This weeks Poetry Thursday prompt is “Rivers.”  I wrote this particular poem some time ago.  Rivers have a strong association with journeys.  Some of those journeys are for pleasure, and some for commerce.  And then there are those special classes of river journeys that sit astride something more sinister and dark…
River’s Edge

The world is closing
I cannot see the sky.
Trapped like the wings of
A butterfly between
The fingers of little boys
Playing in grass fields.

Gird up your loins
Like a man,
Things will work out fine

The Shadow
Lingers over
Waiting for me to faulty,
Like the panther, dark and sullen,
Sinewy limbs stretched tight
Ready to rip the bones from my flesh.

Who are you
To question me
With the darkness
Of your counsel

I cannot hold a candle,
To Prufrock’s boots
Let me drown by the River
Oh they will not wake me.

Hear my speech,
Suffer me a fool.
I do diligently speak,
A whisper
And a drool

I have found the Plains of Moab,
The River at my knee
I hear the trumpets of the Priest,
The people stand and stare
They will not shout for me

My soul is too black
The River is too wide
I hope the voices wake me
And I drown
– c.lowe

My life is one big airport at the moment flying to and from Scotland. And when you have a 2 and half hour delay to your flight, you get plenty of time to think. I’ve been mulling over some words I stumbled across in the Joseph Campbell companion guide where he’s writing about old age and following your bliss. And the quote on old age that caught my eye was this: you know you’re getting old “when you’ve gotten to the top of the ladder and find it’s up against the wrong wall.”

And the thought of descending the whole ladder to climb another one is dreadful. As JC pointed out, that’s where many people find themselves today. His advice is to forget the ladder and just wander, bump around.

Which of course reminds me of something Tolkien wrote: “Not all those who wander are lost.”

And now I am thinking, do I want to climb another ladder? The truth is I’ve never climbed to the top of any ladder. Like Frank Sinatra, I’ve been:

a puppet

a pauper

a pirate

a poet

a pawn and a king

I’ve also been a dishwasher (funniest job I ever had), a cadet, a cement mixer, a counselor, a fitness instructor, a soldier, a financial consultant, a manufacturing engineer, a technology trainer, a training manager, a coach, and a training consultant.

And non of these have I climbed to the top. I simply did them until they no longer interested me and then I moved on. But now as I approach 39, I’m wondering should I be settled? Should I be at the top of some ladder with the implication that at the top of the ladder I’d have lots of money and could retire and not have to work again?

Somehow, the prospect of retiring, the idea of retiring makes me shudder. The thought of retiring fills my head up with images of being put on a shelf, ‘retired’ to make way for a newer faster model.

No, I like the idea that it is better to burn out than to fade away.

I spent the weekend in Snowdonia leading another group through the Ascent program.

Mountain Spirit

I move in the presence
Of Mount Snowdon Feeling
The weight of its ancient pull

A challenge, a summons, filters
Through the mountain breeze
The gate of your destiny is open

I hear the mountain spirit say
But will I walk through it?
Is what echoes in my mind

By the lake shore, I stand
To ponder the significance
Of these subtle words

The answers I think I know
Lie hidden in these ancient rocks
It is the questions that defy formulation

The Path, my path, familiar
Yet strange, my spirit knows
The Way in a way my mind does not

The Path, I’m told, leads
Everywhere and nowhere
The view from the top the same

The lesson is in the journey
Only more questions
Await at the top

To step on the Path
Or not to step
Is the question that drives me
– c.lowe

I’m in Scotland this week. The hotel I am staying at is tuck away in a quiet place. Perfect for writing. I’m Just filtering through my notes from my Poland trip to see what comes out.

We flew to Poland on WizzAir, which was my first time flying with them. The flight itself was fine, and to be honest, the flight attendants weren’t bad, they just didn’t come across as very friendly.

In short, they didn’t make me feel at home on their flight.

