I thought, with everything that’s happened this year, I’d probably have written fewer poems than usual, but I’ve looked at my stats and actually it’s only a little below the average for me. It works out at around one decent, finished poem every two weeks. I don’t know how that compares to other poets, but it’ll do me. It’s not enough to have the moment’s inspiration and the rush of getting the words down on paper; I need to leave them for a few days and then come back to them. Sometimes – most times for me – only a light editing is required. Other times I’ll want to wrestle the thing into a better shape, fix faults, rewrite completely, or chuck in the bin. The recycling bin is one of the poet’s most useful tools.
Anyway, I’ve written my festive poem for this year – A Dunbar Christmas – but it’s nowhere near ready to post here, even though I think it’s probably not one for publication. Instead I’ll repost an old favourite, written as far back as 2001. It was first published in Poetry Scotland, and collected in Sushi & Chips in 2006.
Frost haze hangs over the stiff furrows,
whitens fields with iced wheat stems.
A brown layer of trapped smoke,
a line against the pale sky, shows the limit
of this cold, dense air-bubble – an invisible
inversion. The Bass Rock rises
from a milk-blue sea, its base fog-blurred,
and to the long horizon, no horizon.
At this time, we feel the need for warmth,
for company, and if our forebears feasted
so can we. We gather further, winnow the world
for tropical fruits, exotic spices, tangy sauces.
No borders to bounty, no boundaries to taste,
no limits to wanting, because we can have.
And to those who have not? We give, we must,
for now we see that difference makes us all
the same. Need is universal, want is just the way
we choose to live.