The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Woe is me….

As the Hot Chocolate song does not say, it started with a quote from Pericles: ‘What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others’. I resurrected a long-dead boyfriend for this one. I should really book some therapy, and charge it to somethingeveryday‘s account. You’re entitled to ask, if she’s had so long to think about it, why isn’t the poem better? And I’m entitled to keep a splendid authorial silence.

For jollity, perhaps you should try the eternal Wendy Cope: much maligned by people who think that funny poetry shouldn’t be taken seriously, and that serious poetry shouldn’t make you laugh. They are, of course, wrong.


This much I know:
I didn’t know that wine could be that bad.
You poured; we drank from plastic tubs
in bat-scratched twilight on a tractor seat
like teenagers at the Rec.

The rest is maybe.
Elderflowers, honeysuckle, swallows –
surely there were these,
although perhaps not all at once.
They turn up now, like skin-thin petals in a Bible.

Perhaps we did alright for one night
in Northumberland, and told no lies.
More likely, I’ve done nothing good at all
and at my funeral no-one will stand to say
we remember her for her sonnets

or worse, they will. Perhaps I’ve done enough;
a catchphrase or a wink, small kindnesses.
If flower sap can drain and pale
till something real becomes an artefact,
I may survive as someone’s pub tale.

After all, although you were a bloody nightmare
what I remember now is your curling laugh and lope,
your army boots and poppy-scented skin;
my readiness to believe, although
it was an effort in the dusk, even then.



This entry was posted on February 26, 2011 by in Readings and writings.
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