Letters From Quotidia Episode 174 Making the Living Poetry 4

Letters From Quotidia Eoisode 174 Making the Living Poetry Part 4

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, Episode 174 and Part 4 of Making the Living Poetry.  But there will be no grand climaxes here. I suppose that’s why we love stories- let’s admit it-our own lives are too messy and inconsequential to be satisfying to anyone else, let alone ourselves! So, back to the tale:


I borrow a two-man tent, a sleeping bag and fifty pounds,/Hitch a lift to Ballycastle and catch the boat for Rathlin Island,/Almost as inaccessible as Australia, and as bare. It awakens memories./Out through Ouig, past the loughs I walk to Ushet Point reflecting/And remembering, hearing in my head the song I wrote upon returning:/The light reflects upon the waters of the sound as I sing:

Singing songs over coffee cups, trancing in the gloom,

Reading Nietzsche in a darkening room, Lord how it gets you down.

I wish I were a rolling wave approaching a winter shore

Where the moon consecrated the blood as the spay hits a windowpane.

Playing fool with the troubadours, laughing in an empty space.

Changing masks in a burning glass with a rigid facility.

I wish I were a scented breeze along a garden path

Where ladies parade and sing my praise, feed swans on a silver lake.

Dreaming down in the Southland, poised beneath a frozen wave,

At the carnival of Babel lost the voice to struggle through.

I wish I were a nomad fire scorching a frosty plain

Where shadows dance as fire, a lance, keeps at bay night again.

Sailing in through the spice-lands, watching as the curve fell north,

Under the shadow of Krakatoa, held my breath until we passed.

I wish I were a high peak scraping holes in heaven’s floor,

Sun above and clouds below, surrounded by prayers and poems.

But I go back. A week on Rathlin does me. I can’t be Joyce or Singe./No, perhaps for me, naiveté, domesticity, and, yes, verbosity,/Is as close to high art as I will get. We meet, my wife and I:/She cries a bit, and so do I- not the stern stuff of heroes made./Walking back to my room, resuming the life I left before,/I feel a dislocation and try to type the ghosts away:/

It seems so strange, after days and days away,

To come back- as to a scene of murder.

First the slow survey. You recognise a pile

Of papers, written on and once sufficient

To hold at bay what you have since become.

It seems so strange, after days and days away.

My forensic skill increases- to read the clues,

Discarded whistles, mute bouzoukis, flaccid

Bodhran, banjos, bones, and my guitars

Lie scattered in the room to which I come

To try to re-establish lost communion.

And can it be repaired, so much hope

For this one, last throw? Driven back

Impacted, retreating like a stone before a flood

And even the ossified heart sends out its signals

Help help help help help help help help.

And so, my life goes on. The dole-man’s been, has to know/The reason why I haven’t signed. I’ll tell a lie tomorrow./And reaching for my Russell, read again that magic prose/Made for dunderheads like me- explaining Western thought./Then, taking down the Tao Te Ching, I read my favourite passages/And from them both I gain, once more, a reason why I write my poems:

Any way may lead to no end:

No way may lead to the One.

In the room a pale electric glow

Allows the cursory pen

To lead the line, direct the flow

Wherein a poem or tale is spun.

Further into darkness spinning round

Begins the night squalls

The table shakes

The words are written down

The house shakes

The wind is at the walls.

I climb the stairs, I’m tired now. My wife is sleeping in the/Other bed- no chance of her joining me tonight. I look in on the/Kids. Yes, they’re both asleep- I wonder: did they miss me?/But sleep won’t come just yet. I reach beneath the bed and/Set down random thoughts on the pad I always keep there. A cat/Cries, and the gibbous moon outside inspires a nocturne:/

The cat outside my midnight window

Rubs the moon  Rubs the moon

This book of poems beside my pillow

Filled with gloom Filled with gloom

My wife beside me breathing

Over there Over there

My eyes inside their sockets seeing

All so bare All so bare

The light off now and late-night thoughts: a tune swirls in my/Head. And round it goes. Words come. I compose sometimes like this./And tomorrow? Well, I suppose I’ll wake late as usual- no work./And try to hold myself together with words and songs. I have it/Now. The words won’t go away, or the tune. The advantages of being/Simple, I suppose. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I’ll make the living poetry:

Don’t shed a tear for me, Mr Brown,

I’m on my knees, I’m almost off the ground.

I’m on my way back up to a life

That you won’t blight

Send back the wreath if you can.

I read your sister’s poems on the lawn,

Down by the gasworks sang songs of your son.

And if it comes out that I agreed,

Don’t send for me-

Look to the road, I’ll be gone.

The job you gave me almost filled a need,

The problem was my spirit atrophied.

Don’t think I’m not grateful, it’s not that.

But when I look back,

I didn’t breathe, I didn’t bleed.

If we should meet again, Mr Brown,

Don’t ask me to laugh with you at the clowns.

I’ll laugh at you, at your expense.

And in recompense,

I won’t shed a tear when you’re down.

Don’t shed a tear for me, Mr Brown,

I’m on my knees, I’m almost off the ground.

I’m on my way back up to a life

That you won’t blight

Send back the wreath if you can.

Here endeth the lesson. Such was the expression used by worthy clergymen (and, as you may intimate from the archaic construction of the quotation, no women were-ostensibly-involved in those days of yore where it originated.) But as will be clear to any who have followed the four parts of Making the Living Poetry, the feminine energy running through the narrative is very evident. From a deep dive a full four decades deep, we will ascend to a relatively shallow depth of only two decades ago for our continuing New Year’s season of unpublished items from the bottom drawer of Quentin Bega’s writing desk. The next ten episodes of  Letters From Quotidia  plunge us into a narrative where we will join a wealthy middle-aged narrator who has recently moved to New York City for medical treatment. We follow him through a few hours of pre-dawn darkness in 2001 where he will engage us with a prose monologue of musings interspersed with music and readings from poets of the 20th Century This is the much belated premiere entitled And Leave Him There and it’s on for the next two weeks!

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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