Two Poems: “The City” And “Last Train”

2015 Artwork The City and Last Train

Unfortunately, I was feeling slightly uninspired when it came to writing today’s poems, so here are two more old poems from 2010 instead.

The first poem here – “The City” – was the first poem in an unpublished collection of narrative poems I wrote in 2010 called “Switchblade Shadows”. Whilst most of this collection had a rather nonsensical and badly-written murder mystery plot, I’m still quite proud of the atmospheric opening poem.

The second poem – “Last Train” – was an attempt at writing a descriptive poem I made in 2010 that was based on a train journey from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth that I took one evening in late 2009s. The original poem didn’t really have a proper title, so I thought that I’d call it “Last Train” (after this song by Ghost Dance).

This is also the last day of poetry week and normal articles will resume tomorrow. All in all, I quite enjoyed poetry week and – despite not feeling as inspired as I hoped I would be, it was still a lot of fun. So, I may well end up posting more poetry on here at some point in the future. I don’t know.

Anyway, enjoy today’s poems πŸ™‚

“The City” By C. A. Brown

Bird’s eye visions from a precarious window
blended into an impressionist wash
by raindrops, running like trains.
Streetlights merge into darkness,
highlights curl and distort.

Somewhere, a bordello closes,
women in overcoats leave clutching
film canister aerosols of mace.
Men in leather jackets look on,
their cigarette ends glowing like
a swarm of fireflies.

On the roofs and spires, crows
gather like the souls of the dead.
A few chimneys breathe out
dragon death rattles of smoke
as church bells clang lifelessly.

A man almost steps into the road,
his trainers almost shredded by
jet-black blurs of type treads.
Neon signs drown out their painted
neighbours with cries of
“Absinthe “XXX”, “Open ‘Til 4”.

Policemen in regimental uniforms bark
orders, the refrain to a drunken
song forgotten by morning.
Rats dodge crystal sculptures of
broken glass in the gutter.

A woman in a tattered hoody
breathes her last breath.

Miles away, inside a dark drawer,
a switchblade clicks open.

——

“Last Train” By C. A.Brown

A town on a hill,
sparkling like Christmas
card pictures, like
1990s videogame gemstones

Held aloft in a rich
dark cupola of trees,
a needle forest
on a leaf-strewn sea.

All these thoughts
come to me
in the split-second
I look out of the window.

———–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting πŸ™‚

Two Poems: “Treasure” And “Tool Duel”

2015 Artwork Poetry Treasure and Tool Duel

Well, for the fifth day of poetry week, I thought that I’d share two all-new poems that I’ve just written. The first one of these poems (“Treasure”) is meant to be a slightly “serious” poem.

But, the second poem – “Tool Duel” is much longer… and sillier. It’s also written in hilariously terrible doggerel verse too. Although it’s probably only truly funny if you read it aloud in a terrible approximation of a Texan accent.

I’d originally planned to put a recording of this poem on Youtube, but I eventually decided against this (mainly because my approximation of a Texan accent was just too terrible). Anyway, enjoy πŸ™‚

“Treasure” By C. A. Brown

In the old days,
I was always looking
for treasure
in all the wrong places.

In right-wing tabloids,
in run-down shops,
in cheesy movies,
in old forums.

In badly-written stories,
in dull computer games,
in random TV shows
and faded magazines.

But, the funny thing was
I still found it sometimes.

——–

“Tool Duel” By C. A. Brown

It happened one starry night,
Billy Bob and Old Joad got into a fight.

“I tell ‘ya”, said Billy Bob
“You’ll need better tools than this to finish the job!”
Joad was shocked. His tools were his pride and joy.
Listen here, Billy Bob! I had these here tools when you were just a boy!“.

Billy Bob laughed and called Joad an old fool.
Old fool, you say? I challenge you to a duel!

Now, Billy Bob and Joad were a liberal sort,
to duel with guns just wasn’t sport.
So, with a grin on his face that bordered on cruel
Joad said, “I’ll whup your ass with these here tools!

Back to back, they stood.
Joad with a chisel, Billy Bob with a plank of wood.

Billy Bob went first and struck a pathetic blow.
Plywood ain’t good wood for fightin’, wooden you know?
Joad dropped his chisel and reached for a hammer
Dangammit, Billy Bob! I’ll slam ‘ya!

