Monday, 2 February 2009

The love of small things

I suppose one reason I like Don Paterson's 'The Book of Shadows' so much (see two posts back) is that I really like good short poems... and often the difference between an aphorism and a short poem can be...well...fairly small. I have written lots and lots of short poems (there's a whole section on my website called 'little poems') and I suppose if I wanted to I could call some of them aphorisms (it's just not one of my words though so poems they remain). Anyway I thought I'd post a few here...might even add one a day for the rest of the week. All of these four are in the book.

Short love

I loved you for 3 weeks
Or maybe longer
It may seem a short love
But it was stronger
Than you might imagine
From its length

RF (about 1998)

'Short love' has done really well for's been published a few times and it always gets a good response 'live'. It's a true story but I can't really remember who it's about. Honest...

The far wrong

Vote that way
Then kill yourself
Because you know
Inside and out
To all intents and purposes
You're already dead

RF 2006

A little bit of politics. And you know how I hate suicide being used for effect so this is a serious instruction rather than a bit of fun.


Oh, all of us are weirdos
It’s odd that, but it’s true
And the more you call me ‘weirdo’
The less hope there is for you

RF 2007

'Weirdo' was written about primary school but it has neverending applications.


You have much to answer
You fill the world with
No-one wants to go to
But has to
For FR
Of missing

RF 2005

I suppose this dates back to working in an ad agency (the PR department seemed the most pointless and, in an ad agency, that's really saying something) but again other bits of history are involved too.

So that's Monday's short ones. I also have a very little 'stone' over at A Handful of Stones today. Brief is obviously this week's theme. It has to get a look in sometimes, eh?



deemikay said...

I like little poems. One of my favourite analogies for a small poem is of a clockwork toy - you wind it up, let it do its thing, then it finishes.

I was very happy a couple of years back when Les Murray published his "Poems the Size of Photographs". Most of them are small (around 10/12 lines but lots are less). And it's got the best poem about vegetarianism I know (I'm not a vegetarian):

In a Time of Cuisine

A fact the gourmet
euphemism can't silence:
vegetarians eat sex,
carnivores eat violence.

(The word verification here was "braviate" which just echoes "brevity", no?)

Rachel Fox said...

Great poem and great title for a book too.

I do like a bit of succinctness now and again. And I just like the word succinct...definitely a favourite word.


Art Durkee said...

I recommend you seek out and read Pablo Neruda's last books. When he died on Isla Negra, six finished manuscripts for books of poems were found on his desk. They have been published and translated by now. The William O'Daly translations from Copper Canyon Press are good.

Anyway, your post brought me to mind of two of these last books, which are all short poems. I thought you might want to read "The Book of Questions" and "Stones of the Sky."

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Art. Neruda wrote so much! I have read some of his but not nearly everything. Spanish is the one other language that I would read in the original so I may go looking for some of those. I used to know a lot of Chileans and he was adored by them.

deemikay said...

I posted about The Book of Questions a few weeks ago! It's my favourite Neruda...

It's here with a couple of extracts.

Ken Armstrong said...

I loved 'Short Love' and didn't know it had done well for you or anything...

... aren't I clever? :)

It's the little smidgen of pure honesty (present *always* in your work, I'm sure) which raises things out of the ordinary. My tuppence-worth.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Ken, honesty is my middle name. (Except of course it isn't. My middle name is horrible and is something that will never be made public...not by me anyway.)

Sometimes a little less honesty and a bit more care (or construction) might be preferable/advisable...but honesty it is, pretty much every time. I just can't help myself.


Wonderful post, Rachel, and the comments are just as engaging.

Your small poems are perfect in my opinion. You make your point clearly while leaving plenty of room for the reader's imagination.

I'm sick! (yes, I beg for sympathy when ill) I might use this time of bed rest to submit to Handful of Stones myself. After I read yours! :)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Short poems are so much more succinct - like all of these, especially that first one - made all the better because you can't remember who it is about.

Rachel Fox said...

It's funny, Susan, of the 5 'stones' I sent in that submission the one she picked was my least favourite. It's so's hardly there. Oh well...

Thanks Weaver. I suppose in all honesty it is probably about more than one person. Oh dear...


Fiendish said...

"Short Love" is gorgeous, and totally exemplary of your style. The non-rhymed ending is just. So. Cool.

I feel like I just come on here and rave about your stuff all the time, but it's true! You should post something terrible so I can prove it.

Rachel Fox said...

Hey! I have a style! I was thinking only today that I am a bit style-free...


Marion McCready said...

I really like your little stone, lovely.

Colin Will said...

Alec Finlay published 'Atoms of Delight' some years back. It's an anthology of short poems and haiku, including two-line poems, one-word poems, epigrams and epitaphs. It's a wee gem, well worth seeking out.

hope said...

I love your "petite poems". It's like a snack for the brain rather than some 12 course meal that overwhelms.

I personally fell for "Number 1 Fan". ;)

Art Durkee said...

And don't forget haiku, and its related forms. Tanka, haibun, haiga, etc.

That's a whole culture of poetry built around short forms. One which I like a lot, and work in.

Rachel Fox said...

Glad you like the stone, Sorlil. You of the beautiful imagery!

I've not seen that book, Colin, sounds like one for me!

Ah, the no 1 fan, Hope...were you a Donny girl too?

I thought somebody might mention haiku, Art. I have yet to get into them...they are a bit my Brussel sprouts (see Billy post last month). I know a lot of people write them but I haven't got involved in that just yet. Doesn't mean I never will though.


Rachel Fox said...

I meant to say...some wise people did suggest I should put out the short poems separately in their own book...but I quite like them in with everything else. I wanted 'More about the song' to be a bit of everything I can do/had done up to that point.
Maybe a book of shorts another time. Or petites...

deemikay said...

I came up with a haiku generator last year... only the 27,000 possibilities in it. :) I never need to write a haiku again.

Rachel Fox said...

There are 'proper' poetry forms I like and use (sonnet, villanelle, octava rima...) but the haiku just hasn't grabbed me at all. A friend gave me a whole book of them and it lies...unread.
Maybe another time.

deemikay said...

I've not been a fan of them either... hence why I "mechanised" the process. I may post some random ones. If I can find the generator. :os

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