An Early Start
If you have been following me for a while, you will probably know that I live and work in Edinburgh, but that, a couple of times a month on average, my job takes me to other parts of the UK; more often than not to London. You may also have spotted that I am a big fan of @backroadshaiku and wish that my own haiku and senryū were half as good.
Work has been relentless this past year and I’ve had precious little time to take photographs. let alone write, but one of the times I had to travel to London for work I decided to try to capture something of my time there with a picture or two and a few lines poetry. Unfortunately, I really, really wasn’t in the mood for travelling. I’m not naturally a morning person, but usually, when I have to get up early to go to the airport or to the station, there is just enough impetus from the change of routine that I’m fine. Not this time: I was stressed, I hadn’t slept well, and I really, really, wasn’t up for it. When you read my words I expect you will be able to tell…
Unlike @backroadshaiku, my roads are anything but unpaved, quiet and undeveloped. Edinburgh is a still a beautiful city and, though my house is just three and a half miles from the city centre, I’m lucky enough to live only ten minutes walk from open fields; it is however dirtier, more crowded and much more developed than when I first moved here twenty-odd years ago.
London is a different beast entirely, and even though I like it better than I used to (probably because the people seem less insular these days), it still has an oppressive, exhausting quality to it that, bizarrely, I have never felt in the likes of New York.
And of course, both Edinburgh and London (and their airports) are, more often than not, thronged with tourists.
For most of the offices I need to visit in London, trial and error has shown that one of the most cost and time efficient routes is to fly to Luton then get the train into City Thameslink, or Blackfriars, after which I have just a short walk. Luton is however quite the most depressing airport I have ever had the displeasure to use, and the airport railway station and the shuttle bus that connect the two, are no better. As you will see, I wasn’t in the mood that day to keep my opinions to myself.
Here then are my mainroutessenryū
Not Yet Awake
Five AM? Really?
Stumbling, shuffling, shambling fool -
too old for all this.
Singing along to
stay awake on the bypass:
"Somewhere in London…"
Airport shuttle bus -
sartorial choices of
Jacket, coins, keys, belt,
toiletries (bagged), laptop, phone -
you all know the drill.
ariel narcosis -
high on jet fuel.
"crew ten minutes to landing" -
Now Capable Of Autonomous Movement
Talk about coming
back down to earth with a bump -
welcome to Luton.
Luton Airport bus
to Luton Airport Parkway -
arse-end of nowhere.
roller-cases row on row -
grey granite tomb-stones.
Finally Achieving Sentience
Au “Pain Quotidien”,
un café, un croissant, du beurre -
mais serveuses polonaises?
St Paul’s deluged by tourists -
storm-tossed ship of souls.
Five hours in, I join
the rest back in the trenches -
Cannon (Street) fodder.
Something else you may know about me is that I like to use my own writing to introduce readers to something else that I love, something that chimes (in my mind at least) with the topic of my writing – something better than my own efforts.
I quickly dismissed Ron Butlin’s Absolution on the Edinburgh City Bypass (“we’re stranded here, at a standstill, struggling to remember who we are and where we’re going”), because 05:30 is one of the few times the traffic actually does move unimpeded. I did however give serious consideration to pairing my senryū with William Letford’s Waking for work in the winter (“Even though the sheets are clean and the covers are warm, and the person beside you breathes the rise and fall of somewhere deep, Get up”) but his poem has far too strong a sense of the Scottish Calvinistic work ethic to truly chime with what I have written.
The military allusions of final senryū, took me instead down a different path. My senryū clearly having a strong tone of self-pity about them, and self-pity being a particularly unattractive trait, I would like to atone by recommending to you the poem Before the Deployment by Jehanne Dubrow, which not only stands alone as a beautiful piece of writing, but serves as a salutary reminder that there are people who have to leave their partners in a warm bed for far more profound reasons than a business meeting in another city; some of them never to return.
"Perhaps all good-byes should whisper like a piece of silk…"
England, lyrics Copyright © Abd 13 Music, Val Jester Music, 2010, Aaron Brooking Dessner and Matthew D. Berninger, is from High Violet by The National, released 2010. Extract used under the principle of “Fair Dealing”.
Absolution on the Edinburgh City Bypass , Copyright © Ron Butlin, 2012, is from The Magicians of Edinburgh, Published 2012,Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn. Extract used under the principle of “Fair Dealing”.
Waking for work in the winter, Copyright © William Letford, 2012, is from Bevel, Published 2012,Carcanet. Extract used under the principle of “Fair Dealing”.
Before the Deployment, Copyright © Jehanne Dubrow, 2010, is from Stateside, Published 2010, TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press. Extract used under the principle of “Fair Dealing”.