Poetry – The End (A Villanelle for Year 12, 2020)

Hey everyone,

If you know me, you know that I love being a teacher because I love working with kids and learning with them. It is a tiring and heartbreaking and frustrating and beautiful job, which I wouldn’t change for the world.

My students this year have gone through so much. They have worked so hard, in spite of being locked down and shut away, in spite of their parents losing their jobs, and in spite of the constant, overriding fear that COVID-19 has brought to them. More than ever, I am proud of this cohort of kids for making it through the year, and still managing to have smiles on their faces whenever they walk into my classroom.

I couldn’t be luckier to teach these kids.

So I wrote a poem for them in the place of a message that I would normally send to have put in their Yearbook.

It’s a message of hope and courage in uncertain times, written in my favourite form of all – the Villanelle (it’s also in iambic tetrameter for those keeping score).

This isn’t just for one kid, one class, one grade, one school, one state, or one country. It’s for all those kids who are leaving school this year into a world that’s on its head. You’ve done your best. You’re wonderful. You’ll do great things.

Enjoy.

The End

A Villanelle for Year 12, 2020

But now, at last, it’s time to send
into that great unknown, to you,
the message that it’s not the end

of all your learning, all your friends,
and any chances that are new.
But now, at last, it’s time to send

you on your way. They’re twists and bends,
the trials that you’ll make it through –
the message that it’s not the end,

and with some time, some hearts will mend,
but you’ll be you; and you’ll be true.
But now, at last, it’s time to send

a great fanfare into the skies, lend
your souls some courage as you flew
the message that it’s not the end

so far away rules cannot bend.
For then you’ll see the truest view:
that now, at last, it’s time to send
the message that it’s not the end.

Poetry – In the morning

Hey,

Not a huge amount to say about this one, apart from the fact it struck me during work and I just had to write the damn thing down before I lost it, like I have done with so many poems in the past.

I find my poetry comes in spells at times – which is a nice little metaphor because despite myself I cannot help but be enchanted by them.

Very self-indulgent, I know.

Anyway, I guess I was just reflecting on having a child who will be born into privilege. I don’t know how I am going to navigate it – I can imagine that society at times makes it really difficult to engender empathy in kids.

I guess that one of my greatest fears is that my child may not share my love for humanity and all it’s wonderful manifestations and idiosyncrasies. I’m sure that over the coming years, my poetry will reflect how this is going.

And yes, kiddo, your Dad wrote this one for you before you were even born.

Enjoy!

Richard

In the morning

I.

I’ll never know what it’s like
to walk down the street
and fear the echo of
unseen footsteps
that haunt my
nights.

And neither will you.

I’ll never know
the foot on my back;
the baton’s crack
on my skull as I
fall to the ground
breathless.

And neither will you.

I’ll never know those
hunger pangs,
venomous fangs that
weaken me
’til my head hangs
down.

And neither will you.

I’ll never know the
sideways stares,
those unclimbable stairs,
the unspoken fears
of those unaware of their
hatred.

And, I hope, neither will you.

And while
I know the searing pain
of a mind untamed
held caged
beyond the stark white page
the rage against myself
age upon age upon
age of acting on this
mortal stage –

I hope I can protect you from that, too.

II.

You and I, we’ll never know.
Not really.
But if we see the world
clearly, even through your bleary
eyes in the morning of your
life;

If we let you be you,
if your love is true,
and you see the pain that can ensue
from tortured difference,

then maybe we can look
them in the eye,

and maybe we can
reach out for that blue,
blue sky,
and walk with them, together,
hand in hand.

Poetry – Into the wind

Hey everyone,

I felt like it was time to have a crack at a poem, so I just let this one flow out of me and let my mind decide where it would take me.

I feel as though there’s some uncharacteristic optimism in this one and I think there’s a possibility that the imminent birth of my child is pushing me towards some more coherent and focused positive thoughts that have been missing from my world for a while. At the moment I am just taking each day as it is, and seeing where I end up by the time I go to bed, which seems to be working okay for now.

Let’s see where it will take me.

Enjoy the poem.

Richard

Into the wind

and what will happen
if I just
throw it all into the wind?

let my thoughts unwind,
that unkind kind,
that plagues my mind

that just won’t help me find
myself again.

and what will happen
if I just
let it go?

those who know, know
no-(single)-thing
can put me back
together again:

I’ve fallen off
that wall before

I know that pain

know its name

know that every single
gain I make against it
will in time become a new
sublime reminder of the
scars I will obtain.

I’m the mad king
of my own fortune

I importune my
thoughts

to have a fortitude
I’ll never know,
grow beyond the realm
I softly hold
between my hands.

but what will happen
if I just
throw it all to space

and let it race
beyond our sun
our stars
to the void
above?

I suppose I’ll never know

at least until I
sow new seeds

new thoughts

until the things I knew
become the things I
used to know;

the things I used to grow.

and then I’ll throw it all
into the wind

and wait