28th Birthday Poem

So in the interests of establishing my own personal traditions, as with last year I’ve written a birthday poem, and as with last year its later than my birthday. We are getting closer though, last year it was a week, (or two),  this year its just a day, (or now two, as its one in the morning).

I make no claim to it being especially good, or an annual highlight to the poetry scene, (though my 27th Birthday Poem is the most read page on site – from people Googling for the exact words of the title I guess), its just a poem about my birthday and what the day means to me.

A Year to be Surpassed

A shadow fell over yesterday,
I turned twenty-eight,
It’s not that aging is bad,
But that another year has gone.

For every joy I’ve had to pay,
Yet seek joy come what may,
The same old slate,
Without a wipe date,
I will not say it was all sad,
And it didn’t make me mad.

The beast of success I did not slay,
My performance didn’t rate,
Yet for moments I am glad,
With a niece as lovely as a chiffon.

Another milestone be gone,
Next year I’ll have myself outdone.

©, Jonathan Lawrence 2010

P.S. I should add, as a cautionary note – I haven’t listed anything other than my niece being born as being explicitly good or bad. So I should note, that since my niece was born, I’ve enjoyed a fantastic time, being an uncle, thanks to some fortunate circumstances I’ve lived like a king, I’ve been to Prague, and I’ve come here to the Science Festival with some great people. Things like this were the moments I am glad for – just in case anyone thinks that I think I should be so rich and fortunate in life that the past two or three months have been less than notable.
When I think about it, it is quite strange that my niece coming into this world has marked such a massive turn around for my year, right at the end. However, life returns back to normal from here on in, I need to to start saving to make next year that bit more magical, all year round.
So to all my family and friends who have provided the highlights to my year, those moments I am glad for, have helped keep me sane when all else might have rendered me mad – I would like to say thank you. I hope I can do the same for you.

Lines on Office Work

I’ve been in London since Tuesday, four days out of the office… A blessing. I’m going for geeky reasons it’s the Excel User Group’s conference, so a room full of people even smarter with Excel than I am, hopefully plenty to learn.

Given that I’m avoiding the office for four days, what better time to post this poem? It’s about the working day after all.

Lines on Office Work
Put on the suit,
Brush off the lint,
Mental note for dry cleaning,
It’s off to work we go.

But not so quick,
Crush the war cry,
Temporal anomalies at work,
It’s a bus missed you burk.

Nut in the plural,
Shush the inner voice,
Gentle hope in the later bus,
It’s a minor tragedy.

Cut to the office,
Lush surroundings, not,
Crystal clear emotionless lines,
It’s not to be rushed for.

Strut your stuff,
Gush of fake enthusiasm,
Dental included for health,
It’s all in a days work.

Tut at mistakes,
Rush to do reports,
Bestial work striving for creativity,
It’s time to leave.

©, Jonathan Lawrence 2009

It’s a Slightly Strange World Out There

Been writing poems today, only two finished pieces, and one of those is for a friend, but the other I’m happy to share.

I’m not exactly the last of the great travellers, but I do love it. I’m away for the weekend, second weekend in a row – which explains why most of my poetry today has centred round travel.

This poem is about the little differences between "there" and home. It was just quickly jotted down, but I like it for its faults, it is after all silly sentiment, about unimportant things, unless you are the one having the experiences.

Its a Slightly Strange World Out There

Isn’t travel funny,
Lot’s of things are the same,
But the little things profane,
No guide wheels on buses,
My accent creating fusses,
Same brand shops,
But trading later stops,
History seems all around,
Yet only as rich,
As homeward bound,
Isn’t travel funny.

©, Jonathan L. Lawrence, September 2009

Where’s the Inspiration?

A man walks onto the scene, he strolls with forced assuredness, yet you can read in his body language he’s not as confident as he’d like to be, he eyes the megaphone in his hand cautiously, before coming to a step. He lifts the megaphone up, taps the small end, then raises it to his mouth, before clearing his throat, “Ahem!”, then he queries, “Is this thing on?”, his words boom out of the megaphone’s big end. He laughs nervously in response to the annoyed stairs he receives.

