10th January 1914

My first poem of 2014

CandlesMy poems are nearly always spontaneous things and my poetry muse can be fast and furious or go on vacation for months. Regardless of which, I set up a ‘Poems (insert year)’ folder every year and by the end of each year have normally amassed quite a few. This one came to me yesterday and is the first of 2014. It’s about love, life, grief and death – it’s about humanity and extending our empathy to those we don’t even know, and it’s about whatever else you want it to be about.

Alight

I light a single candle
ignite a flame for you
then remembering another
slice one flame into two.

I think of many others –
once loved
now also gone –
and wonder if another flame
will help them linger on.

I close my eyes imagining
all those I never knew
and how their loving memories linger
only with a few.

I think of those unknown
unloved
untouched
then cast aside
and blink away the ragged thoughts
that scratch away my eyes.

I light another candle
then another
and another
I light them for the untouched ones’
absent fathers, absent mothers

and when I run out of candles –
my flame hovering in the air –
I let it kiss the wood ribbed floor
and find some comfort there.

I love the fact that poetry is open and ambiguous and interpretations are so subjective. I love also that even if you don’t understand all of a poem’s meanings, you can still read a poem and get a real sense and feel for what was intended.

I’m always interested to hear other people’s interpretations and feelings as these can be enlightening, and sometimes readers make connections which you, as the writer, hadn’t noticed.

And another thing, when writing a poem, for me, it rarely ends up the way I thought it would. Initial intentions and ideas become a mere fragment of the end piece – ideas develop and words change to fit in with the rhythm and the overall sense. For example, I wanted ribbons of flame, but realised that a wood ribbed floor, with a parallel to actual skeletal ribs, would offer a more complete ending – a place for the match to rest after his work was done.

Anyway… I hope you enjoyed it!

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8 responses to “10th January 1914

  1. I loved it, and found it quite moving. The emotion built as it went on, just as it would when lighting those candles, but it concluded nicely.

    I agree about poems taking a different course than one first imagines they will, or even hopes they will, but it’s usually for the better, I think. Something else takes over…. the words, perhaps!

  2. I’m really pleased you liked it, Dean. It’s a funny thing with writing poems isn’t it? Something else seems to take over – maybe it is the words, and I think the rhythm too. I love the honing process – although I try not to do too much of this with poems. It’s a completely different experience to writing novels.

    • I do, Martin. Sometimes I have no idea where the idea comes from, or what it really means… and at those times the words can feel more right than at any other! One of life’s myseries.

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