Shreds of Thought: Rhythm and Reasons and Life

I love the shape of words when they are under the spell of a poet. Every word fights for its place on the page and only the most potent survive. Perhaps better than reading poetry, though, is hearing it performed. There is passion in its delivery; rhythm and reason and life transferred directly from the poet’s body unto their congregation.

Good poetry conveys visceral knowledge that we all share deep down whether we realise it or not. It summons something common to have yet rare to behold, and teases it up towards the surface. It taps into a stream most of us have paved over with asphalt, and brings forth the purity of spring water. The taste will be bitter for some, but that’s on us and our tainted expectations of what truth should taste like. Extreme impacts like violence and drugs are as much a part of the human experience as love and security.

I used to write poetry to explore things I could understand in no other terms. I mythologised myself. Put my deepest feelings into symbol and code. And only my mind was the key that would translate the true meaning. My rhythm and reason and life. I made only one copy of each poem, typed out on an old-fashioned typewriter complete with overtyped errors and emphasis thumped into the paper by my strongest fingertips. Those poems were stolen one day, by a man who wanted my heart in a box. Perhaps, in a sense, he got what he craved.

I wonder, do poems expire? Once on paper in their complete form do they begin to rot without the vital life force of their creators’ key? Perhaps that’s why so many great works are printed on limited runs and cannot always be bought via the usual channels. Perhaps the words leave the pages behind and sink back into the ground, dissolving completely: eternally free now their job is done. Or perhaps they live on in their human hosts, kept close to the chest, ready to re-emerge in alternative configurations in some other place and time.

The Gardener

Orchids Lantern, thoughts of a writer

Ideas grow in the mind organically, like flowers in a garden. Now and then a gardener comes along to sprinkle some water and tear out the weeds, and we are grateful that the more exuberant species can thrive once more. Sometimes the gardener cuts the heads off the fullest of rosy ideas, and though we mourn them for a time we know that he only does so in order that more will flourish.

But sometimes the gardener does the strangest thing: he takes the best of all the different kinds of flowers – picks them right out at the root – and puts them together in a vase until they die. He draws pleasure from this act, as though he were honouring his produce in allowing it to fulfil its purpose. As though declaring them beautiful and arranging them in his preferred manner makes them more valid. Those flowers, those ideas, are complete. In their final configuration they are the best they will ever be, and the gardener prides himself on capturing that moment. Because he knows, I suppose, that more will grow.

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The key to raising orchids lies in their roots. We need to understand what makes them different to help them to grow in a potted environment.”

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