Never give up
get home after an undisclosed
absence abroad (say seven days)
to find your life in
chaos wife in hospital note
in red ink left on
the coffee table explanations given
gratis by your father who
can’t hear the doorbell nor
is he aware of any
of the names of any
of the main protagonists it’s
a rainy night and nothing
for it but to drive
to the hospital (wherever that
might be) and fight for
parking in the truncated parking
zone – crowded out by their
new building – make your way
to the curtained alcove hone
in on the source of
disturbance see her hear her
voice breathe deeply understand the
cat’s hysterical reaction but transcend
it hug her tell her
about the presents you’ve brought
back for her leave her
behind eventually having been seen
(not moved) by the doctors
then go home
Author note: This poem, ‘Never give up,’ seems to fit best into your category of ‘poems off-piste.’ It’s a pure transcript of experience, written at a time in which all the poetry I came out with seemed to demand elaborate amounts of scaffolding to make any sense at all.
Alistair Paterson printed it in Poetry NZ in 2012, and it’s also available online on a website linked to one of my fiction projects, The Annotated Tree Worship (forthcoming later this year). He queried the use of the word ‘hone’ – as in to ‘hone in’ on something – suggesting ‘home in’ instead. I kept on hearing ‘hone’ in my head, though, and so stuck to the immediacy of my first impression.
I feel that there’s a lesson there somewhere, though I’m not quite sure what it is: keep on cutting back on the undergrowth and be faithful to the actuality of experience, I suppose.
Jack Ross is the managing editor of Poetry New Zealand, and works as a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Massey University’s Auckland Campus. His latest book, The Annotated Tree Worship, is due out from Paper Table Novellas in late 2017. He blogs here.
From Paula: For Poetry Shelf’s Winter Season, I invited 12 poets to pick one of their own poems that marks a shift in direction, that is outside the usual tracks of their poetry, that moves out of character, that nudges comfort zones of writing. It might be subject matter, style, form, approach, tone, effect, motivation, borrowings, revelation, invention, experimentation, exclusions, inclusions, melody …. anything!