The door creaks in the dark before dawn and his wife calls out a name, but it isn't his.
Outside in the dark before dawn the chill damp bites at his fingers and nips at his nose.
Making it run, but not so fast he'd have to catch it.
The cows are breathing heavily by the gate, they don't need a bell to tell them it's time to rise.
They feel the time in their udders, in the tightness of their teats and the gentle drip of their milk.
The parlour, lit with false light shuts out the dark and the cows steam gently in their stalls.
Crunching carefully measured feed they breathe out milky sweet breath.
The thrum of the machine pipes their warm white milk to a thermostatically controlled tank of primordial soup.
Milking ove,r the cows amble back towards their dew coated grass in the early morning light.
The dark before dawn prised apart by the sun, who has now managed to open both her eyes.
Back in the farmhouse bacon sizzles in the pan, spitting fat on the black as coal aga.
The farmer's candlewick, dressing gowned, wife slaps bread and bacon on a bone china plate.
Then announces she's going for a bath, to sink in a froth of bubbles and dream.
Not dreams that come in the dark before dawn, but the sort of dream where she can kiss her prince.
Ride his white stallion, drown in his desire and feel his warm breath brush her ear.
The slam of the farmhouse door brings her back to her dull, marking time, life.
Out in the early day the sun is warming to her task, all be it in a luke warm way.
The mist has given way to a shimmer of light that dances across autumn's red and gold.
Now the butcher has left his bed and is opening his shop. The tripe rippled creases branded in his heavy jowls.
The blue and white stripes of his apron making a valient attempt to slim his ample frame.
The teacher gathers his pupil's papers, juggling their hopes for the future like a pack of cards, ready to deal a bad hand.
Whilst the virgin, neatly dressed, is without a hint of last nights desire.
She goes to work and preys today may be the day when her desire no longer goes to bed alone.
The sheep have risen and left behind them oval patterns of flattened grass.
They start their daily grazing, lawnmowers on legs, head bent to their perpetual task.
The farmer calls for his Moll, who gambols around his legs, wagging her tail with joy and hanging on his every word.
He often wishes his wife was as faithful as his dog.
The morning is waking. The light hard and the sun's warmth struggling to penetrate layers of coats and gloves.
The butcher is chopping his chops, and dressing his trays.
He lays out his wares for the delights of the ruddy-faced housewives, neat and tidy, buying liver to feed their red-blooded men.
The teacher imparts his wisdom to a class more interested in Facebook and Ipods, than in Tennyson or Keats.
he counts the hours, minutes and seconds to his retirement.
Down in the local library the virgin neatly racks up the books and keeps a look out for a likely man, but none of them are very likely.
Sliding a book between Ta and Te she waits for her heart's desire.
The farmer whistles shrill in the morning air. Moll runs out to gather in the flock of wayward sheep, which rustle as they run.
Contained by the circling Moll, the sheep flock down the damp, warm hillside.
Herded across Ten Acres they squeeze through the gate before bursting out into the farmyard.
Corralled in the pens the sheep bleat and jostle like women in the January sales; waiting their turn to be coiffed for the rams.
At lunch the farmer's wife is dressed in slithering silk polka dots and stripes, with cherrylips ripe for the picking.
But she won't be offering her cherries up to him, there's aanother that wants to pick from her tree.
The daily toil maps out the farmer's life, turned by cow and sheep his hours pass without the need for human comfort.
He glances up as his wife leaves the house with an empty basket hooked over her woollen-coated arm.
It'll be just as empty when she returns, unlike her heart.
He worries he should worry, then turns his mind back to the farm.
All thoughts of his wife, silk stockinged and cherry lipped, in the arms of another, make way for countuing sheep and calving cows.
The butcher minces meat and stuffs sausage skins, twisting the growing length into perfectly formed loops.
Which he hangs in his shop window, like earrings.
The sun never peeks through the window, he doesn't want her turning his meat.
Or drying out the edges of his best smoked back.
He doesn't need the sun to make him steam like a well-done pudding because he's often well done.
The teacher takes his carefully squared sandwiches and escapes the school to sit on a park bench.
He watches ducks bob in and out of the water, shaking their tail feathers in the face of respectability.
Slipping a photo from close to his heart, he feasts on the likeness of his true love, his beautiful Harley.
She is the outward manifestation of his male crisis, she will carry him through mid life into ecstasy.
He is in love with her chrome, which winks at him in a come and ride me kind of way.
She throbs at his touch and he will love her until death do they part.
The virgin nibbles salad in the musty storeroom, which is filled with all the knowledge of the world.
She turns the page of her Mills and Boon. Dreaming of Mr Right.
She knows she will never find the right man because she has the wrong job.
Resigned to her destiny she slips the book into her bag and returns to the desk, where she stamps books and scans cards.
Watching the hands of the clock count the minutes of her life, with no expectation of finding her heart's desire.
The butcher turns his sign to closed then slips the door lock with a gentle click.
Taking off his straw boater and striped apron he leaves his disjointed world and climbs the stairs to his feast.
The farmer's wife in polka dots and stripes, reclines on his tripe-rippled bed.
Her stockinged thighs plump, and her cherry lips ripe for the taking.
He will taste their juice then drown in their brandy.
She will wallow in the smell of his meat and roast his loins until they are well done and he's often well done.
In the chill evening the farmer turns out the last of the cows to amble back to their meadow.
Then sluices out the parlour ready to begin again tomorrow.
