Look Up, Head Raised High

Poetry, thailand

Look up, head raised high,
Beauty hides plainly in sight,
Not just a blue sky,

In modern rushed lives,
Head oft down, in phones we drown,
Wake up! it’s a choice.

scotland-5012

Through the Window (On The Bus In Bangkok)

Poetry, thailand

Young or old,
Is there anywhere you want to go?

Look out for them,
Charging around, in a bright flash of red or blue.

You have to share,
But a sense of community can be found their.

Relax in your seat,
A moment of freedom is found.

Books, music, snooze or chat,
What will you do?

I will simply sit back and enjoy the view.

DSC_5347

Autumn Leaves and Haiku Thoughts

london, Poetry

perfect autumn tree

as autumn leaves us,
so do green leaves, goodbye with,
a final flourish.


I’ve been on an unnoficial search for the perfect autumn tree. I was starting to lose hope following a couple of weeks of pretty cloudy flat grey skies – that kind of weather just doesn’t bring out the colours. But alas today was bright and blue and I went to Green Park in West London. I found this beautiful tree. I think this is one of the prettiest I have seen in terms of colours.

I recently finished bloggingU writing201 poetry; my first foray into poetry. And the first form I learned was ‘haiku’. I came across a book in the Japanese language section of the bookstore on ‘haiku’ accidently yesterday. I read a few pages.

I’m almost at intermediate level in Japanese. The first thing I wanted to share with those that may not be aware of it is the pronunciation. Japanese doesn’t have consonants and vowels and syllables in the same way we do.

So for ‘haiku’, we could mistakinly think it’s close to hi-ku. But the sound is really ha-i-ku and that ‘i’ is like our ‘ee’ in cheese. So pronounce it in three parts; ‘ha – ee – ku’ at an even speed and tone.

That may not be the perfect instruction, but just to give you an idea.

Some observations from the bookshop. The haiku syllable counts 5-7-5 were never syllable counts, they were counts of the japanese sounds, which don’t match syllables, so you don’t really need to get exact syllable counts correct if you are writing in english.

The other thing is that haiku were supposed to have a positive message or thought traditional; oops – so far some of mine were about sad things!

Friends or Not

Poetry

autumn scene

is it only me that
friends leave like seasonal leaves,
falling out of reach.


At university I loved the TV show ‘Friends’. At the time I had three close friends; Ruxi, Clive and Serene. We used to watch the box sets as a relief from studies and exams.

In those days I felt my friends were like ‘Friends’ friends. Afterwards I realised that such a close group of friends is rare. I also realised quite quickly that normal people don’t have such beautiful apartments. Life’s real story arcs don’t always end in smiles and laughs.

I left uni a year before Ruxi and Clive. I started work in a stressful graduate job. It changed me. When I went back to my uni town for visits I couldn’t connect well with my ‘still studying’ friends.

They would never know this, but one of the ways I got through the hard days and nights of my first job was by keeping pictures of my uni friends on my desk wall.

It was a shock when they suddenly stopped talking or replying to me. Some years later I discovered Clive and Serene got married; they hadn’t even told me. I still to this day feel hurt about this. I feel like a group of people that I felt at home with rejected me.

One of the biggest challenges in life is to retain trust in people. It’s required for close relationships and is especially hard to keep if people have bullied you or cut you out of their life.

And emotional damage through life is cumulative.

Let’s be honest. I am not the best friend. I get caught up in my own world. And when I lose common ground with people I tend to just stop contacting them (so I do the same thing).

Something I have read in pyschology is that we repeat patterns in life. Somehow I seem to drift in and out of friendships. Easily making new friends, but then losing them.

I’ve never had a best friend – is it a common thing or just a myth from media and stories? I don’t feel like it is something I miss. The only problem I may have is that I don’t think I have ever been 100% honest about all my thoughts and feelings with anyone.

I would never ‘lie’ to someone in a relationship, but I also wouldn’t be 100% honest either. It’s important to filter the thoughts of the human mind.

As biological beings our perfection is in our unique imperfect nature. A big part of this is that our thoughts are not always automatically right, good or kind. Sometimes we will be annoyed by anothers values, behaviours or actions. I accept this about myself. But I try to consciously use my power of thought to follow buddhist behaviours such as right action, right thought and right speech.

