Sunday, September 30, 2007

Poetry in Motion

I can't pretend to be much of a judge of poetry. I'm an English teacher, not a homosexual - A Bit of Fry and Laurie

I can't say that poetry is my 'thing'. There may be one or two pieces that I like. But today I have read two poems, both of which have found their way into that part of my brain labelled 'Things to Keep Forever'.

The first one, which is untitled, was written by a young man named Johnnie, who died three years ago in a tragic accident, aged only 17. As a young child he was clearly very bright but struggled in school and was later to be diagnosed as dyspraxic. It was not until about a year after the death of his sister Anna, from cystic fibrosis (a condition also suffered by his other sister), that his talent for poetry was discovered. He was about 7 at the time and started to write poetry in his school books. The poem that made its mark on me is untitled and he wrote it when he was 11:

I have nevar seen a flower cry
Or see a wild thing give up
but try and try again
until they
have done what they set out to do.
Or seen an animal feel sorry for itself.

I have nevar seen
a flower consider how un-fair life is.
I've nevar seen a animal look scared or daunted.

So prehaps man should try to bace
part of his soul on a animal.
Prehaps, but he nevar will

(spellings and grammar original)

The book (published by Constable Robinson) is now available from bookshops or by post from Peta Nightingale, 32 Holly Grove, London SE15 5DF (£10, £3 postage - cheques payable to The Anna Trust). Proceeds go to research into cystic fibrosis.

The other is this:

Mary Cornish

I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.

I like the domesticity of addition--
add two cups of milk and stir--
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.

And multiplication's school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.

Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrows take away two,
the two in someone else's
garden now.

There's an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.

And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.

Three boys beyond their mothers' call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn't anywhere you look.

For this and more fascinating stuff go and visit Andree here.


jmb said...

I'm not a big fan of poetry either. I think I was traumatized by it in school. However I also liked both of these poems.
I can't help thinking about the poor mother who lost two of her children. I had a friend here who had four children but one died of leukemia at 16 and another died of cystic fibrosis in her teens too. As well the father was a doctor. How frustrated he must have been.

Chris said...

I agree, JMB, I simply cannot imagine what it must be like to lose one child, let alone two. On top of that, this poor woman was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly before her daughter's death Puts some of my tedious little problems into perspective!

chux said...

shame about that young lad - a life exposed to tragedy that fell to tragedy. Very sad