Archive for the ‘ Poem ’ Category

If These Books Could Talk (a poem)

I am the fruit of knowledge and experience,

The product of months and years,

Of pain and joy and toil and tears.

I am coloured by a worldview that is my own, 

Shared by no other.

I am built from mistakes and reflection,

From failures and mis-steps and triumphs,

Perhaps I am even built from wisdom.

Alone, I cannot give you these things.

Knowledge, experience, skill are not mine to bestow.

But together. Ah, together!

A meeting of minds, in the moment, or across the years.

A new construction. 

My words meet your thoughts.

My worldview blends with yours.

There is work involved, but also reward.

I cannot give you knowledge or understanding,

But I can advise and guide the way.

Take what I give and forge your own path.

Bring your experience, passions, skills.

Use your mistakes, triumphs, failures.


Knowledge, understanding, perhaps even wisdom.

Not mine to give. 

But yours to build on, and yours to surpass.

This is a poem which I wrote back in 2018, in response to a poetry symposium held on campus called Poetic Nursing Heart. I attended the first (and indeed subsequent) symposium, where I heard from nursing students and staff about their philosophy, concerns and joys through the medium of poetry. I also shared some of my own poetry, from the perspective of a mental health service user (you can find some of that on this very blog), but I wanted to respond in a different way. So I wrote these words, in theory from the perspective of our books, but showing some of how I feel about my role as well.

This is also a handy moment to be able to say that I’ve started a YouTube channel to share some of my writing and singing (at least, I don’t think I’ve already mentioned it). Here’s the poem as uploaded to YouTube – and please do check out some of my other videos there as well, while I experiment with how to do the YouTube thing.

Reasons to be fearful?

Crocodiles, speeding cars, noises in the dark.
Thunderstorms, ghosts and ghouls, shadows in the park.
Things unseen, facts unknown. Lions! Tigers! Bears!
Everywhere in life, fears can catch me unawares.

Supermarkets, aeroplanes, being underground.
Fireworks, bubble wrap – unexpected sound!
Do they like me? Am I mad? Have I broken laws?
All around, so much to fear. Thoughts to give me pause.

Making calls, networking, trying out a song.
On the job, on the stage, have I done it wrong?
Making friends, each new step, panic hard to shake.
A simple fix, so hard to do – give myself a break!

Autumn ends

The summer growth, uniformly verdant, gave way.
Many-hued warmth crept in, creating vibrant variety.
But this too passed, one by one the colours faded.
They leave behind the skeletal remains, a delicate filigree of empty branches.
Suddenly sunlight can fall on ground that was alien territory
And the world takes on a sad beauty as autumn ends.

Did you mean to? – some verse for a Sunday

Did You Mean To?

You made me who I am.
Did you mean to?
With your words, your deeds, you changed me.
You made me laugh, made me cry,
Gave me pause, made me think again.
Did you mean to?  Do you know?

You smiled when you crooned a song,
And your joy flowed through imperfect notes.
You sparked a flame that won’t go out.
Did you mean to?

You listened to incoherence,
Nodding and waiting for the torrent of words to cease.
You were patient, and in your patience gave me calm.
Did you mean to?

You broke me with your words.
You wounded me when you shut me out.
You made me throw up barriers that stayed up for years.
Did you mean to?  Did you care?

You didn’t laugh, not to my face.
You could have, maybe should have, but held back.
You sensed what was beneath.
Your understanding eased the pain, you helped me heal.
Did you mean to?

You flattered and praised falsely, no doubt meaning well.
You made me distrust affirmation.
Did you mean to?

You used me, and I let you.
You took what I’d done, turned it to your own ends.
You hardened me.
Did you mean to?  Did you care?

You asked for my advice.
You turned to me for help and guidance.
You let me know that I was wanted, needed.
Did you mean to?

You showed what friendship really means.
You stood firm when all else shifted.
You gave me hope.
Did you mean to?

You taught me what was right.
You cried for me and celebrated with me.
You showed me how to choose a better path.
You made me who I am.
Did you mean to?

What if Prospero finished a librarianship course?

Well, it would go something like this:

My studies now are ended. These my essays,
As I foretold you, were all nonsense and
Are sent now through the mail, through the e-mail:
And, like the random ravings of a madman,
The rambling waffle, the desp’rate quoting,
The solemn abstracts, the references themselves,
Yea, all which I have written, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial blog-bound message,
Leave not a rack behind.