The other strange thing about me is I don’t have really any close male friends and I haven’t had for a long time. My only male friends are some old school friends I see very occasionaly from a long time ago.

Recently I have had some close friends that have gone through life changes and I no longer hear from them on a day to day basis. It’s not right or wrong, but I find myself in one of the periods of little or no contact with people.

It has been a strange year for me. One anecdote – I met a foreign girl studying in London. After she went home she asked me to marry her on a chat app and to move abroad to live with her. I considered moving to spend more time to get to know her better, but when I couldn’t due to financial / work constraints she went straight to not talking to me at all.

I think with friends and relationships we sometimes get caught up in our own interpretation of events and in taking everything personally. I suspect that in reality many of us go through similar things. Some better, some worse.

Or is it just me?

(the picture is from regent park in london last weekend.)

Tower Bridge

london, Poetry

tower bridge south view

Stately stone towers,
Stand over the Thames river,
Watching years go bye.

An iconic sight,
That sighs when misguided types,
Say “it’s London Bridge”.

Remember ’Tower’;
London’s majestic lady,
And favourite Bridge.

tower bridge side

tower bridge city view

tower bridge and shard

tower bridge bus

tower bridge kids

tower bridge sunset


Tower bridge; often mistaken for London bridge, is one of the most popular sights of London. The bridge itself is extremely central just south of the city and right next to the Tower of London; from which it takes it’s name.

Standing on the south side you can see the shiny modern glass buildings of the city through the bridge; what a contrast.

When you get up close you can also see the beautiful detail of the stone and metalwork.

I included a few haiku that I wrote. I was trying to think of a good metaphor or simile for the bridge, but I couldn’t come up with anything concrete.

When I think of the bridge, I think of it being over 120 years old, and I think of how it must feel watching all these modern glass buildings grow around it. At one point it would have been the tallest thing in the area, but now it’s dwarfed by behemoths like the shard.

And most days it’s constantly photographed by tourists, I suspect the bridge is ‘bemused’ with modern life.

sense perceptions, writing201 poetry ‘pleasure’

Poetry

sakura girl

Sensory perception  everywhere,  each
Day I wake with a need to seek,  like an addict,
The sights,  sounds,  taste and touch that tantalise,
High and happy,  I reach for more, and more.

Physical beauty,  let me feast with shallow eyes open you,
Soft skin,  let me lay these greedy hands all over you,
Fruits,  spices,  fish and succulent meats,  let me gorge myself with you,
Fresh flowers,  let your fragrance carry me away.

Suddenly darkness comes,  alone,  I am without you,
Nothing to see or touch, skies became grey above,
Sensory pleasure has abandoned me, betrayed by my reliance,
I’m beyond empty, withdrawal; the pain that remains.

I realise now that unchecked sensory pleasure results in pain,
Instead I stay with the ever present breathe; a simple pleasure that in its essence is me.


the last day of bloggingu writing201 poetry, today we had the prompt word pleasure, using sonnet and apostrophe. I had great intentions to write a perfect sonnet but after two weeks of poetry I’m ran out of steam so this is a rough attempt to something close.

the picture is from shinjuku gardens in tokyo this spring; I thought of it related to touch.

a winter walk – writing 201 ‘cold’ poem

Poetry

a winter walk

In case you can’t read it easily:

Win-ter is nearly here,
Let’s put on warming, wooly gloves,
Let’s put on co-sy, cuddly socks,

Snow may be coming near,
Let’s put on heavy hoods,
Let’s put on some big boots,

We’ll go on a winter walk
We’ll go with a flask of tea
We’ll go with two cookies

Even if it’s cold outside
You’ll have my warm heart
I’ll have your warm heart


I wrote this poem for bloggingU writing201 poetry course. Today the prompt word was cold; after some thought, the idea of a winter walk came to mind. The form was ‘concrete’ or ‘shape’ poetry and the device was anaphora.

