The Poetry Place

Inspired by The Ropes 7

Friday, 13 June 2008 16:02:07

Friday, 13 June 2008 16:02:07

Adolescent bums on stools
Teetering against lab benches
Doodling racing cars with
Stencils made for flasks and bunsens
And test tubes

Our eyes were open but
Our minds were otherwhere
He could command our upright spines
But could not demand
Our interest

Time lay heavy on our hands
And on our hands, our heads
- Heavy with explanation
And the warmth of the morning -
Rested

Until with the dry ironic voice
Of Science teacher, Mr Savage
'Do you see me doing that?'
We were of those poor props
Divested

I may play around with the order of the verses but I think this is nearly finished - or at least, ready to be parked for a while.



Inspired by The Ropes 6

Monday, 9 June 2008 11:56:14

Monday, 9 June 2008 11:56:14

This is harder than I anticipated. I think it's because I've chosen the wrong memory to write about. It's not just that it's a long while ago, but I don't think I care enough about the subject. However, I will finish it. This is either an additional verse or a replacement:

Our eyes were open
Our minds were otherwhere
He could command our upright spines
But could not demand
Our interest

I'll finish this on paper while I'm out over the next few days!  It's good to have something to work on while waiting for the train...



Inspired by the Ropes 6

Friday, 6 June 2008 12:19:21

Friday, 6 June 2008 12:19:21

So now I've added the recollection about the lab stools to the beginning of the poem. I like the echo of test tubes in 'Rested' and will be looking for a final echo at the end of verse three.

Adolescent bums on stools
Teetering against lab benches
Doodling racing cars with
Stencils made for flasks and bunsens
And test tubes.

Time lay heavy on our hands
And on our hands, our heads
- Heavy with explanation
And the warmth of the morning -
Rested

Until the dry ironic voice
Of Science teacher, Mr Savage
Removed that one poor prop
To our comfort

I confess I spent time deciding the punctuation in verse two. To make the meaning clear - i.e.that it was our heads resting on our hands - I feel the previous phrase needs separating and commas weren't strong enough. Hence the dashes.



Inspired by The Ropes 5

Wednesday, 4 June 2008 15:03:04

Wednesday, 4 June 2008 15:03:04

Time lay heavy on our hands
And on our hands, our heads
Heavy with explanation
And the warmth of the morning
Rested

Until the dry voice
Of Science teacher Savage
Removes that one prop
To our comfort

Along with the smells, I now recall the uncomfortable lab stools we sat on. Couldn't lean back so obviously we leant forward.



Inspired by The Ropes 4

Tuesday, 3 June 2008 14:36:59

Tuesday, 3 June 2008 14:36:59

Then there was the smell of laboratories in those days... strange sulphurous leftover odours - and gas taps for bunsen burners, which now and then we got to play with - sorry, work with.

I'm just letting my mind walk around this scene for a while. Time on our hands, heads in our hands... time heavy on our hands, better.  

We all had little stencils with which to draw apparatus - flasks, test tubes, tripods and of course, bunsen burners.  That was good. They could be used to construct drawings of racing cars and tanks, too.

 



Inspired by The Ropes 3

Monday, 2 June 2008 11:41:34

Monday, 2 June 2008 11:41:34

Here's a stream of thought that gets the subject going...
Do you see me doing that? / asked Science teacher Savage /
It was another lesson in the lab
Something was being explained
Experiments were good
I could have been a scientist
With pulleys and balances
Prisms and light boxes
Good clean fun one could understand
But not the monotony of explanation
The warmth of the morning
Our heads were heavy
We leant them on our hands
But not for long!
Do you see me doing that? / asked Science teacher Savage /
As if this was reason enough
I now love to hear these pseudo bits of logic
Do you walk on the furniture at home
Always risked the answer Yes
Though if we had those old desks
In our front room, we might well have walked on them



Inspired by The Ropes 2

Friday, 30 May 2008 14:21:14

Friday, 30 May 2008 14:21:14

Back then my world was very small. Family and friends were a narrow group and school comprised most of the 'outside world'.  Who your friends were and who you sat next to in lessons were crucially important.  Lessons were to be got through with the least trouble and often work was an unwelcome interruption to the business of doodling. My 'rough book' or GNB (General Note Book) as it was called, became quite rich in creative drawing.

So what is here as material for a poem?  What I lack is a moment - a specific event upon which to hang some of these more general thoughts. It's strange how few there are. Though there are more memories from home, I feel that the photo I have in mind requires a memory from school.

(Here there is quite a gap while I sat and thought.......)

I wonder if this will do - a memory of a Science lesson with a teacher called Mr Savage (!) in which I and others were told off for resting our heads on our hands - our forearms supported by the desk, of course. A common enough posture but one that Savage took against. He asked if we saw him doing that?  (Well, obviously not - he was teaching and we were just sitting listening!)   

Do you see me doing that? / asked Science teacher Savage / - is how we might begin.



Inspired by The Ropes 1

Thursday, 29 May 2008 13:20:53

Thursday, 29 May 2008 13:20:53

I've mentioned this anthology elsewhere ('The Ropes' pub. Diamond Twig) - an excellent small collection for any teacher of KS4 and 5, maybe KS3 too.  Each poem is accompanied by a photo of the poet taken in their teens and the writing is in some way related to that time, those feelings.    I may be able to find the photo I'm thinking of but I can remember enough about it for it to be a starting point for me too, I think.

It was a school photo and I looked a bit dishevelled, fair hair awry, but cheerful enough. What I recall most strongly is that I had a copy of it in a little pocket diary. It was covered by a piece of celophane which meant I could draw moustaches on it and see what I would look like. Now I have the moustache but not the hair.

Is that thought and those memories enough to begin with?



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