The man stands there a few moments before finally seeming to get the confidence to raise the microphone to his mouth again, as he megaphone reaches position this time his cheeks take on a bit of velour, and his eyes seem ablaze, he takes a deep meaningful breath, and speaks into the megaphone,

“Right, listen up,” now all eyes are on him, only they’re attentive rather than annoyed, “I demand to know where my inspiration is! I think it’s wholly unfair that you’ve abandoned me right now. I need you, I can’t write without you. Without you these pages are blank, and what words come are empty.
“Inspiration I’ve never needed you so bad, I’ve got all these things to do, and you’ve abandoned me, given up the fight, and now I stand alone against the tide of battle.
“I beg you return to me your charm, your talent. Words are meaningless without you!”

The audience looks rapt, his words have moved them, they feel his desperation, and they ponder borrowing the megaphone.

The man looks down upon his audience, upon their swept up faces, he watches the emotions play across their faces. Then a thought dawns in his mind, a realisation, maybe even epiphany.

What the man realised was this – inspiration is hard to achieve, but it can hit at the strangest moments, and all you can do is find the nearest waiting apparatus and take advantage.

Everyone has different things that inspires them to write, and inspires what to write. For myself these are most often two different events, for others they might be most often the same.

There is also another possibility one without the other, which can either be liberating or frustrating, for example:

  • I may have a brilliant idea what to write, but no inspiration (will) to write it – so it all plays out in my head because try as I might I can’t convert it into words. Obviously a form of writers block.
  • Something may give me inspiration (the will) to write, but without any inspiration. Here my mind, and the paper is ab empty canvas, and I can just let my thoughts flow freely. Probably doesn’t make for great reading, but it’s fun and liberating for me.

Everybody is different when it comes to inspiration, I know all too well what holds true for me, is complete gibberish to another. In broad strokes, I have probably captured the general forms of inspiration.

In terms of what inspires me to write (gives me the will), it falls down to three categories: the outdoors (nature, weather, scenery, architecture, etc…), other people’s creativity (a book, a film, a piece of music, also biographical information about a creative person, or someone who’s faced adversity in their life), and challenges (nothing gets my creative juices better than a bit of competition).

Sadly these things aren’t guaranteed to get me writing, but most often once I start writing it’s because I was inspired to by one of the above.

In terms of my inspiration what to write, it’s usually something close to hand, something I’ve imagined happening, my emotional state (yes, I can be a bit emo in my poetry), or a need to impress others so I can belong, and validate myself.

I’ve written about many things, from religion to coke cans, from fantasyic tales to mundane moments of life, and from historical events to nature.

Sometimes my indpirations puts me on the path to something specific, sometimes it’s just the starting point, or catalyst for a cascade of ideas.

I will say this, whatever the idea, I do love it when it happens, it’s a veritable joy to let poetry over take me, a joy and love that only falls short of sex.

As I’m getting older, inspiration is getting harder – dry spells last longer, but when the floodgates open, I feel sure the joy is deeper, as I come to appreciate it more.

Still I would live in those moments more if I were able to, giving myself over to the wild abandon of inspiration.

So I feel abandoned when inspiration doesn’t come, and call to it from my megaphone, hoping to attract it back. For me my megaphone is going to beautiful places, reading and listening to music, and entering challenges – hoping beyond hope, inspiration heads my call and answers.

That’s what inspiration is to me.

Evolution of a Writer

Charmander - beause everyone should be a Pokémon - or something like that

Charmander - beause everyone should be a Pokémon - or something like that

So Charmander gets in a fight, it’s against a more powerful Pokémon, though his trainer is sure his Pokémon can handle it.

The battle rages, and indeed in a last ditch effort, Charmander gets the win. The crowds go wild, it’s the little pocket monster that could.

