The Pocket of My Life a poem by Neil William Holland
In the pocket of my life I found there was a tear, I could feel it.
I think that grief and sadness had worn the fabric.
I probed within, something I had never done before.
In the lining of my life things had gathered.
I pulled them out one by one.
First came the dream, from younger days
when dreaming mattered.
Oh it was somewhat faded and somewhat tattered,
but I recognised it.
I knew it was my dream, still there, still wanting fulfilment.
I pulled out happiness.
I hadn’t realised how much happiness had slipped
into the lining of my life.
In truth, I never realised how happy I had been
on so many occasions.
How sad that I should let happiness slip away.
I pulled out choice.
Somehow I let the power of choosing slip into the lining of my life.
The Lord has always given me this precious gift called choice.
I laid them out in front of me, side by side,
all within my grasp again.
My coat of life suddenly felt lighter.
The dream was brighter now that I could see it.
Now that it was free.
I removed my coat of life and studied it with fresh interest.
I hadn’t realised how tired I’d let it become.
I kept looking, reflecting.
My life looked new and bright again.
My dream intense, alluring.
I carefully wrapped my dream in choice, it felt empowering.
My dream, my power of choice, my happiness meant to be.
I found my spirit again.
I found my purpose, my reason for being,
the reason I was me.
Just before having a very recent holiday in Madeira I attended a writing workshop at my local museum which was themed around their current exhibition on mapping. It was with this theme in mind that I wrote the following poem. One of the things I love to do is to write about things that are there in front of me when I can process what I am seeing, hearing and feeling in real-time to be polished later at my leisure. Not only is the poem now a great moment of my holiday, but it and two others I wrote are going to be published in an anthology to help raise funds for the museum. I love the idea of poetry in action. I hope you enjoy it.
FUNCHAL. by Neil William Holland
The first light declares itself like a land-based star,
one single point taking its place in a soon-to-be constellation
that is Funchal at night.
Others follow and I find my way by them.
The up-lit trees and jeweled homes
trespassing on ancient volcanic slopes.
A brighter white north-star of light marks the headland of the bay.
Lamps colour doors like chameleons morphing night from day.
I have walked their ways, the shops, the parks, the roads,
now they exchange their white globes
for a world of warmth and mysterious shadows.
The streets help me to navigate from my balcony, the tall hotels,
the churches, the malls, illuminate my memory as their lights
pulse in the hot night air. I make it a familiar place, standing there,
counting the nights left of our stay, my glass of wine in hand.
I’m tired from our Levada walk, and retiring to a different land.
At first light, our balcony rail silhouettes its shadow, creeps
around the fabric-folds and valleys of our net curtain.
To my right, in the old villa garden a cockerel crows
as Funchal begins to stir. To my left the feint murmur
of traffic grows, but the silence of the sea remains.
This compass of sound is a gentle wakening.
Deciding on a title for this post, the first of a few I hope to write on the subject, was a very difficult thing for me to determine. I could call it ‘How I Write Poetry’ really, or ‘My Poetry Journey’ perhaps.I would never be so pretentious as to say this is how to write a good poem or this is how to be a successful poet. I don’t really know myself. It’s a case of the more I know the more I don’t know so to speak, but I do know about my own poetry journey and I can very well recall how much I wanted to write better than I could when I started, when I first became interested and discovered that I too would like to create poems. Ever since that moment I have been looking for help while discovering things about writing poetry, and part of that process leads me to want to share my journey. Maybe, just maybe, I can help someone else just as others have helped me.
I’m very much still chasing the poetry-rainbow with an ambition to write just one really good poem, one perhaps that will live longer than me, something to be remembered by many others hopefully. Realistic? Perhaps not, but I am happy with the journey so far, after all I don’t set free my self-judged failures, so whatever I make public means something to me at least. Maybe the thrill is in the chase. By doing just that I am exploring myself creatively. It can only be a good thing to live life and engage with it as opposed to simply hoping life is something that happens to you, not through you. I once had a cancer diagnosis and came through that, and partly it is why I want to write at all. That sort of thing is a game-changer. You start to look at life more closely, yet we can all do just that without such a jolt. It’s a question of centering ourselves through choice.
