BY DON PATERSON
As was my custom, I’d risen a full hour
before the house had woken to make sure
that everything was in order with The Lie,
his drip changed and his shackles all secure.
I was by then so practiced in this chore
I’d counted maybe thirteen years or more
since last I’d felt the urge to meet his eye.
Such, I liked to think, was our rapport.
I was at full stretch to test some ligature
when I must have caught a ragged thread, and tore
his gag away; though as he made no cry,
I kept on with my checking as before.
Why do you call me The Lie? he said. I swore:
it was a child’s voice. I looked up from the floor.
The dark had turned his eyes to milk and sky
and his arms and legs were all one scarlet sore.
He was a boy of maybe three or four.
His straps and chains were all the things he wore.
Knowing I could make him no reply
I took the gag before he could say more
and put it back as tight as it would tie
and locked the door and locked the door and locked the door
In “Timer”, the second one, Tony Harrison has created a powerful 16 line sonnet which is completely modern and illustrates that though strict form can be a straitjacket, in this caseit can also be an inspiration.
Gold survives the fire that’s hot enough
to make you ashes in a standard urn.
An envelope of course official buff
contains your wedding ring that wouldn’t burn.
Dad told me I’d to tell them at St. James’s
the ring should go in the incinerator.
That “eternity” inscribed with both their names is
his surety that they’d be together, “later”.
I signed for the parcelled clothing as the son,
the cardy, apron, pants, bra, dress-
The clerk phoned down, 6- 8- 8- 3- 1?
Has she still her ring on? (Slight pause) Yes!
It’s on my warm palm now, your burnished ring!
I feel your ashes, head, arms, breasts, womb, legs,
sift through its circle slowly, like that thing
you used to let me watch to time the eggs.
(As I said last week , it would be really interesting for you to submit the result of some Endings in The Blue Nib and we could maybe have a section for a selection of your poems – these are obviously not publishable in the normal sense because of the element of plagiarism).
One poem into another…
There was a very interesting competition which I missed, but I was very interested in the challenge.
“The Colour of Saying creative writing competition was created by Anne Pelleschi (Haden) with the aim of encouraging new work to emerge in response to Dylan Thomas’ poem ‘The Hunchback in the Park’. “
The Colour of Saying – Dylan Down the Ups Project www.dylandowntheups.org.uk/
It resulted in a 2014 anthology “Original responses to Dylan Thomas’ “The Hunchback in the Park,” in poetry, prose-poem, prose, diary, and letter forms. Translations of Thomas’ “The Hunchback in the Park” into other languages, including: Bulgarian, Catalan, Castilian, German, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Serbian, Sicilian, Slovakian, and Spanish.”
The Hunchback In The Park – by Dylan Thomas
The hunchback in the park
A solitary mister
Propped between trees and water
From the opening of the garden lock
That lets the trees and water enter
Until the Sunday sombre bell at dark
Eating bread from a newspaper
Drinking water from the chained cup
That the children filled with gravel
In the fountain basin where I sailed my ship
Slept at night in a dog kennel
But nobody chained him up.
Like the park birds he came early
Like the water he sat down
And Mister they called Hey mister
The truant boys from the town
Running when he had heard them clearly
On out of sound
Past lake and rockery
Laughing when he shook his paper
Hunchbacked in mockery
Through the loud zoo of the willow groves
Dodging the park keeper
With his stick that picked up leaves.
And the old dog sleeper
Alone between nurses and swans
While the boys among willows
Made the tigers jump out of their eyes
To roar on the rockery stones
And the groves were blue with sailors
Made all day until bell time
A woman figure without fault
Straight as a young elm
Straight and tall from his crooked bones
That she might stand in the night
After the locks and chains
All night in the unmade park
After the railings and shrubberies
The birds the grass the trees the lake
And the wild boys innocent as strawberries
Had followed the hunchback
To his kennel in the dark.