Monday, 20 October 2008

Not a bus

Back in August (in that same post about my sort-of Quaker background) there was some discussion here about the phrase 'if there's one thing I know it's that we know very little'. At least one of you wanted the phrase to make its way into the Quaker poem that was also on that post (11th August). I said then it might turn up in another here it is...that poem. I wrote it the other week and it seemed a good time to put it up today. Usually titles jump out at me but for the first time ever no title was forthcoming so this one just bears its number. I think it will probably stick with this 'title' least for now. By the way I'm thinking about posts and poems about love and sex for later this week. Not that I want to draw you in with titillation or anything.

Number 254

This we know
We know nothing
Almost nothing
This is so

What we see
Currents crossing
Life gone shopping

How we sway
Sometimes waving
Half behaving
Half OK

How we learn
Tiny lessons
Heavy sessions
Turn by turn

RF 2008


Marion McCready said...

Ooh a nice sonic poem, I like the 'life gone shopping' and I also like the title! Er..I'll be checking back for the tittilating post!!

Rachel Fox said...

Maybe it should have been 'More about the sonics'...


Colin Will said...

Neat poem Rachel - very clipped, but it works.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Colin...I like 'clipped'. Whilst I do write some longer poems one of my favourite poetry tasks is to try and say really big things in really small poems. And then of course there's the rhyming business...

Kat Mortensen said...

Re: your last comment, Rachel. Then I think you have succeeded in saying big things in a small poem. I can write without rhyme, but my brain thinks better with it than without.

The line "Currents crossing" puts me in mind of the film "Koyaanisqatsi" set to the music of Philip Glass it presents the world at high speed with light-beams becoming lines of light intersecting and running off into distances. (Very tough for me to describe, perhaps someone else has seen it?)


Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Kat, I know what you mean about rhyme. It's not very fashionable to rhyme in this fairly straightforward way but I've always thought fashion pretty much a load of nonsense any field. I would never suggest that every poet should rhyme...but it's how I like to work a lot of the time. When it works it's exciting!

Interesting you mention that particular is one of the bits I like most of this one. When I watch any group or groups of people communicating (again in any field) this is what I always see. People talk (or type) to each other but at such cross purposes so often. We use language in our own ways to get our own messages through and so rarely do we actually have any kind of exchange of ideas or information. Certainly the people I like to communicate with are the ones who are trying to get past the impasse, if you like, not the people who just want to shout 'I'm right, you're wrong, listen to me' all the time. That approach is sometimes necessary in science or politics, maybe, but in the arts it is so...completely missing the point of the whole process!

Jim Murdoch said...

Knowing, seeing, learning ... all these go but I'm not sure about the 'swaying' verse. I'd rather have seen a 'When we think' section because you've already got 'What' and 'How'. The rest works fine. I'm sure when you read it out loud it sounds fine so I won't pick you up on any of your rhythms, not that you'd pay a blind bit of attention anyway.

As for the title, I was only talking to Sorlil yesterday about the function of titles so it was interesting to hear what you had to say on the subject.

Rachel Fox said...

Ah but Jim...maybe the swaying is about thinking...just not using the word 'think'.
And I do pay attention to what you, I don't always agree with you or act upon your advice...but that doesn't mean I don't think about it!
As for poems that 'work fine'...that's not really how I think about them. They're not door-stops or window-locks or something...

Jim Murdoch said...

And yet that is exactly how William Carlos Williams described a poem as a "machine made out of words".

Rachel Fox said...

And that is one way of looking at it...just one!

hope said...

I like "sometimes waving", which in my head has more than one meaning. The simple "Hi y'all!" wave at passersby while you ride. Or the more, dare I say "intellectual" idea that we think we know where we're going, then sometimes waver...leaning to go in one direction, then switching course. Sometimes for no apparent reason to those watching us. :)

I like the should keep it!

Rachel Fox said...

Yes...the having a very different title to all my others it makes this one feel a bit special (in a slightly odd way...but odd is often good).

The waving covers many things and is also part of my neverending tribute to the quite amazing little Stevie Smith poem 'Not Waving but Drowning'. It is so little, that poem, and yet so huge. I like Smith's poems more as time goes on.


Dave King said...

A lovely little poem this.
Life gone shopping

stopped me in my tracks. Brilliant.
I can see why you had a difficulty with the title, but envy that fact that they usually jump out at you. I nearly always have difficulty.

Rachel Fox said...

Dave you marvellous man! I'm so glad you like that bit - it was the bit I fiddled with the most. I started with 'folk gone shopping/constantly', tried various other adverbs (hopelessly?), changed the 'folk' to 'life' and then finally found 'choicelessly' which I liked for lots of reasons (partly because 'choice' gets used to cover so many things these days...politically).
So, as Eeyore might say, thanks for noticing!