So thinks the horse: don’t like; can’t look. Blind Horse. Own horse were horse enough but if you could put the flogging horse off…its hobby is to eat of me. Horses stalking a Trojan make sense: horses pack lead in your town; eat beggars. I’m hungry…Horse it! wild horse wishes. Ride a horse; choke a horse; drag a horse to Dead Horse Mouth. Wouldn’t a doctor as a gift get high as a horse? I would spare a good horse to cart a horse. You can colour the heaviest horse. Horses wink the dark drink away. One horse don’t water the horse. Nod before every different horse.
This poem is rather dark for a lighthearted poetry blog, but it was an accident, I swear!
Cut-out poetry is a really easy way to create poems: take any text, print it out, then cut out the words you want to use. In this instance, I took twenty-two of the twenty-five horse clichés I found here, and played around with them until I had used all the words. (I ignored three unfamiliar idioms, and changed ‘beat’ to ‘flogging’, as that’s how I know it.)
The words you have in front of you will direct your poem to a certain extent – hence the dark tone of mine – and that’s really helpful if you’re struggling to write.
You are allowed to use your own punctuation. Subtle changes can help e.g. I capitalised ‘dead/horse/mouth’ to make them a name/place.
If you have a go, using my suggested or your own found text, do please share in the comments. I’d love to see them!
To compensate for today’s miserable offering, I will post another horse poem tomorrow, much lighter in tone. It was written about ten years ago, when I was in a better mood 😉
No image today – ironically (see below) – because of copyright issues. However, if you hit this link, it will take you to the image which inspired the poem, a lithograph by Breugel.
One plays the cornet One considers the violin One looks dementedly At the old mandolin All can read music Though some think, Why bother? We’ll just croon along To the noise from our brothers They are cats having fun Just one’s on the fence There’s also a mouse Looking dreadfully tense Back in the mouse house (A faux music stand) Do those cats even know Lunch is so close to hand? No matter. They’re singing They’re singing, and how – It’s clear those cats know They are the cat’s meow.
The act of creating art inspired by another work of art is known as ekphrasis, from the Greek word meaning ‘description’. One of the most famous examples of ekphrasis is ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ by the Romantic poet John Keats. This poem isn’t that, nor does it aspire to be; it’s just me having a bit of fun.
Using art/poetry/fiction/TV/movies/articles/music, etc., as inspiration is one of my favourite things to do. The umbrella term is ‘intertextuality’ i.e. one text inspires another text.
If you are new to writing poetry, a good way to get the juices flowing is to find an interesting image and make as many notes on it as you can. Jot answers to questions like these: what is happening in the picture? How many characters? How are they related? When is the image set? What about colours/objects/background? What is inside the bag/pocket/box, etc.? Any obvious emotions? What about smells? What are they saying to each other?
You get the idea. Now pick out what interests you from your notes, and just start writing.
We were eleven. Our love lasted a week. His ex complained I had ruined her life. She grew beautiful; grew up; got legs; got over him.
We were sixteen. Our love lasted one sweet afternoon, trading saliva on my mother’s couch. He was the coolest boy in school; I was flattered.
We are middle-aged. Our love is a comfortable memory. Now he is a bingo caller and I am number eight.
I’m not sure if that last line makes sense outside of the UK. In Britain, many bingo numbers have designated call signs. Here are some examples:
11 = Legs 11; because the number 11 looks like a pair of legs. Nobody said it was a cerebral game. Incidentally, whenever 11 is called, the players wolf whistle because, you know, sexism is fun 😉
21 = Key of the door, 21; twenty-one used to be the legal age of adulthood in the UK. Segueing into another British tradition, ornamental keys or items decorated with keys are still given as gifts on 18th and/or 21st birthdays in this country. Does that happen elsewhere?
22 = Two little ducks, 22 – for obvious reasons.Players all respond, ‘Quack, quack.’
The more I think about it, the more I suspect we Brits are weird.
76 = Seven and six; was she worth it? 7/6d (seven shillings and six pence in old money) used to be the cost of a marriage licence. Nobody said we Brits are romantic.
88 = Two fat ladies…now you get it 😉
If you’re interested in learning more about our much-loved bingo calling tradition, check out this page.
I visited a man of the witch doctor genus. I have only one memory: his dangling penis.
This is absolutely true.
Okay, not absolutely true: I have more than one memory; but there was definitely a dangling penis. The witch doctor half-crouched as he rolled the bones and much that should remain hidden was on superb display.
I was 21 – that very day – and we took a drive out to the Valley of a Thousand Hills from the campsite where we were staying in Durban. I doubt that Africa has a more beautiful sight than those thousand hills in glorious sunshine. If you ever have the opportunity to visit it, you should.
We stopped at a tourist village and watched the gumboot dancing (another fantastic sight) and decided to pay the few rand to visit the witch doctor and have our fortunes told. Both of us being broke, Paul asked him to accept one fee for the two of us, telling our joint fortunes. He very kindly agreed.
Half of what he said came true and perhaps that was because we each paid half the fee; who can say?
Gumboot dancing began in the gold mines of Johannesburg.
The gumboot dance (or Isicathulo) is a South African dance that isperformed by dancers wearing wellington boots. In South Africa these are more commonly called gumboots.
The boots may be embellished with bells, so that they ring as the dancersstamp on the ground. This sound would be a code or a different calling tosay something to another person a short distance away. This was used to communicate in the mines as there was strictly no talking otherwise there would be severe, drastic punishments at the discretion of their superior. The mines were very noisy workplaces, with pneumatic drills at work most of the time; in those days (until the mid 1970s) ear-defenders did not exist in South African mines.
This poem is from my third (unpublished) collection about my time in South Africa, during and after Apartheid.