It sees to be a long time since I wrote something new. In early 2020, when the pandemic first started, I wrote a number of new poems, inspired by new lockdown habits and experiences. Then my friend Lucía asked for my assistance with prayer writing and the Modern Pagan Prayers project was started.
There are three books in the series, now – a total of nearly 100 prayers, most of them completely new, with just a handful repurposed from poems I had written previously. There were also a handful of pieces that were rejected as they were too much like poetry and too little like prayer. An average of around two new pieces a week is definitely not something to be ashamed of.
But we finished the manuscript for the third book early this summer and, since then, I don’t seem to have written anything new.
This certainly isn’t the first time this has happened. I’ve even written poems about it in the past, including this piece, written many years ago when I was living in a flat in Madrid.
How can I write,
caged in by walls,
smothered by cushions
and draped curtains?
Even my balcony is barred
like a prison cell.
Outside in the street
the trees grow tall
reaching towards the sky;
the swallows circle
high above the roofs:
I see the setting sun shine
through their tail feathers.
If thoughts could free me,
if words could carry me aloft,
I would follow them:
In my room
I have placed two mirrors
opposite each other.
Between four walls
I have caught
a fragment of infinity.
That idea of looking upwards, longing for inspiration seems to be reflected by some of the photos I have taken recently and is echoed in this other piece, also from my time in Madrid.
I have lost my voice.
The murmur of the traffic is enough
to drown the sound of my ideas. Star grit,
like broken oyster shells, embeds itself
in my soft palate and I choke
on smoky clouds as I aspire
to the feathered tops of pine trees.
The moon dissolves,
a luminescent coughdrop,
liquid on my tongue.
So I suppose I am facing what many people would refer to as writer’s block. But as these two piece indicate, I don’t expect it to be permanent. I’m rather hoping that, despite the bars and boarded up windows my brain seems to be hiding behind at the moment, I will soon step through into a more open and fertile space.
2 thoughts on “bars, boards & blocks”
Most of the greats wrote their best work in confinement. The trick is to let others squeeze through the bars with you.
Hmm… certainly, “Stone walls do not a prison make,/ nor iron bars a cage”
Also, what is confinement to one is a quiet retreat to another.
But whether you’re suggesting others be allowed to slip through the bars into the confined space, or slip through and out into the open world, I’m not sure. But, then, Wonko the Sane would probably have it that we don’t always know which side of the bars we’re on.