Non-Fiction (a catharsis)

Would like to be so clever—
put it all on the page in some obscure manner
that would make you go,
“Oh, isn’t this deep, and beautiful
and worthy of acclaim?”

The bottom line is this is not going to be
a very good poem. 

I may not ever be ready
to share what’s really in my head,
how it replays those words,
“just before I slit his throat”
over and over.

Don’t want to say I’m haunted
by the true crime,
but it’s sitting there
under the surface,
every time I turn from the window
and the natural world.

I catch myself thinking:

Don’t forget to lock the door.
Don’t stop to play the Samaritan.
Don’t ever drop your guard.

Maybe I’m too paranoid
to be reading Capote in the first place,
but occasionally,
there’s that darkness deep inside
that must be satisfied.

All of us have the capacity—
all of us can dig a little and find
where evil lies.

Some of us will never cross the line.
(What decides who is on which side?)

But the reality is,
Evil comes out of hiding
to strike like a gator on a bayou
riverside.

They are out there-empty and black inside
waiting to make their move.

We all know this, yet it’s so
easy to put the facts out of mind – to forget.

Don’t ever forget.

In the beginning I disclaimed
about being clever.

Good thing I did.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2017

Women: Can’t live with ‘em…

squirrelly1 005

I came across this poem in an anthology that I have – I keep it in the bathroom so I can flip through it at random when I have a quiet moment (although I am often distracted by the swish of Red’s ginger tail – waiting on a pull).

The book was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law (a couple of years ago) and at first glance I took it to be one of these dime-a-dozen floral-covered collections that are podged together and sold as the perfect gift for anyone who “likes poems”. I was inclined to tuck it away on the shelf and not even open it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was tidying up said shelf and as it is narrow and tall, I found myself at the end of my work with a few books that didn’t fit. I often cull my collections of cds, books and other things and so a couple of the books went into the bag bound for the local Goodwill store. The little hard-cover anthology, however, I decided to keep and stick in the loo along with the Geist and Dwell magazines, The Pears Ultimate Quiz Companion and Kevin’s Italian Football history book, Calcio.

So, it happened that I picked up the little poetry book the other morning and flicked the gilt-edged pages (always a tactic to lure unsuspecting buyers, in my opinion) and stumbled upon the following startling piece. As I read it, I could not but wonder if Johnny Cash was familiar with this when he wrote the song, Delia’s Gone.

Then, doing a bit of research on this new-to-me poem, I discovered it was turned into a well-known song. Tommy Makem has sung it for years, apparently. The poem is obviously a thinly-veiled political vehicle and really, what isn’t when it comes to the Irish? Interestingly, the last line appears to change from time to time, depending on the performer. In my book it was “Dublin-made razor” the version below is “German” and Makem’s performance uses the somewhat innocuous (well, relative to Ireland anyway) “Japanese”. So, it seems that originally the poem took a strong religious/political stance, but nowadays we don’t want to offend anyone so the Irish sides are left out of it.

The Cash song depicts an outright nasty despatch of a woman by a wicked man, but I still think Cash could have had Bloat in mind. What say you?

William Bloat

(Raymond Calvert)

In a mean abode on the Shankill Road
Lived a man named William Bloat
And he had a wife, the bane of his life
Who always got his goat
And one day at dawn, with her nightdress on
He slit her bloody throat

Now, he was glad he had done what he had
As she lay there stiff and still
‘Til suddenly awe of the angry law
Filled his soul with an awful chill
And to finish the fun so well begun
He decided himself to kill

Then he took the sheet from his wife’s cold feet
And he twisted it into a rope
And he hanged himself from the pantry shelf
‘Twas an easy end, let’s hope
With his dying breath and he facing death
He solemnly cursed the Pope

But the strangest turn of the whole concern
Is only just beginnin
He went to hell, but his wife got well
And she’s still alive and sinnin
For the razor blade was German-made
But the rope was Belfast linen

Delia’s Gone

Delia, oh, Delia, Delia all my life
If I hadn’t have shot poor Delia, I’d have had her for my wife
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

I went up to Memphis and I met Delia there
Found her in her parlor and I tied to her chair
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

She was low down and trifling and she was cold and mean
Kind of evil make me want to grab my sub machine
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

First time I shot her I shot her in the side
Hard to watch her suffer, but with the second shot she died
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

But jailer, oh, jailer , jailer,I can’t sleep
‘Cause all around my bedside I hear the patter of Delia’s feet
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

So if your woman’s devilish you can let her run
Or you can bring her down and do her like Delia got done
Delia’s gone, one more round Delia’s gone

Murder in the…

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Hamlet Horrors

Every village has its vicar
In a British who-dunnit;
Someone’s always downing liquor
In the public house, to whit.
There’s a person bundling papers
And a butcher chopping meat,
As the children cut some capers
Round the bobby in the street.

The post office is bustling
With the people of the town;
There often is a schoolmarm
Or a justice with a frown.
A stranger always does appear
To throw us off the scent,
And frequently we come to learn
A local cop is bent!

One by one each body piles up
In a truly gruesome way;
The crime-scene crew tape outlines
Showing where the victim lay.
There’s a shutterbug with camera
Taking shots to show in court
And a coroner who’s crusty
Giving time-of-death report.

There’s the in-the-town inspector
Who’s called out to solve the case,
With his dogs-body detective
Digging hard at every trace,
‘Til the murderer’s in handcuffs
And sent packing off to gaol,
Everything goes back to normal–
‘Til the next mysterious tale.

From Cornwall to Newcastle
London-town to Aberdeen
Pick up a British Mystery
And say, “God Save the Queen!”

Kathleen Mortensen©2009

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

A Favourite Poem for Silent Poetry Reading Day (Feb 2)

Photo by daryldarko at Flickr

Porphyria’s Lover

The rain set early in tonight,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread o’er all her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me–she
Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever,.
But passion, sometimes would prevail,
Nor could tonight’s gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which dropps upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria’s love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

Robert Browning