Across the empty farmyard the windows of his house blink out a soft light to welcome him home.
His wife is cooking and she's slipped from polka dots and stripes to denim and wool.
Her cherry lips are drunk dry, but her cheeks flush pink and he knows that has nothing to do with the heat.
Placing a plate of sausages on the table, she takes her seat and delicately picks one up between finger and thumb.
Slipping it between her cherry lips, she bites into it's crisp flesh. He watches as a small line of grease runs down her chin.
Then taking his knife and fork, he stabs at a sausage, slicing it into several chunks.
Outside the sun has gone and the dark is thickening.
The sheep have found their beds and are now ghostly blobs dotted about the fields.
The cows are gathered, in a safety in numbers group, breathing gently and groaning in a bovine snore.
Whilst they sleep their udders fill with tomorrows milk.
Moll is in her warm, straw bedded kennel. secure in the knowledge she's loved by her master.
Happy with her days work, full bellied and content, Moll settles down to sleep as the dark before dawn creeps in.
The butcher is lying alone in his tripe-rippled bed, hoping for something more permanent.
Until he imagines life outside the bed of tripe, knowing he is happy, just the way things are.
As the dark before dawn creeps around his shop he smiles, content with a go home wife.
The schoolteacher has polished his true love's chrome till it's too bright to look at without his Gucci shades.
Goodnight my love, he whisperes, kissing his fingers before touching them to her amply upholstered leather seat.
Covering her modesty with a satin sheet he switches off the light and goes to his own room to dream of the open road.
The virgin closes her curtains, shutting out the creeping dark.
Sitting at her dressing table, she unpins her tortured hair, which tumbles in auburn waves to her shoulders.
She brushes it with long strokes, counting them not in numbers but in rhyme.
He loves me, He loves me not, He loves me, she always ends on He loves me.
It's a shame He doesn't know it. Somewhere in the night is a man that belongs to her.
For now she sleeps in her lace-frilled bed and rides the peaks of her desire alone.
The farmer at his door listens. Nothing unusual catches his ear, only the every day sounds of night.
A distant car, an owl's hoot, the rustle of a rodent in the undergrowth, and the cry of a lone fox calling for a mate.
Closing the door, he shuts out the dark before dawn then climbs the stairs to bed.
His wife, already asleep, dreams in her secret world, where he doesn't belong.
he knows there won't be open arms waiting for him, she's all hugged out.
The night closes in over the countryside and the dreams and desires of the people must wait until the morning,
when the dark before dawn makes way for another day.
For every woman that becomes a mother
Hung, Drawn and Quartered
First, I was whole
then I became half
of you and me.
Soon two became
three, then four,
then I was just
a quarter of what
I was before.
I didn’t cry as loud
or shout as long
as the other three.
But I am a part of
the whole and you
can’t exist without
The following poem is in memory of a friend. May you never be forgotten.
The White Powder Trail
My soul is not evil it’s my body that craves,
I was some bodies’ child, I’ve wept at their graves.
I steal and I cheat for a fix for today,
tomorrow is lonely, oblivion the way.
My legs full of ulcers, my arms black and blue,
I despise my own image reflected in you.
Folk cross the street to avoid my face,
maybe they’re worried they might take my place.
I too was once pretty; I too had a home,
my parents both loving, I was never alone.
Then things come along that screw up your life,
death hits hard, leaving suffering and strife.
I tried to keep struggling, put on a brave face,
I don’t belong now, for me there’s no place.
Left and abandoned any shoulder will do,
you’d sell your soul, for someone to hold you.
The flashing white smile, the strength in his arms,
take this it’ll help, but don’t tell he warns.
The magic white powder lifts up my soul,
life suddenly seems brighter; I’m out of my hole.
Then driven by hunger, for freedom from pain,
I pay for the powder; my job takes the strain.
Jobless and homeless, one of a kind,
squatting in tenements, living on what I find.
Eventually functioning day by day,
relies solely on how much I pay.
Selling my body by night, my soul by day,
I’ve no other option; it’s my only way.
There’s no hope now, I’m too far-gone,
on a mortuary slab, with a clean gown on.
How could I not do the most famous story ??
Romeo and Juliet
A sad tale of star-crossed love is told
that holds the sweetness of the nameless rose
and twixt lips the poison chalice flowed.
He bathed in rays of the sun’s eastern gold
then plunged her beauty into wild death throes
a sad tale of star-crossed love is told.
A tale that shows their love brave and bold
when this sad story is turned to prose
and twixt lips the poison chalice flowed.
The lovers fought to break the mould
and made a Godly man into a rogue
such a tale of star-crossed love is told.
Foolish acts make their actions seem so bold
as our sad tale of love comes to its close
twixt hungry lips the poison chalice flowed.
The dagger struck her heart with steel so cold
if only he had known his love did only doze
a sad tale of star-crossed love is told.
And twixt lips the poison chalice flowed.
I'm not a technophobe honestly
I’m sorry that I have to say I’m horrified at what I read today.
I really don’t know what to say I can’t believe you’re made that way.
I can’t believe it’s good for you to write down everything you do.
Then send it out into the air I think you really should beware.
The Internet is free to all including your Facebook wall.
No one should ever have to know that you could really stoop so low.
So all that I can say to you is please consider what you do.
Written words will live forever so kindly get your act together.
2009 Chris Williams All rights reserved except as otherwise stated. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental