‘The Allure of Deformity’

deadflower

NOTE: This is a poem I recently submitted to a poetry magazine – unfortunately it didn’t make the cut, but I hope you enjoy it. This was somewhat inspired by the themes within Charles Baudelaire’s collection of poems, The Flowers of Evil.

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The Allure of Deformity

Weeds thrive in winter winds
Tangling beauty in cruel bind
Just like the dark thoughts twisting
In the deepest confines of the mind.
But who decides what is a flower
And what is a wretched weed
To callously cut and cast aside?
Who judges the sanctity of thought
And spits at words deemed impure?

There is an untapped beauty in it all
In every ponder, plant or creature
A buried goodness beneath sheer evil
And equally malice in the meekest eyes.
Neither can be without the other
There is always the enduring opposite
That clouds sight to the unjudging whole.

But our lives have long been drawn
In the stubborn shades of black and white
Blinding us to believe all is a battle
When reality yearns to unite.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M</a

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Weds Poetry Prompt: ‘Poolside’

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This week’s prompt: Write a ‘pool’ poem.

Bit late this week, due to…stuff happening. And no I’m not slacking – I did write a poem for last week’s prompt as well, but ended up entering that one for submission to a magazine, so I’ll wait on the result of that before posting that one. Anyway – a nice chilled poem for the end of the week for you:

Poolside

Only by the side of the pool
Can I make sense of it all
The calming little bubble
That real life can’t break through
Innocent days I faintly recall
Return after I leap in the blue
My fading spirit born anew
In the water soothingly cool.

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M</a

2018 April PAD Challenge Day 5: ‘Rules of the Real World’ #aprpad

bookandglasses

Day 5’s prompt: Write an intelligence poem.

Rules of the Real World

Isn’t he clever, they always said,
Spouting all those big words,
Nose buried in books beyond his years,
And attentive and absorbing ears.
But was he clever where it counted,
To the murky laws and rules of reality
That would emerge upon entering maturity?
Timidly he crawls out of the academic blanket
Where answers are no longer straight
But crooked, fractured, vexingly unclear;
And faces and moods prove harder to read
Than the comforting tones he so coveted.
His prowess for education did not prepare him
For the creed of common sense
Nor the complexities of human emotion
Where the mouth gives one meaning
But the mind confines quite another.
The facts, dates and trivia he has memorised
Make little difference nor impact
In the ruthless and unstructured world
That tests merely through its lack of clarity.

Last year’s poem for Day 5: ‘Oxygen’

This one was an interesting prompt – hopefully you find it a nice, spiritual alternative to today’s somewhat cynical offering!

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

2018 April PAD Challenge Day 2: ‘Self Doubt Portrait’ #aprpad

me-closeup

Day 2’s prompt: ‘Write a portrait poem’

Self Doubt Portrait

Crooked smile
Bulbous, misshapen nose
Bags and lines under eyes
Flaws he can’t help but focus on
When faced with his own
Staring back at him
With its human skin
Apologetic, cringing
In its sheer imperfection
But it is nonetheless his
The awkward covering
Of a caring soul
Who shirks from this skin
But still grins and bears it
Knowing he can’t change it
Or fake wearing another one.

Last year’s poem for Day 2: ‘Not Today’

Hm, an interesting contrast to what I ended up writing this year!

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

2018 April PAD Challenge Day 1: ‘Mind Map’ #aprpad

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So we begin this year’s April PAD Challenge – to start, with me catching up with yesterday’s prompt. This will actually be my 4th year taking part in the challenge – my first time was in 2015, which seems crazy…it’s always a challenge to write a poem every day, and I’m not sure I’m completely happy with what I came up with for the first day’s prompt, but I guess that’s what revision down the line is for…

At any rate – here is Day’s 1 poem – the prompt being to ‘write a secret poem’

Mind Map

There’s a whole map in my head,
Of unspoken paths, whispered instead,
Hidden passages and quick escapes
Dotted in a harsh and screaming landscape
Where these marks are quiet respite
From the relentless flames of life.

