The Wave

The Wave

The Wave

Damp air filled with the tang of salt.

The light is grey, dead, heavy with storm.

Wind rising, beating the water,

Driving spindrift to shore.

Gull feathers & seal bones

Litter the strand-line,

Tangled with leathery weeds

Stinking with rot and mussels.

I feel the wave before I see it;

A huge pressure on my aura

Rearing like a stallion

Maddened by lust and fear.

The sound, a hundred trains

Condensed into one deafening roar

When I see it, it’s too late to run.

A mountain of water a mile high

breaks over my head

And I drown, crushed first

To a handful of pebbles

Rolling along the beach.

Shadow pebbles

Shadow pebbles

I wrote this poem over a year ago; the feeling had begun building back then and it became almost unendurable. You can interpret this however you like but for me, world events are at the root of it.

“Never without my permission!”~ on consent, copyright and general good manners.

Never without my permission!”~ on consent, copyright and general good manners.

If you have ever seen the film The Fifth Element, you’ll remember the scene when Leelou, the beautiful alien “Supreme Being” is kissed when semi-conscious by Corban Dallas (Bruce Willis) and she responds by uttering a few words in her own language before kicking his ass all over the place. Those words, when translated by the character played by Ian Holme, mean, Never without my permission.

Consent is a big one, you know. Whether it’s for kissing, copulating or other things, it’s important. Most women (and some men) know what it’s like to have your consent ignored and even your right to consent/non consent disputed. But it goes beyond the physical. Intellectual property can be stolen, or misused, and that’s what I’m writing about today. I wanted to put into some context quite why it can be a huge deal for creatives to find their work used without their express consent.

A number of times most years I get an email or a message, asking if such and such a piece from this blog might be used for something. Sometimes it’s for a magazine, sometimes for a website. My answer is generally a positive one, asking only that my full name and my blog details be included, and that the piece is not altered in any way. I don’t ask for a fee; what I tend to hope is that the person asking will have the good will to perhaps buy a book or something of that sort. I don’t ask that they do, but I would have thought that common decency would suggest that there is a gentle quid pro quo involved. After all, they have been allowed to use my work for no money changing hands.

However, having recently discovered that a piece of poetry has been used and set to music, I was concerned. I had not been asked before it was done. I’ve had a poem set to music before; the Celtic Podcast Show asked me if they could do so, and I agreed. The Winter Queen was beautifully performed and the correct credits given, so all was well. But they asked BEFORE they did so, not after. It’s far better to seek permission than ask for forgiveness.

To some this might seem foolishness on my part, to be bothered by this. Perhaps it is. However, I sincerely doubt that anyone would nab a poem by Mary Oliver and do something with it, because the likelihood is they would find themselves in the hottest of waters and be lucky to get away with just a cease and desist notice. Because I am not a big name in the world of poetry does not mean I can be treated like I don’t matter, simply because I would not have the means (financial or emotional) to pursue breaches of copyright. Some would argue that I shouldn’t care because it’s exposure. Yes, sure, if they have included my name, perhaps there is some benefit possible. But it’s actually quite limited. Imagine a hundred people heard a poem performed. How many will actually register the name of the poet, go home, look up that poet and start to follow their work? And what if the poem had been changed to suit the musical needs or the philosophical stance of the performers? It’s a very thin line indeed.

Creative artists have a hard enough time of it anyway; theft on the internet is rife. That’s one reason why I have the No Pinning badge on the side bar. When Pinterest first popped up, I soon found several photos of mine from here had been nabbed, posted on Pinterest (admittedly, there’s a route back to here) and they’d put their own spin on the pictures. I don’t do searches for my name and my work because I’d die of exhaustion sending out cease and desist notices, I suspect. From time to time I know some school somewhere has been setting homework asking for “A poem on X,Y,Z” because that pops up on the search terms section of the blog dashboard. That’s one reason I’ve put up far less of my own original poetry and fiction here, because it’s unprotected.

Too many writers are getting so heavily discouraged by lack of sales, lack of reviews, general lack of interest, being pirated, that they have given up. To get a book out there one needs at some level to consider return of investment, even if, like me, they don’t consider themselves to be business men or women. I’ve had to stall my next collection of poetry because I realised it needed to be reformatted, and the back matter needs rewriting. It needs rewriting because I had included a short quote (well within fair usage policy guidelines) from Mary Oliver; I then realised to use such a quote on the back matter or in the blurb is dishonest. It misleads, implying that she has somehow endorsed the book. In fact, that short quote was a flashpoint that inspired one of the poems in the book, but even so, I cannot use it or her name like that. But because I have little energy to spare, this project is completely stalled. It’s frustrating because the business with the poem set to music suggests that someone (or many) loves my poetry but didn’t have the understanding needed to actually ask me before they did what they did. It’s not as if I am hard to find. There’s a contact me page at the top of the blog header; I have a Facebook author page. It means I have even less incentive to publish poetry or short fiction here, even less incentive to go through the work involved in getting a book together, because it would seem somepeople are happy to read, to “borrow” but are reluctant to support a poet in one of the ways that will keep them writing (buying a book, reviewing, telling others are just a few)

I wrote a poem today, too. But I won’t be sharing it any time soon.

Other blessings

Other blessings

Other blessings (29th Jan 2015)

Anoint me,

But not with the oil of gladness.

Let it be with a darker oil

That carries the bitterness

Of myrrh and aloes.

Direct me

But not with the map of easiness.

Let it be with a harder path

That leads me into the darkness

Of strangers and pilgrims.

