Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hearts & Minds

Dali & Captain Moore
There's a story about Salvador Dali, told to me a few years ago by his long-time manager, Captain Peter Moore.

Peter called on Dali at his house and studio in Port Lligat to see how he was progressing with a commission and was alarmed to see that the painting was far from finished.
'No problem, el capitano,' said Dali, 'I have until end of October.'
'But it's already November,' said Peter.
'November!' exclaimed Dali. 'Someone has stolen my October!'

I feel a little like that about March! Although rather than stolen it was filled to the brim with exciting events for the launches of another country, haiku poetry from Wales (Gomer Press).

But I'm back home in France now, catching up with writing and AppleHouse, and I came across this poem, in my Poems on the Underground anthology, which I can't remember ever reading before:

from The Mind is an Ancient and Famous Capital

The mind is a city like London,
Smoky and populous: it is a capital
Like Rome, ruined and eternal,
Marked by the monuments which no one
Now remembers. For the mind, like Rome, contains
Catacombs, aqueducts, amphitheatres, palaces,
Churches and equestrian statues, fallen, broken or soiled.
The mind possesses and is possessed by all the ruins
Of every haunted, hunted generation's celebration...

Delmore Schwartz (1913 - 1966)

Lots of the metaphors make immediate sense to me, particularly the mind being full of monuments 'which no one/ Now remembers' and 'Catacombs', although I'm a little unsure about 'equestrian' statues. I suppose the horse and rider could symbolise war? But I still like the poem a lot.

A few years ago I wrote a poem entitled 'Your Heart' which was published on a poster for a Hospital project:
Write a poem about the mind or the heart. Use metaphor rather than direct explanation to suggest what the mind or heart is, or does.

Write well.


Keith Wallis said...

My heart pounds my skin
like a boxing glove
in round three,
though the score 120/80
is a distant memory -
we hit higher these days.
I wear my heart
on my chest.
An ancient encounter
left its mark
like a commemorative tattoo
for the day we bounced
on the pavement,
like a soggy bag of groceries,
in mother's womb.
Who won that encounter ?
Your prize was eternity,
mine was life
with a sore heart
and a memory that cannot be shared
like an untransferable ticket.

Martin Cordrey said...


My heart is an ornate clock face
with no minute finger,
a Victorian cake with too much jam -
life’s an hour hand munching
its way through my sponge base,
one o’clock, grandfathers premature demise;
two – three my first love, lost.

I cannot, as yet, speak of who ate four to eight.
I know how nine is to be devoured
even before teeth rupture my outer crust.
But twelve?
That rock face we all have to climb,
and beyond? A few crumbs
on a plate to be eaten by tape worms!

Karen Harvey said...

my heart is like
a squidgy cushion
too soft

Karen Harvey said...

my heart skipped a beat
when I laid eyes on you –
now my heart sings

Glenn Buttkus said...

Blind Dog Blue

It is colder than it should be
at 3:30 a.m. on a Spring morning,
huddled in my tired Toyota

on the edge of your wide driveway,
under one of your favorite trees

bathed blue in the moonlight;

too sleepy to even stare at the stars

that stare at me,
 like your old blind dog

lying in the rockery

thumping its thick tail,

and watching me

through white opaque corneas,

seeing my every thought,

as I close my eyes listening

to the engine's drone,

the heater's hiss,

and the nightbirds hunting and dying

in the neo-darkness,

my mind is bristling with beasts and cherubs

doing battle with sharp dandelion wisps
that fall quietly in a large white room,

like ghostly flaxen feathers
settling on our damp shoulders.

For a moment drenched in stardust

we appear as the stag and doe in a Disney dream,
leaping over logs,
hardly touching,

embracing the stringed arias
our sleek parallactic bodies pass through.

The oriental machine is warm now,

the windshield is clear,

I descend back down beneath
the window where you lie listening

to the rattle of my muffler

as I lurch across the thick gray gravel,
waving good-bye to your silent spotted dog,

who is not sure whether I am

exiting or entering
his world.

Glenn Buttkus

April 2011

Lynne Rees said...

Hello everyone - a few comments on poems posted:

@ Keith - there's a satisfying continuity of imagery with: -pounds -boxing -hit -mark -bounced -prize. And the closing image of the ticket is really poignant.

@ Martin - yes, the hours on the face of a clock feels like an appropriate parallel for the length of a life. The cake image is very novel and I wondered f that could be picked up again in the 2nd stanza, rather than crust and rockface, before we go back to crumbs?

@ Karen - thanks for posting both of these. And I'm glad to read that the singing came after the squashing : ) Singing hearts are always worth, well... singing about! I wonder what your heart would sing? Perhaps particular song titles, or lines from songs, or your own made up lyrics? I think that would make a poem that would be very particular to you.

@ Glen - this is generally working well for me. Stanza 4 and 5 felt less strong, and I wondered if they could be compressed into one? For me, the more imaginary imagery would have more effect if there was less of it.

Thanks for letting me read your poems.

Mary Rose said...


It rests close to my heart
A Golden Wedding gift green glinted, chosen together.
patterned with peridot
more treasured than ever
now you’ve gone.

My fingers search for it at night
Your empty pillow at my side
‘til my hand closes over it
feels its patterned front,
the smooth gold back unadorned.

My heart beats gently while I sleep
in the safety of my clasp
a quiet ticking while I count in seconds
hardly aware of its existence
in the stillness of night.

Mary Rose

Anonymous said...

My heart

is a shadow it nestles
close to the bone
tires in winter sighs for spring

my heart is cherry blossom
in april vibrant and gutsy
teased by the breeze

my heart is skipping
fresh with morning
summered starry on a clear sky

my heart is a wave
a walk on my favourite beach
a longing in my head.

Anonymous said...

oops read that incorrectly from my scribbles...
should be

clear night not clear sky in 3rd verse

Lynne would you be able to correct that, thanks.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello Mary Rose - lovely to see you here and read your poem. I do hope you'll collect all the poems you've written about your husband into one book. They're moving and honest and I'm sure your family would love to have them all in one place.

Hi Eileen - I can delete but can't edit. If you wanted to post the correct version I'll delete the old one.

I wondered if you could cut 'sighs for spring' in the first stanza? That would concentrate those lines for me... and let that lovely image 'close to the bone' work well with the mention of winter that follows. And perhaps cut one of the adjectives in the 2nd stanza too? I like the end of the poem... the longing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment I am going to re work this poem there are a couple of things that need changing, I will keep
'nestles close to the bone' as that is the line that works best for me.
Many thanks, Eileen