This was kind of fun to think about. I couldn’t get the shape right in html, so I ended up creating my poem in photoshop, I guess I could have done it in a word editor also.

flavour of a kiss – writing201 ‘flavour’ poem

Poetry

sweets

Never much liked to kiss, but I found something in the taste of your lips,
delicate and sweet and light,
and yet full of your depth,

Now you are gone, how can I go on?, I can’t even describe my feelings,
fleeting and elusive and subtle,
and beyond words and yet deeply real,

Dream like memories, reality had overwhelmed all my sense,
Days and months and years pass, alone
Now I find I yearn for your kiss


I wrote this poem for day 8 of bloggingU writing201 poetry course. the prompt word was flavour; I decided to stretch away from food towards the taste of a kiss. In reality I guess a kiss doesn’t have a tangible taste exactly, but it carries so much depth of sensation it’s like it does. But personally I found an enjoyable kiss to be a rare and special thing.

The format was elegy, which use elegiac couplets. I actually tried to stick to these but I’m not very good at picking apart stressed vs. unstressed syllables so I doubt I got it write.

The device was enumeration using and / or etc. conjunctions to create lists, which I have tried to do in the shorter pentameter verses.

Picture was taken at a street market in soho london last year.

Alexander

a coastal harbour town in scotland

Poetry, scotland

moonlit boat, anstruther

lined up boats, anstruther

Fishing boats in wait,
Metal clangs, a seagull calls,
But otherwise still,

Fishermen resting
In cottages, a respite,
From the cold hard seas,

Wire mesh, wooden slats,
Lobster pots piled by the side,
Waiting for their bait,

A visitor walks,
Taking photos, fingers numb,
Scotland’s winter coast

lobster pots, anstruther

grounded boat, anstruther

white wing boat anstruther harbour

man on a pier, anstruther


These are a few photographs I took in Anstruther; a small former fishing village on the East Coast of Scotland. They were taken last winter, it was super cold and my fingers were numb holding the camera :)

(images copyright alexroanphotography 2014-2015)

Nomadic – writing 201

Poetry

hong kong surfer

Nomadic, that’s my habit,
Never in one place, that’s my taste,
Mario running from a koopa shell,
Never afraid, just need my space,

No static, life is dramatic,
Had a childhood home, but not for so long,
Like a fable, hardly remember the dinner table,
Now, alone like a high flying drone, nowhere to belong,

Nosy neighbours, and small minded drama,
Social welfare, socially they just don’t care,
I wanna fly away; like an angry bird,
Don’t need no neighbourhood, they never treated me fair,

On the move, you know my groove,
Collecting passport stamps, that’s my jam,
Travels beauty, a call of duty,
What you got ‘no hood’? don’t worry that’s my life plan,

“Ain’t no sunshine when your gone”,
^^ Cause I take it with me,
Like zelda searching for my princess,
Never rest that’s my life’s test,

But travel ain’t always rosy or cosy,
I even spent a night in a Russian jail cell,
Wasn’t grand theft auto,
Just some incorrect documents; I don’t dwell,

Sometimes I get lonely,
Without a neighbourhood; social comfort food,
Like I’m questing in world of warcraft, with a staff,
on horseback, with a wizards hood, I don’t mean to be rude,

But I heard, that home is where the heart is,
And my real neighbourhood,
The people close to my heart,


I wrote this poem for wordpress bloggingU writing 201. The idea was to write a ballad. A ballad should be emotionally charged, dramatic and include a larger than life character. I don’t think I really hit those, but I tried to make this poem quite strong and fast at least.

Ballads traditionally use a ABCB structure with 2nd and fourth lines rhyming. I also found that there is a defined meter; they traditionally alternate between 4 met feet / line and 3, so you would have syllable structure 8686. I definitely didn’t meet that, it would take me a lot longer than one day to figure out how to write it that way.

The device we were using was assonance, which is the repetition or pattern of vowal sounds. I played around with trying to get a lot of ‘a’ sounds into the first and second stanza / verse.

