Questions is a collaboration by Lucy Kempton and Joe Hyam. Poems are based on questions drawn from an agreed starting question and formed by answers, which contain and inspire the next questions. In response to Lucy's first question, Joe kicks off. This follows our earlier work in Compasses, archived here, where Lucy's photographs illustrate Joe's series of 50 sonnets under the title Handbook for Explorers.

Saturday 23 April 2011

What are the things which you wish that you knew?

As swallows try to catch them in nets of air,
Answers are harder than questions to find.
And so, inspired by yours, here's mine, my dear,
Honest as may be and returned in kind.

A cat named Curiosity  stalks in my  care
But it's clear the animal's designed
To hunt with eye and claw, whatever's there
And overwhelm with trophies an overburdened mind.

With so much data stacked up everywhere,
Rather than know more, I'd like to understand
The complexities which figure
In the cries and shadows of a troubled land.

Those who look for truth must learn to care
For crops trodden  down by rain and wind,
Burnt in hatred and ill will; and come to fear
What threatens to destroy them in the end.

It's not so much the structure of a star
Or particle or gene, but what lies beyond
The turbulence that swirls about us, near and far
And neither head nor heart can comprehend.

So my question curls up and settles where
You stand, your camera and eye aligned:
What's your choice? The swallows' game of dare?
Or bobbing kite tugged by a fretful wind?


The Crow said...

I enjoy the almost carefree (though you've written that it wasn't) manner in which you have brought these image-evoking words together.

The rhythm and flow are perfect for the ideas the words present. I like the feeling this poem (and Lucy's before it) your poem give me, Joe. Thank you.

Roderick Robinson said...

I wanted to comment on this one but am restraining my hand. I've just made an almighty cock-up in my blog (corrected by Lucy) and am wary for the moment of straying into territory I do not understand. After all I don't even know what an anapaest is. I have a problem with stress here and I think you'll have to give me a face-to-face primer at the BR on the eleventh. Sorry about this.

Lucas said...

I like the philosophical distinction between knowing and understanding which figures in the third stanza. The form is effectively balanced and controlled to bring out this distinction, and I think the poem turns on this.