Ward Family Poems
Some Old, Some New, Some /slightly\
Introductory note: Critics with hangups and readers with hangovers should
skip this selection and move to the next item in the chap-book contents. The
first four poems were suggested by the highly acclaimed Samuel Beckett play, a
non-work wherein a single actor, after the curtain rose, following the
playwright's directions, sat/stood immobile, and sighed, once, before the fall
of the curtain. It was all too deliciously erse-y terse-y. Undoubtedly a
masterpiece. And received with applause.
Poem without Words
Poem without Words (Condensed)
The evolution of new new age wordless poetry can be traced in the above
four anti-revolutionary works. Beginning in 2001, the poet's pioneering work
shows the ongoing refinement of the genre. The daring omission of words in "Poem
without Words" flows into the condensation of non-linear soundlessness of 2002,
leading into the untitled progression of the 2003 opus, culminating in the whole
magnificence of the 2004 masterpiece, sans title, sans words, sans everything.
e.e.cummings eliminated capitalization, Beckett discarded speech, inevitably
there came the wordless poem.
In a hitherto unreleased interview, the new new age, as distinct from the old
new age, guru grumbled at the interruption to his work in progress, but
condescended to offer some guidance to those who follow in his footsteps. He
recalled that, as a child given to ponder the mysteries of invention, he was
driven to the inescapable conclusion that everything was based on a hole, i.e.
on nothing. Begged to elaborate, he gave the example of a fishing net.
"First you take a hole. Surround it with string. Take an adjacent second
hole. Surround it with string. Continue in this manner until you have sufficient
holes surrounded with string. This is the basic composition of a fishing net, a
series of holes, tiny ones to catch tiny fish, bigger holes to catch bigger
fish. And with patience you bring home a salmon for tea.
"The hole, which was nothing, was the first building block. And it could be
easily returned to its original state, recycled in a sense, ready for its next
"It's the same thing with written words. They too are recycleable. Reduce
them to nothing and they can be reincarnated with letters."
Pressed to elucidate further, he explained it had often been remarked that,
to the people of his birthland, the half-spoken word was always relished and
"What more natural then, than the development of the unspoken word? Indeed
the need for it was drilled into every youngster of a certain persuasion in the
Belfast of my youth. As recalled frequently by my good friend, the late John
McGinn, a retired packing-case maker from that same city, the admonition was
always the same: 'Remember, if yer picked up by the RUC or B Specials, and
interrogated, whatever you say, say nothin.' "
The interviewer then asked: "So, in essence, your poems profoundly say
"Nothing--and everything," was the profound reply.
Since the above interview took place, startling proof of the soundness of the
poet guru's theory was disclosed in an article by Margaret Wertheim in the
Los Angeles Times, portion of which, reprinted in Canada's Globe and
Mail of March 28, 2001, boldly reported:
"Today, many physicists believe that nothingness is the foundation of
everything, not just the arena in which matter resides but the substrate from
which matter is actually constructed. As physicists envision the universe now,
everything that exists is just a complex unfolding of the underlying substrate
of empty space. This vision presents the universe, as English physicist Paul
Davies has summed it up, as 'nothing but structured nothingness.' "
When this was brought to the guru's attention, he promptly uttered the
immortal phrase: "I told you so."
Pressed further, he revealed that several cryptologists had congratulated him
on presenting the world's first truly unbreakable code.
Content in the assumption that that ended the matter, the interviewer was
startled to read the following item in the same Canadian newspaper, on April 2,
five days later:
A British art gallery has put on an exhibition of absolutely nothing.
Visitors have simply been confronted by the white-washed walls of the huge hall
at the Custard Factory Arts Centre in Birmingham, reports Reuters. A few
captions on scraps of paper or on a bus ticket have been dotted around the walls
of the display, titled Exhibition To Be Constructed In Your Head.
However, Custard Factory spokesman Miles Grundy admitted to having doubts about
the exhibit. "While this may be a good test of people's imagination, I
personally prefer art you can see," he said.
