Proposition. A song is a song and a poem is a poem. They share words but they don’t share function. I wrote this as a poem and then Steve Moorby of MoorbyJones, the band we share with his daughter Gemma Moorby, set it to music and we recorded it. It’s due for release imminently and I’ll link to Spotify when it’s out in the world. And then, if the proposition has value for you, gentle reader, you may judge!
STAND UNDER FALLING WATER
When the sun is obscured by clouds and the moon and the stars are inconstant and the stations you pass with the crosses you bear are turning your bones into water…
CHORUS: lean into oncoming wind, let hot sand sun through your fingers, stand under falling water.
When the clock is slipping its gears and the minutes get ground into powder and the song in the wires is a hymn for the fallen and the North Star is lost to the sailor…
When each night is a different story but the theme and the plot are unchanging and you’re walking the narrowest furrow and you meet yourself there at the turning and you sleep like you’re deep fathoms down, but you’re treading the boards until dawn…
Even when you know that with any given poetry magazine receiving maybe 3,000 submissions a month, the chances of acceptance are minimal, it can be a rough push in the chest when yours is rejected.
Against the inevitable sense of invalidation that defies the hard logic of numbers, I have submitted very few poems in years. In general I’m not prolific: my output is relatively sparse so what goes out is pretty much all I’ve got at any given time.
But over the past couple of years I’ve found myself more creatively busy than in a very long time. Lockdown, walking the dog I’d fought against acquiring for years, this season late in life – all powerful stimuli, I guess, for now doing regularly something that I’ve done in bursts ever since my teens.
So recently I submitted groups of poems to magazines once again. Not this time just to a selection of the excellent little known publications that abound on the internet, but to the best known and most highly regarded ones. I have much less time in front of me than there is behind so it’s now surely that this man’s reach should exceed his grasp! And in reaching further I set myself up, of course, both for almost inevitable rejection and its corollary dejection.
No surprises, then, that to date Poetry London and the members’ page of Poetry Review have said no thanks. However, with that grasp in mind, I’m delighted that London Grip is taking two poems for next spring. But even on the back of that success I’m far from optimistic that the other poems are going to find landfall and I regret greatly not having pushed back harder a long time ago. Maybe had I spread the words more energetically and celebrated success more loudly , then I’d be occupying a bit more shelf space now!
i leave the earth in vapour even under a winter sun i become a cold- shouldered cloud uneven inconstant i hide the sky and you wonder will we ever know blue around our heads again i eat the children clouds where they play and become all heft and hubris but as empires fall so i fragment and the earth reclaims my body in a million pieces here i lie staring at my sisters but i am not done look i have swallowed a tree
From dawn to dusk, the pewter silver-grey of clouds that haven’t aspired to the sky. We walk inside them, drawing onto our faces the unrained drops. We’re comfortably dislocated from horizons; paths ahead are vanishing points lost in feathers; red kites whistle the fields’ edges. I walk, you run the curvature of this known, unknown world.’