On Poetry

The first principle.
If you wait it will fade.
Explore the impulse. This assumes you have both inclination and wherewithal.

The second principle
Know something of it
Then, bin all you know
You won’t get there on rules gone stale in your head
steer by the new & fresh

The third principle
Let it settle then read it out loud
an audience is best

A large part of poetry is analysis of past works. Appreciating the work of others is fine, trundling through the way others have appreciated that work i.e. expressed their views by critique; by its nature is a constraint. Critiquing isn’t the same as creativity but is a step toward staleness. Ultimately, adherence to form stifles appreciation of the new.
7 The Best Kinds of Tragic Plot / 7.2 First Deduction (the Poetics)
It shouldn’t be predictable or too easy

Poetry can have rhythm of stress and sound without rhyme. Even repetition has value.
2 Poetry as a Species of Imitation / 2.1 Medium (the Poetics)
the medium of imitation is rhythm, language and melody

Some of my pieces.

1 Work (October 2010)
2 Desolation (July 2010)
3 As if you were near (October 2010)
4 Stoneyholme (March 2011)
5 Hospital (March 2013)
6 Football (March 2013)
7 Troglodyte (March 2014)
8 Evershade (July 2014)
9 Escaping the Guns of World War One (August 2014)
10 Byzantium Calls (September 2014)
11 Wee Doubter (August 2014)
12 Treasury Estimates (May 2014)


Forced rhythm 1. A world we all know.

1 Work

Hellish noise
Alarm rings
Dreary dawn
Day begins

Brush teeth
Wash face
Find clothes
Rat race

Hurts ears
Where’s my tie
Close to tears

Eat toast
Won’t stay down
Brew scalds
Pained frown

Late for work
Traffic jams
Lights red

Clouds scud
Grey sky
Heavens leave
Nothing dry

Park car
Make a dash
Brollies out
Mind the splash

Now earn
Daily corn
Then home
Hide a yawn

Back to bed
Counting sheep
Can’t miss
Beauty sleep

Forced rhythm 2 A world where defeat in battle was ruinous for more than the combatants. A time past.

2 Desolation

Cities crushed
Army broken
Desperate deeds
Last words spoken

Dreams die
Order lost
Deeds fail
Unknown cost

Bleak despair
Hope is gone
Losers slain
To a man

Frozen calls
Fill the air
Battle ends
No-one stirs

Victors loot
The battleground
Pray for death
If you are found

Vultures fly
From the east
Broken bodies
Are a feast

Blades and stalks
Bloodied grasses
Flayed flesh
Daylight passes

Gold to grey
All is done
Sun sets
Light has flown

Rags and tatters
Reaper grins
Gloom gathers
Life force dims

Moon rises
On the slain
Plaintive pipes
Slow refrain

When I finished writing A Guide to First Contact, my all-powerful, but lonely alien, is left to rue her feelings. Part of her thought appears here:

3 As if you were near

As in a dream
do my thoughts stray
And I recall
a summer’s day

Warm was the breeze
clear blue the sky
And always you
were by my side

The love and care
of memory
A fleeting thought
soon swept away

My thought and heart
still holds you dear
And more than that
I need you near

The twists of fate
dictate our stance
And need and toil
takes precedence

You fade to grey
the years pass by
All falls apart
my tears, my sigh

What is there left
now you are gone
A broken reed
a ruined song

A Guide to First Contact

Thirteen years of my young life I lived in a district of Burnley called Stoneyholme
A place: where you could be mugged in broad daylight by people that you knew; where the under-classes were their own worst enemy.
Oppression of the under-classes by the under-classes – a place to escape.

4 Stoneyholme

Mum’s out. Quick
Check the door
Open the sash

kitchen roof,
back street.
Where now?

Garages – full of cars
The rec where hard cases strut

Joss’s land.
Who’s coming?
Barry, Haz, Chris, Daz.
Football check.

through the fence
– a missing rail –
to a grassy field.

Coats for posts
– kick and rush.

Watch for Joss
– he’s there.
to blue-bell wood

one of many.
Boggy dell,
stunted trees.
Lose the ball
then rain.

past gasworks,
not the farmer
and his dogs.

Haiku. For many years I’ve been intested in the East. In pursuit of this I’ve extended my collection of penguin classics, and so come into contact with the work of Bashō, Wang Wei, Li Po & Tu Fu. Back in 2013, Jim, our resident poet suggested we try our hands at Haiku. I did two pieces….