The keyword was Neighbourhood. This was kind of difficult as I don’t feel like I have had a neighbourhood for so long. I remember some when I was very young. And to be honest, I remember mostly bullying, gossip, nosiness etc. As I was growing up I also stayed in homeless accomodation with my father and then in welfare kind of accomodation and the people around us were the worst of society. So, I guess I have forsaken neighbourhoods and community in my life to a certain extent; I don’t have any trust there. So this was my theme together with my passion for travelling and moving around. It’s easy to feel jealous of people that travel a lot, but I do miss the cosiness and safety of a home base and if you saw some of the places I have stayed you definitly wouldn’t it romantic.

autumn is here

Poetry

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons of the year. After the (sometimes) hot summer days I enjoy a return to crisp fresh air.

The parks can be particularly beautiful. Many of the trees turn from green to yellow and brown; and countless other shades.

autumn 2014, green park, london

autumn 2014, green park, london

It’s a beautiful time to go for a walk with a friend.

autumn 2014, leaves, green park, london

autumn 2014, leaves, green park

If you visit the park at the right time when the sun is lower in the sky, not only will you see all the shades of colour, but also the beautiful contrast created from the shadows created by the shapes of the leaves.

autumn 2015, hyde park, gloomy day london

autumn 2015, hyde park, gloomy day london

Unfortunately londons regularly gloomy sky can make things look a little flat. And poor deck chairs are at their loneliest, not yet inside for the winter, but no one wants to be with them.

autumn 2015, marylebone, london

autumn 2015, marylebone, london

Even the smallish squares around the city can be spectacularly beautiful.

autumn 2015, serpentine, hyde park, london

autumn 2015, serpentine, hyde park, london

Might be getting chilly, but nothing will stop londoners trying to be romantic.

autumn 2015, regent park, london

autumn 2015, regent park, london

Make sure to get some autumn walks in before going into winter hibernation!

Alexander

A Portrait By Love & Sadness – Writing 201 ‘Found Poem’

Poetry

strange weather in tokyo book cover picture

A story of time,
As seasons pass,
Of dream-like
Love;
A teacher of heartbreak, which breaks hearts, and
Sadness;
Distance from intimacy and intimacy with distance,
With subtlety time paints,
Portraits,

back cover markup


I wrote this for wordpress bloggingU writing 201 poetry course day 6. The challenge today was to write a poem based on the prompt word ‘face’, using ‘found poetry’ and including ‘chiasmus’

I decided to use the back cover of a book I am reading right now; strange weather in tokyo, by hiromi kawakami, translated by allison markin powell.

The book itself is beautifully written and reads like poetry to me so far.

It was quite challenging using a restricted set of words. I decided to go with the theme of our portraits showing our experiences in life; think laughter lines, worry lines etc. And I included the idea of love and sadness which I think affect how we look.

The chiasmus were fun to think about, I am not sure how well they work. The first one heartbreak and breaks hearts. The idea being that if we are hurt and have our heart broken we may find it harder to love in future and hence cause heart break in return; not sure if the prose is strong enough to get this across. The distance / intimicy one, I simply fell into having wanted to balance having one for love with one for sadness.

Edit: after the original posting I had to remove ‘by, how and our’ which weren’t on the back cover; i only noticed when adding the second picture.

tokyo dining

japan, Poetry

blue sushi restaurant

Prepared like art, with heart,
Eaten with care, flavours rare,
Japanese food is really that good,
Cooking and dining are national pastimes,
Ramen is a passion and,
Sushi a fashion,
That powers Tokyo life.

snack bar

snack bar 2

Colourful restaurants; from counter bars to tatami mats,
Natural flavours, fresh, chosen with care,
Attention to detail, clear to see, delicately prepared,
Haru, Natsu, Aki, Fuyu; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter,
Often seasonal; food and tableware.

yakitori cooking

salary men dinner

Traditional meals, that are
Humble small dishes, with
Rice to fill you,
Fermented soya to increase your life,
Vegetables and seaweed to nourish you,
Fish or meat, just a treat,
All arrayed in front of you,
Tea afterwards as a sweet?
Candy, chocolate and cake? – simply no need.

green lights

red lights

Hidden behind green and red lights,
Small alleyways, with restaurants side by side,
That’s beautiful Japan,
Beer and skewered meat; just what I need.

italian food

sakura bar

Just one word of warning,
Be prepared,
If the food is good,
To wait in line.

queue

sake barrel

Tokyo dining; a social affair,
Friends, food and sake, the perfect afterparty,
Salary man and lady; who work so hard, can finally relax,
Even alone, you can be part of the counter dining family.

yellow ramen bar

red noodle bar
curtain bar


This is kind of a poem I wrote today after completing the first 5 days of the wordpress bloggingU writting201 (poetry) course. The photographs are from both 2014 adn 2015 of restaurants and food stands in Tokyo, Japan. I’ve been wanting to write something about these photos for quite some time. But I had been putting it off, as I was going to write something quite long winded. Today I had an idea, why not just try to write a simple poem about some of the things I love about Japanes food / dining.

