This week on the blog we are sharing an extract of a long poem written by Derek Read, one of our community correspondents. Derek came to our recent creative non-fiction writing workshops and contributed some beautiful poetry, as well as trying his hand at personal writing. At these workshops, Derek shared his long poem, ‘Journey into Light’ which was written almost thirteen years ago. He said that the poem as a whole is about:
Journeys actual and spiritual. The poem is set in Tollcross, Glasgow and the Isle of Arran which is one of my spiritual homes and a place I have visited often. Some of my friends who live there have sadly passed since this poem was written. I was sad when I was writing the poem, and it just appeared over maybe two or three sittings.
The first section of ‘Journey to Light’ titled, ‘1. Tolcross Spring’, is below. I especially enjoyed this section due to the visceral imagery of the weather, the occasional slide into Scots dialect and the brilliant description of what it feels like to be in a rowdy pub. Get settled with a cup of tea and dive in.
Journey into Light
1. Tollcross Spring
Winter, snow and chilled rain.
Returns after a brief spring air
Wafted into frozen consciousness
Will it not be done this dreich
Reminder of dark days, dark hours
And the clackety-clack of passing judgements?
A sparse cupboard, little hope
Sunlight, strong in light but chilled bones remain
The cat flits from patchy warmth
To patchy remembrance of warmth
Is sick on the carpet, a critique, p’haps
Of worn threads of past prosperity?
And yet, this may still turn
Blazes of bright spars of fire
Rekindle the embers of desire.
I launch a paper boat on oily waters
a shadow of another’s dream
a journey of sorts in another’s wake
wave upon wave
In the pub, the usual noisy voices
Moans, the hubbub and hubris of east end concerns
A landlocked paddle-steamer
anciently preserved to work its magisterial way
“doon the watter”
serves as a reminder to myself
that as I write my memories
I stir in death and distant echoes of a life
lived a decade or more ago
into the bitter-sweet mix.
I live in a cardiac nightmare
this threat of sterile health statistics
and feel a sort of contentment
yet wail at ignorance
a sea of fucks and cunts
unshocked but assailed
by the injustice of it all
bright barriers of tribal division
the green , the blue , the orange,
a few voices of untrammelled reason
the unrealised potential
We speak in different languages, different modes
I write, can speak of current affairs with some sort
of objective analysis,
or so I kid myself oan
relate, record but am lost in practicalities,
lost in my own head.
Shettleston now boats a book club
acquainted with Madame Bovary
agreed an historical oddity
but with little sympathy
for the erstwhile heroine
spoilt brat of country aspiration
self-indulgent bourgeois waif
So snow falls, my bills and balance unresolved
The faith, the seed, stirs in discontent
One shout too many, one drink too far.
So, there you have it! The first part of Derek’s wonderful poem. This poem was truly a joy to edit for the blog, with 8 sprawling sections and elements of lyric and epic poems. Although like all great poetry, in my opinion, it breaks traditional rules and defies definition. I’m sure we’ll be sharing more of Derek’s poetry on the blog soon, and we’ll definitely be sharing the rest of ‘Journey into Light’. I would love to share more creative writing on the blog in general, (as that’s definitely my niche!) so if you have any creative work you would like to share, please get in touch by emailing me at email@example.com, messaging us on Instagram at @mindwaves_scot, or DMing us on Twitter @MindWaves1