On the last Thursday of each month Poetry Spotlight will share some of my favourite poems. This will include poems which have impacted on me at various stages of my life and poetry I have discovered on Social Media, through the excellent blogs I read daily.
The first poem in this feature is William Wordsworth’s, Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802.
The poem has meaning for me for several reasons. I was born 10 miles from Wordsworth’s birthplace in the Lake District. His poetry was a part of the school curriculum and this was one of his first poems I was introduced to.
As a young boy, the poem would bring visions of standing on Westminster Bridge, savouring Wordsworth’s view across the Thames and the lure and bright lights of London. Little did I know that in February 1983 the visions would become reality when I became a police officer in the city.
Over the next 30 years I lost count of the number of times I stood on Westminster Bridge and recited the words of the poem. As time progressed the meaning of the poem changed as, through my work, I was exposed to the dark underbelly hidden in London.
Standing on the bridge, watching the Thames flow by and replaying Wordsworth’s vision, in 1802, always brought a sense of peace and calm, a reminder there were still
Illustration Credit: Claudia Meyer
The zombie genre fascinates me – Fear the Walking Dead, Z Nation, The Walking Dead -I can’t watch enough of it.
I’ve even completed a “How long would you survive in a Zombie apocalypse” quiz. Eighteen months was the outcome, enough time for me to write the Zombie Haiku Anthology.
It is also on my bucket list to appear as an extra in a zombie film, or episode, and earlier this week I fulfilled the wish.
I went Christmas shopping in Central London.
Hordes of zombified shoppers wandered aimless through shops and across roads and pavements. Adults shouted at dogs, dogs barked at children, and children howled at adults.
In one store, I witnessed two women screaming at a store assistant after being told that the toy “their children couldn’t possibly live without”, the Hatchimal, was out of stock and no further deliveries expected until the 27th of December.
As the two women stormed out of the shop, reflecting on their children’s ruined Christmas, the assistant turned to a colleague and said, “I think I’m turning into a Zombie.”
How did we get to this point in our evolution? Isn’t Christmas, and the festive season, supposed to be a time of enjoyment and sharing happiness with family and friends?
At least the experience gave me some thoughts and material for this senryu.
Zombie hordes descend.
In a manger, far away,
A saviour cries.
Has the Christmas zombie virus struck where you are?
Please let me know and I’ll inform the authorities.
I was having a clear up of the poetry den this week when I came across an old journal of my poetry. This was a collection of poems I had written between 1987 and 1989.
At the time I was working as a police officer in London and part of a unit dealing with major crime and disorder. The work was, at times, dangerous and handling high levels of stress and pressure was commonplace.
Writing these poems was a release valve, a time out to relax and get some thoughts and emotions down on paper. In 1989 I felt these poems were worthy of Shakespearian adoration. For whatever reason they never got any further than the bottom drawer.
Over twenty-five years later it was strange experience reading them again.
The Shakespearian delusions were shattered but, on reflection, I realised I had a number of useful drafts that could be moulded into pieces of poetry.
This made me think, is a poem ever finished?
Writing a poem is a snapshot in time. A photo of our thoughts, feelings and emotions in that moment.
We draft, re-draft, ponder, spend days mulling over changing a full stop into a comma.
The poem goes away and when we reacquaint ourselves with it, something has changed. Our lives are different; we are no longer the same people in that same moment.
If Sir John Betjeman was alive today would he change the words and tone of his poem Slough?
Would Wordsworth wake up in a sweat and re-write Daffodils?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.