time to focus

Yesterday, I posted the thousandth post on this blog. That means today’s post is number one thousand and one.

As soon as I thought of that number, I found I had the 1960s carpet cleaner jingle in my head:

That in turn reminded me of my time as an EFL teacher and the Spanish student, Diego, who came to class without his deberes. When I asked where his homework was, he replied: “In my carpet.”

A brief discussion followed on the difference between “in” and “on”, but he didn’t seem convinced by my insistence that it should be “on my carpet.”

I, too, remained somewhat bemused. So I asked him, “Where’s your carpet, Diego?”

“At the university.”

The other students all seemed to be happy with this conversation, but it was clear to me that there was a communication problem. Eventually, I learned a new Spanish word: carpeta. Not “carpet” at all, but “folder” or “file”.

The next photo is of Spanish carpets – or perhaps rugs – hung out on the line on the last day of August a few years ago, ready to have the summer dust and dirt beaten out of them before autumn came traipsing its muddy feet across the floors.

carpets hung on a washing line

It wasn’t until I lived in Spain, where almost all houses and flats have tiled floors and rugs, that I thought to question the hygiene of having wall-to-wall carpets in a house for years with no more than cursory vacuuming to keep them clean.

Which brings us back to the carpet cleaner, though now I’m wondering if it was in fact for a flying carpet: the number 1,001 is surely even more famous for its associations with Scheherazade and the Arabian Nights. Writing a blog is a bit like spinning a never-ending story, even if I don’t risk losing my life when I fail to post.

Sometimes, writing a blog is like falling into Alice’s rabbit hole; sometimes it’s like wandering in the labyrinth, following the thread and hoping you’re heading towards the light, not just getting yourself in deeper by the sentence. Certainly for me, one of the fun things about writing here is diving in after the red herrings and finding where they lead.

Sometimes, though, rather than playing at word association games and allowing your brain to leap from one idea to the next without a plan, it’s a good idea to stop and rein in the galloping thoughts; to pause and take time to sit in silence and disconnect.

Havind reached 1,001 posts, it seems that such a moment of focus might be a good idea. Here, then, is a section of a longer poem that encourages you to do just that. As it’s intended for performance, I suggest you read it aloud.

Draw your thoughts
Draw them          upwards
and into your skull.

how the brain attaches to the bone
with fibres, membrane, filaments,
cobwebs of memory.

Reach inside and carefully
               your brain
from the corners
of your skull.

Release each filament in turn.
Detach the membrane,
from the cranium;
sweep clean the cobwebs,

(As you move on
to each new point of contact,
the detached points will try
and reattach.
Be patient.
Practice helps.)

Concentrate          and try to reach
a point of equilibrium,
the stable moment where
each point of pull          is balanced
and the brain
               is held
                         in equilibrium.

Observe the gap between brain and bone.

Observe the empty space
where no



black cat paws 
And then I pressed ‘publish’ by mistake when I wanted to end with another kind of paws.

Ah well, when I reach post 2,001, I can try again, I suppose.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

5 thoughts on “time to focus”

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