5 Hospital

A building burns. Jump
An ambulance waits near to
ensure broken bones

6 Football

Chant away the light
Glory plays, drunken frays and
fun Saturday nights

Irwell Writers (based in Bury, named after local river that ends up as part of the Mersey) are responsible for Never Bury Poetry. I was nudged into producing a piece by the club secretary, Jim Taylor. Never Bury Poetry is edited by Jean Sprackland.


Dark beckons
  but each dawn
  urges me
  to leave the warmth
  built up over cold night

Throw back your covers
  Brave the new day.

I build my body’s resolve
  with 30 sit-ups
  a half-hearted lunge
  at 29
  propels me up.

Soon my eyes will dare the kitchen glare
  but not yet.
  I dress in darkness.

I’m up so down
  the stairs I go
  for each step
  shrouded in shadow.

The moment of light approaches
  Switch on
  Yet canny I wait outside
  for the ceiling strip to spark
  Its shine

  beneath the kitchen door


And retire with booty
  to my magnificent, radiant study.
  At 1200 lumens its dull lambence
  is easily 20 watts.

This next piece originally started life as Everglade. Several months ago my local library decided to run a poetry competition, themed on Enchanted Forest. Not considering myself a poetry writer, I was in two minds whether to put something up. On the plus side I’d read hundreds of fantasy books which over the years has included a good proportion of twee, melodramatic ramblings. Much fantasy in poetry is a let down. As a rule it’s contrived and even less evocative than what it apes. Poetry in the style of _____. Euchh

So, let the critiquer give it a go!

8 Evershade

Hard stones line the path
  A dank and sombre way
  Beyond the here and now
  Through hill and bough garbed glen
  of Evershade

Shadow sparkled stars
  Glint upon a grassed glade
  That waits forever for
  a Dew-dropped dawn
  That will never come

In Evershade
  The fairies are full grown
  Not sprites of meadowed flower
  But lusty spirits
  Driving stream, tree and beast
  Far beyond dormant muse and
  Formless psyche to
  Bright sentience

Mighty torrents
  Stretch and rise to walk
  And water the land
  Leaving life where they course

Forests herd on mountaintops
  Shedding leaves
  Potent like desert dust
  Blown down to pasture and dale
  Verdant runes
  That lie in Stygian heaps
  Oh cogent mystery of sigils!

Kine are not cows
  but majestic beasts
  Pawing their ground
  In horned fury

Black haunted steeds
  Flank and charge.
  Trampling all in their wake
  A sheen of glistening dusk
  Brings tales of dire war
  to victims

Ebon caves are guarded by
  Thrice cursed cockatrice who
  Turn tourists to stone
  as a trick and lead
  Dwarven smiths
  Who hew these to
  A finer state of statue-hood
  Than they ever knew
  In life

Speckled fish wait on the Moon
  Whose silvered embrace
  makes of their tails
  The stalks that men call legs
  And they wander the land
  for prey that they take to
  Cool dark pools
  Lured by fishy tales of
  Lucent depth

In Evershade
  Sunless dreams and
  Glittered gloom
  Ward off

Human nature is to idolise heroes – but here we have mechanised carnage – the message is how destructive state decisions can be. No heroes; no meaning; the minds of ever so many, irredeemably scarred; the unhinged left to find their own way in the world. War destroys civilised values. It’s awful. This war, mars the fruition of the age of the West. Its horrors are recorded at the very beginning of an age of global communication. Countless people have marked this in film, written word, song; it is commemorated by monument and institution. What more can be said?
I decided to take a step up the hierarchy of life and focus on different facets from a civilisation point of view.

9 Escaping the Guns of World War One

World War Plan
  A B C D E . . . .
  What alphabet has
  One in it?
  World War One

  Why one?

Imperial Europe
  An age of gold
  gilded by
  la belle époque
  broken by war

  What for?

Ruinous War
  France, Russia, the Ottomans
  From one sick man of Europe
  To many
  in one World War

  Not easy

Before war
  World wars have
  been fought before
  On theatres
  Much broader
  But punctuated by pause

  Does that make
  them fake
  or small?

Proxy war
  Mother country’s mission
  is flung far
  to acolytes
  do their bit
  and fight

  for that

Logical war
  Was the point
  to mow men like chaff
  a grim harvest of souls

  Sheep led by the Stupid?

  When words fail
  War prevails
  A diplomatic exchange
  conducted by cannons
  mouthed by the
  muzzle of a gun

  Commas kept in reserve
  to follow a Full Stop

National war
  Empires fall
  and see
  That red button
  of self destruction?
  We must annihilate ourselves
  to be free
  So ram it in, hard
  Wreak rape and ruin on all
  We can even slaughter our own
  Victims vanish as
  the tooth comb of
  State murder
  makes Soviets
  from survivors
  The patchwork
  of Habsburg
  is no more
  Yugo and Greek
  From Ottoman core
  and World War One
  Bulgar and Hun
  not Themes but

  new european

Now who wants to declaim:
“I was there!”