With apologies to William Shakespeare – The Tempest happens to be one of my favourite plays.  My final piece of coursework is indeed safely in the inbox of the course administrator, and assuming that I don’t have to resubmit anything, I am free from the shackles of my studies.  By the end of July, I should receive a certificate that proves I am a real librarian.

The librarian’s little list – a patter song

So, I rather enjoyed yesterday’s post, as it was very cathartic.  I also very much enjoy taking existing songs and abusing them horribly by altering the lyrics.  Since Gilbert and Sullivan are long-dead and very much out of copyright, I’m afraid that the song from The Mikado which started the whole thing off has now undergone a library rewrite.  You really can sing these lyrics to Sullivan’s music, but I can’t imagine why you’d want to, particularly as you have to cheat by giving ‘library’ three syllables.  Mr Gilbert, I’m so very, very sorry…

The Librarian’s List

As someday it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list – I’ve got a little list
Of library offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed – who never would be missed!
There’s the people who break copyright and think it’s not a crime,
The folks who never think, so that their questions waste your time,
All people who would hide the books and save them for their own,
And those who are so arrogant, you’d think they had the throne.
And all the students who on running riot do persist:
They’d none of them be missed.
They’d none of them be missed!

I’ve got them on the list, I’ve got them on the list;
And they’ll none of ’em be missed, they’ll none of ’em be missed.

There’s the bacon-rasher bookmarker and others of his ilk –
We just can’t coexist, so I’ve got ’em on the list.
And people who eat pizza, chew tobacco or drink milk
In the library’s hallowed midst! They never would be missed.
Then the people who assume you know their weight and date of birth,
And those who think that calling you a [BLEEP] is cause for mirth.
The clever ones who think that we’re the lowest of the low,
The stupid ones who cannot tell an index from their toe.
And that singular annoyance, who you simply can’t assist –
I don’t think he’ll be missed
No, surely won’t be missed

Yes, I’ve got him on the list, yes I’ve got him on the list;
And I don’t think he’ll be missed, I’m sure he won’t be missed!

And that idiot who uses Sellotape to ‘fix’ the books
Why couldn’t she resist?  I’ve put her on list!
And leering people, coming in who give us creepy looks
They never will be kissed, and they truly won’t be missed!
Plus the FBI and others, they’re too nosy to abide
Or those who think you’ll never know that they have baldly lied
And anyone who hurts the books – how can they sleep at night?
But I can see this list is rather full, has reached it’s height.
And there’s many other patrons who could surely make the list
And they’d none of them be missed – they’d none of them be missed.

You may put them on the list, you may put them on the list;
And they’ll none of ’em be missed, they’ll none of ’em be missed!

Not just a case of the blues

Recently, I have noticed some of the warning signs that I might be heading for a thrilling return trip to the land of clinical depression.  So this weekend, one of my fun jobs has been to speak to various people I am close to, a support network if you will, and warn them.  It’s never a fun journey, either for me or those who accompany me on the road, so I hope I’m mistaken.

Come to think of it, a return trip is a fairly inaccurate description to use, as it is an illness which doesn’t tend to leave me completely, but bubbles away in the background.  Most of the time, though, I can deal with any minor symptoms that rear their ugly heads and just get on with my life.  The drugs aren’t worth the side-effects and psychotherapy has never helped, so I’d rather not have to seek medical advice about it ever again.

Clinical depression is a widely misunderstood condition, and I have spent quite some time over the last couple of days trying to write a useful, interesting post which could help others understand it.  No joy,I’m afraid, so poetry will have to suffice.  One of my poems on the subject can be found on-line already: The Flame.  The poem that follows is a less polished reaction, written during the Christmas vacation in 1998:

Tears come unbidden
Hidden fears rise
Confusion rears its head
as darkness moves in

All sense departs
Control is lost
Of emotion
Of thought
Of action

Sanity fights a losing battle
Joy and peace lie submerged
with personality

But life stays afloat
Spirit survives
In the safest of hands, I can never be lost

It’s interesting that this is the most optimistic diary entry from that time.  The rest are in prose, and are far less positive.  I’m also intrigued by that lone comma.  I don’t know if the poems or the post are at all enlightening for anyone, and I hope this hasn’t scared any of the readers of this blog who know me in the outside world.  I’ll be fine, but if I look or act more ‘down’ than usual, please don’t tell me to cheer up, or I may have to kill you.

View from the office window [Haiku]

Moorhens by the pond
Built like dinosaurs, they stalk
Chasing the blackbirds

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