The Poetics of Truth

Continuing with Dave Woods as poet in residence, I’m posting this from Dave. It’s a combination of an interview he did while here, with his poetic translation.

(This ones for you Pete)

the poetics of truth

(combining an interview with poetic translation by dave wood)
no really and truly – one side just backs the other
they’re all in their back pockets – everyone of them
they wouldn’t be there if they hadn’t a’
got paid – and they hand the money out willy-nilly

what’s real and truth – one side keeps in with others’ hands
back pockets full – the shavings of the rich keep up the ways
both sides get paid peace rate? let results be paid like land
– spread evenly – and when they’ve grown the peace – let cattle graze

if a pensioner is mugged – what happens? don’t do it again
be a good boy – don’t do it again – they get inside – lap of luxury
no bills to pay – i’d break the law myself to get inside to be quite truthful – it’s got to that point – and most pensioners are

what happens then with pain? the struggle of the elder ones
that brutal-kicked are kicked again and witness red
slapped wrists are given out – but what’s gone
before remains an angry word seeped in – undead

i was up at stormont for the seminar for age concern
and all the politicians were sitting – orange green black white
…all agreeing – they couldn’t give a twopenny toss about the
ordinary law abiding – god fearing people

each gather then – in stormont seats of power – wave flags
the flags so representative of what they are – all equal? –
yes –their twopenny toss – equal and tossed in bags
the bag’s no room for simple god fearing all

they close the libraries – they close the hospitals – they close
everything…good god almighty – people on the falls – on
the shankill are both suffering – both sides are suffering.. do you not think?
…and they’re getting away with it all…it’s all wrong

and down one goes – and another one goes pop – and suffers
like a flattened cake of hope – one library closes like a book
one hospital – the beds go rolling down the pan – utters
death rattles to the services we need but have been sunk

and there should be projects going out…every other week
that window’s broke – i don’t know why – what – what is there
to tell?…the politicians are there to get their photos in the papers
there should be more police on the beat – really – i think

that window’s broke again –it’s not just glass – it’s principal
– the fragile shards – the remains of us splintered like a scratch
that’s rubbed against our disbelief – and look at all
those lot – for photo’s sake – and smiles that generously match

i saw one last summer – riding along on a bicycle – i think
the police station’s closed there…another thing there – take sick –
what happens? – a friend of mine – her child wasn’t well
and she had to take away to newry i think – isn’t that right?
a child could die

to all our generations – where’s the health we’ve paid up for?
where’s constancy in law? and what about the our next in line?
our list of questions – diggings round for answers – more
questions yet to come – too long a distance – too long this time

if she rings the doctor – it could be some man that
doesn’t know the area – how would he know where
ballyvally was? I would hardly know…myself…
you know it’s all wrong – the whole system…

and wrong again – and in the twisting guts of the mournes
the system’s in reverse – the paths lead us astray
the doctor’s lost – one foot wrong and another falls
where no one talk to others – that’s the clay

[on reconciliation]…the people – you know the law abiding
god fearing people are – but you’ll always get you know the
ordinary people – like I have some friends of different religions
but it suits the paramilitaries to keep – ‘this is my territory’

who owns who and where and this is mine and what’s yours
does not belong – and down below the gentle simmers
of the people keep bubbling on and on – the swaying shores
between religions at the core have all but done and settled

don’t you encroach – this is my drug area – you know
don’t encroach – they’re like dogs pissing round a lamp-post
really and truly –put it as rude as you like…’this is my area –
stay away – this is my patch – don’t enter

encroaching – dogs sniffing – pissing at a post
and proud as you like…’this area is my own – now go on home
don’t you encroach – this is my drug area – you know
stay away – this is my patch – these are your bones

you’d be lucky if you were tied to a lamp post and tarred
and feathered…you’d be lucky if you got that – they’ve
let the thing go out of control…that’s what I think… they should
have nipped that in the bud long long ago

for many years – they never noticed what was brewing from those beds
they twiddled round their thumbs and let the bindings clutch
what thoughts that seen are tarred and left unsaid
a set of feathers glued onto a bird that’s said too much

[the way forward] if you get the politicians to agree – then
but then they’ll not – it suits them to sit gutting each other
on television – then when they’re in the pub – ‘what are you havin’. –
what are you havin’ – it suits them to keep their people

each holds a knife for the goggled eyed and for the stabbing backs
behind closed doors – the handshakes moving up and down
and let me get you one – I insist – gin and tonic – rum and black
the smell of fish is for the gutting of – what’s told is underground

if the people were agreeing – they wouldn’t be happy – I don’t think
do you not? you english people must think…they’re pouring money in there
what return have you got?…And if you’re an alcoholic – you get a week of benefits
they’re throwing money into their own thing…and there’s hospitals…

what could be peace is shovelled into masks and out of mouths again
what you hear behind the backs is not the stuff from out the guts
investments fall apart – the questions brew up – leave a nasty stain
there’s only some that get the benefits and others get the cuts

they’re always there for them when there’s a photo call
stop their money until they do something – [peace rate] really and truly
– by results – you wouldn’t get paid or you wouldn’t get paid
and I would not get paid if I hadn’t got out of my bed to go to go down
to Belfast to work

who works for peace? what price we pay – but wait forever more?
Which conveyer belt does peace fall from the end of –if it will?
and let them put their hands out for their wages – then check their scores
tot up their results – is peace a little nearer – is it still a bitter pill?

