The poem which I’m sharing today, and have also shared on my poems page, was previously published on the Ink Sweat & Tears website in April 2021.
It’s from a prose poem sequence that if I’d got my act together, could have been published this year. But it wasn’t ready, still isn’t. Comprising around 40 pages, all in a prose format, I’m not happy with it yet. I keep dipping in and out of it and know it needs additional poems – if they are allowed to be called that – I’ve been told off before for calling prose pieces poems. But I’ll leave that discussion for another time.
Having had my first collection published in 2018, this sequence, which has recurring themes of music (particularly Tangerine Dream), my childhood and car travel, is missing something. I’ve been letting it sit, tweaking the odd line or word. But I am, almost done with it. Sometimes as a writer, something is finished because you don’t have anything new to say within the scheme of what you’ve written. You put it away for a few months and can’t see any merit in spending more time on it. I’m not quite there yet with this.
I don’t know if this mindset also applies to novels or non-fiction books. I have an idea for the latter, so I may be about to find out. If I can find the time.
Back to poetry, I have another sequence which I really am done with. It’s over 60 poems long, and based around my time running around Portsea Island whilst training for marathons. The last marathon I ran was in 2013. Some of the poems appeared in my first collection back in 2018. So what to do with it?
I’m not sure a publisher will be interested. It’s a bit niche, and the fact that a few poems from it have already appeared in another book of mine, will also be a negative factor in getting it in print. But I would like it to see the light of day.
So self-publishing is the likely route for this one. Maybe as a small limited print run (say 50 copies). I’ll need to spend a little time editing it of course, and ideally get someone to have a look at it before printing to make sure that it’s got some merit (though Philip Gross read an early version of the sequence and called it proper writing).
Any suggestions or comments appreciated. If I do publish it in print format I’ll probably want any profits / revenue to go to a local Portsmouth or environmental challenge. It might only be a few quid, but they can do with all the help they can get.
Anyway, from the first, not quite complete sequence, here’s the poem that appeared in Ink, Sweat & Tears.
Set the sat-nav for home but drive in the opposite direction without any sense of where or why you are going or where this will end or who you really are or might become each junction passed is a single recalculation of opportunities missed of u-turns of underpasses of roundabouts of turning back of not turning back of driving on into the lengthening darkness as the sat-nav keeps recalculating as the time to destination extends further into the distance so you turn off the sound and listen to the song of wheels on asphalt as each homeward turn lights up in disconsolate luminescence before being discarded as an instruction becomes a suggestion becomes another waypoint lost and all the calculations that follow of time of space of the distances between accelerating as you surge along the blacktop river changing gear slipping years refuelling tears and so you drive through checkpoints imagined such zones of incarceration this plague of dissonance and still the road stretches out clear and true and clean as all that is good seems lost for ever in shuttered windows and boarded up dreams and so you drive and all is good and so you drive and speed is good and so you drive and freedom is good and who bothers with truth when three word slogans are all we need and so you drive keep eyes to the road the arrowing future your narrowing future the weather changing to a steamed windscreen view of headlight rain and all the roads you will not take and all the recalculations made in vain as motorway gantries dissolve in spray each gantry passed and you’re further away with the kiss kiss metronome of wiper blades of tyres kiss kiss kissing the rumble strip and the soft kiss kiss kiss of sleep on your face.