Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Migration + Memory = Identity

Memory Man (memories of migration)

Travelling here
Arriving there
An airport the docks
Or train station
Driving in circles to
A new destination

The market square
Distribution dissemination
Amalgamation of the human population

Economic rivalry A political survival to be free
Dig up the old roots Plant a fresh seed

Memories of love And all the things that we gain
Memories of heartache Those memories bring pain

I’m your memory man:
I remember for our future
Daughters and sons
Another simple human
With no alternative plan
Like yesterday morning
I’m trapped in the past
I can recall the world’s things
That don’t ever last


Digging for the human memory
Excavating in the soil for the soul of history
Discover a past to provide us a contemporary identity
Carbon dating swamp life diamond light Reveal to us eternal mystery

Fossilised fragments Of evolution In the dirt
From those days When dinosaurs Roamed the earth
Fire and ice Moving continents Across the great Divide
Meteor showers Shifting sands Rising tides Oceans that Stretched far and Wide

Cave man Neanderthal Mammoth and sabre tooth tiger
Sticks and stones spears and shields Stories 'round a campfire
We’re writing a book
And burning literature for heat in the funeral pyre

The oracles and poets Predict an ancient Grecian sage
Tragedies’ comic performers On antiquity’s Elizabethan stage
These are some of the things
Tomorrow’s child May consign to history’s page


From the pyramids of Egypt I gained second vision
In Mayan temples of stone I committed sins of submission
Building cathedrals with arches I rejected old gods through omission
As an industrial magnate I grew rich Introducing new forms of toxic pollution

Painters and sculptors Who brought us a Renaissance
Byzantine plots in the palace A sultan’s whirwind romance
These things had their moment And missed their lost chance

A cycle of centuries Millennia returning again
The sword truly is mightier Than the quill and the pen
As the same mistakes keep occurring What we call progress yet never learn

I’m your memory man:
I remember for they
Who have come and gone
Another simple human
With no ulterior plan
Lost in time
I’m chained to the past
The future is coming
But those days won’t last


Destiny repeats
And repetition is a fait au Complete
Victories earned through blood
And machinery’s heartbeat
To gain a few acres of fallow earth
Turn healthy agriculture to meat

You can see the fruits of time’s passage In the palm of my hand
Witness the seeds of hard labour Through the scars on the land
Watch nightly broadcasts As oil tankers dump their waste on the sand

Jitterbug jive and the twist That taught us to dance
For love of a fair maiden
Knights would joust with a lance
Events that unravelled
In each period’s particular Circumstance

Those fedora hats we wore Through the jazz age
Flappers’ dresses feathers and boas Were all the rage
These are some of the things
Consigned now to history’s page


New paradigms of thought Are a sensational notion
Inventions change living Setting wheels into motion
Discoveries made creations uncovered
Above the moon’s surface Rocket ships hovered

Secret air flights to foreign lands
Are the means and the ways
Fingernails chewed down
As the sentenced mark out the days
Special jurisprudence
Internment of hostages is the new craze

Gears and springs other winding things
The ticking of clocks buzzing of watches
A prisoner of conscience alone in a cell
Staring blindly at walls covered in notches

I’m your memory man:
I remember the wars battle weapons and guns
Another simple human with no alternative plan
Out of real time I’m chased by my past
Blown in the wind hearing a siren
As I am tied to the mast


The book has been written on tablets of stone
We translated the script from our own flesh and bone
A narrative forever missing the last page
No past and no history a freethinking new age

Continuous migration
A change of the season
A past full of memory
A future unknown
Spring always brings hope
Autumn leaves us
With memories alone

I’m your memory man:
I remember the end
When all is said and done
Another simple human
With no alternative plan

Nature’s struggle
Survive to be free
Put down strong roots
Grow a new family tree
* * *

I approached the Memory & Migration piece in much the same way I usually write for themed poetry projects .. research into my subject, notes of various phrases and thoughts that occur as I read and look, the beginnings of an outline, basic rhythm/rhyme structure, syntactical and syllabic edit, read through, edit again, review the subject, expand the structure to develop the cycle – consider repetition as device – a continuity that links aspects of the piece (it’s a masculine thing), reinforce ‘classical’ and historical references and study the parody, edit and write, look for the fun stuff in it – rhyme and word juggling .. edit and read ..

Sure, this method could become restrictive, locked in a loop of creative exclusion, but I enjoy operating in this matrix of function and find it extremely liberating ..

I don’t find it ‘sporting’ or fair to my subject to write in a personal, intuitive expose' type of manner when working to brief – and yet I generally enjoy ‘the finished product’ of these poems more (although all language is subject to change and re-interpretation) .. I reveal myself to all and their exes through this blog, yet I can shield my self behind a veil of universality and “fictionalised accounts” of the occasional happenings in and around my life while still engaging an intimate and honest expression of my own feelings .. it’s a freedom I assure you .. however, every word of the story is true - according to history, and memory ..

The Memory & Migration exhibition including visual art from the
Cruiser international art collective showed at Deda, Derby, through 27th March 2010 ..

* * *