Wait, but what’s happening now? Why Charmander is glowing, what’s going on? Suddenly the glowing shape of a small odd looking lizard is replaced with a larger odd looking glowing lizard, and as the glow fades, Charizard is stood there looking thoroughly chuffed with himself. He’s evolved, become a better Pokémon, bigger, stronger, and smarter. Everyone is shocked into a stunned silence. His trainer starts clapping, and soon the auditorium goes nuts.

What’s this got to with anything? Well after a fashion I think writers evolution is similar. Certainly my own is, I get stronger very gradually, but every so often I tackle something big – and win. The gradual improvement, the many small lessons learnt, and the sudden influx of effort and challenges pushes me to a new level.

I’ll admit, it may be a confidence thing – I’m not a biased judge of my own ability, in the absence of Mr Horobin and Mr Barrand (my English teachers in high school), I can only presume to rate myself.

Every piece I write I get a little better, every review and edit nets me a few more lessons to avoid problems in the future, but every major trial tests everything I’ve learned, and gives me so many new lessons.

In terms of talent and experience, I evolve into a whole new monster, with new lessons to learn and embrace. I find the end of a piece of work, or project, the most exciting time, and I need to focus on that when the challenge seems too daunting, or I lose the inspiration (will), I have reasons to carry on.

It’s true of most things in my life, I’m a far better analyst now than I was four years ago, there are periods of gradual improvement, and those moments where I’ve jumped to a whole new level.

Now I’ve turned myself into a fictional firey Japanese lizard, I think the job is done for this post.

P.S. I don’t know Pokémon that well, if I’ve got the evolution wrong, aplogies to the diehard Pokemon fans out there.

Poetry Practice: Day five

As part of my aim to enter some poetry competitions, I have been practicing writing (I’m a touch rusty). Today (Monday 18th May) is day 5, so here’s today’s poem:

Sleep Protector

Lie down in velvet shadows,
Find warmth in the heavy presence,
Wrap yourself in the love we share,
Feel our protection from the darkness,
I will be there for now by your side,
You need not fear this deep night,
As we rest in peaceful slumber,
Enjoy.

Rise in caramel illumination,
Flood awareness flood to your senses,
Find your way out of your downy care,
Avoid realising your profound cureless,
In your dreams to yourself you lied,
Found comfort away in the fright,
I’m a figment in the dream of forever,
Sorry.

©, Jonathan Lawrence 2009

This is a really sad poem, it starts off sounding romantic, but it’s almost unreal. A couple go to bed, nice and romantic, but only one talks, sooths, the other offers no reaction, but to fall asleep. My intention was to invoke the feeling of a night guardian, he stands watch over our fateful sleeper.

I don’t know about you, but I long for that – it’s almost a magical romantic ideal. Which the second verse reveals is the truth. I would feel a prodound sense of loss at realising this dream wasn’t real, but can you be sure can you? The figment apologised – which to me, says that maybe this phantom protector is real, but gone when you awake.

Poetry Practice (four days catch up)

I had intended on posting these daily, however sometimes life takes over the best meant plan.

I have written a poem each day, as I committed to – none of them are really great, one I’ve really struggled with, partly because I was busy, and partly because the ideas just wouldn’t organise themselves into a decent poem. I’ve covered three topics: politics, society, and family (well I can honestly say my interest in sociological topics does in no way affect my writing – okay I can’t say that).

Like I said, none of them are really great, but I don’t think any of them are really terrible. Got to keep it up though, I would love to think that come June 1st, I’ll be confident of my own abilities again, also it’s good to know, even though I can’t write a story (in the traditional sense), it doesn’t affect my ability to write poetry.

What I’m going to do, under the ‘Read more’ link is display each poem, and after each one give a a few lines of explanation.  If you care to read some of my practice poetry,  feel free, comments are always good, if you want to be critical, that’s great – this is practice after all.

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