Post-Rock Shipping Containers

First the big news. Stand back, this is momentous stuff…

Yes, I’ve just brought in the first washing dried on the line since about October last year (I will have to check my diary to be sure), but either way, IKR (as I think the kids say). (**Shout from the wings by an ecologically-minded First Drowned from Under Milk Wood**, “Washing on the line?” In February? Well yeah, but global warming has to have some benefits, surely? NB I don’t think there are benefits to global warming. I will also take suggestions of poems about washing lines, etc)

Marginally less significant is the news that the outright monotony of the week(s) was broken, er, this week by an actual reading in front of…well, in front of my laptop, but sort of people too via Zoom. NB Robin Houghton’s helpful post here came into my inbox about two hours before and was spot on.

The reading was organised via my local fancy booze emporium, The Three Hounds. I’m hoping you can see it below (I’m not convinced it will work, but let’s all cross our fingers).

I’m up after our compere with the most hair, Jack Emsden. NB How awesome is it that someone who works in one of my favourite shops is a poet.

Also reading were Charlotte Knight, Thomas McColl, Francisca Matos, Ellen Maslin, Kate Wilson, Adam Hart (my old mucker from Beck Beat Beckenham), and a young lad called Dylan. Sorry Dylan, can’t find you online. It was a great evening, everyone read excellently and excellent poems and, as I say, I hope you can watch it below, but the link is also here in case

What’s that? Tell us about shipping containers you say…? Well, OK!

I’ve long been fascinated by shipping containers…no, come back…I thought it started when I heard this podcast


Or was it when I watched/listened to a documentary on the BBC about it (I can’t remember now/can’t find the doc to share) around 10 years ago? Either way, it did eventually dawn on me that my interest goes back even further. back to when I was knee-high to the proverbial grasshopper.

Behind the village hall in the place where I grew up (Worstead, and I’ve realised I posted about this years ago, so you’ll be able to see how things have changed ) was an old shipping container. We used to climb all over it as kids. The brave ones would jump-off, the scaredy-cats (eg me) would hang down and try to sort of make ourselves into slinkys to get as close to the ground as we could before we let go.

As the previous post will attest, I’ve been trying to turn this into a poem for a few years now. The poem has been through at least 18 rewrites over the years since I started typing these things up. I suspect there are more versions in an old notebook, but basically, the poem has been hanging about for several years. Among many structural changes, the thing that stands out the most for me is that I’ve taken out the word ‘Ataraxia’. I first heard it as a title for a song by a band called Pelican and really liked it. That must have made me determined to force it into a poem.

(As an aside, I learned about Zombie Batteries today, so absolutely keep a look out for a poem about them in 2029-ish)

I must have discovered Pelican about the same time as I started this poem. The word means “calmness untroubled by mental or emotional disquiet” and for a long time it made total sense to keep it in, but the more I’ve looked at it, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not a word that someone that age would know or use. And while the poem is written from the point of someone looking back, it is in my mind a five quid word in a poem that requires one quid words. Actually, what is the acceptable version of a five quid/dollar word?

(NB IMHO, this is a far better Pelican song)

Anyhoo, a couple of things have happened this week that has resulted in me giving up on trying to find a home for it in magazines.

1. It came back from yet another submission (My notes say 13 separate mags) and a newer poem was accepted (subject to agreeing on some edits). That sort of suggests to me that it’s time to focus on newer work, and not yet another round of revisions to a poem that I already think is strong. Also, I note that like an idiot I sent the wrong version out recently.

2. We finished watching ZeroZeroZero, an international show about the impact of drug smuggling, and a key feature of the show is a shipping container of said drugs. ZeroZeroZero is a joint production, one of which is Cattleya (who are part of the ITV Studios family, don’t ya know) and the soundtrack is by Mogwai.

(I’ve just realised that between this and the Pelican references this is becoming a post-rock shipping container post (and now I have a title for this, er, post)

And Mogwai has put out their latest album this week, called ‘As The Love Grows‘, and I very much like it.


With those sorts of “coincidences” in mind, I can’t not post the poem here. Ideally, I’d like to find a better home for it but the nature of submissions being what they are I think I’ve exhausted where I can submit it to. I think it is/was different enough from the 2013 version on here to warrant submissions since then, but the universe is telling me to call it a day.

I had also hoped to be promoting this poem around the time that the Utah Monolith was in the news, but oh well…

Shipping Container V18

We asked, but no-one could explain quite how
you wound up here, landed for good this time
with those land-lubbers on the Village Hall’s
leeward side like some monochrome monolith.

