Honey and lemon time

I seem to have a bit of an incipient cold at the moment.  It’s been hovering around for the best part of a week and so far hasn’t been any worse than a slightly blocked or slightly runny nose and a bit of a cough, so I’m hoping it will go away soon without getting any worse first.  Fortunately it didn’t severely impede my playing at yesterday’s brass band competition (we came 5th out of 9 in our section and were quite pleased with our performance, thanks for asking).

As a precaution, I’ve been making and drinking a few batches of my DIY honey and lemon mixture (essentially, half a lemon, a spoonful of honey and a bit of chopped ginger lobbed together in a saucepan with a pint or so of water and boiled/simmered for a few minutes) to soothe my throat and make me feel like I’m doing something pro-active against the cold, in the hope that I can persuade it not to get properly underway.

This also gives me an opportunity to dig out a poem I wrote about 7 years ago on another occasion when I had a cold, in November 2006.  That one was a lot worse than the one I’ve currently got, and I had lost my voice.   I’m fairly sure (although I can’t remember for certain) that I didn’t have the second half of the poem in mind when I wrote the first half.

Incidentally, if you’re of a sensitive disposition and are currently eating something you may want to finish your food and take a break before you read on (especially lines 3 and 4).

I have a cold.
I’m feeling pretty bad.
I feel like I’m slowly drowning
in a sea of my own snot and spit.
And if that sounds horrid, it is.
The back of my throat feels under attack
from a horde of tiny, malicious imps.
Arms and legs and head all ache.
Constant coughing gets me down.
Nostrils feel raw –
are those tissues or sandpaper?
To cap it all, I’ve lost my voice.
I can’t speak above a whisper
and, worse, I can’t sing.
Frustration, thy name is silence!

But wait a moment, whining one!
What gives you the right to moan?

Have you spent your whole life unable to see or to hear?
Are you missing your legs, never to walk again?
Is your voice gone for good, never to sing or talk again?
Does your whole family spend their life
labouring to provide food for the table?
Are you too stupid to see what I mean?

I have a cold.
Big deal.


Rediscovering lost time

The other day I came across an old notebook in which I had written a few poems on a couple of occasions several years ago.  It was fascinating to reread these poems not so much for the quality of the poetry (which isn’t great) as for the memories that they evoked, as they were all poems specifically related to and inspired by what was happening to and around me at the time of writing – no great world shattering events but just a few slices of everyday life.

It strikes me that this ability to record and communicate, and perhaps dig a bit deeper into and draw meaning from, relatively mundane events is a common characteristic of haiku, a poetic form that (as I’ve blogged before) I find myself particularly drawn to (both for reading and writing).  Of course, this is not unique to haiku and indeed only a few of the poems in my notebook were haiku.

One of the occasions on which these particular poems was written was my journey back from a visit to friends in Hungary in July 2008.  I will probably share some (or possibly all) of those poems before too long, but for now I’m going to concentrate on the other occasion, which was a wait for a train over in Llandudno Junction on 19th June, 2007.  I had been over there for a work-based event and I accidentally misread the train timetable, so I turned up at the platform just in time to watch my train pull out and I then had about an hour to wait for the next train, which I put to (I hope) good use by writing some poems.

The first is really no more than a fragment and represents one of my rare attempts to write poetry in Welsh:

Colli’r trên i Fangor wnes i.
Amser trên camddarllenes i.

(“I missed the train to Bangor.  I misread the train time”, to go for a prose translation.)  As I recall, I was planning to develop that into a longer poem but soon gave up and switched to English.  My next attempt was a painful bit of doggerel that I will spare you the agony of reading.  I was then inspired by the arrival and subsequent departure of a train to write a haiku, which is almost certainly the pinnacle of that day’s poetic endeavours and possibly one of my best haiku to date (or at least one of the ones I find most evocative):

All is at peace.
Rushing, roaring tumult.
Silence descends.

I then incorporated the same idea and my resultant ponderings on sound and silence into a longer poem (or quite possibly I had already begun this when I was interrupted by the train’s arrival).  This is one of my rare forays into non-metrical (or at least regularly metrical) and non-rhyming verse and I’m not convinced that it works especially well, although I quite like bits of it, especially the last few lines.  I entitled this poem “Llandudno Junction, 15:44” (I assume that was the time I started writing it, rather than when I finished):

All alone,
I sit and listen to the sounds encroach the silence.
The gentle breeze whispers in the trees
And the chatter of birds counterpoints the soft traffic drone.

A train pulls in the other side,
Its growling engine waits to be released once more.
A walking stick taps softly on the platform,
A bicycle is wheeled gently past.

All at once, a train arrives
And all is bustle and noise for a while,
Then silence descends once more.

I missed my train;
Instead I found a space,
A change of pace,
A chance to listen to the silence that is not silent,
Hear the rhythm of life.

Let me not lament the loss of time,
Because I turned up late and have an hour to wait.
Instead, let me rejoice at the opportunity
To hear the voice
I usually move too fast to hear.