Saturday, 30 November 2013

Two fire poems

Poem Pigeon has been running a competition for poems on the theme of fire.  I posted on the site two from my back catalogue, and entered one of them in the competition.  See my post of 6 October 2013 for my take on this way of entering competitions by web posting.

The poem I entered in the fire competition was 'Testing' from 2004, drawing on my experience as fire safety manager at work.


Some have professed they cannot tell
the weekly testing of the bell
from fire alarms. So let's spell out
the difference in case of doubt.

Testing the bell's a burst of clang,
over if it's a second long.

But clang that bursts and goes on bursting,
doors swung to, opened, swung to, swung to,
voices, feet, then no feet, no voices,
and clang goes on, and through the window
flashes of orange, knots of people,
and clang goes on, and clang goes on,
that means get out, the clang's a drill
for real, burst dress-rehearsalful,
get out, the clang's a clang for fire,
or drill for fire, get out for real,
find the fresh air, get out for real.

Let that become the meme of bells.
Let people know it in bones and bowels.

And the one I posted on Poem Pigeon, without, in the end, entering it in the competition, was the fourth from a sequence of seven that I wrote in the late 1990s, exploring animal metaphors.   The title of the sequence was 'Beasties'. Maybe I had no business co-opting fire into the animal kingdom, but it seemed to work at the time.



Another beast -- it rhymes with liar --
will suit our purpose, namely fire,
fire, the old process, virtual
spirit, virtual animal:
from her straight yellow stream of hair
like candlewax half-dried in air,
through all the risks attending paper
when file or bin did not escape her,
down to the glee she took in blame
and fanning issues into flame,
she was a fire; even the one
leak that she sprang quite early on,
by way of an experiment
in trouble (should she reinvent
her problem as incontinence?),
does nothing to put out the sense
of fire -- no, still retained from school,
a Latin verb is pungent fuel:
uro, burn, worry, chafe, annoy.

For traceless killing, hear the ploy
that gangsters used: a cylinder
of CO2 against one ear,
release the pin and squeeze the handle,
and blow the brain out like a candle.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Death loss of eyes/limbs

This is a song that I've been singing at times of moderate distress -- glumph and peeviour level -- since 1982.  Its starting point is a line from an insurance policy, which became a surrogate oath of mine.  The song lyrics achieved publication of a sort recently, in that I posted them in the course of a Twitter exchange with Phil Lucas.  I was delighted to find that a single tweet would encompass the whole lot.


Death loss of eyes/limbs, face and hands
Sellotape glue elastic bands.
Heartbreak and shattered memory
coffee tea smiles and sympathy

Oh and here's the tune.  

The closest affinity of this sort of thing is with the wilfully vacuous ditties from Monty Python, though I admit that the Python specimens are funnier.  Unlike the blurts, 'Death loss of eyes/limbs' did not go into hibernation during a time of acute anxiety over a work project.

Uploading the tune, by the way, was my first experiment with uploading a video to the blog, but what you see is several experiments later.  I made the mistake of using Freemake to reduce the video to an uploadable size.  I quickly found, after downloading Freemake, that I had lost control of Firefox, in frequent crashes and unexpected links.  Freemake appears to be every bit as bad as described at Keep Browser Safe, and removing traces of it is a protracted business.  Avoid.  Or sing 'Death loss of eyes/limbs' over it.