What Would Geppetto Say?

This week, things get slightly darker. I’m not sure how much of an introduction can be done for this one, it almost fell from fingers and speaks for itself. I do love a metaphor and a literary reference, and I feel like this one does carry some of the influence I have from the wonderful words created by Mr Brian Fallon, singer of The Gaslight Anthem. Additionally, I also love a 3/4 beat in music, so using anapaest and dactyl rhythms was both fun and satisfying for me. Anyway, this week I share with you, “What Would Geppetto Say?”.

What Would Geppetto Say?

What would Geppetto say,
About these strings on my wrists that control my whole fists,
And dictate the whole way that I sway?

What would Geppetto say,
About the stitch through my lips fixed forever to kiss,
With no words to emerge ‘til it frays?

Oh if only my papa could see me right now,
With my unbeating heart and my spiritless frown,
My unsteady stiff feet and my dangling hands,
And the way that I fail to become a real man.

How these strings tie me close and they won’t set me loose,
If I dare lift my head I’m exposed to this noose,
But I dare not show papa wherefore I can’t stand,
Lest he looks down on me and sees I am no man.

What would my puppeteer think,
If she could see how it festers where she has impressed,
Her own strings deep within my own skin?

What would my puppeteer think,
If she saw how I depend on the strings I resent,
And observed how my worth only sinks?

But regardless of varnish or coats that have dried,
One cannot stop the rot once it has caught inside.
So my legs will grow weak as this ailment spreads,
‘til my wooden heart hardens and cannot be bled.

Although having been taught I can’t walk without strings,
I can grasp her sharp edges and my dreams of wings.
So I swing at my wires and feel several snaps,
Alas floorward with haste does my body collapse.

How must the other toys laugh,
As I disabled my frame cutting cables in vain,
Having dreamed of a different path.

How must the other toys laugh,
About a toy such as I who would dare dream to fly,
By thus cutting his heartstrings in half.

I see all of the toys with their dreams on the shelf,
And I look in their eyes and I look to myself.
They have all of their lives and have somewhere to go,
While I only lay stringless with nothing to show.

Though my paint may be chipped and my skin may be scarred,
My insides, they may rot and my heart may be hard,
And I may be down here well apart from those toys,
But I know that I will not remain a mere boy.

What would Geppetto say,
If he had seen all my dreams were to burst at the seams,
And if he could see me in this way?

What would Geppetto say,
If he could see me half-dead, with my dreams left unsaid,
With ambition to wither away?

But in spite of my splinters, there’s life in this wood,
And necessity naked to live all that’s good.
All I need and I seek is a handle to stand,
And to live, all I need is a soft, kindred hand.

I still daydream of dancing atip of my toes,
To be silenced inside by somebody who knows,
And is mindful to move me the way that I must,
And will guard me against all this gathering dust.

Who can guide me and help me to act like a fool,
With the strings of my heart yet intact while they pull.
I am sure I will find my true puppeteer yet,
To make a man of this marionette.



The Mushroom And The Water Nymph

Every month for the past 7 months I have been able to go on a waterhole count. This consists of 12 hours in a brick cube with a slit in the front, through which one observes all animals that come to the waterhole. Before the rains in Namibia kicked in, it could be a pretty energetic affair, especially at the 2pm warthog rush, where there could be 15 or more warthogs all bathing, drinking, running, and digging, and I’m required to remember who is with which group whilst categorising them into age and gender groups, recording whether they drank, and imagining where they are going next when they leave.

OK, pretending they were off to a party with hyenas and pangolins wasn’t necessary, but 12 hours in a box does things to a man, especially after the rains when the animals had better places to be. Therefore, after various attempts to amuse myself over these 84 hours in boxes when animals were absent (including 4 hours on an unsolvable Sudoku and 8 hours creating a drinking board-game), I have started using the downtime during the counts to write, and the poem I’ll share today is one I had been toying with for a while, but needed a solid chunk of time to work on. The story in it was not the one I planned, nor were the characters what I expected, but it was a lot of fun to let them develop throughout the writing. So, the following is one I finished during a waterhole count, entitled “The Mushroom And The Water Nymph”.