[work] I was with the civil service – I worked for a firm of undertakers
for a while – I was in the civil service up in newcastle police station
until I got phone calls – they didn’t like that – I had to leave it
but truly – it’s all wrong – wrong, wrong, wrong – god help you if
you got a job there

civil finds uncivility – the wrongness of the right and the righteous
of the wrong – the phone calls opened nests that could not be bared
for what the job entailed – let peace be judge of that – let fuss
be gone – let peace and all her hopes from the past be spared
let peace and all her hopes from the past be spared

  • Pete Baker


    edit and revise, edit and revise ;p

  • Rory

    Aah, come on now, Pete, arch cruelty does not become you and I don’t think it’s really you.

    Pay him no heed anyway, Dave. England’s third greatest poet, John Clare*, suffered greatly from the snobbery of bourgeois philistinism. He suffered surely, but his reputation only rises year on year across the world.

    * The first two are W Shakespeare and PB Shelley, but please don’t ask me in what order. Like my Top Two movies/novels they constantly change and switch as memory, rereading and reviewing dictates. The current movies vieing are (in case anyone’s interested) John Ford’s The Searchers and Terence Mallick’s Days of Heaven and the top two novels are F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. Of course all this may change by next week and anyway if you don’t agree – don’t complain – go get your own favourites.

  • Pete Baker

    Neither arch cruelty nor bourgeois philistinism *sheesh*, Rory.

    Just (following on from the previous thread) my personal, subjective, response.. it’s usually of more value than uncritical praise.. and I suspect Dave can make a reasonable assessment of his own on whether his words achieve what he set out to do.

    I have my own favourites, thanks.

  • Rory

    That was a good fair retort, Pete. I did not consciously intend to imply that you were a bourgeois philistine, but I must be honest and, if I read the sub-text of my post, the implication, nevertheless, hangs heavy there.

    I would be grateful therefore if you would please view this post as a more judicious exercise in revision and editing on my part.

  • Pete Baker

    Revising and editing has obvious benefits, Rory.. no? 🙂

  • Slartibuckfast

    The Spide Who Played The Golden Harp

    How the little grey houses seemed to burn brightly
    As under the moon blood red and crescent
    Thy effulgence did shine a vision most pleasant,
    Causing heads to turn towards thee, transfixed by thy finery,
    Calling, calling to thee for evermore,
    But still ye galloped on
    O horse riding spide

    And from thy hallowed fungous lip thy did bring forth
    Choirs of mushtachioed angels, coated in bubbles of cider,
    Throwing gasoline bombs of righteous spide fire,
    As thy winged steed did take flight through starry night,
    O harp playing spide.

    And how we did sing of thee, O one of eternal splendid
    As we watched thee rise transcended
    To sweetest nest, oh heavenly abode across the great divide,
    Pray purify our souls so to with thee reside
    O cloak wearing, harp-playing, horse riding spide.

  • Slartibuckfast

    Keady Talk

    Al bate da hat clayen aff ya boy
    An ya oul hoor
    Al tump ya wit me big boot
    Are ya a boy or a girl?
    Hey boy, ah hope dat’s not one ah dem funny fegs
    Here, away an da yer own town, dis is ar town
    Giz a feg or al break ya
    Laugh at ma fringe again and al break ya
    Ya must be a homo – al break ya
    Al break ya
    Wat does dat joke mean, ah don’t get it
    Ah fancy me sister


  • Slartibuckfast

    Aunties Bloomers

    Gazing out my small bathroom window
    With glazed eyes in the near dark
    I expect to see grey houses, grey people
    But, instead, with wonder, happen a glance
    Upon a sweet delightful dance
    Taking place around a washing-line
    In an old ladys little garden yard,
    A dance involving the wind with pairs of bloomers, four in all,
    White and torn, big as cows
    Streched by years, marked by horror,
    Yet alive with a quiet and subtle magic I just can’t explain,
    So, drawn, I watch these ancient undergarments
    Being seemingly caressed by some mysterious unseen hand
    Which causes them to move in and out and about each other
    Contorting in an hypnotic endless myriad of shapes
    As tangoing with the breeze they attempt to break free from
    the cruel biting clothes-pegs which trap them to this earthly prison,
    And watching this I helplessly gasp ‘how truly beautiful’
    And am almost overcome with the sudden urge
    to possess these things that are not mine
    To wear them!
    And know them!
    And love them!
    But I fight strong against this devilish lust,
    As I realize that to own the secrets of the mystery of beauty
    Is to miss its essence
    And its true meaning.
    I smile.