Everything we write will not appeal to others, it’s the nature of personal taste, but to be honest I own five volumes of Wordsworth’s poetry from boy to older man, yet most people will likely just recall the one about daffodils, but what a poem that is. That is the pot of gold in a creative sense. At least, while heading in that direction as best as we can, towards the rainbow, I guarantee that we writers and poets will leave behind a valuable mark on the world for our loved ones, friends and descendants at the very least. Poems are time machines, you can bring somebody back to your time, your world, what it was like and how you saw it, how you felt it and engaged with it through your five senses.
What I know is that if you want to explore who you are, what you are about, then poetry is a very good way of doing just that. If you start writing and thinking in a poetic way then lots of what you write will incorporate some part of who you are, your place in this world and how you see the world around you. That latter perspective will always be unique to you, only you. Not even your spouse, siblings or parents will have your world because only you are at it’s very centre. You are quite simply a unique human being and you deserve to write poetry about your world. Others have their own.
All you need, in order to start or to continue your journey, is a pen and paper, or for many, a means to write using today’s technology. It’s that simple. The most important thing at this juncture, is to start writing, keep writing or to re-invigorate your writing journey. The important thing in progressing your poetry is always to take that next step, to actually take it. Doing just that is the start of your journey, or the start of the next stage of your journey. Don’t worry about, or fear failure or rejection, you are entitled to your unique poetic voice. In a future post on this subject, I’ll talk about the early pitfalls I found, the stumbling blocks, the poetry-world I encountered and some quite magical things too.
Sometimes, most times, I sit on poems like a bird on a nest. I look at them quite proudly, warm and variegated in their colouring, turn them, fiddle them, incubate them. Then, even with all that tender loving care maybe they just don’t hatch. There comes a point where perhaps they are simply not fertile enough, never will be ready to hatch and fly as poems do once they are fledged and ready for a life of their own. it’s what we do, poets, we give something life only for it to fly away and have a life of its own. It’s what we hope for.
Sometimes though, you just want to soar, free from the burden of it all, but deep down you know you must start all over again, trying to perpetuate that species of writing you know simply has to exist. It’s inside, eternal, a driving force. Ok, perhaps not all eggs lead to magnificent birds, but if only one, just one of those eggs finally hatches and soars with all of those other magnificent birds it will be something to truly marvel at. Your own D.N.A, a piece of you up there silhouetted against the sky like a printed letter on a blank page and a natural testament to you as the provider. Sometimes such creating, such giving, seems a lonely thing but still you must fly and nest and incubate, hoping. Always hoping.
In reality, most of the time, I line my nest with the feathers of other birds, each one a phrase or a line that fired my imagination, wanting to nurture and hatch my own complete but original bird from all those collected. I line my nest with them, warm in the knowledge that they truly are fine feathers. Warm in the knowledge that hopefully, one day, all my eggs will hatch, warmed by the fine feathers I surrounded them with. Now, I sit, and write, and incubate. Just don’t try and tell me it’s pointless, for what is a world without birds?
Some things in life just leave their mark on you, affect you. On our first holiday in Madeira we chanced upon a flower festival and I saw a lady selecting blooms from a display which people were allowed to do as it was ending. However, they were not for herself, she promptly walked up to my wife, a stranger to her, handed the bouquet to her and then walked off down the street. I watched her go, this small elegant elderly lady and I am sure she was just a member of the public in Funchal. What an act of kindness, a thought for someone else, a creator of memories. Isn’t it good to be human sometimes? How far does an act of kindness and selflessness reach? I’ve held on to this memory until finally I produced a poem from it which I like to think is my gift back to the lady, the island and its people. We had the flowers in our room for our whole two week stay. The actual flowers are in the vase below. My poem they led me to create is also below. Sometimes the world can be a truly wonderful place.
Poetic splinters, you can get them for sure, many poetry enthusiasts have dared to guide their poetry to left of centre in one way or another. The Beat poets for example, and often this doesn’t sit too well with ultra traditionalists. Without new views on poetry however there are no new developments and I can’t help thinking that word-smithing such as Rap and Slam Poetry to name but two splinters have helped many young people to engage with the sacred art.
For my own part, try as I may, I cannot peel my poetry away from a sound enhanced treatment, and I am now pretty sure that what may be best described as digitally enhanced poetry will be around for quite some time yet. I am though also keen to keep myself in a straight line down that central poetry course we call traditional poetry and to this end I have tracked down a local Poetry Stanza of The Poetry Society and when I am able I intend to be a regular at the group (if they will have me of course).