I long to take you to them now,
To the silent roads only I know,
Share those secret streets
That still remain unseen
By clouded and weary eyes,
So burdened by times behind.

I’ll share the city I keep inside
And the shadows where I hide
To you, my unwavering light
In the world’s unforgiving night.

Last year’s poem for Day 1: Odd Hours

This one was written with a certain friend in mind, who I now only see every so often due to them moving to the other side of the world – but every time we do get to catch up, it’s just like those old times again. 

Like this poem? Read more in my first poetry collection, ‘The Awakening’, avaliable NOW!

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Awakening-Selection-Poems-Stuart-Peacock/dp/1911476335

eBook-: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017BZBH6M

Writing with the Black Dog on Your Back

depression

As a writer, one of the worst things about depression hitting you is when it paralyses you creatively as well; so many evenings I have sat in front of my laptop, trying to will the words to come, only to either find myself numb and defeated, or berating myself in tears that I have no business calling myself a writer if I can’t even turn my inner pain into something creative. You could argue that perhaps I have set myself up for failure, after an entire day of being in the black dog’s grip, trying to convince myself that it will be all better in the evening once I’ve sat down with a cup of tea and do some writing – that will make everything better, of course it will! But no, either I end up going to bed after staring at a blank page for two hours, or else there are frenzied scribblings in my notebook, with portions angrily crossed out in frustration, starting again, barely getting five lines in before I decide that incarnation is utter rubbish as well. I curse myself as I think of all those other writers out there, who obviously strike gold first time and are completely flawless, and can immediately give birth to words that actually mean something, artfully arranged and dripping with effortless rhythm. I tell myself that I am a fraud – that I only claim to be a writer when in actuality I am a pretender, a liar – I’m merely someone who wishes they were a writer, and feels the poems within his own published collection sitting right there on the table beside him are actually utterly worthless tosh, and that no one would get or feel anything out of them. I convince myself this is the truth, that everything I’m doing (or not doing) is wrong, and that I may as well call it quits here and there.

As I look back over the crossings out in my notebook with a more stable frame of mind, I see the harshness of my own inner critic, many of the attempts reading exactly the same, but I have seemingly told myself each time that I need to start again, not even allowing myself the luxury of seeing where the words take me:

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the ‘surface’
Lies the darkness

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the surface
Lies the deeper and darker purpose
Of

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the surface
Lies the darkness in the heart of man,
The deep, burning burden

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the surface
Lies the darker and deeper words
All dripping with intent and purpose
And spoken with utmost precision,
Each breath

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the surface
Lies the deeper and darker words
All dripping with intent and purpose
Each breathed with careful precision
To

Until, finally – the next day, I permit myself to just ‘go with the flow’, my mind’s fog lifted, things feeling a lot clearer – and allow myself to just write the damn thing:

Down here, deep below
The senseless noise of the surface
Lies the deeper and darker words
All dripping with intent and purpose
And laced with sensual rhythm;
The smoky, sultry voice of the poet
Heard in secret spots such as these
For those bold enough to seek it.

The lower floor of the bar or lounge
Is the ideal poetical domain,
An alluring lyrical dungeon
Where touch is not used to entice,
They’ll seduce you with words instead,
Tongues twisting with tremouring rhyme,
Leaving an audience on its back, begging for more.

So, there you go! A vaguely suggestive poem about just what dark horses us literary types can be, rife for expansion and modification at a later date. The point is, I wrote something. It’s all too easy to put that pressure on yourself and expect a masterpiece to come flowing forth right from the first attempt, but of course it is not as simple as that. I would not suggest that you force yourself to write by any means, if you are really not in the right frame of mind, but it’s interesting to see how you can improve and adjust things once you come back to it with a more steady head and hand. I suppose it’s interesting as well that I found myself writing about ‘the darkness in the heart of man’ and ‘the darker and deeper words’, and everything being ‘deep below’ – what started as sounding dangerously close to something you’d expect to see in a disillusioned teenager’s diary morphed into a mildly humorous concept of the poet sharing their scintillating wares in a brothel-like environment (inspired by an actual movement which has now become a semi-regular event in my own town).