Pestered once more to comment, the new new age poet barked, "Plagiarism! And
not even very good plagiarism. Captions! Bah! The Grundys of this world are
"Go away. Go away! And don't ever come back".
Whereupon the interviewer slunk away, sunk in the thought of his own
A man's a man for a' that -- or is he?
Dullness doubled day by dayBrian Ward
the emptiness of salaried frustration.
Each day a string of automatic gestures, words, reflexes,
each week a
five-day sameness, each hour
a deadening identity of the one before and
forcing enthusiasm for things that matter less
than a wind-blown
A knock -- "Come in"; a ring -- "Hello"
contracts, reports, figures and estimates,
wads of copy,
someone else enslaved by print and press times--
be out fishing or following dogs with a gun
across the autumn fields from
Rings again--well, let it!
A man's a man when doing manly things,
creating, hunting, climbing, using
and thinking thoughts more worthy of his nature,
Not fiddling in an
office, selling space,
writing words, bluffing,
puffing his goldfish
in an artificial bowl,
bending his spirit to a clockwork
blinding the inner eye of fancy,
killing Time in scheduled
aborting the vitality of thought,
strewing the Boardroom
with liturgies of files and memoranda.
Rings again -- "Hello. Yes, speaking....
"Yes, sir, of course I will --
not at all --
No trouble -- delighted to help --
I'll see it's sent right
Note: The reference to climbing brings back one glorious summer day when,
home on holidays, Brian and I set out from Ballyshannon to climb Trusc Mór. A
long, long hike it was, up Higginstown Road, farther than I had ever gone
before, round Lough Melvin shore, to the mountain foot, and then up, and up,
until we reached the top. Below stretched the Moy and beyond, under cloudless
sunshine sky, curved Donegal Bay and the broad Atlantic. There was a cairn
there, rock piled on rock, from a time long gone. Then back we walked, ever
tiring in our pace, through Kinlough and Bundoran, my every bone aching. Next
day Brian repeated the climb--alone. J. W.
The emptiness, the loneliness,Brian Ward
the solitude of multitudes
Thoughts born to wither incommunicate,
a smile unshared, a bitter
a pain uneased by others' sharing.
The vacant souls, all clad in City grey,
the "Good for you, old boy" that
rings so false,
'cause each is each and each the other threatens
and pride of place. (God what is that
when everyone's an ant
and path is plotted
in the mechanised economy of anthill conurbations?)
The lunchtime pub, the bread and cheese and stout,
and babbled hum of
lime-light hungry egos,
and filthy talk of getting sans begetting
the vast vacuity, supplies the lack
of decent human talk and thought
human things that men might say to men.
Clío, the Computer-age Cat
Clío is her name,(With due deference to Pangur Bán and Robin Flower)
One known to fame;
That are really divine.
She reminds me of Noah,
And Moscow too;
Daisy and Gumby,
The Russian bravado.
But Clío is different--she's
Where they spilled milk
And sometimes ink,
Clío plays with
But what she prints out
Is only meowable--
I've tried her in English
And late Irish too,
Small Latin, less
A pinch of Italian,
And of French
Just a smattering.
darned if she
Doesn't know any.
She's mostly Burmese
With some slight Siamese,
And that may explain
Each day she spends
And she naps,
While I tap
And I tap;
And when she
She jumps on my lap
And refuses to leave
Till I stop and I pat
I will not reap what other menCharlie Ward
I will not sign
other men's effusions
Nor falsify by my subscription
Nor steal another's word
Claim false title to my
Paternity frustrated in its
Will not find
But fleshly un-ful-filled
Will father words
make all men and women
Sons and daughters.
Words good or bad
Words beautiful, self-conceived
In the hermaphrodite
Mind and heart,
Words ugly when the thought is base,
That pinprick holes of light in
The dark veil shroud of our
And let us glimpse of newness.
These words will be my own,
bear my name,
Will show the lineage of their paternity,
Note: "Words" appeared in a number of poems written by my eldest brother
and published posthumously in 1981. It seems a fitting end to this homage in
cyberspace to the members of my family. Breathe deeply.....and sigh. J.W. 2001.
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