Alexander

Scotland’s Mountains – An Ode to Sir Hugh Monroe (Writing 201 day 5)

Poetry, scotland

cairngorms, scotland

Outdoor walking, early morning, hills loom above; a tidal wave of green,
Damp socks and wet boots waiting, silence but for the trickling of a stream,
Wild mountainous terrain; sometimes rolling, often rocky, by chance is it a dream?

A famous Scot; Sir Hugh Munroe, he catalogued the tallest mountains seen,
From Ben Lomond in the south to Ben Hope in the north; not smaller than three thousand feet,
Alas, Munro himself stood upon five hundred and thirty five peaks, sadly that’s three left to complete.

Peak of the shoe, ridge of the fox, hill of horse studs,
Summit of the corries, old upper part, hill of the son of duff,
These are the names of some Munros; originally in Gaelic, Norse and Scots,
That were given by hunters, herders and crofters in times long forgot,
This dramatic landscape, with ridges that bite and sides so sheer, may induce fear,
When I was young; father took me their; the memories are something to revere.

rannoch moor train station


(edit: I wasn’t quite happy; I had to re-work this a bit).

It’s day 5 of writing201. Prompt word – ‘Map’, form – ‘Ode’, device – ‘Metaphor’.

I decided to structure my Ode according to the traditional greek form; Pindaric Ode, which is the pattern – abb acc ddeeff.

Thinking about ‘Map’; I decided to write about my home country Scotland and Sir Hugh Munroe. Sir Hugh identified and created a table of all the mountains in Scotland over 3000 feet tall. It was published in Sept 1891. Over time it’s become something of a challenge to walk/climb all the Munroes, but not many have done it. Unfortunately for Sir Hugh he passed away just 3 Munroes short of his target of all 538 peaks. But he inspired generations of Scots to take up the challange and see the country by journey through his list of Munros.

The first picture is one I took at the very start of the year in the Cairngorms at Loch Morlich. The second was a little later in the year at Rannoch Moor. I also described a little of the feeling of being in the Munroes at the start. My dad took me walking there when I was young. Scotland has a lot of fairly wild and remote land, and with the highly changable weather; from sunshine to storms in an hour, you often end up in wet boots.

Limericks about Tam and Cookie (Writing 201 day 4)

Poetry

cookie

there was a cookie, gold like
the morning sun, with choc chips dark as
midnight comes, so crumbly to see
it’s comforting to me
But wait! – 500 calories, that’s just no fun.


tam

there was a man named tam
who loved a bit of a dram
unlucky for him
life can be grim
his wife was not a fan


BloggingU – writing 201 day 4. Today the prompt word was ‘imperfect’, the form ‘limerick‘ and the device ‘enjambment‘.

The first poem ‘cookie’ came from my state of mind today. This week I’m only eating porridge at breakfast and korean food at night (kimchi, rice, vegetables etc). I like to do occasional weeks like this to give my digestive system good treatment. The side effect is I am thinking about cookies a lot. And of course the perfect cookie would be made of kale and broccoli but taste as a normal one does.

The second poem I wrote after reading the wikipedia on limericks; which describes the ‘nonsense’ funny style of Edward Lear. I realised limericks are popular for amusing topics between men and women, and while I didn’t go into anything too racey, I thought this was fun. Tam is a very ‘scottish’ name and a ‘dram’ is what we call a whiskey. And it’s quite a traditional stereotype that the man in the family would try to sneak in a dram or too at night; all to the disaproval of the lady; who normally controls the house.

