There was a little period in my life from when I was 22 through to 26 where each Christmas one of the things my mother Elsie would buy for me was a Diary. Each time she did, I made a resolution that I was going to write something for every single day of the next year. I always failed miserably.
Those entries I did manage to write usually included a brief summary of the events of the day as well as a poem. The poem was the most important bit. In the poems I would write about my most secret thoughts and feelings, my hopes and dreams, and about people and relationships. To save embarrassment if someone ever read them, I used lots of images, symbols and metaphors, to disguise who or what I was writing about. For example a girl I knew with long blonde hair was transformed into ‘the moon maiden’. (Ok you can stop pretending to dry retch now. No, seriously, it’s not funny, Stop!)
It’s a weird thing reading poems from a much younger me. Sometimes I think I’ve changed a lot. Sometimes, not at all. Sadly the vast majority of them are almost chronically cringe-worthy. Some of them are so heavy with symbols and images, that now I can’t even figure out what they were about! But I’m really glad I wrote them. And I’m really glad I kept them. It’s all the silent, empty pages that now leave me frustrated and a little sad.
Below is a poem I wrote when I was a 23 year old teacher and single. As I recall it was written between about 2 and 3 o’clock in the morning after I’d arrived home from a farewell party for someone I taught with. Clearly, I was more than a little ‘tired and emotional’. See if you can spot the ‘frustrated writer’ coming out in me in the last verse.
All My Friends – a liquid lullaby.
All my friends have fallen over
And they’re lying on their sides
All my friends are empty bottles
And they ease these chilly nights
For my friends I’ll write a love song
Something simple, soft and sad
I’ll invite a few more over
We’ll talk of all the fun we’ve had
You’d search the world for friends like these are
And no better would you find
For they give without receiving
And they just don’t seem to mind
I can feel the world revolving
Spinning slowly out to die
Twirling like a top in motion
Going nowhere, so am I
I went to see the moon at midnight
To make sure it wasn’t gone
But it had some pieces missing
I wonder who they fell upon
The clock upon the wall is ticking
It doesn’t need to, I don’t mind
It could take a rest I’m certain
That we all could spare the time
The moon has never seemed so silver
It makes me sad this song I play
Just like a boat that knows no harbour
My words drift pointlessly away …
PS: Back then my dream was to be a singer-songwriter, so that night, along with the words, I also wrote a tune to go with them on guitar. In my perfect world, Tom Waits would sing it.