Saturday, 15 January 2011

Look right in – TFE's Bus to the depths of the soul...

TFE has posted the Poetry Bus prompt this week. Here it is:

Write a poem. Don't think, just feel. Sit yourself down,stay quiet, find silence, concentrate on your breathing, feel your chest rise and fall, your heart beating, blood pumping.You are alive, so alive.Breathe in and breathe out,count those breaths, slowly look into your heart, your soul, how are you? Who are you? Are you happy/sad/ lost/ found/ confused/ certain.Are you where you hoped to be, do you know yourself? Are you who you were? Who might you yet be. Where might you be? Forget what your brain tells you that you know,and forget what your brain tells you to think, listen to your breath,tell me how you feel and why you feel it. How many breaths have you taken in this life? Think of them, focus on them. How many breaths are still to be taken?Disengage the brain and write from the heart.

You know I wrote a poem a good few years back that could have been written to this prompt. It's here. I don't know exactly when I wrote it but it's number 84 in my file (and I'm up to 375 this week) so I know it was quite a while ago. It says 2005 on my website but that's really just when the poems went online first and not when they were written. It was probably written somewhere between 1997 and 2000.

Anyway a lot has happened since I wrote that pretty sad (pathetic...) poem. It's funny that people liked it so much (and they did... how hurt we all are!). I have certainly got better at being positive and coping with what can be my sky-HIGH levels of anxiety since then (I wrote about anxiety a bit back here). I am more aware, for example, of what is good and what can help me stay sane and I know to keep myself away more from what is bad and what can make things worse (hell, class A drugs rarely help anyone stay sane!). These days I live in a quiet place, I am loved by good people, I take things easy and I look after myself (and anyone else who'll let me..). But still, you know, it can be pretty on-the-edge in my head (even if no-one else knows it). I still struggle with driving (and avoid it most of the time). I still don't really like crowded places (school concerts – uck!). And I am still fairly choked up about flying in planes (and big flight coming up soon... pass me the medication, doctor...). The difference now is that fundamentally I know I will survive any panic that comes my way - I used to think I would just self-destruct but now I know that I will feel terrible... but then I will be OK (most likely). I take deep breaths. I do my hypnosis reassurance finger-press thing (that really works...highly recommended!). And I go on living.

So I could write a breathing, focus-on-life poem that could be much better than the miserable one on the link above (couldn't I?). People might not like it so much (how we love sadness and confusion, how we laugh in the face of competence!) but I reckon I could do it. Compared to when I wrote 'Problems with value' I am feeling good... on the whole (except, you know, my Mum dying last year... I'm still a bit of a well of tears on that... still writing lots of sad death poems... wrote one on Friday in fact... quite pleased with it). But surely some of this improvement can be reflected in a poem..? Didn't I write this one a couple of weeks back... it's pretty positive and on the right road. But this week? This week I have packing to do (panicking? No, I definitely said packing...).

Temporary diversion

Lately we've been watching the TV series 'Six Feet Under' (on DVD, it was on a few years back). It is SO good. It's all about life and death, running a family funeral home and... well, coping with everything life can throw at you I suppose (and it's really funny... and packed with sex... of all kinds...). It's no wonder I like it – its creator Alan Ball wrote the movie 'American Beauty' which I also really enjoyed/rated. Here's the end of season 4 of 'Six Feet Under' (that's where we're up to – please don't tell me anything about series 5!) with the lovely David chatting to his dead father Nathaniel (they do that a lot in '6FU'... the dead get all the best lines). David (lovely, uptight/sensitive, gay, played by Michael C. Hall) has just had a life-threatening experience and then faced his attacker in prison. Richard Jenkins plays dead dad Nathaniel:

'The point's right in front of your face' - when simple lines are right... they are so, so right.

And here are some other simple lines... a sort-of poem response to TFE's fecker of a prompt.



The air is softer than it was
And it goes further in
And it doesn't always hurt me


And I may come from a family of fuck-ups
May be made, in part, of weakness and error
But it is not all bad
One good soul is enough


And the fight is longer than we think
And harder than we know


So breathe again my love, he says
Breathe again to stay alive
And I listen

RF 2011



hope said...