Why am I continually fascinated by digitally enhanced poetry? The answer lies in what can be done with it, how it can colour the reading, give it atmosphere and nuances, how it can interplay and bring mood, how it can render a partnership with the imagination. That is ok I think, yes? It’s another way of rendering the essence of what otherwise may be plain unaccompanied prose. Does poetry need this? No of course not, but we live in the age of the digital world and it seems a shame not to let poetry in on it. I am hoping to continue the work in 2016 and add to my Bandcamp collection, but I am also hoping to develop my traditional skills and if you want to improve your game it plays to be in a good team surrounded by good players, preferably better than yourself, hence my aspirations towards my local Poetry Stanza. It seems like a sensible plan methinks. I’m enthused by the thought of it at least having lost my poetry mojo somewhat when everything in the world seemed to be pushing me away from the thing I know I love.
So, anyway, have a listen to the last thing I’ve done, Under The Stars. It is poetry about my dad, something we shared together on special nights. I hope something of those moments can be found by listening to it. I hope too, that you may see how the words and sound-atmosphere can work in synergy. It is almost essential to listen through headphones, as that offers the nuances really. Peace to all.
TREE OF DREAMS…………..by Neil William Holland a.k.a. Soloneili
The sway of the tip of the tall lime tree shows the way to the singer of the song.
Fine free notes play long and short from the tiniest bird the eye could see.
The sway of the tip of the tall lime tree conducts the melody.
I stand at the foot of the tall lime tree ear turned skyward wistfully
wishing I could sing from the tip of the tree such a warm and haunting melody.
When I am a fisherman away at sea I dream of such haunting melody.
The sway of the mast on the lilting sea is the tip of the tall lime tree.
As the sun goes down and the song grows loud I dream on the lilting sea
and hold on to the sound of the little bird I see on the tip of the tall lime tree.
This poem is actually based on a real and very tall Lime tree that grows by the River Dovey in Wales. After writing and aiming for a lyrical and melodic straight-poem I explored my interest in Celtic culture which attracts me due to its powerful mystical and spiritual connotations. Fascinated by the process of combining sound and words I experimented and began to pursue the poem rendered in a dream-like context. There is a strong ‘nature’ element in Celtic culture. I actually recorded a bird singing from the very tip of the lime tree before writing the poem and et voila, here is the collective result which I feel conveys what I set out to achieve conceptually, a slightly darkish but beguiling work that embraces the spirit. Hope you enjoy it too…….Neil.
ps, if the poem doesn’t play you can still listen by clicking on the word ‘soundcloud’ within the widget.
There is a strange but compelling attraction to Whales for me. I don’t really know why only that it is there and very strong too. It feels like an emotional bond of some sort and I am struck by the way they do not set out to attack people, in spite of much persecution by people. It’s as though they are wiser. Maybe they are the custodians of something. I’m sure the scientist and biologist will give me the cold explanations of their presence, place and purpose, but it will never shake my belief that there is something very special about whales, something intangible. I hope you enjoy this poetry with sound. It is my own poem read by me and the music is my own playing and composition. What I’ve tried to do is impart to the piece something of what I feel. Enjoy and best wishes….Neil I’ve called the poem Thermoclines Thermoclinesa poem by Neil William Holland. a.k.a. Soloneili What am I following, this pull call pull of something higher? Rising and bellowing thermoclines mellowing deep subsonic viscous noise, resonating through rib-cages, grasping aortas, whale song. Blues, Minkes, Orcas.
Another poem I wrote based on personal knowledge. Standing on one’s own in a river to fish, then letting the darkness fall through its various stages until its final and complete blackness envelopes you, is a sobering and thoughtful experience. It is the way to catch the ultra shy seatrout, but one’s world certainly transforms with even the slightest rustle or splash. Whilst waiting for the fish the world is transformed and blurs between reality and reflection. I hope you enjoy this audio poem. Best wishes. Neil
Beginning March 20th, 2016 Poetry Breakfast will once again serve a little poetic nourishment every morning. Start your day with our new expanded menu. Poems, of course, are our specialty. But we will also be serving a fuller menu that includes poetry related creative non-fiction such as letters to and from poets, essays on poetry, and anything else that might feed a poet and poetry lover’s soul.