Were you sent here to change our dull worlds
or kill us all? Either way, we soon taught
ourselves how to shinny onto your roof,
hauling up bags of books and pilfered food,
to lounge in pure sunshine. We found we could
take some joy from the climb, in aching biceps
and in who is brave enough to jump down
and roll like paratroopers in training.

(I chose to cling on by my fingertips,
to drop the last three feet like a plumb line.)

We’d uncoil our Sargent jumps, tapping your top
as you became our iceberg, Sherman tank,
or high-rise block. Your walls were stormed,
but stayed unopened by broken bricks or pot-shots
from our BB guns. David lost an eye
in the ricochet, though I can barely
recall how he came to be standing there.
You were hauled away for scrap soon after.
I should find out where he is now.

Credit to Andres Canavesi for the header photo via Unsplash

THE WEEK IN STATS

56.6k running – The training has begun properly. I may have slightly overdone it versus the plan this weekend, but aching legs aside it feels good.
0 day of 2 x 7-minute workouts, but the above means I don’t feel so bad
94 days of insults between my friend and me on Twitter. He started it.
1 x rejections: TLS
1 x acceptance (subject to edits)
2 poem worked on: Berlin, Lock in
1 poems finished: Berlin (now called Present)
1 new Submissions: One Hand Clapping, but have some to go out after the rejection earlier in the week
37 poems currently out for submission
58 Published poems*:
45 Poems* finished by unpublished
30 poems* in various states of undress
554 Rejected poems* Eg I’ve decided they are not good enough
1 Reviews* written and submitted. 2 still to do though, so must crack on
1 month, 2 weeks without cigarettes..
1 new cooker installed to replace the one that blew up at the start of the week
1 emergency call to the gas board as the engineer had left it leaking. FFS
1/2 a packet of ginger nuts eaten while writing this
1 trip to assist with measuring some our garden while writing this
1 load of washing hung out and
1 load in the washing machine while writing this
1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green

* To date, not this week. Christ!!

TITLE GIVEAWAY

Erroneous Monk

READ/SEEN/HEARD/ETC

Read
Poetry London 98
Robert Frost: Collected Poems
Lawrence Sail: Guises
Yeung Rachel Ka Yin: Cheyngu Chinoiserie

Music
Songs: Ohia – Protection Spells
God Is An Astronaut: Epitaphs
The Smubbs: This is the End of the Night
Deer Tick: War Elephant
Shannon Lay : August
Gemma Hayes: Night on my Side
The Pogues: Rum, Sodomy & The Lash
The Gutter Twins: Adorata, Saturnalia
Guy Chadwick: lazy, Soft & Slow
Gwen McCrae: Rockin’ Chair
Hayley Banar: Golder, Impossible Dream, Last War
Ham Sandwich: Carry The Meek
Hamilton Leithhauser & Rostam: I Had A Dream You Were Mine
The Fall: The Unutterable
Fionn Regan: Cala, The End of History
Bob Mould: Black Sheets Of Rain
Bruce Springsteen: Born In The USA, Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge of Town, Dust & Devils, The Ghost of Tom Joad
Mogwai: ZeroZeroZero OST, As The Love Continues
Cassandra Jenkins: An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
The Hold Steady: Open Door Policy
My Morning Jacket: At Dawn
The Waterboys: A Pagan Place
Margo Timmins – The Ty Tyrfu Sessions
Bob Mould: District Line
Pharaoh Sanders: Love Will Find A Way
Tindersticks: Distractions
Toshiko Akiyoshi: Early Numbers
LNZNDRF: II

TV/Film
ZeroZeroZero 4-8
Mischief Movie Night: Love Behind Bars
Fear The Walking Dead S5E14-18 (Brutal bout of insomnia earlier in the week)
Karate Kid

Zooms, etc
Three Hounds Poetry Evening

Radio/Podcasts
The Archers

Arrived
Sam Gardiner: The Night Ships (Finally, see previous posts)
Victoria Kennefick: Eat or We All Starve

Ordered
New cooker.
A tool for removing old sealant
Draft excluding tape
Rebecca Parker pamphlet
A pair of trousers
Ink and Cartridges

My friend Keg’s band, The Container Drivers sort of doing a song about monoliths
(BONUS TRACK FOR POST ROCK WEEK) Mono and Where We Begin…cos, y’ know Mono (lithe) and a poem bout where I grew up…
Bonus Bonus Non-Post Rock song because I said look out earlier

One thought on “Post-Rock Shipping Containers

  1. Pingback: Poetry Blog Digest 2021, Week 7 – Via Negativa

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