The Mushroom And The Water Nymph

Amidst a hidden woodland glade,
He sat unseen amongst the shade.
So tenderly his roots were laid,
And bowing heavy head, he rest.

A lazy stream had cut at whim,
The glade in two to nurture him.
He soaked each worn and weary limb;
By angels’ hand his roots were blessed.

Each tree with aged and kindly face,
Gazed lovingly upon this place.
Each flower stood with gentle grace,
To welcome him as could they best.

To stay as such and while a time,
And nothing more would be sublime.
To pass such chance would be a crime,
Neglecting being here a guest.

The Sun now tossed her golden hair,
And dancing tender, on the air,
A nymph came, beautiful and fair,
With all of Summer in her breast.

She burned as bright and danced as wild,
And purely as an untamed child.
To still such storm was sin untrialled;
In her was life’s own heart impressed.

Her footsteps left a print of dew,
And where her feet fell, flowers grew,
Though each would bloom a shade of blue;
To leave her soul leaves all depressed.

She danced upon the silver stream,
Her platform where the fish would teem.
Of host and viewer, all eyes gleam,
Her hidden fan still unprofessed.

She swirled and swayed, and let hair fly,
‘til from the corner of her eye,
She chanced to glance upon her spy.
Her consciousness, in blush, confessed.

Her hand rose slowly to her throat,
But courage then her shyness smote,
And shrugging from her unseen coat,
In boldness were her words hence dressed.

“Wherefore sit thou in silence there?”
She said, “Thou cost me quite a scare,
For others visit here so rare,
That all my focus did arrest.”

“Please pardon me, for I was weak,
And so I sat beside this creek,
But when thou danced, I dared not speak,
For fear of dulling such fine zest.”

A fool she felt, though flattered too.
Her rapid mind found words were few,
But of her guest, then, naught she knew,
So name and face did she request.

He rose up slow into the light,
His colours bared, both red and white.
Grey, wrinkled skin came into sight,
But only joy her eyes expressed.

“How curious thy hue can be,
To one as monochrome as me,
Thou mushroom painted artfully.
Tell me the secret thou ingest.”

Unsure of how her words were meant,
The mushroom’s guarded smile sent,
The nymph to instantly lament,
The careless words she shared in jest.

“I mean to say, I think it fine,
To have a coloured coat as thine,
‘tis art compared to leaf and vine,”
And here she gestured to her vest.

His heart at her words swelled. Behold!
Though woodland-clad, her soul was gold.
He called it love to have her hold,
His heart and to be thus caressed.

He loved her soul, so kind and free,
Her dancing was a sight to see,
So now he asked, “Please dance with me?
Consider this my newfound quest.”

Her eyes lit up, she smiled wide,
And was his secret source of pride.
For hours yet did they then glide;
Their hearts would touch, but for their chest.

As they both danced, they talked the while,
The mushroom said, “Though rare I smile,
And company is not my style,
I’d gladly have these faults redressed.”

Although they talked and danced around,
The mushroom’s roots sucked at the ground,
But while his weakness made no sound,
His weariness went unconfessed.

The nymph then shared herself also:
“With water must I always go.
A water nymph can never slow,
Nor cease to cope with her unrest.

That’s why I danced when this creek chose,
A place where so much beauty grows,
Where one can find some brief repose.
This purest, unspoilt, woodland nest.”

The mushroom’s clever thoughts worked fast,
“I know a way that thou can last,
Right here and never leave too fast,”
And thence his plan did manifest.

They quickly fashioned her some boots,
That, like a mushroom, could grow roots,
And harvest deep, hydrating loots;
The cost was that her feet be tressed.

Her foot was perfect to the shoe,
So side by side their roots then grew.
“Know growing roots is nothing new,”
He said, “So fear not, nor be stressed.”

But water never found her taps;
Such deprivation only saps.
The nymph did weaken ‘til collapse;
The mushroom panicked and distressed.

Immediately the stream flowed out,
And left behind a sudden drought,
Confirming all his darkest doubt;
From shoes, though, she could not be wrest.

In agony his roots were ripped,
And tearing at her feet, he slipped,
The nymph into his arms and tripped,
Behind the stream into the West.

