I am on the periphery of disaster.
The man falls from the bench.
For a brief moment
people laugh
and chase the escaped dog,
not recognising
the seriousness.

I am held for a brief moment,

too scared to help,
too ashamed to run.

Unfortunately, for now this blog must remain private, only for me to read, and that does make me less motivated to keep it. Even though I know no writing is ever wasted, there was an excitement about having people read what I had created and something appealing about the immediacy of being able to "publish" my thoughts so quickly. I had been so careful to maintain confidentiality and to be senstive in what I was saying (all accepted by the powers that be), but rules are rules so I am told. I feel that closing this blog to even a select few, is like saying come in, paint a picutre, but you won't be able to share it with anyone. It seems that in this case words are to be feared more than brush strokes. Are more writers imprisoned by despotic regimes than visual artists?

There is also some irony in the fact that the Department of Health itself is launching a website where patients (or anyone) can post comments about named hospitals, wards, doctors, nurses etc. Where will be the maintaining of confidentiality and the careful thought about expression in all of that I wonder?
What's the point in poetry? There's a tension on this residency between seeing poetry as inconsequential to the needs of the patients against the contrary, fearing that it has too much power, particularly the power to distress. I know about the power of poetry. Of course I do, I'm a writer of poetry. And I believe this power can be distressing, though more often it is uplifting, thought-provoking and meaning-giving.

Most poets at some time or other question the purpose of their writing. In Dared and Done. The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning Julia Markus says that in her poetry Barrett-Browning saw and sang out.
And I, a singer also, from my youth
Prefer to sing with those who are awake.

EBB 'Casa Guidi Windows'
Perhaps it is harder to sing to those who are not the most receptive, but it is also more rewarding when they begin to hum along too. I meet Karl, an engineer who says he isn't interested in poetry, but he is bored with the TV so I can distract him. I find out a bit about him and his life and then I read from Julia Darling's 'Waiting Room'.
I'm waiting for
the drugs to work,
this rain to stop, for results,
the tea to brew
paint to dry,

for it to harden, to wear off
my hair to grow, morning,
the weekend, a miracle,
to be put through:
Karl nods, "There's the truth."

Canadian poet, Alden Nowlan, writing a hundred years after Barrett-Browning in 'Johnnie's Poem' said: you write poems about what/you feel the deepest and hardest.

With this residency I aim to see and sing out, to find resonance with others and to write about the deepest and the hardest; the deepest and the hardest joy and love, as well as the deepest and hardest sorrow and fear.


A friend recently reminded me of a quote from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran: "For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."

I am not always good at holding onto this. Life, it seems to me, is a series of complex and unsafe mazes which I have to puzzle out, with snares set for the unwary, where meaning, reason and motivation are in short supply. I was in one of my claustrophobic traps the other day, when it came to me that this is perhaps the flip-side to my creativity.

It also effectively blocks my creativity. Blunts my curiosity, my wonder at the sea's waves and their casual ferocity, declaring this is what we do, we're waves, we splash, we break. I don't like it that in this mood I might miss the joy in little things. The pungent freshness - privet, grass, nameless weed, dark earth sodden after rain. Four puffed up pigeons in a puddle, like four fat businessmen discussing their affairs in a Turkish bath.

Do I need reason to breathe and meaning to get up in the morning? For I do take in oxygen, reason-less, I do rise, meaning-less.