Funeral – #poetscorner

In #poetscorner, Features, HOME, LITERATURE by Sam Prance

#poetscorner is a feature in which poets share a poem of theirs and discuss the inspiration behind it.

After a while, something happens to break the surface of your more or less composed life and show you yourself as a frightened child. I suspect this is true of everyone. I hope it is.

About six weeks ago, my grandmother died. Alzheimer’s and physical frailty had reduced her to the dust of a person, swept into death by a breeze of antibiotics. Painless: a very un-titanic finality. On the same day as my grandmother’s funeral, almost at the same hour, was the funeral of an acquaintance my own age. The day before she committed suicide she posted happy birthday wishes to the Facebook walls of several friends.

Grief hot and cold, anguish and melancholy. The burn of a friendship stolen from me was hot on my mind on the way to Little Missenden in Berkshire to bury my mother’s mother.

It was on this car journey that I wrote this:

so here are two at once

dead like it was nothing

what is this where to metafpuzicks

no this is synchronised diving

headgear yes but to the whyness mouthing world

ugly goldfish popping dusty guts wrenches how got it unwrapped

what bust you up torn across the face now doing what doing what what

one i knew old, one i knew young

sat into a scuff

dont look now but

the descending arse of the world

is cold spreading damp stain of arse.

one hidden one lost,


let’s dance over and falling until eyes turn red,

living, it is for them,

only but something.

let’s scream the cold of lungs out

and sit in warm silent black,

living, rage, ape rage and

cry a child a kinging crime

and just cry.

what else is at all,

what is there to at all?

i have forgotten if yes or no

too busy was looking at my bastard tear.

Apart from doubling the line spacing I haven’t rewritten what you just read at all. It’s consequently clumsy and I don’t even always know exactly what I wanted to say. It’s exactly a scream of confusion, fear, of anger.

On the 14th February 1957, Samuel Beckett wrote a polite letter to Eva Hesse answering thoroughly all her questions about various obscure lines in his poetry collection  Echo’s Bones. About a line from Serena II“in a hag she drops her young” – she writes, “‘Hag’ has so many meanings: a bog, a soft place in a bog, a ravine? I suppose you mean a bog as a composite of moor + toilet??”

Beckett replies: “Soft place in bog. No toilet harmonics.”

Was he right?

How is a reader like a piano?

How is a reader like a pianist?

What is a poem and how should you make one?


“…emotion recollected in tranquility…”

“A poem should not mean

But be.”

There are lots of ways to write poetry. You can do six on a clement Sunday morning. One is to take the raw ore of your emotion and hack at it until it reflects at you a little light.


Longing of outstretched kelp,

A face pressed to the damp Saxon wall.


So here are two dead as if nothing.

Metaphysics! this is synchronised diving.


Memory, light through glass.

A rainbow shadow, impossible to unprism.


I am so sorry that I have forgotten,

Busy looking at my bastard tear.

Frederick Spoliar

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