After ‘Queen Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard, 1533 – 1603

Oh, I bet that dress was heavy,
dripping with pearls and jewels,
and hangers on. The puffed up
sleeves on those young arms.
That frosty veil of lace
cloaking your drooping shoulder.

And that skirt.
Double, triple, layer
of silk and taffeta
and deep piled velvet,
dragging in the dirt,
wicking up the mire,
all heaped on your
virgin hips.

Did it weigh on you?
Did you need the fancy collar
to hold your chin aloft,
or just to stop the chain
from chafing
that pale and slender neck?

On Writing Long Lines

As you may know, I’m currently getting to grips with a Masters in Creative Writing with the Open University.  As an exercise we were asked to look at lines in poetry and experiment with using different lengths.  This is the lyric essay that I wrote as a result:

On Writing Long Lines

Well, I’ve never written a line this long

before, I’ve always gone the short route, yes

shorter even than this which seems to me to be

rather overlong, rather, you know, unnecessarily

wordy. It’s true, I’m not saying much, not capturing

your interest. See, I’m not fluent in this kind of thing, not

experienced in these long poetic pieces that successfully play

with language. Those lines that are musical, that live on in the ear

like a snapshot of a really good memory from years ago when you went

to the beach and laid prostrate for eight hours reading your favourite novel

of all time. Or that time when you danced until three under a full tropical moon

and, after the hangover wore off, you hummed the tunes for days on end never wanting

to lose that feeling of abandonment. But as you know, we all have to knuckle down and when

we’re asked to write in different lines, being creatures that need approval, we do as we are

told, even though its alien, it makes us feel weird inside, it makes our voices shake

and tremble towards the end as our breaths run out and our brains just can’t

take anymore. And so I’ve done it. I’ve written lines that maybe are not

poetry. Maybe they are. Who is to say?  All I know is that in future

I’ll stick to my own little way and I’ll speak loud and clear

and in tiny lines of just three feet, no more than that,

and I doubt I’ll ever pen a poem using long lines

such as these, ever, no never, again.