His limbs were pain, but love had stirred,
Him beyond fear until he heard,
Her voice moan senselessly and blurred,
“Be still,” was all he could suggest.

The mushroom had to catch up yet.
The trail did darken and turn wet,
And soon the tail-end had been met,
Before too far the stream progressed.

He hoped his actions did redeem,
His blinded, selfish fever-dream,
By taking her back to her stream,
Reversing how he had obsessed.

The stream welcomed the nymph and bore,
Her safe as he fell to the floor,
And knowing he would walk no more,
So thus he made his sole bequest:

That when she wake on distant shore,
His life for hers he did implore,
That she might someday dance once more,
And bowing heavy head, he rest.

First Post and First Poem (University Life)

Hello world,

I have decided to (finally) create a blog to share my poetry with whoever wishes to read it, to hopefully receive some useful criticism, and to motivate myself to keep writing regularly. Ideally, I’d like to be posting something of my own weekly, but at least every two weeks. I’m sure I’ll also be using this to share any poems, writing, lyrics, or ideas that I find worth sharing.

I’m Tom, I’m 20, and rarely since I learned to read have I not had a book on the go. I have recently been going through the classics, usually with more than one at a time as I get too excited over books. Reading classics saves having to read reviews before deciding to buy a book, or even not buying it, since most of them are free on the Kindle store (I don’t shoplift, though I’m sure books would be my priority over jewellery).

I have also been writing for almost as long as I can remember. Starting with emulating Eminem between the ages of 8 and 11, and then Linkin Park and Funeral For A Friend for a few years, until I started to find my own words and style. In spite of surrounding myself in words, I do struggle to express myself on the spot. I guess that’s why writing has been somewhat important to me, and probably why I’ve been writing more since the end of school and through university. It’s a release of what needs to be expressed, a chance to look at the inside of yourself after having written it out, and also the creation of something gives a sense of accomplishment and pride.

At the time of starting this (mid-April 2014) I am currently an intern at the Cheetah Conservation Fund, but will go back home to the UK for summer, and then up to Manchester to start the final year of my zoology degree in September.

The first poem I will share is something light-hearted and upbeat. I recently found (and edited) on my phone something I quickly jotted down one night, presumably after a bad day, during my second year of university, about university life, mainly about university living. It may not come across, but since talking about university to others, I am actually getting pretty excited to go back for my final year.  But anyway, here is my poem, which I have uncreatively dubbed “University Life”.

University Life

I found a thousand fools in freshers,
Now I’m stuck with three, 
Now I just need some time away, 
for me.

Oh, where has my time gone today?
I’ve barely done a thing!
I’ve fought this week to wake and read,
But when did it begin?
I’ve sat in front of old men and,
I’ve listened to them speak.
I’ve hated some I barely know,
For them I turn no cheek.

I choose to let them speak and then,
Regret the choice I make,
But this has got to be the better,
Choice of all mistakes,
‘cause otherwise I’d be employed,
And overjoyed and poor.
Now I’m in debt, without a sweat,
And I’ll keep paying for more.

But I won’t lift a single finger
Scrubbing at this home.
I bet that poor old Henry hoover,
Hasn’t felt more alone.
I’ve dust bunnies and dragons under,
My bed and all else,
And something lost within the kitchen,
Smells akin to hell.

Sinks sparkled once upon a time,
Why, only yesteryear.
Since then we’ve been competing and,
We’ve tallied up the beers.
It’s wondrous water drains away,
The way that drain is plugged.
I wonder I can find the bleach,
When everything’s been chugged.

I enter that bathroom and leave it,
Dirtier than I was,
And everything in this house is,
So truly fucked because,
Of our own lazy, mad landlady,
Mindless of the damp,
Ignoring every broken thing,
And hidden booby traps.

But she can’t sell the house with all,
The crockery on the floor;
You’re standing in leftover dinner
One step through the door.
I’m glad to leave this mess and not,
Go clean some other place;
It’s just a chance to see the extent,
Of our own disgrace.

I’ve lived these years to my content,
And tried all I could think,
Drank much more than I have before,
And one more til I’m sick.
I can’t remember half my nights;
The others I’d forget,
But not a single one would I,
Have dared call a regret.