Tuesday, 7 December 2010

One Stop Spotlight - "A Life Less Illustrious" by Arron Palmer

Last Wednesday after reading Arron's One Shot entry, I got a bit stuck at his blog. Reading on, I discovered a poem that gripped me immediately - A Life Less Illustrious - a spotlight on a homeless person, written in a warmhearted and honest voice, and I'm glad Arron agreed very spontaneously to share it with us here at One Stop.

Arron only just started his blog in October and I'm looking forward to reading many more poems of his.

~ Claudia

A Life Less Illustrious

I used to look at you,
Dozens didn’t,
Rushing by with “too much to do in too little time”-
What an envious life they lived.

You’d listen to their cursing,
Wishing you could trade your ripped cords,
Your vomit-specked sleeping bag,
Your damp trainers,
Your heroin addiction

For their pin stripes,
Their Italian leather,
Their smooth chins,
And their deadlines.

You’d thank them for their ignorance,
Wishing them well for the day.
Some would apologise, “Sorry mate, only notes”,
Then walk away from your plight
To the tune of £2.10 in their trousers.

Wasn’t always so bad:
Occasionally, you’d get tossed a copper
From a busy banker on a call to Hong Kong,
Without a look like a sardine to a seal
Whose novelty had worn off at the zoo.

It probably did more for them than you:
Their good deed of the day
And conceited ego-stroke
In the bag before elevenses.

I’d bring you a bacon butty
And a cup of tea, determined
To feed only you and not your habit.
You were grateful. I was moved.

So I’d lean against your living room,
Noting that you’d never request my shoes off,
And listen to your stories,
So wonderfully told given the circumstances.

A gifted illustrator-
I still have the witty strip about you
Giving change to the bankers following the Crunch-
How we laughed.

Nearly a professional cricketer too,
Before a snapped cruciate put paid to that.
You had revealed your knee-
Wrapped in a discarded tea towel to stop
The cold adding insult to injury.

Other times, we simply talked about me.
I didn’t want to complain too much,
Or talk at length about my date next Friday,
Afraid it may offend you.

You insisted it wouldn’t and encouraged me:
Perhaps you felt able to live a slice of life
Through my trite tribulations.
Or maybe you were simply happy for me.

That had continued for a good two years,
When one morning I didn’t see you.
The suits didn’t notice the vacancy in the doorway
But I did. I fed your breakfast to the pigeons that day.

I often wonder where you went.
Did you get saved and housed and move into
Illustrating whilst listening to the Test matches
On the battery radio I gave you?

Or did you trade hope for a bottle,
And with a needle in a collapsed vein,
Follow the empties into the river?

I hope it was the former,
That I’ll see your distinctive style on the Politics page,
That I’ll pass you in the street and won’t recognise your smooth chin.
Until then, I don’t walk the Thames way to work anymore.

© Arron Palmer

"I am Arron Palmer, 21, from Leicester in England. I recently graduated as an economist but my first (and last) love has, and always will be, poetry. Those two occupations are quite opposing I suppose, so I guess I'm a Jack of all (well, two) trades and a master of none.

I have written poetry ever since I could hold a pen, but have begun to get my teeth into it seriously only ever so recently, with my poetry blog A. Palmer Poetry only a couple of months old. I read and write daily, and carry a notebook around with me. I am a walking cliche. I write best and most prolifically just as I fall asleep, and can't sleep until I have written it down. I guess you could say my method for writing is tiring...

As for the poem in the spotlight, quite literally, well it is for those who sadly don't get much sleep either. Not because they are gripped by an inconvenient artistic rush, but by the fear of constant dangers lurking in the dank city nights. I was moved by an article in a pamphlet for homeless charity CRASH, and wrote this little story very spontaneously and without much editing. I realised I felt strongly about this issue, so the ideas, feelings of both guilt and empathy and the film-like relationship rolled very quickly off the ballpoint. I hope to do more for the homeless, much more than put the topic to paper and screen, but actually help out volunteering.

But for now, I am completely honoured and extremely grateful to be given the chance to raise awareness amongst a wealth of such great talent here at One Stop Poetry."


dustus said...

Very moving poem, Arron. Clear to envision and does raise awareness. Can definitely relate to your writing habits. Thanks for sharing about the inspiration for your poem too. Great spotlight, Claudia

Beachanny said...