We whiz on the wings of
WizzAir, whizzing through
The air we breathe
Never mind our carbon footprint
We have to get from here to there
Or go nowhere

I can’t seem to get past
The airhostess blond’s
Smudged make-up, crooked
Nose and venomous eyes

Perhaps she’s served
To many coffees and creams
Seen her dreams drift
Up and down the same
Old aisle two dozen times a flight

Or maybe she’s just
A cold-hearted bitch
With a badge and pink shirt
And a smile that says:
I’d rather be anywhere than
In the air with you.

new market

I’ve been in Posnan, Poland this past week. I had every intention to continue to post while I was there, but as Murphy’s Law would have it, the place where I stayed had very spotty internet connection and I didn’t have the time to go look for a internet cafe.

Officially, I was in Posnan as a workshop leader for Negotiation Days IV. I worked the conference last year and enjoyed myself so much that I jumped at the chance to come back and be apart of the team. I ran three workshops, one on building effective teams, one on coaching, and one on Alpha Leadership.

Unofficially, I spent time exploring the culture. I am amazed that people are people no matter where you go. I think we like to believe we are different, but we’re not. I know that’s not a revolutionary thought and others would dispute my
claim, but as I sat in the New Market watching people go by on their way to work or school, or shopping, familiar scenes bombarded my senses. I could have been on any street corner, in Europe, or America or another place tied into the global village. What I saw: C&A, Lee Wranglers, Henri LLyod, Nescafe, Nike, Reebok, Puma, Spiderman 3, Orange, Imax, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, 3 lads with school bags and Ipods in their ear, ladies pushing prams, a girl with white trainers and pink laces wearing faded jeans, a 10 meter poster plastered on the side of a building with a stylish woman and stylish man in black looking down on the passerbys as if to say wouldn’t you like to be as cool me…

So at the macro level the view looks the same, but of course when I looked at the micro level interacting act with people on an individual level, I found mostly wonderful friendly people very strong in tradition, but equally eager to learn new things.

the black magic
warms my heart, soothes my soul
takes me on journeys near and far
in cups.

– c.lowe

I picked the idea of creating a self-portrait poem from incinq. She laid down the writing prompt to pen a self-portrait poem using the cinquain.

A traditional cinquain has the following structure:

1st line: 2 syllables
2nd line: 4 syllables
3rd line: 6 syllables
4th line: 8 syllables
5th line: 3 syllables

The modern cinquain has the following structure:

1st line: one word (noun) a title or name of subject
2nd line: two words (adjectives) describing the title
3rd line: three words (verbs) describing action related to the title
4th line: four words describing a feeling about the title, a complete sentnce
5th line: one word referring back to the title of the poem

Incinq put forth this version:

1st line: one word that represents you
2nd line: two words that describe you
3rd line: three words that show you
4th line: two words that express you
5th line: the essence of you in one word

I choose to contruct mine using the traditional structure.

Here’s my self-portait:

laidback and calm
writing meaningful words
flowing from zen into my pen
to share.

– c.lowe

If you’re feeling creative, how about sharing your cinquain self-portrait poem in the comments.

mont blanc
up and about at dawn
I stretch and yawn
my head still groggy
soggy from another late night
but i’m eager to write
so I say it’s okay
and pick up my pen
relax into Zen, the mystical flow
receiving what the gods and the universe know

– c.lowe

I performed a couple of poems last night at Word open mic poetry night at Bambu in Leicester. I did “and the dead poets go” and also a new one which I don’t have a title for yet. If you can think of a suitable title for it, let me know:

Those who would be your master
Pick upon the bones of your disaster
While you lie awake and worry
They plot and scheme and scurry

About looking for next weeks news
They amuse themselves with statistics
The police are checking the ballistics
Of a thousand bullets gone astray
And you pray between shots of whiskey and blues

Tomorrow will be a better day
At least that’s what the weathermen say
Meanwhile you wiggle in wretched sheets
Struggling to make ends meet
You hope there is a better way

To live a life of sound and fury
Let the jury judge your works of passion
While you keep up with the latest fashion
The time you thought you had tomorrow
Disappears beneath tears and sorrow

As you dance to a beat not your own
You hear the rhythm of your heart…beat moan.

– c.lowe

There were a lot of fab poets on last night. Sean, Oliver, and myself were there representing Leamington Spa’s open mic poetry club, Pure and Good and Right. I believe we gave a good showing. The headline poet was a cool cat named Mike from Random Ramblings Poetry duo. I left the evening feeling over the moon inspired…inspired to write more poetry.