Remind me

But not with a mind of blindness.

Let me be a stronger spirit

That seeks to find light

Amid the darkest days.

Touch me,

But not with empty, unsoiled hands

Let it be with blackened ashes

That mark me as humble,

Repentant and contrite.

Bless me,

But not with an easy happiness.

Let it be with a deeper soul

That seeks the sweetness

Of fishes and loaves.

Give Me Wild – for the Summer Solstice

Give Me Wild – for the Summer Solstice

Give me wild

Take me where the boughs bend low

Take me where the waters flow

Take me where the clean winds blow:

Give me wild

Show me where the bluebells sway

Show me where the otters play

Show me where the edges fray:

Give me wild

Teach me why each day is new

Teach me why the sky is blue

Teach me what we all can do:

Give me wild

DSCI0212

Bury the Bloom

Bury the bloom

Bloom

Exuberantly,

Extravagantly

Unashamedly.

Fill the air

With fragrance and colour,

Light and joy.

Catch the eyes

Of all who pass.

Stand proud,

Juicy-stemmed

Head held high

Filled with flowers.

Fade.

Wilt at the edges

Lose your freshness,

Wither and brown.

Droop.

Dry up

Drop petals

Shrivel.

Die.

Eyesore & dust-trap,

Wait to be thrown out,

Discarded.

Rot.

Not rot.

Buried deep, covered

In cold soil

And darkness.

Silence.

Moisture seeps,

Drips softly

Into the grave.

The corpse plumps,

Swells a little

Sends out snakes of root

White and thin and hairy,

Seeking nourishment,

Anchoring the body.

Wait.

Slow.

Slow.

Slow.

An itch begins,

An ache for light.

Stretch.

Strain,

Break the skin,

Breach the shell,

Reach, reach up.

Light

And cold.

Seek the light,

Grow upwards

Reach outwards.

Break.

Open.

Bloom.

Live.

Maze

Maze

Enter

Turn left

Turn right

Go straight on

Turn right

Then left.

Follow the path

Dead end.

Dead end.

Dead end.

Press the lever

Eat the treat.

Door opens.

Enter

Turn left

Turn right

Go straight on

Turn right

Then left.

Follow the path

Dead end.

Dead end.

Dead end.

Press the lever

Eat the treat.

Door opens.

Enter

Turn left

Turn right

Go straight on

Turn right

Then left.

Dead end

Dead end

Dead end

End dead.

Spent Flowers

Spent Flowers

We do not love spent flowers;

The ones crinkled at the edges,

The drooping, dropping petals,

The browning, wrinkled blooms

That dry and die on the stem,

Wizened mummies of their

Former pristine freshness.

We prize the swelling buds,

Perfect packages of potential,

Baby-faced blossom bundles

Unfurled and untouched by trial.

We treasure the newly opened rose,

Half-blown on a midsummer morn,

Its fragrance chaste, restrained,

Pent-up in anticipated glee

Awaiting noon and full sun.

We admire the full-blown lily-

They’re such good value;

They last so well!”-

They might as well be silk

Until the pollen stains the altar cloth

And meaty petals tumble,

Cascade in sudden death-throes

To lie like bright compost

Waiting the broom and bin.

The Aurochs in the Mist

The aurochs in the mist (October 6th 2015)

It’s the print in the black mud,

So fresh it steams and bubbles,

Vast hoof-print holding water

Like a dark clay vessel cupping

The rain as it cascades off my hat,

That tells me I am not alone.

Further up the path, I smell him,

Rich, musky dung in shining heaps

More evidence of his passing,

Though the mist obscures the sight.

If I go forward, we will surely meet

And I, poor feeble human, will

Perhaps be mashed into the mud,

Trampled by razor-tipped hooves

Tossed on coat-rack horns

And discarded as easily as the bracken

That catches on those lethal spears.

SNORT

Breath in clouds,

He emerges from the mist

A she, lesser in size,

Docile as her grand-sire

Was assuredly not,

Pauses at the sight of me

Standing in her path,

Tosses her head, not me,

Before turning back

And returning whence she came.

A sea of books

A sea of books

I set sail on the sea of books;

My fleet of novels

Bravely bobbing

Cover-sails fluttering

Amid a wind of acclaim.

Hope was not enough

Armour against the tides;

Their bright flags faded,

Tattered and ragged,

Ripped by the storms.

Then came the days

When piracy threatened

And every author cried

It’s a jungle out there!”

And eyed others askance,

Seeing fellows as rivals

And former friends as foes.

The sea became too busy,

Impossible to navigate,

Books thronged, thick as flies

On a week old corpse.

I called my books home

And weary and gratefully

They came back to harbour,

Hulks in a haven,

Safe from sinking and shame.

Take me deeper

Take me deeper

Take me deeper, I beg you.

I’m tired of paddling in the shallows,

Surrounded by squealing children

Wielding plastic buckets and spades,

Collecting sea weed and empty shells

And bright polished sea-glass

Mimicking treasure and gemstones

And barnacle-encrusted pirate loot.

I’m weary of the rock pools,

Their once-magical grottos

Of anemone and blennies

Are far too familiar now,

Their wonder dog-eared, faded.

There is no danger here,

Even nippy crabs or jellyfish stings

Do not daunt me.

Take me deeper, please,

Take me to where the Kraken

Waits, where the water turns

From blue to black

And light is lost.

Take me to where the wrecks rot,

And forgotten lands, drowned

By inundation and hubris

Still stand on ocean floor.