I loved this. I felt as though I were an invisible companion in the moment throughout the poem. Very tactile and real. Great write. Thank you for the spotlight, Claudia.

RNSANE said...

I was deeply touched by Arron's poem. San Francisco has a huge homeless population and I, too, have written about it. It amazes me that people can walk on by, faces averted, eyes unseeing, these poor souls, thin, urine stained, starving. Our country is in pretty sad shape.

moondustwriter said...

Thanks for the great revealing poetry Arron. It's an honor to have you featured on One Stop Poetry

here's an archived One Shoot On the homeless

Pete Marshall said...

excellent aaron....i worked in the city (as a banker) for 16 years between 1983 - 1999....saw through the recession of the 90's and saw many many sad sites...the cardboard city at lincolns inn fields was a sight to see...there was so much written in this poem....a great poem for awareness...was so psot on...thanks for a wonderful spotlight...pete

Michele Brenton aka banana_the_poet said...

I will be spending much more time on your blog Arron - thanks to One Stop for highlighting you.

Danzr Von Thai said...

eh, well as light fiction with lame, cliche protagonists but as POETRY; maybe you had better check one of the grate masters - Poet R U {Outavit} @Homeless at Sanders {Harvard} -}> http://www.poetru.org

Good luck with your poetry endeavors ... c}:-)


Glynn said...

Glad to see Arron's poetry spotlighted. And with a great poem, too.

M.L. Gallagher said...

I too loved this -- it is effortless and poignant and real.

Great spotlight Claudia -- and Arron -- wow 21 -- you have places to go! Can't wait to see where you take them.

Jerry said...

Thank you for introducing me to "one" homeless person.
Fictional or not...it is someones story. Of that I am sure. Arron, I will be looking for you again.
I like you writing process...I would be snoozing before the pen hit paper though. Peace.

Caty said...

this was a wonderful spotlight and a great poem to highlight.

APalmerPoetry said...

Hey guys,

Firstly, I’d just like to thank Claudia for spotlighting me and my poem today, I am utterly shocked and honoured and undeserving.

Secondly, thanks must also go to One Stop Poetry and the team (Leslie, Adam, Brian and Pete) for allowing Claudia to do so, plus for all the RTs on Twitter generating attention.

Thirdly, I’d like to offer my colossal gratitude to all of you who took time out of your day to read it, and then take further time to comment with such warm and kind and encouraging feedback. As the bio bit suggests, to say I was a fledgling poet would be stretching it- I’d argue I wasn’t even a poet! So the reception and the opportunity afforded by such a wonderful community to get read and further inspired are things I very much appreciate.

Finally, to Danzr von Thai, I’d like to thank you for your criticism, it helps one to hone their style and hopefully improve. Having said that, I’d like to argue the case for the somewhat clichéd story-telling. I felt it a positive road to venture down, as a cliché is only a cliché given its truth and the vast relatibilty this truth allows others to harbour. A cliché is an overused truth to which many can relate, which is overused because of those very properties.

What I’m trying to say is this: what I tell in this poem is what I saw- the truth. I saw persons further up in the social hierarchy generally ignoring those much worse off. The reason I painted them as bankers, other than the fact that London is one of the financial capitals of the world, is so that the joke in the ninth stanza involving the comic strip about role-reversal in the wake of the Credit Crunch would work. Additionally, by making the poem somewhat “lame and clichéd”, and thereby relatable, I endeavoured to maximise the chance that the message of the poem, much more important than plot or character-creating in this particular one, would get across to as many people as possible.

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

So, that leaves just one last thing... bring on One Shot tomorrow!!


Cor said...

Claudia, fantastic spotlight! This is the first poem I read of yours Arron. I was very touched. The courage you had to start the relationship and keep it going was heart warming. Did you ever find out what happened to him? I cannot wait to read more from you. Glad to see someone close to my age spotlighted as well. Everyone spotlighted deserves it as all of you bring a uniqueness to One Stop that none other can. Arron you are very talented, I love how you bring a tangible aspect to your poem. Almost as if we were there. Keep up the great work!

Hope said...

beautiful and touching!
thank you Arron and One Stop!

Melissa Campbell said...

I enjoyed your poem immensely, and love your writing style. Thanks for sharing about its conception and birth--great work! Blessings.