Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Something to Keep You Going

Sorry for the unusually long hiatus in posting. I didn't realize it had been so long.

I'm unusually busy right now, so here's something to keep the blog ticking over! A poem from about ten years ago.

I can remember this was one of many poems I wrote while lodging in a family's home in Stillorgan, Dublin. I was still an agnostic at this time, but becoming increasingly conservative and pessimistic. (Conservatism without a supernatural background must remain pessimistic, I suppose.)

Most of the poems I wrote at this period of my life had a fictional setting. They were vignettes. I've come to hate this practice-- at least, as it applies to my own poetry. I think it's better just to write from your own perspective.

I think it's a fairly good poem, though. The idea of the sounds hidden in the grooves of a vinyl record (or in any other form of recording) has always fascinated me, as has the image of removing a picture from the wall and noticing the less discoloured space where it had been.

There's one line in this poem with which I'm very pleased. Can you guess which one?


The murmur of the dead from a concert hall
Filled up the room and then the song began.

It called the past as only music can;
An old tune is a time-bomb. Uncle Paul,
(I noticed suddenly) was an old man;
Like taking down a picture from a wall

To see the space it held untouched by grime.
Though he was full of talk about the next
World Cup, some star’s adultery-by-text,
It seemed a pose, a part in pantomime.
I listened to him silently, perplexed
By that perpetual rabbit-puller, time,

By the needle of the moment in the groove.
Song segues into song, but why can’t we
Catch when the tune has altered utterly?
Why do we half-believe our day will prove
More firm that others? Uncle Paul and me
Stood listening, not hearing the earth move.


  1. Somehow,I like the last line, but maybe just because of the impact that the last line usually has.
    My father's late sister and late husband lived on Hazel Avenue for most of their lives. We used to call it Kilmacud, but at some stage we started calling it Stillorgan, not sure how it changed.

    1. I'm glad you liked the last line because I always strove to build up to a tag-line.

      My knowledge of Dublin geography is terrile. I had no idea Stillorgan was even close to Kilmacud. I lodged next to a cinema so I went to a LOT of movies at this time. A lot of very bad movies!

  2. ...'that perpetual rabbit-puller, time'?

    The occasional poetry is one of the best things about this blog. I really liked this one, a poem to savour - real and human, and transcendent, with its conversational voice that is yet never glib. We are starving, these days, for want of poetry like this. Thank you!

    1. Bingo! Yes, I was happy with that line. I thought it was rather Larkin-esque. (The sound you hear may be Larkin turning in his grave.)

      And thank you so much for your very kind words of praise...I'm so glad you enjoy the occasional poetry!