Billy Bob replied with something unprintably vile
as he parried Joad’s hammer with a nearby file.
That’s fightin’ talk!” hissed Joad
and once again swung his hammer’s heavy load.

Metal clunked and sparks flew,
Joad’s buddy Clem joined in too.
“Hey! Two on one just ain’t fair!”
Shouted Billy Bob as he clouted Clem with a chair.

Alterted by the commotion, Billy Bob’s old buddy Hank
charged into the work station, flailing a crank.
By accident, he caught old Joad in the spine
That ain’t fair fightin’, ya cowardly swine!

Gripping his back, Joad reached into his overalls
and stabbed Billy Bob with a cleverly-concealed awl.
Clutching his ass, Billy Bob yelled.
“Ah give up! That hurt like hell!”

Now listen up and listen well,
’cause there’s a moral to this story that I tell.
(It’s really nothin’ fancy, just..)
…Awl’s well that ends well.

———–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting πŸ™‚

Why Listening To Cradle Of Filth Can Help You Write Better Poetry

2015 Artwork Cradle Of Filth and poetry article sketch

Although this is an article about writing poetry, I’m going to have to start by talking about one of my favourite metal bands – namely the one and only Cradle Of Filth [NSFW]– for quite a while. Trust me, there’s a good reason for this and I’m not just rambling about music just for the sake of it.

If you’ve never heard a Cradle Of Filth song before, I should point out that their music is something of an acquired taste. Because of Dani Filth’s extremely guttural vocal style, it can take a while to even work out exactly what he’s singing – so it can be useful to keep a copy of the lyrics nearby until you can understand his singing properly.

Also, be prepared for a shock occasionally. When I first discovered this band, I remember absolutely loving one of the catchier songs on their “Midian” album until I happened to actually read the lyrics for it and notice that it was basically an extremely disturbing song narrated from the gleeful perspective of an unrepentant serial killer.

In case you haven’t guessed already, one of the brilliant things about Cradle Of Filth is that virtually all of their songs are about some kind of dark, disturbing and/or debauched subject matter. In fact, a Cradle Of Filth album isn’t a Cradle Of Filth album unless it contains at least two orgies, a few old Anglo-Saxon words for genitalia, something vaguely vampiric and at least a few gruesome deaths.

But, there’s a lot more to Cradle Of Filth than just puerile shock value. No, the reason that I’m talking about them here is because they are one of the best sources of poetic inspiration and poetry teaching that I’ve ever found.

In fact, I’d argue that listening to their songs (or listening to well-written rap music, if heavy metal isn’t your thing) can be a great way to learn how to write better poetry.

Although Cradle Of Filth’s songs may be about some fairly shocking subject matter, they elevate this to the level of art by writing and singing about it in a way that would put most famous Victorian poets to shame. Yes, underneath the screeched vocals, there is actually a lot of fairly old-school poetry!

Seriously, the lyric booklets that come with their albums could easily double up as short poetry collections. If you don’t believe me, then here are a few lines from one of their songs about Elizabeth BΓ‘thory called ‘Desire In Violent Overture’: “An emanation of phantom madness/ The Countess beheld in shroud/ By girls bereft of future vows/ Soon to wed in white the frosted ground“.

But, how is any of this relevant to us as poets?

Well, when we’re writing poetry, it can be easy to forget that poetry was originally meant to be read aloud. As I’ve mentioned at least once before, one of the best ways to tell if your poem is any good or not is to read it aloud.

After all, the main reason why poets add things like rhymes, iambic pentameter, carefully-placed line breaks etc… to their poems is because they sound good.

As such, listening to a lot of well-written poetry that has been set to music can be a great way to learn how a poem should sound and to learn how to write poetry that sounds good.

Again, if heavy metal isn’t your favourite genre, then there are plenty of rap songs out there that will also teach you how to write good poetry. After all, rap music is basically just poetry set to music.

So, remember that it can help to listen to songs that have poetic lyrics when you’re learning how to write poetry (or if you just want to improve your own poetry).

————————

Anyway, I hope that this was useful πŸ™‚

Four Reasons Why Poetry Is Like Painting

2015 Artwork poetry is like painting sketch

One of the interesting things that I’ve noticed since I got back into writing poetry fairly recently is how writing poetry is actually a lot more similar to painting and drawing than it is to writing fiction.