And at the end of the day, aren’t the constant crossings-out and startings-again the marks of a real writer? The marks that at the time I condemned myself so harshly for, are probably seen in the notebooks of any self-respecting writer, famous, published or otherwise. These will rarely be shared with the outside world of course; the rough first drafts, the experimentation, the half-finished or abandoned ideas – and of course we are not completely privy to their emotional state at the time of writing either, unless it somehow comes through in the words and themes. Even then, we are left to attempt to decipher this. The writer would not share themselves raw and naked to the world; they are wrapped in their words, where any of their emotions (good or bad) are presented in a carefully considered way, with a rhythm that is pleasing both aesthetically and audibly. This is what gives the words their power – a poet can still express their deepest emotional torment and weaknesses, but it is the way their pen or voice has expressed this that stirs and intrigues us so. The words are scars that, while still not healed, are absolved of their ugliness.

A poem that touches on the mysterious, often intangible relationship between author and reader is Charles Baudelaire’s ‘To the Reader’ (Au lecteur)*, and begins with a stirring description of these mental and physical scars (‘Folly and error, stinginess and sin / Possess our spirits and fatigue our flesh. / And like a pet we feed our tame remorse / As beggars take to nourishing their lice’.) It goes on to describe a creature/devil who ‘pulls all of our strings’, not unlike what we have come to know as the ‘black dog’. (‘A demon nation riots in our brains’ is a particularly delicious line, but also an all too apt and relatable description of just what depression can do to us). And indeed, as the poem ends, its name is declared – that familiar and numb non-feeling known as:

He is Ennui! – with tear-filled eye he dreams
Of scaffolds, as he puffs his water-pipe.
Reader, you know this dainty monster too;
-Hypocrite reader,-fellowman,-my twin!

I feel Baudelaire, in this poem, has done as I have previously described – turned his own anguish and turmoil into something rhythmic, something beautiful – proving that sometimes it can be worth the effort to express those feelings onto paper, even if it does end up needing some refinement later. I hope anyone who feels the black dog descending as they attempt to write finds some comfort and inspiration in this post – our pen is our sword, our weapon against the fearsome and dreaded beast – and writers should do everything in their power to fight back against it, and provide comforting and relatable words to those also fighting the same battle.

*’Baudelaire, Charles – ‘To the Reader’ from The Flowers of Evil (1857) – translated from the original French by James McGowan, Oxford World’s Classics edition

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Read my previous posts around mental health, including my potential poetry chapbook themed around mental health, ‘The Dance of Dark and Light’ (hopefully to see publication soon!)

‘A Letter to Those in Low Spirits’ (World Mental Health Day 2017)

‘The Dance of Dark and Light’ (possible poetry compilation)

‘The Darkness Within Writing’

Weds Poetry Prompt: ‘Versus Yourself”

‘The Power of Music and Rain (A Moment of Reflection)’

2017 April Pad Challenge Day 8: ‘A Mind Under Attack’

2017 April PAD Challenge Day 9: ‘So What Now?’

 

The ‘To Read’ List (Updated 22nd January 2018)

toreadpile

EDIT: Updated 22nd January 2018 – Alias Grace and The Blind Assassin added to list.

Last update to this was way back in August, apologies – but rest assured I have been reading since then (honest!)…

…As for the subject of this post; yes, it is the dreaded ‘To Read’ pile that, for those like me who enjoy a good book, seems to grow ever bigger due to the heavy demands and committments of our everyday lives. It became a bit of a problem for me last year, as I was constantly buying books from second-hand bookshops/charity shops, thinking ‘I’ll get to all these someday’, only to find I had so many building up in my room, still unread. It was at that point I literally sorted them into a ‘To Read’ pile, and began, you know, actually reading the blasted things, further vowing to not buy anymore until I had finished them. I’ll admit I make the occassional exception – if there is a new Margaret Atwood coming out I will either buy it or ask for it as a gift, for example – but I’ve generally managed to keep to this pretty well. So, in order to keep an actual list for myself, here are all of the books that have amassed in the pile, with links to their Goodreads pages (I will give my account on there some attention as I work through all of these as well!). Click to read on…

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