Thursday, 28 May 2009

And now a poem...please

The 'Poetry Please' programme goes off the BBC i-player in a couple of hours so here's a new post to keep things moving. After all a link to a TV programme you can no longer watch is really no use to anybody is it?

I seem to have been doing a lot of chatting on here of late...honestly, at this rate a person could forget they write poetry at all. So, here's a poem - one I mentioned recently because I wrote it a couple of years ago after reading Owen Sheers' prose book 'The Dust Diaries' (will plugging his book again make up for previous dastardly conduct, you wonder...probably not). Anyway in the Sheers book there is a scene near the end where a character sits on a bench to make a serious life decision and that reminded me, when I read it, of a similar scene in my own life (from over twenty years ago now). Sometimes we make decisions on the hop, sometimes we struggle to make them or even know they need making...but there are times when we really just sit there and decide 'aha, yes, I will do x or y' (and sometimes we even manage to see it through!). The decision situation in this poem is related to a love poem that some of you may remember from back here (as for the full details of the decision...oh all that another time, don't you think?). This poem is one that hasn't been out and about much – I haven't sent it to magazines, it's not in the book, I haven't read it aloud anywhere – and partly because of that I figured it was time to let it out for a run around on its own. It's probably more than a little rough round the edges. Still, here it is:

Big Decision Bench

Moments of truth
Can feel so long
Especially here
On Big Decision Bench

This is mine, can you see it?
Madrid 1986
Somewhere up near
Plaza Colón

Looking at the map now
Maybe it was even
The Gardens of Discovery
A suitable seat

Mine was a common dilemma
Should I stay or should I go?
Does he love me, does he no?
You know the kind of thing

But years have passed and he’s forgotten
A happy ghost, mistake unmade
And don't we all need at least one
Big Decision Bench in a lifetime?

It can be so peaceful just sitting
Like an underused striker
Watching all the different feet pass
Planning out a next move

RF 2006


Dominic Rivron said...

Big decision benches... You touch on something I often think about. Isn't it weird looking back on those moments which are no different to any other moment apart from the fact you make life-changing decisions in them? The older one gets the more aware you are, I think, of their significance: big decision moments accumulate, and time has passed in which the consequences are played out.

Dominic Rivron said...

...Oh yes, and "should I stay or should I go" reminds me I've had to listen (well. I like it, too) to my daughter's collected Clash singles CD all day... ("If I stay there will be trouble, if I go there will be double"... etc)

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Dominic - it's funny to look back on them from a distance isn't it...when the emotions have cooled and you can see more what was going on in your head and around about. This one is a very vivid memory in amongst the many, many memories I have of that time. I always do a lot of people-watching (default setting) but in Madrid I sat on a lot of benches (it was very hot!) and watched a lot of people walk by.

And the Clash...I've never been a big fan (though I've had many friends who were) but I've heard their poppier stuff on radio on so on. Song lyrics always crop up when I'm writing and I love to include them (or shreds of them). It's like having old friends on board...friends you can take with you wherever you go!


Rachel Fox said...

I realised after I posted this that some of you may wonder about the Plaza Colón. Square of the large intestine - are they mad? No. The Spanish call the man English speakers know as Christopher Columbus Cristóbal Colón. A lot of you may know that...some of you may not. But I would hate to mislead anyone...

Jim Murdoch said...

I like it. Quite a bit actually. Try it without the penultimate stanza. That way we don't know the consequences of the decision.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Jim. I quite like the idea of added mystery but I tried reading it without that and the rhythm goes to pot for me.
Interesting comment though.

hope said...

Well done!

And from now on when I sit, contemplating what it is I'm suppose to do, I will mentally borrow your Big Decision Bench. If that's okay with you.

I promise to put it back where I found it. ;)

Titus said...

I particularly like the unexpected simile/imagery of the last stanza.
And you are so right, looking back it is possible to find a precise moment when the decison made changes everything that follows.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Dominic has said exactly what I felt when I read the poem Rachel. I have sat on that big decision bench a few times in my life. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had made a different one. Who wrote the poem about the road not taken? Feel it might have been Robert Frost but am not sure.

Rachel Fox said...

You are more than welcome to share my bench Hope. In fact I think it may be a collective bench - all welcome.

Yes, Titus...the football imagery! I'd never watched much football till I met Mark but he is quite a sports fan and we've been together 12 years next week so I guess some of it has rubbed off. There is a hilarious family story of me trying to learn footballer's names when we first met (I tried to remember Zola by thinking 'like a French writer' and called him Balzac instead. Whoops).

Yes, Weaver, that's the Frost poem. Probably one of the most referenced poems in the English language I imagine. Hope takes her blog name from it. We read it in school (like so many others). I've always liked it - it's that popular for good reason. I listened to a radio programme about it once where they were saying that it's not really about what everyone thinks it's about (or something). But we all think different things when we read it (slightly different anyway) so I'm afraid I stopped taking in what they were saying and drifted off down another road...


Rachel Fox said...

And the weather's been like Madrid in May today too. I walked on the beautiful beach here for ages with the dog this morning - not a soul in sight!

Dick said...

Yes, as with Dominic, this strikes sparks. You pin down the sense of potential turning point so well. I love the notion of the 'underused striker'.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Dick - much appreciated. It's funny about the sports content...I hardly even noticed it, I certainly didn't think about just appeared. But then the background noise in this house is often cries of 'offside, that was clearly offside!' (Mark), 'when is Murray playing?' (my Mum) and then just for variety 'owizat!' (Mark).

There is a sport poem that kicks around in my head about cricket by Neil Rollinson called 'Deep-Third-Man'. In fact it's online from 'Poetry Please' here.

Marion McCready said...

'Big decision bench' - nice idea, one I can certainly relate to!

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I owe everything to Owen Sheers...