The guns roll on

The West called the East Roman Empire, Byzantine; the arab referred to is as Rüm. The Crusader sacking of Constantinople portended the collapse of Golden Age Islam i.e the destructin of the Khwarezmian Empire. Many of the references dwell on this latter point.

10 Byzantium calls

In English hills
  where gloom is more common than day
  busy fighting French
  we did not answer the call
  to crush Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn
  though few knew
  the Bull of
  Doge Dandolo
  was not Innocent
  of Byzantium’s fall

A lure for
  drifting from
  Siberian steppes
  Rüm to Khwarezm,
  Garden of Heart’s Delight through
  Temple of the Moon
  to the Pearl of Khorasan
  the Greater grasp of Seljuk

Such books that local man Ali ibn Sīnā had not known
  like thirty million souls
  dust to Mongol fury
  seed strewn across a doomed Golden Age
  replaced by a dark heart

Saith the Indian sooth
  at empires end
  ”Its day will come again”
  What day?
  Fair Shapur?
  or made with force, by the Pond?
  Tree lined Tashkent?
  or ruined Balkh?

Oh Azured Tomb of the King
  The web of years
  weaves gilt fancy and
  yokes the lost to spite that
  layer upon layer
  culminate in
  savage idylls
  which we Westerners
  turn from
  lest barbarous days
  reckless eyes
  to rack
  and ruin
  of all

A poetry colleague recently told me that polemic was fine. I was horrified at the thought; regardless of my political convictions, it was plain to me that characters and ideas should speak for themselves. Why would I want my characters to be sock puppets? But it’s done. Deploying it requires deft hands – if it’s clumsy¹ I switch off. Being force-fed someone else’s political convictions is neither interesting nor fun. The choice for readers is: can I be bothered to connect?

Until recently my view on this had been ‘I’ll make my own mind up, so why shouldn’t others?’. With the Scottish referendum, new ideas began and I saw opportunity for humour.
At this point I ought to add background. I consider myself English, however that Englishness derives wholly from Scotland. 🙂 I didn’t have a vote in the referendum (I didn’t want one) but the antics of the SNP tempted a poetic retort. For example their attitude on Sterling. I watched the debates and read the papers. News articles multiplied e.g. Scotland should not take on UK debt unless it can keep the pound

I was bred in Burnley where day to day wit is de rigeur and if there’s irony, the harsher, the better. I prefer to soften it.
For the following an SNP doubter decides to grill Salmond. What will Alex answer?

¹ earnest, savage, crude.

11 Wee Doubter

wee doubter
ma stance is clear
as ever it’s bin
can y’ not ken
ma questionin’

Wha’s in it f’ me
Why cannae y’ see
If a stay in wi’ you lot
Y’ll have t’ carry me
What will yea gee us f’ free
if y’ cannae answer that
y’ can’t debate wi’ me

Y’ see, he couldnae e’en answer a simple question

Na gi me a mandate and a’ll fight
wi heart n soul
tae get somethin fer nocht
just gi me y mandate
cannae y see m heart thumping in ma chessie?
ma bum’s no’ oot the windae
a cn wheedle aething outta nocht
jest gimme y mandate
and y trust;
A’ll pull somethin from the hat

In a similar vein… Salmond picks a fight with the UK Treasury.

12 Treasury Estimates

Behind the scenes the Salmon smile has turned into a pout
‘cos the Treasury have told him that his costs are all out

A’ll not be seeing
Ma febrile dream
Going down the spout

Your estimates cannae be true
It’s clear ye haven’t got a clue
Said Alex with a shout

But wee Alex’s project was heading for a rout
n’a still dinna unnerstan wha this is aw about


Aristotle references:

2) Poetry as a Species of Imitation
4) Tragedy
5) Plot: Basic Concepts
6) Plot: Species and Components
7) The Best Kinds of Tragic Plot
8) Other Aspects of Tragedy
9) Diction
10) Epic
11) Problems and Solutions

In the main I write SF. I mix-n-match genres to suit the story which by definition can include Romance, History, Philosophy and the Kafka-esque. By inclination the fantasy I do is realistic. I also write Noir and Historical fiction. More on this here: Introduction.


About Terence Park

Collections: vinyl records, comic books, paperbacks; I've plenty of them all. I also do spreadsheets.
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