  • Rory

    Very good, Slartibuckfast.

    I think, perhaps, ‘splendour’ rather than ‘splendid’ may have been your intention in the last word of the first line of your final stanza.

    If I may whisper this enquiry quietly, for fear of eliciting embarrassing cries of derision from within the massed ranks, would you be so kind as to explain to me what exactly a ‘spide’ is?

    I honestly don’t know and have heretofore been too shy to ask. Maybe I should get out more.

    ( Herself is just nodding agreement to me,

    “Aye, why don’t ye? And while
    you’re out – stay out!”.

    She has a cracking sense of humour – I hope!)


    ’tis true what you say.

  • Slartibuckfast

    i dont know a fuck – i’m pollaxed. i had them poo-ems on ma competer thi years b ut i havent put the,m on the net in a while – poo-ety fovever.

    spides have tashes:

    Armagh Tash

    Triumph of absurdity,
    Dignity’s annihilation,
    You are not quite existing
    yet somehow brutal
    in your wispiness
    and a very real offence
    to the dumbly submissive features
    of your foolish sprouter
    whose shameless identification
    with your ridiculous fungal glory
    brings much mirth to us –
    the amusement hungry masses –
    whose silent laughter
    payes ample tribute
    to folly’s gormless legacy.

    Oh comedic growth!!
    So perfect in your silliness.

  • Rory

    Yes, ‘moustaches’, I see. Thank you. Very kind. Do carry on.

  • Nevin

    Why can’t they write more material in the style of The Cruise of the Callabar? Now that reminds me of some great nights in the Glee Club, staged in the Queen’s Student Union McMordie Hall down at the bottom of University Square back in the early 1960s. There’d be Phil Coulter on piano, Sean Armstrong doing recitations, the Fresher’s spot, community singing as a warm up and the song sheets metamorphing into paper darts – and maybe someone like Helen Shapiro dropping in for a few songs after their concert in down town Belfast was over. It was great crack and very ‘ecumenical’. Sadly, the flood of camaraderie subsided and the dreary staples of unionism and nationalism reared their ugly heads again …

  • Moochin photoman

    There once was a spide in Belfast
    Who walked with a bottle of Buckfast
    “He should have been arrested”
    the policeman attested…..
    but he had too many mates to contest it.

  • Nevin

    Moochin, shouldn’t line five rhyme with the first two?

  • Moochin photoman

    Probably but then i should have paid attention more at school

  • Moochin photoman

    Upon consideration,the last line could read….

    “Surrounded, I had to leg it fast”

  • Nevin

    Moochin, here’s a little guide for limericks. Don’t forget to count your syllables.

    Five line poem or verse, of unique rhythm (iambs and anapests).
    First two and final lines of eight to ten syllables, third and fourth of five or six.

  • Moochin photoman

    Thanks Nevin, I guess i’ll stick to my usual visual language then

  • Slartibuckfast

    ‘I think, perhaps, ‘splendour’ rather than ‘splendid’ may have been your intention in the last word of the first line of your final stanza.’

    no! damn you you fool but no.

  • Rory

    Oh, I get it – so long as it rhymes it doesn’t have to make sense. I am a fool indeed.

    I clearly see now that you are making the dialectical leap from rap by dispensing with any of those silly remnants of comprehendibility to which it still insists on clinging. Eliot would be jealous.

  • slartibuckfast

    I don’t know because I’m not as clever or as well read as you and I stopped reading after the 2nd line.

    Nevin: Are you the ‘Cobblers’ Nevin from DC?

  • Rory

    Well that’s me shot down, not to mention the loss of royalties on the reduced readership market after the second line. Back to the day job then!.

  • Slartibuckfast

    ‘Back to the day job then!.’

    Aye. What’s the going rate for a thesaurus these days?

  • Rory

    You should be able to pick one up on a market stall, or on Amazon, for around £2. Good thinking – they come in handy for the consumate poet.

  • Slartibuckfast

    No, I meant how much do you get an hour for working as one.

  • Nevin

    Yes, Br Slarti, the one and only.

  • Slartibuckfast

    ‘the one and only’

    Thank fuck for small mercies.

    Come along and say hello to the old crew:

    There’s no Jesuits about I swear. None that bite anyway.

  • Nevin

    Thanks for the invite Slarti but I’ve only really got time for one board and it’s Slugger at the moment.

    PS What devious political activities are the Jesuits up to at present? 😉

  • Slartibuckfast

    They’re hiding under your bed if you want to go and ask them.

  • Nevin

    Slarti, imagine the Life of Brian.