A Grey Day in the City
This city depresses me
with its greyness.
The early morning street is paved with litter.
Dirt and squalor confront me and
the stench of stale piss rises from dark alleys.
There’s vomit or worse against the wall
of the all-night laundry
two doors along from my hotel.
The 7-11 man is sweeping his bit of pavement,
whistling in colourless monotone.
There goes yesterday’s dirt
into today’s gutter –
is there job satisfaction in that?
born and bred in the city,
push past with insouciance
and streetwise arrogance.
‘Out of the way, old one!’
Fearful, I shrink from contact.
The river is nearby –
the famous brown Yarra.
Under a heavy sky
it’s more grey today than brown.
Here tourists promenade on artificial banks,
browsing bistro menus in designer thongs
and just a little bit of bling.
Bright awnings and fresh linen
hide wobbly tables, scuffed chairs,
Seediness, like an unwelcome guest,
creeps in here and there
to partake of the offerings.
The scene changes quickly:
a darkening sky,
a flurry of raindrops.
Out come the brollies –
scurry hither and thither.
It’s pelting down now
and I huddle in a doorway
watching legs go by –
all shapes and colours –
against a rain-greyed background.
The deluge eases
but I’ve lost my way.
I take a tram back to the hotel,
no longer in the mood for exploring.
this grey, depressing day in the city.
Judith Bandidt © 2006
Judy, I liked your poem quite a bit. There was much more show THAN TELL AND THAT IS SUCH A GOOD THING. Do you need the final line of this beautiful poem? Ron :)
I think I need to revisit that whole last stanza actually. This is much shorter than the original version, and maybe I've lost something in the translation to a shorter, tighter poem. Thanks for your comment. Judy
I watched a spider once above an organ loft.
I am sure its fine web vibrated in time
with every 'allelula' on full forte.
Had the spider greater reverence
for the all-powerful spirit that flooded
the small church, pews to ceiling,
at 7:30 am, each Sunday, as
filament by filament it spun out
its little life of monastic glory?
By what filaments, Sunday by Sunday,
did the churchgoers reach out, stretching
to the infinite, eternal, ineffable, unknown?
If I were God, I'd love the spider for its constancy,
its lack of sin and purposeful faith in doing all
spiders do, tirelessly spinning and getting on,
without any fuss, with life as spiders know it--
need God expect more?
Ron Wiseman Aug.2012
A quiet, pleasing poem. I wonder, though, if the title does really reflect prayer, or something akin to prayer - reflection, meditation, contemplation perhaps?
I mostly like spiders for, as you say, their constancy. And there's something almost spiritual in a delicate spider's web, particularly when loaded with morning dew.
But not, most definitely, when one encounters the web of a bird-eating spider when galloping after a bullock through the scrub!!
Check spelling 'alleluia'.
Judy, I have. One may spell alleluia both ways. It's a Hebrew translation thingo, I think. lol.
I think my thoughts in the poem as prayerful as any other's are before the service begins. lol lol.
So many poets turned off London.
Its storms. Heat. Snow. Traffic chaos.
Its bridges. The Thames. The Tower.
No, it's not that poets are bored.
London is bored by the poets, I feel.
The Olympics are flying high, now,
but London? She's weary, she's old
and nowhere as cheery as the Queen
who is ageing as well ... very well!
London needs some love,
some real comfort after one,
Charles Dickens, almost
damned her forever, and I'll
freely admit, she is well past
her prime even after recovery
from Hitler's concerted, maniacal
bombardment, 70 years ago
and she did, as an older woman would:
paint herself up a bit, a reconstruction
job if you will, but could you call London
sexy? Hmm. It depends where you look.
No. I'm not being facetious at all.
There's the bustle at her West End
and the rawness of her East End.
Thinking of her as a mistress,
poor dear London is in distress:
she has lost her innocence
and with it, a lot of her fortune
so let the old lady gossip
about her illustrious past,
and when she becomes hoarse
from pollution, being trampled upon,
and politicians ministering upon her...
do let her water the geraniums,
pull down the blinds on extravagance,
and take a hot water bottle to bed.
Still, if you're down and out,
she's worth a visit. I know.
I've had the pleasure.
Ron Wiseman ©Aug 2012
[bustle has two meanings and I mean both!]
In some ways I feel this is a poem in two parts. In the first half or so, you are really 'positioning' it - more than dating it - by the references to the Olympics and the Queen's jubilee. Might want to rethink that. Dickens is an era, the others are merely events.
Then the poem really gets going. And it's very clever. Not subtle, but very 'Ron'.
Perhaps, Judy. I do think line two should have "Her" and not "its".
Hello everyone, apologies for the tardiness, I have been on the road for several weeks. Have forgotten how to leave separate replies after each poem, so I am putting all my comments here:
This is for Judy: re A Grey Day in the City:
well, you certainly convey the grey mood! I like the monochrome feel of this. Ron has suggested you might lose the final line, and I would go further - perhaps even lose the first two lines - after all, the title does it for you. Begin with 'the early morning street'? One more thing - if you use the word 'thongs' then it doesn't translate well to this side of the world, where we call them 'flip-flops'!
re Ron's 'At Prayer' - this little poem is such a great metaphor for enduring against the odds, of surviving, that I would be tempted to omit the stanza 'By what filaments' altogether. I think the congregation reaching out to the infinite etc is already a given. You know my inclination is always to pare a poem down! By the way, I think 'alleluia' is better. Oh, and on this side of the world did you know (and our Prime Minister clearly did not) that LOL apparently means 'laugh out loud'? No, I didn't either, and had to stop putting it on texts to our children...
re Judy's 'How Soft the Twilight Falls' - this conveys such a feeling of calmness, it is almost a prayer. I wouldn't change anything.
Now to Brad's 'Putney Bridge' which is heartbreaking. I agree with Judy, cut the fourth line and put 'waiting' on the next line in stanza 1. Might I suggest a little re-arranging? I would prefer to put the final stanza at the beginning of the fourth, so it begins 'abandoned'. I would omit half of the second line of stanza 4, 'on an empty bus' because if you re-arrange the lines it isn't needed. And I would lose the Cloverdale line altogether, because this poem can be read as a universal anguish, and that line brings it back to the personal again.
Lovely poem - oh, is there another word you could use instead of 'lumbering'? This section is to do with memories flooding back, and I would like a lighter kind of word.
Oh dear, I appear to have re-arranged your poem quite a bit. Apologies!
And finally, Ron's 'London' - this is very definitely a Ron Wiseman poem, a musing on our 'poor dear London'. I agree with Judy, perhaps you should omit the Olympic reference which anchors it in a particular time. The Queen could stay, God Bless Her.
Some good poetry, I have enjoyed them all.
hello Poets, here is a poem for your end of August meeting:
Her words hang like water frozen as it tumbles.
A clink of bubbles, a bar of light to trap the sky.
A skim of green.
So many gaps. If we could know the code,
divide what spills into segments,
find meaning in the spaces between,
that dark geometry of the downward slide.
Lyn, this is brilliant!
I love 'the spaces between' - the actuality of realising that 'dark geometry'.
Did you have a specific person or place or event in mind as you wrote this?
hello Judy, my mother - the source of much poetry at present. I was thinking about her while watching water tumbling over rocks. Her words come out in a jumble now, but luckily she is very serene.
Lyn, this poem is imagistically capable of speaking to the human condition for any given reader. Wonderful.
Yes, of course. Should have realised this. Judy