Saturday, 26 January 2008


Well, here's a thing. I don't normally put poems direct on here but I thought I might this time. I put this on myspace yesterday and already have quite a lot of interesting comments. I know some people slag myspace off (and there is a fair amount of nonsense on it) but to be honest I find it a really good way of communicating with people I might not run into regularly in my small-town, school-gate, post-rave-travel-problem existence. Some of them are musicians, some writers, some people with other jobs who just like music and writing and communicating. Like anything (like blogging, like sex..) it's how you do it that matters.

Anyway, here's the poem...I write quite a lot that can be dismissed with loaded words like 'light' and 'humorous' and (one day hopefully) 'popular'. This is certainly not a candidate for the first two of those adjectives. It's a memory I've been carrying around for years. Hope it does something for you. There is a moustache which has dropped down a line...I haven't time or tech support to sort that out on here right now...but it should be up on the previous line.

History at 40

There's so much I don't remember already
Names, faces, whole unsuitable relationships
And there are places that I know, for sure, I've been
But no matter how I strain I just can't see
The getting there, the what it might have cost

My memory is a poor scrapbook so soon
A few jaded birthday cards, a lot of background music
A photo of a dog we once kept
But some of the connections are painfully frail
Who chose the dog's name? What did the dog think of us?

And now I think, so late, of tackling history
But it seems an odd choice, all things considered
If I struggle to remember my own little past
What hope is there for all the giant rest
The queens, the battles, the damned industrial revolution?

There is one blue day I see clearly
My friend's Dad (Staff Sergeant in the British army, Scottish, huge moustache)
Took us to Belsen, to teach us something
Because at 12, we thought we knew it all
And what a joke that was, a trick of the light

It was all emptiness
The photos of the starving, the quiet trees and sky
"There's no birdsong here, do you hear that?"
He was harsh with us and rightly so
We liked to complain about washing dishes, about waiting in the car

The drive back was different, we said nothing
No i-pods to hide behind, hell, walkmans were still new then
We looked out at the huge expanse of land moving
And counted our lucky stars, I think
We were shocked by the hole of history, too scared to breathe


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