Category Archives: semi-formal

Semi-formal poem: ‘Gulf Airport’

The men in suits, the men in African robes,
The men in jeans and sports shirts,
The local men in headdresses and thobes,
None look out of place.
The women in abayas, saris, or long skirts,
The women in slacks and blouses
(Some with, some without headscarves, depends on race)
None look out of place.
But the anonymous silent women faceless in veils,
And the noisy drunk in-your-face blatant females
In shorts that barely cover their barelys,
They look alien even in a Gulf airport.
The extremes have to be more extreme here to stand out–
Either private as houses,
Or provocative past any “careless”–
But it can be done, with thought.

*****

I wish I had been able to find a photo showing the wonderful range of clothing styles that you encounter in the truly global airports of the Middle East, where travellers on the long-haul carriers change planes en route to Sydney, Tokyo, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Paris, Houston… Your clothing and behaviour has to be extremely extreme if it is to stand out.

This poem was written in Bahrain’s Manama Airport in 2015, published in Snakeskin a year later. It’s not really “formal” verse, is it? 😦

3am, Dubai Airport” by joiseyshowaa is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Poem: ‘Poems Like Motes of Dust’

Like tiny midges, poems in the air
were unseen all my life, presence unclear,
occasionally one would land, bite, sting…
I’d be aware
a poem had come, was singing by my ear.
Now everything, literally every thing,

is a poem: a car, a dog, a glass,
a chair, a seagull, every blade of grass,
all people and each thing they pass.
Now I see swarms, millions of flies,
or like light’s dots of darkness thickening as day dies,

the poems are visible in the air around,
a pointillist canvas, every dot
a poem in itself, an image, word, rhyme, thought,
or like neutrinos streaming from the sun,
billions a second passing with no sound
unseen, unfelt, through everyone,
the poetry of existence, raw, untaught.

The Universe: a cloud of dust that hangs and floats,
dust like a drive of cattle on the range,
or when you fill a barn with dusty motes
by sudden action, and a sunbeam’s slice;
or as Sumerian gods convene, converse,
swarming like flies around burnt sacrifice,

summoned by smell of sacrificial meal…
was it my sacrifices made this change,
made poems visible like motes of dust?
Is this the Universe’s thrust?
Hide them, and then reveal?
For all the poems make one UniVerse.

This is the fourth of a series of five poems recently published in The Brazen Head. It is semi-formal: written in iambics with lines of uneven length, fully rhymed but not to any pattern. My model for this style of verse is Matthew Arnold’s ‘A Summer Night‘, a poem that I have loved and recited since high school. (We can leave for another time the debate about whether his poem should have stopped as originally at the final question mark, or whether the years-later addition of the subsequent lines is an improvement.)

Smoky Dusty Light Rays Texture” by Sprogz is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.