Wow...that (your poem) is incredibly moving.

Rachel Fox said...

That's very apt then... considering how much I'll be moving soon! Thanks.

I have to admit every time I've read it (since I stuck it together this morning) it has made me cry (at one point or another... there's a whole lotta stuff in there). Luckily I don't really mind crying overall (apart from those times when you just cry and cry till you think you can't cry any more... I can live without those...).

Sarah said...

Hi Rachel,
I read your sad poem and your less sad one now and like both as they are both expressing real feelings-pathetic or not! I also read with interest your writing about panic. You describe panic attacks so well-and especially the part about how panicking people don't always look as if they are panicking! I have had panic attacks and they are always brought on by either the need to speak publicly-and I mean staff meetings which I try my best to avoid! I am fairly certain that I don't show how I am feeling much by what trusted people tell me afterwards but it is pretty horrible. As I get older though I have learned what to expect and how to at least cope! Have a good weekend.

Rachel Fox said...

Hi Sarah
I was reading somewhere the other day that speaking in front of groups of other people is the biggest (as in most popular!) phobia of all. And oddly it is one that I have never suffered with. I really love public speaking (shameless big mouth) - often it's sitting quietly that I struggle with...


Helen said...

Hi Rachel,
You have raised the bar to a staggeringly high level ... this is powerful.

The Bug said...

Rachel - what a lovely poem. I like how it's not just you trying to handle things on your own - "he" is there to remind you why breathing is important.

Argent said...

You're so right! Simple says it best. I like the gentle pace and simple but effective (and affecting) language of your poem.

The Solitary Walker said...

Not so keen on driving myself these days. Flying's OK when you're up there.

Breathing is good, is the best thing.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Lovely Rachel. Really.

120 Socks said...

The poem has a wonderful gentle pace. We all stuggle in different ways I guess. Very moving and honest post as well.

Titus said...

I got water in my eye at section 4.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks for your reactions. Now this really might be my last Bus for a while!

Rachel Fox said...

And all this talk of breathing makes me think of the poem I wrote for my Mum near the end (May last year, also for the Bus - back here).

Jules said...

Wonderful, Rachel. I also like the rawness and the honesty...:D

izzy said...

Really nice and apropos. I hate crying
however someone said " view it as a waterfall" cleansing- thanks for sharing.

Helen said...

Hello again!
I fell in love with Kiefer's work years ago when I viewed several 'larger than life' pieces in a gallery in Belgium (forgotten which city.) He is a fascinating individual .. might be fun for you to read more about him.

I'm forever poking around cyberspace looking for his gems.

Niamh B said...

Sounds like listening is a good strategy, beautiful poem.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks for the responses... and thanks, Helen, for calling with info about the picture you've featured this week (it's so fascinating).

Emerging Writer said...

So breathe again my love - shivery

A Cuban In London said...

Your poem is almost like a song. Especially this:

"So breathe again my love, he says
Breathe again to stay alive
And I listen"

I know there's no rhyme, but that shouldn't be a deterrent for an acoustic guitar version. And the photo, it's... just beautiful.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Rachel Fenton said...

Really touching. Real.

Rachel Fox said...

Real as it gets, Rachel.

Thanks all.

Karen said...

I love the honesty I always find in your work. This one is soft and gentle yet painfully true.

Rachel Fox said...

I guess for some it would be painfully honest... or just painful... but honest it surely is.
Thanks Karen.

Kat Mortensen said...

Wow! I had never read the first poem. Man, you were so hard on yourself!

I love the delicacy of the second - that last bit (#4) could move me to tears.

I really should be asleep. (It's 2:30)

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Kat. It's a good one to get off the Bus with (for now anyway). I certainly didn't want to leave on last week's note! Bitterness... so last century...

Jinksy said...

So breathe again my love, he says
Breathe again to stay alive
And I listen.

Just as well! LOL

Rachel Fox said...

Jinksy, I do believe you're laughing at my pain!