Poems

click here 
→ Alone Not Lonely ←            
(and other poems – VIDEO)
                   ↑ click here
for a link to probably the only video in the universe of James Turner reading poems, which he does here at an event called “Raptors in the Glitterball”, hosted by Daniel Haynes, at Spacex, Exeter, way back in the past. Spacex was an art gallery that no longer exists. The poems are: “I Had a Dream”, “Alone Not Lonely,” & “Dissidents”.

 

Depression 1. For a Start
         written 2017 while recovering from clinical depression

For a start, there’s no poetry in it.

Poetry, that non-verbal admixture
without which Depression rules
the Empire of Consciousness—
poetry rightly used can help you through.
First you need to understand that depression
is not the same as sadness. What gets
diagnosed as Clinical Depression
is not an emotion at all, but a place
where emotion-residues get deposited layer on layer
until a massive fatberg threatens to block
your soul’s pipeline, though fear flows readily under it,
and around it float smells of general negativity
the theory of whose erratic movements still
awaits its Albert Einstein. Even guilt,
at not being able to feel emotions like love or gratitude,
sticks there, frozen,
almost.

Words can’t convey depression, but with The Idiot,
Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov,
and The Devils, Dostoyevsky get close.
Think of it: depression so severe
that reading and re-reading those four great Russian novels
not only keeps you going, but cheers you up.
The weird light they shed throws into sharp relief
a wealth of detail embroidered on the black blanket.
The importance of suffering. The mechanics of cruelty.
The temptation of suicide. Dostoyevsky knows,
like no other author, the basement room
where light seldom penetrates. Just now his books
are the only books I can bear to read.
Next you need to understand that empathy
isn’t the same as imagining yourself
in another’s place.


10 Things About Me

1.  Every day I was born longer and longer ago.

2.  My name goes on being James but my inner ID changes such a lot you can’t even rely on it being unpredictable.

3.  My longest love has been classical music, it is the one silver unbroken lifeline path from childhood, Mozart saved my life with a little night music and the Jupiter, I also love Ron Grainer and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop for the Dr Who theme.

4.  I have a terrible memory. I have two or three terrible memories that flashed back from early childhood when I was 43, I had to write them down to help me make sense of them.

5.  I feel safest alone, but safe enough with you.

6.  I was not a free person until the moment the last of my old fears vanished.

7.  I am a free person now because the wall that hid the universe from me vanished in the same moment.

8.  Best place is home. But I won’t be boxed in, so must from time to time walk out to look at trees and flowers, insects and birds, old buildings and reflections in the river, or take a train past miles of glistening mud to see ripples on the surface of the sea—and, above all, the sky, its stupendous sweep and on some days the intricacy of its cloud-edge detail.

9.  Best time is morning, the miracle of waking early, the first feel of outside on my face.

10.  I could easily become hopelessly addicted to carob-coated peanuts.

11.  There’s more. Of course there’s more. I need to work on this.

 

Funny Peculiar

White male middle class
And everything to lose,
Born in the British empire—
A realm you didn’t choose—

You tried to be a good boy
Though inwardly you seethed,
For you head was held under
So you could barely breathe.

That’s when you lost your freedom,
When terror made you freeze,
So the hands of god your father
Could mould your soul with ease.

And when you joined the adults,
Rejoiced at leaving school,
That’s when life’s silver stream
Slowed to a stinking pool.

As year succeeded year,
Fumbling in the dark,
You struck a hundred flints
And barely made a spark.

You wrote a load of poems:
As page succeeded page
You wondered as you wandered.
Then as you neared old age

You blundered into comedy
To lighten up the mood,
For here is something odd
You’ve never understood,

Something outside thinking
That nobody controls,
Whose anarchistic madness
Saves atheistic souls.

But the empire your dad ruled,
Unlit by the sun’s rays,
Still haunts you, even now
That you’ve learned other ways.

 

Say

Say there were no such thing as truth
but only your word versus mine;
say crowing victors were correct
and victims wrong (because they whine);
say there were no such thing as truth,
just rebels and the party line—

you’d lick your story into shape
till I believed it with my eyes;
your telling it would make it so;
you’d lick your story into shape,
and there’d be no such thing as lies.

from Secret Rooms: Poems that Challenge Domestic Violence, Pebble in a Pool Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9561924-0-0

 

Haiku

1
Wasp on window ledge—
two tired antennae conduct
symphonies of rain.

2
Witch hazel scent drifts
down the silent campus path—
Christmas vacation.

from “nothing special”, ed. Brian Tasker (issued with Bare Bones #8),
The Bare Bones Press, 1995

3
Insect jumps away
from graveyard path to safety
among celandines.

4
ikutabi mo
yuki no fukasa o
tazune keri
     Masoika Shiki (1867-1902)

Time and again
about the thickness of the snow
I have asked!
     Literal translation by Susuma Takiguchi (Email, Haiku Forum, 2002)

I’ve asked
and asked
how thick is this snow
     My version (Haiku Forum 2002)

5
St Thomas (Exeter) 

St Thomas lies low
but safe: though the river swells
new banks will hold.

Wisteria-hung
Pinces tunnel leads from here
to another world.

Beside Dunsford Road
this grassy bank boasts wind-swayed
buttercups, sun-bright gold.

Parachutes lift from
dandelion heads,  their yellow
mere memory now.

Civic poison blights
black nightshade along the base
of that playground wall.

CCTC signs
don’t always tell the truth—
those for example.

In the Pleasure Ground
spring’s arrived, fresh leaves trembling
on two tall gingkoes.

I shuffle on past
pubs, church, Age UK and up
into the unknown.

6
Parliament Street…
so narrow! Haiku hemmed in
with a few dead leaves

7
Walking concrete paths
between new apartment blocks—
I find no haiku.

8
Woke up this morning
with the haiku blues. Ain’t
nothing more to say.

 

Tattooed At The Funfair
Poem by my friend Steven David

Under the night
the fairground glows,
whirling lights
that smear the sky.

Screaming girls
ride metal wheels
that speed on tracks
to rock ‘n’ roll.

Fastfood smells
and side-show spit
beg grimy cash
from passersby.

A choice is made,
a sleeve is rolled,
tattooist’s pin
trails beads of blood.


Written about 40 years ago or more.
Posted with his permission.
ⓒ Steven David

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