Honing technique …


 How fluffed the earnest peacock’s tail 

 How fluffed the earnest peacock’s tail compels inamoratas
 with eyes that dazzle to prevail on target hens that matter.
 He’s not unlike the  crocodile, whose scales the muddy Nile break,
 who grins, as fish swim in its smile,  behind its fearsome teeth gate.
 As well,  the hippopotamus, basking in cooling mud,
 approaches prey without a fuss and gulps them with a thud.
 Even the vegetarian grey elephant  ginormous
 can practise trunkish variants to stuff his mouth cav[o]rnous!
 As fascinating as these sights, are sounds our ears can’t fathom
 at frequencies beneath us quite entrancing those that  hath ‘em.

 The concave shell the peacock makes,  a feather echo chamber, 
 his  infrasound tail resonates occluding any danger.
 Bedazzled by combined display so mesmerised the pea hen,
 with sight and sound  he has his way — his effort’s made a love den.
 In fact, the shining crocodile sends sounds that stir the water, 
 for hunting, or just to beguile a mate for sons and daughters. 
 And muddy hippopotami indulge their ear for life
 broadcasting special ‘Here am I’ to  find themselves a wife.
 Yes,  other males accept  the cost — the energy it takes — 
 bull elephants in rumbling musth calling  a likely date.
 Now, my voice sometimes falters low — but, reproductive ardour?  
A friendly basso profundo:  of this I must think harder.

It took rather a lot of refinement to create this poem, an ode of sorts to the peacock’s tail. At the same time, it was also a lot of fun, searching out the humorous phase. Even (especially?) mangling words to get the right rhyme! But spending time on honing one’s technique is possibly what writing is all about. In the same way, numerous efforts to create a felicitous audio file, pleasing to the listener’s ears, have been invested to get to a point where I might begin to hope that I too could create an audiobook companion to ‘the big novel.’

On the other hand, as has been suggested in our beloved, and patient writing group, sometimes it pays to search out the right creative sensibility. Obviously, while working on the peacock’s tail, I was channeling my inner Lewis Carroll. For the poem below, I was trying to understand how Derek Mahon had identified the scene in the Wexford shed as a poetic topic. I jotted down images, words and phrases, without being quite so conscientious over the discipline, letting my mind go loose somehow. When I submitted this one to the group, I imagine our tutor clapped her hands together, since the report was: ‘Finally, Larry, after all this time, you’ve reached your poetic zone!’

 'and light since then
               . . . a keyhole rusting gently after rain’
                             [in memory of Derek Mahon]
 Or space a cat-flap breathing in the wind,
 or solace dry logs nestling on the grate.
 Feeble will withers in the gloom —
 twilight perpetual, and then
 the darkness of renewed despair.
 Only that keyhole, the firmament’s one star,
 feels just like hope, 
 a hope that’s dashed at every sunset,
 raised with every sunrise.
 Who among us yet can persevere 
  through the long blackness —
 once doughty hearts now weakened, faltering
 without a touch, a kindness, a shared
 note of humble grace
 until the door is opened wide,
 a smiling gesture
 to ignite us, carry us, as in our dreams,
 into a blaze of warming glory, 
 where we might breathe
 a sentiment of that often-promised land
 our path illumined by the blinding light.

In similar vein, after the creative burst, editing, editing, and editing again somehow seems to repay each visit.

This writing lark feels like a never-ending rite of passage, a continuous learning exercise, but never less enjoyable for all that.

By Larry Winger

Retired scientist, devoted diarist (AllendaleDiary.org), community-minded aspirant novelist, I've lived on a smallholding in the East Allen Valley for the past 30 years, delighting in watching our family grow up, in experiencing the development of our grandsons, and in taking care of our small flock of chickens and garden.

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