Letters From Quotidia Episode 172 Making the Living Poetry 2

Letters From Quotidia Episode 172 Making the Living Poetry Part 2

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, Episode 172, which is Part 2 of Making the Living Poetry. The narrator was flailing about, writing away for jobs of various types, and sending away scripts and songs, and dreaming up schemes to kick start the next part of his life all the while consuming beer in large quantities. So large that his parents, with whom they were staying, proposed he attend a drying out clinic in Dublin, at their expense. He declined the kind offer.


My paranoia blossoms in the afternoon- I read new poetry./And don’t they understand, the silly shites, ensconced inside/Their cradles in the colleges and universities? For most/I see from notes have safe positions, teaching students,/Or cosy sinecures the councils for the Arts provide:/No starving-in the-garret poets grace the page. No more:/

There is no time for a new poetic

For guns are made faster than language.

The opiated spires are falling to

The rocking tilt of flashing boots.

At rest within your soft regime,

A scented bath in a palace of liquid sound:

The regiments of silence bid the eunuchs

With twisted towels from behind…

And just as darkness falls, I have a swipe at God./Oh, don’t we all? Easy, now they don’t burn us anymore./But as Edwin Brock says, we’re left here in this century-/And that’s enough. The TV essay tells us of those men,/The particular physicists, who now aver that here it is,/Or maybe isn’t- could be fish or could be pheasant/:

The hand outstretched from sky above

In Books and Tracts teach to remove

From mud and slime to be sublime

Encounter His most perfect Love.

To reach, to press, with fingers splayed

Through brush and bramble, rock and void,

Avoiding by-ways then I clutch

The outstretched hand of the anthropoid.

Black, brooding thoughts- on the dole, no work this year at all./I’m resting! I’m resting! Well, it’s true enough-/I’m paid to play the part of bludger, work-shy me./I pick up my guitar and dedicate a song to the Employment Minister./I get a reggae beat; dreadlock anger- words come easy/And I sing my song alone, I sing my song alone:/

They’re Alright

I watch them from my window walking down the street

They’ve everything they’ll ever need or have to know

Why do they scream from the dole queues of their plight?

They’re all right They’re all right

I have to rise up every morning half past five

I catch the train and join the swarm just half alive

They sleep all day and party half the night

They’re all right They’re all right

My ulcers and my taxes always get me down

My neighbour’s son relaxes there’s no work in town

And yet he tells me things are getting tight

They’re all right They’re all right

I went away last summer on my holidays

But they were all around me in the sun to laze

I wonder why I work with all my might

They’re all right They’re all right

What more could they want I just can’t figure out

They take this question as a taunt without a doubt

It’s as clear as black is black and white is white

They’re all right They’re all right They’re all right…

My wife comes in and asks, “Have you written for those jobs/I marked for you in the paper?” /No…no…no…no…/“I told you! You should have gone for that temporary teaching post!”/Oh God, I remember, remember last year, the last day,/That last day of teaching. We played that silly blackboard/Game. I saw more than a game. Felt a metaphor. I wrote then:

Let’s play hangman. It’s easy!

Strokes and dashes, wild guesses

That get nearer and nearer to the

Point where the rope begins to choke.

It’s fun, and a treat you know,

For the whole family. Take a flask,

Cut sandwiches and a rug to sit upon.

Find a grassy knoll- some small prominence.

Now, nicely settled, let us aid the man.

“A?” No. “Z?” Never mind, the charge

Will not survive this mob. Now look!

He’s worried. Time is short. Running out.

He knows the class only crowded there

To see an end. The last letter is now in place.

Nice to see…

Nice to see…

The memories of the past, the recent past, impels a scramble/To my box of papers, poems, songs, half-finished essay:/All the detritus of a negligent literary life. I come across/A spring-back folder read the hopeful dedication. Hopeful/In that I wrote 25, then scrubbed out five, wrote six,/Stroke, seven, stroke eight, I scrub eight, write in nine:/

Twenty-nine and nothing done

And at this age to do

So, nothing doing?

Time of search and I review

And nothing in my view

Is worth reviewing.

Once I seemed to have it made

But find I’m on the make

With nothing making.

Embrace my form and find it false

But am I just a fake

Or merely faking?

I’m drinking whiskey now from a pint glass diluted with/Brown lemonade. It looks like ale but it doesn’t fool/My wife. And now we scream at one another. No point in/Describing it for you. Most of you will know what it’s like,/If not from life, from books or the TV teaching eye. I threaten/To leave. And I’m taken at my word:

What do you mean you’re going away?

You say that life with me is no longer your scene

You say our interests are now far apart

For you it’s over and you want a new start

Baby hold on this won’t take much time

I must be blind deaf dumb stupid yeah lame-witted so could you explain

Why you tell me that you want to stay friends (no thanks)

Is that what you call making amends?

Baby you have been listening too long

Those songs on the radio just don’t tell the truth

Nor do the books that you point to with heat

The Moon and Sixpence is not me at all

Do you recall when we walked down the aisle?

You swore to stay by me neither falter nor fall

You say the truth is everything now

Is that what you call breaking your vows

I want to know tell me then go

Are you leaving me because it now shows?

That you’re a failure you’ve fooled all your friends

But you couldn’t hide it from me in the end

I know I must bear some blame

I could have lied to you but what would remain

Narcissus with an echoing head

Who made love to a mirror in bed at night?

So, I go. Couldn’t stay after that. And I walk. I know/A friend- he’ll put me up. He isn’t pleased. “I’ve walked/For miles- I’ve nowhere to stay!” We stand. “All right!/You’d better come in- and don’t waken the house. So, what’s/It all about?” I tell him. He’s not impressed, goes to bed,/Taking pen and paper I now repay his hospitality:

My false friend tells me things that I should know

The terror in my rambling only fear of night

My lack of something called technique and feeling

Overwhelming reason why to him I should defer.

But have you seen a hare caught within a trap?

No technique or what you would call feeling

Yet the terror and pain flooding a tiny body

Makes me wince in my gross hemisphere.

This dark meandering within my resting time

When I catch the scraps of minutes when

I cast the books and pens and papers all aside

Attends no febrile muse of high domain.

There comes a time, I think, when I must reject

The counsels of the learned and the sage

For time throws up a coursing track where

All their stratagems become a trap.

Part 3 of Making the Living Poetry is a crown of sonnets: a seven-poem sequence with an interlocking rhyme scheme. It, unlike so much of what I write was carefully planned, supported by copious notes I took on a journey of about three hours along North Beach, then along the road past Battery Park and Belmore Basin up to the lighthouse on Wollongong Head. I was accompanied by my young son, Brian. The seven poems you will hear in the next episode are the heart of Making the Living Poetry.

Credits: All written text, song lyrics andmusic (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22 also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments. I use the Band in a Box/RealBand 2022 combo for music composition


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