Archived entries for poetry and prose

The City

Here’s the other poem that I mentioned before. The reason why it took so long is because I couldn’t find an image that I was happy with. In the end I drew one myself. Shame the scan’s a bit shabby though.

The City

Gaze upon yon city, said the husband to his wife
See her marvellous spires, her luscious gardens!
I long to soar in the joys of her festivals!
I want to dance in her streets!
I desire to know her mind!
Gaze upon yon city and rejoice!
For it will soon be mine, and I will call her home

Gaze upon yon city, said the wife to her husband
See her mounds of waste, her fetid sewers!
Have you plumbed the depths of her sorrows?
Have you fought in her streets?
Can you trust her heart?
Gaze upon yon city and despair!
For it will never be yours, and you will never call her home


I’ve been sitting on a couple of poems while I worked through my travel posts. Here’s the first one, called simply Jack:

I’m a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none
Many trades I have learned, many deeds have I done
I can fiddle the fiddle and cobble a shoe
Anything you think of I likely can do

I’m a real Mr. Fix-It, always down on my knees
I can help with your plumbing, even speak some Chinese
In need of a favour? You just have to ask
I’m ready and willing to perform every task

I’m the salt of the earth, can I give you a hand?
I don’t want your money, do you not understand?
I toil and I strive and exist just to please
I take all your troubles and give back only ease

I know you have problems, I know you’re in need
I insist that you tell me, do not make me plead
No do not deny me, you must not withhold
I’ll not let you keep me out here in the cold

I’ll do it, I’ll show you, believe me it’s true
When everything’s done there’ll be nothing askew
This cut? Ah it’s nothing, a bandage is fine
A risk in my business, occurs all the time

So what if it doesn’t look much like the picture
They use funny lighting to fool and to trick ye
I followed the manual right down to the letter
I don’t think that you could’ve done any better

It might not be perfect, I gave it my best
It’s not all that crooked, please don’t get depressed
I really am sorry, but when all’s said and done
I’m a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none

Notes on “The Danse Macabre”

I chose to publish The Danse Macabre without comment, so as not to distract from the impact of it by revealing my processes. But now that it’s been out there for a bit, I can’t resist the urge to share about how it came together.

For one thing, I’m immensely proud of the fact that I wrote the poem completely unaided. It was entirely conceived, crafted and completed using only my brain. No computer, no dictionaries (rhyming or normal), no thesaurus – just me hacking away at the words using pen and paper.

I forget where the title and topic came from. I just remember that I heard or read the words “danse macabre” somewhere, and it sounded interesting. The rest sprang from my current, dark muse.

Here is the first draft of the poem. It starts out exactly the same way, but you’ll notice that it started off in a very different direction:

The first draft of Danse MacabreAnd here’s the last draft – I made some minor changes while typing it into the computer:

The final draft of Danse MacabreAll up I had about 11 pages of drafts, working notes, scribbles. I must admit though, my handwriting has become extremely lazy as a consequence of doing almost all of my writing on computers, and often resembles a backwards form of Arabic more than English!

It’s hard to say whether my choice to forego technology affected the outcome. I feel that it’s about the same – in terms of how long it took to get from conception to completion, and also how my brain is almost as reliable as a dictionary in providing the words that I’m looking for (maybe I’m biased towards using words that I know than the ones that I don’t).

How would you rate Macabre compared to my other works?

The Danse Macabre

O pretty young thing with your heart on a string,
Weeping alone in the dark.
As you drown in your sorrow, a few minutes I’ll borrow,
And ‘pon your future remark:

There’s no point in crying and no use in trying,
Your life’s endeavours will fail.
Whatever may be, in the end you will see,
That I will always prevail.

Which Tom, Dick or Harry will you run off and marry?
‘Til death do you part – what a lark!
In sickness or health, in poverty or wealth,
My role I’ll most faithfully hark.

And what of a job, or which bank will you rob,
To fund your miserable life?
P’rhaps dig your high-heels in and touch the glass ceiling,
Or be kept as a mother and wife.

You cannot decline the ravages of time,
The clock is also my slave.
With the years at your tail like the hare not the snail,
You’ll rot as you race to the grave.

So will you heed? Come ride my black steed,
Stop hiding behind a façade.
In the end young or old, the meek and the bold,
Will all dance the Danse Macabre.

The Paradox of the Candle

Hands cupping a burning candleBefore I start with the content of the post, a poem with the same title as this entry, I wanted to mention that my beautiful and wonderful wife Jenny, is currently suffering from chronic depression brought on as a result of complex post-traumatic stress disorder. This means that she has been out of action for a while now as she battles her inner demons.

If you have ever experienced Clinical Depression yourself (not just feeling depressed, however bad), or known somebody close to you who has suffered from it, you will know that even if I were to try to explain, it would not make any sense. It would leave you feeling frustrated and wanting to help, but you can’t – the mind of a person suffering from Depression is not rational. Rest assured that she is currently getting professional help.

I thank you to pray for us and keep her in your thoughts as she heals, and allow our (her) story to be revealed in the fullness of time.

Here is the poem I wrote. It is partly a description of what I’m seeing, and partly my way of trying to understand what’s happening to my wife. It’s not a happy subject and does not have a happy ending, so please bear that in mind (especially if you’re suffering from depression…)


What must it be like to live
When your purpose is to die slowly
To give life to light.

The agony as your wick is burned
And your body is consumed by fire
Until nothing is left.

To keep on living in pain
Hurting those closest to you
Seeing them suffer.

Affected by the merest breeze
Flame wavers but fights to stay alive
For what reason?

But if you want to end it
You extinguish yourself
And create darkness.

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