Saturday, 16 August 2014

Beckoning

This is a poem I wrote for the NTU Creative Writing Course I recently took part in. We also had to write an introduction to our work:

Every year we celebrate the day we were born as if it was some extremely significant, unusual event. Our friends and acquaintances buy us gifts and hold parties. But is there no irony in celebrating a Birthday? It’s almost like celebrating every time we have a sip of our drink, watching the glass slowly emptying. Whether this is done simply for tradition’s sake, or whether people celebrate their Birthdays as an attempt to ignore the horrible truth, that death is simply growing closer and closer, I am unsure. The truth is that no matter how sad and depressing our lives can be, how lonely we can get, it’s a struggle not to feel that time is running out. It’s a struggle not to watch our glasses emptying, our candles burning. The narrator of this poem is not a happy person, but he too regrets the oncoming snuffing of his candle. The significance of the final couplet is left for the reader to decide. 

Another tiresome year has passed me by,
And once again, like every Birthday gone,
I’m sitting in the same old musky pub,
The same unsteady, creaky wooden chairs,
The same unhappy corner, with the same
Acquaintances that seem to think we’re pals.

And so it goes, I hear their gab and sit
In awkward clouds of This is all pretence,
I know you know I know and all of that.
To make things even worse, I never drink,
So sitting here and sipping on a pint
Of dingy ale is not my cup of tea.

On every tenth of May they drag me out,
These bogus smiles, and claim another year
Of dismal life means they can celebrate,
And drink themselves to happy death, as if
Believing time, the passing of a year,
Is somehow some unnatural event.

And then, the cake, the solitary flame
That burns as if to say You should be glad,
You’re one year older, one year fatter, one
Year more forgetful, wrinkled, hideous,
Reminding me that I am still alone,
With no true yearning to sustain my glow.

And yet I struggle coping with the fact
That every Birthday is a beckoning.
If only I could know the meagre length
Of hidden, burning cotton I have left,
How long the emblematic flame will flash,
Flicker, flicker, the icing rollicking.

The candle on my cake is growing dim,
So fill my glass, I guess I’ll stay awhile.

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