The Art Of Seeing

There is a picture on the wall. It is titled Grasmere.

It is a print of a painting by W. Heaton Cooper.

There are other prints in the room, but this is the best,

much better, finer detail and delineation than the rest.

I have often wondered what it is about this print, my

favourite amongst our petty few, that makes me try

to analyse this quality, this reason for my admiration.

The answer came to me today. It is the visualisation,

not the execution. The way the artist sees the scene,

the rills and ridges, the colours, yellows and greens,

and the blue hue of the sky echoing in the silent lake.

I realised that it is not the making of art but the seeing

of it that sets the best artists apart from normal beings.

Look at the drawings by Da Vinci of water or hair,

how the lines flow as though blown or trickled there

on the page. There are other who paint as they feel,

like Van Gogh, or the true ugly beauty of Schiele.

The thing that I know from just looking at this

print is that I never was, nor ever will be, an artist.

Image from the Heaton Cooper Studio.

The Abandoned Homes

The lawns are untidy, leaf-littered,

bits of toys and garden tools scattered

all around. The ground is weedy, seeds

of unwanted things still hanging, in need

of attention, a thing they cannot find.

Windows made opaque by curtains or blinds,

or sometimes just dirty sheets nailed

up to hide the fact that they’ve failed

to cover their secrets and lies, their things to hide

from the careless world that waits outside.

These are the homes of the never-had, the ones

whose dreams have gone bad and beliefs are long gone,

whose hopes were abandoned at the school gates,

where the miseducation that they got from the state

gave them just enough learning to understand why

they would never amount to a thing, so they try

to live in a way that will give them some fun,

or at least in a way that will leave them quite numb

to opinions of others. They don’t even care now,

they see all these rich cows,

the ones who had chances

the ones without debt, the ones with finances,

they see them and their homes with their neat

little gardens and fancy nice cars and sweet

little children and they look in the mirror

and they sit back and wonder

‘how on earth did we get here,

just how did we get here?’

These are the homes of the abandoned.

I am not one of them.

I am not.

Where We Live

The small kitchen

In the little house.

The crack-paved street

In the city town.

The living room

In which we hide.

The sleeping room

Two people wide.

The lawned garden

A measured spot,

So many feet,

That’s your lot.

We all inhabit

Tiny spaces.

Where we live

Are just the places

Where we give

All that we are

To the earth,

Which doesn’t care

If we are here

Or anywhere.

This Writing Thing

This writing thing, it seems

like a curse some days. It makes me

no money

and takes all my thinking, all my

time and attention, keeps me away

from things I should be doing, family stuff,

jobs around the house, things that

non-writers do without even

thinking about them. And some days,

after fighting for writing time, causing

upset and anger and problems for

people around me, I can sit

and stare

at a blank wall,

with a blank mind,

in front of a blank screen

for hours.

Then three words come, and that’s it

for the day.

In disgust, I walk away, and stay away

for days, but it has me, this opioid habit,

it won’t let me go, and I come back to it

days later, and squeeze three more

petty little words

out of my head, and I go round again.

What makes it worse is this:

if I could sit here all day

every day

and do the exact same thing,

I would.