Why? Well, here are a few reasons:

1) Poetry is image-based: Although there are obviously exceptions to this rule, I’d argue that one of the reasons why poetry is more similar to visual art than it is to prose fiction is because poetry is much more concerned with images and visual descriptions than fiction is.

In a piece of prose fiction, the descriptions serve to support the story. In fiction, visual descriptions are a secondary thing that helps the reader to picture the events of the story more clearly. But the story always comes first.

However, in poetry, visual descriptions are usually the main focus of the poem. Even though some poems tell stories, many poems can consist of nothing more than visual descriptions. In this way, poems are a lot more similar to visual art than they are to prose fiction.

In fact, one good way to get inspired to write a poem is to just imagine somewhere or something interesting and then to work out a way to describe it. This is, in many ways, more similar to how an artist gets inspired than it is to how a writer might get inspired.

2) Poetry can be enjoyed quickly: Although I’m probably going to sound like something of a philistine here, I’d argue that another reason why poetry is more like paintings or drawings is that it can be enjoyed in a relatively small amount of time. After all, it only takes a few seconds to look at a piece of art and it only usually takes less than a minute or two to read most poems.

Now, compare this to the time it would take you to read a 400+ page novel, or even a 2000-word short story and it’s pretty clear that poetry has less in common with fiction than you might think.

Not only that, if you’re someone with a shorter creative attention span, then writing poetry can be one of the most fun types of writing for this very reason.

For example, when I’m feeling inspired, it can take me anything between a few minutes to an hour and a half to write a poem. Which, incidentally, is about the same amount of time as it takes me to make a drawing or a painting.

3) Meaning: One of the interesting things that makes poetry more similar to painting or drawing is the fact that the meaning of a poem can often be slightly “hidden”. When you look at a beautiful painting or a drawing, you’ll sometimes have to spend a while working out what exactly it means.

After all, some of the best works of art use images to hint at things that can’t really be represented visually (eg: a particular emotion, the atmosphere of a particular place, a state of being etc…).

The same is true with poetry – a poem may be beautifully-written, but you’re probably going to have to spend a while thinking about exactly what it means. In other words, like with art, the true meaning of a poem can be something that can’t quite be expressed by words or images alone and the poem itself is merely a way of hinting at that meaning.

However, with most types of prose fiction, the meaning has to be immediately obvious. This is one of the main reasons why reading novels can be so enjoyable and relaxing, so I’m not criticising it, but it’s about as far away from poetry as you can get.

4) It just feels different: This is about as subjective as it gets, but the feeling of writing poetry is a lot more like the feeling I have when I make art than it is when I write fiction.

When I write fiction, it feels like I’m juggling a lot of different things (characters, storylines etc..) and I have to be about ten steps ahead of whatever I’m writing at that particular moment.

When I write fiction, I have to focus entirely on the story and immerse myself in it as much as possible. Not only that, I usually have to do a reasonable amount of planning in advance before I write a story (I don’t like to plan literally everything, but I need to have a general idea of where the story could possibly go).

When I make art, it feels a lot more spontaneous and playful – for want of a better description. I can just focus on whichever part of my artwork that I’m drawing or painting at any particular time. The same is true with poetry, I only have to really think about either the line I’m writing or the lines directly after that. Although I usually try to think about a piece of art or a poem as a whole before I start, this isn’t essential (unlike in prose fiction).

So, yes, to me at least, writing poetry feels a lot more like making art.

———

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting πŸ™‚

Introducing Poetry Week (Plus Two Poems)

2015 Artwork Poetry Time and FPS1995 article sketch

I am very proud to introduce “poetry week” on this blog – yes, every article posted here this week will either be about poetry or will actually be poetry (probably a mixture of both new and old poems that I’ve written).

I’m not quite sure why I came up with this idea, but this is the first time that I’ve really done a themed “week” of articles on here, so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.

At the moment, I’ve planned to write three articles about poetry and four poem-based posts, but I don’t know if this will change over the coming week or not.

Anyway, to start things off, I’ve written two short poems for today that that I thought that I’d share. Enjoy πŸ™‚

“Time” By C. A. Brown

Ticking away,
seconds and hours,
the universe devours
another moment
without pause.

—–

“FPS 1995” By C. A. Brown

Pixels and sectors,
vertices and vectors,
linedefs and sprites,
split-second fights,
second-rate frights,
Another night in my room,
playing “Doom”.

—-

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting πŸ™‚