A couple of limericks about the form that made my laugh out loud
There was a young man of Japan
Whose limericks never would scan.
When asked why this was,
He replied “It’s because
I always try to fit as many syllables into the last line as ever I possibly can.
– unknown

There was an old man with a beard,
A funny old man with a beard
He had a big beard
A great big old beard
That amusing old man with a beard.
– comedian john clarke

A Prose Poem About Skin (Writing 201 Day 3)

Poetry

bonjour cosmetic store hong kong

Magazines lie like dictators cries, beauty brands try to sell fake style. Naturally soft and smooth only when new, but like all forms decays over time. Popped pimples, rubbed rashes, cuts and scratches, laughter lines and frowning signs, these may all come over time. The book cover of our lives. A living journal. A unique story; where true beauty lies. Superficial values and photoshop aside, look closely to see the real me. When the inside is healthy, the outside will shine. Eat natural, drink water, love yourself, and a warm glow will arise. Mirror mirror on the wall, am I not beautiful? as are you all.


 

This was my poem for writing 201 poetry day 3, the prompt word was skin, the form prose poetry and the device internal rhyme.

The picture is a shot I took of bonjour in hong kong; which is a chain of beauty product stores. I love the colours and the array of people.

kyoto umbrella

japan, Poetry

kyoto umbrella

bright orange and blue
just a small shelter it’s true
but I still love you

I took this picture in Kyoto, Japan, back in 2014. At the time I was working on my photography in a structured way. On the day I took this I was working on contrasting colours. Specifically looking for blue and orange, red and green etc.

Contrasting colours can be quite powerful, especially if you have a visual weight contrast e.g. 80% of one and 20% of the other. That’s why sometimes if you see a girl in a purple dress holding a single yellow flower, it looks beautiful. In fact some photographers will take a contrasting colour flower to a photo shoot just for that purpose.

Yesterday when I started writing201 poetry course we learned the form haiku, today I was thinking about this picture and had this short haiku in mind.

An Acrostic Christmas (Writing 201 day 2)

Poetry

Poem 1 – christmas:

christmas at mums house

christmas tree, standing free
oh so bright twinkling like starlight
sitting underneath with wrapping so neat
your gift and my gift, waiting patiently

christmas at holborn, london


Poem 2 – the gift of kindness & love:

kindness, in all it’s forms
never stands alone
open your heart
wide like the tide
the secret to life
happy healthy and long
your self beliefs
so be kind inside
experience again your inner child
loving yourself first
friends and family come next

 

The first pictures was taken last year at XMAS at my mothers house in Scotland.
The second picture was also taken last year at XMAS in Holborn, London – it’s the courtyard of one of the lovely hotels.

 

Screen – A Haiku Poem (Writing 201 day 1)

Poetry

I’ve just started the wordpress blogging university ‘writing201’ course. The first poem is based on the word prompt ‘screen’, the form ‘haiku’ and the device ‘alliteration’.

Here is my 1st every poetry attempt:

just a small, slight screen
the data it can display
I can’t comprehend

bright electric light
but is it real or fake?
an imitation

staring at your screen
from early until late-night
who is the user?

jonestown coffee laptop guy

jonestown coffee laptop guy

Some background notes:
I joined the course by accident last night, so this is all very exciting. The exercise included a suggested form. This time the ‘haiku‘ form; three lines containing 5, 7 and 5 syllables. I tried to write three haiku, just for practice. I can see the challenge in writing a poem in just one haiku; saying something meaningful and concise.

The device the exercise suggested was alliteration; using the same consonent multiple times in proximity, the aural imprint this leaves is called consonance.

In terms of my effort, I think I managed to get the 5,7,5 syllables, unless my counting is off. I don’t think I quite got the meaning I intended as clearly as possible. And while I did try to include some alliteration ‘small, slight, screen / data, display / can’t comprehend’, it’s not that strong.

My intention for the poem was in the first haiku to contrast the small size of the screen with the depth of information available. The second was to introduce the idea that screens and online life are distracting us from real life. The third being my progression of this to question do we use computers / screens or do they use us?

The picture is from a photoshoot I did for a local coffee shop earlier this year.

I really appreciate any comments on the structure, possible alternate vocabulary, and ways to make my meaning clearer or more interesting.