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Thursday 14 June 2012

Wooden Boy: Bus notes 5


St Pauls Street, Walsall, on a rainy night, early 1970s (I): photo by Walsall1955, 3 May 2011

........There’d been too many coffees
........and the blood went at a rate.
Talking with Dad before: 
it was words heard wrong, 
the working hurts, a smashed up house.
........Some bloke by the doors
........was kicking out a foot
........with paper stuck to it.
The dirty water slid across the floor.
........We passed the Oratory
........and the lights were out
........and no one crossed themselves
........and everything was still the light and the waiting.
I said in a too loud voice,
We’re all going the same way.
........The whole of the lower deck
........shut up quick and turned look at the thin rain
........start to repeat itself.

Bloxwich Bus Station in the rain, 1978: photo by Walsall1955, 17 June 2010

  Diary of a Country Priest, directed by Robert Bresson.

Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d'un curé de campagne), directed by Robert Bresson, 1950: screenshot from DVD

St Pauls Street, Walsall, on a rainy night, early 1970s (2): photo by Walsall1955, 3 May 2011

Wooden Boy: Bus notes 5, from The Little Wooden Boy, 11 June 2012


ACravan said...

This is so exceptional, so fine and, so . . . atmospheric. (The latter adjective's application is amplified, obviously, by the images you've selected.) It is both poetry and news. I absolutely feel as though I'm riding on that bus. Curtis

TC said...

Thank you, Curtis. Always a lot less lonely on the bus when there is a fellow passenger who is willing to talk -- the miracle.

barkstry said...

my new ritual/ starting the day with coffee and your blog before the rest of the world can seep in/ thank you so special- had no idea you existed til 7 days ago... whre the heck have i been..

TC said...

barkstry, happy to have you aboard.

u.v.ray. said...

Amazing. Walsall is my home-town and I lived there until I was 21. I used to catch the bus from that exact spot in the first photograph.

More specifically - I was born in Bloxwich - about 500 yards from that bus stop in the second picture.

It was a rough old town. Much re-development these days, I believe. But I've no desire to set foot there again.

u.v.ray. said...

... And, Barkstry,

Indeed, Tom was amongst my own influences - first came across his work in the late 80's / early 90's.

And he had no idea I existed until a couple of years ago when I started visiting this blog.

And now he gnashes his teeth and rues the day. :-)

TC said...


Had I teeth I might gnash them but only for the fact you've not yet taken your rightful place among the internationally celebrated masters of the word. It can only be a matter of time, though, now.

About the photo location, brilliant coincidence that. Or perhaps I should say I knew all along that you came from within hailing distance of that Bloxwich bus stop.

This is beginning to feel like a small accidental happy family.

(What one had always wanted.)

TC said...

Wooden Boy's bus notes have prompted me for some reason to think about Robert Bresson.

"The difficulty is that all art is both abstract and suggestive at the same time. Art lies in suggestion. The great difficulty for filmmakers is precisely not to show things. Ideally, nothing should be shown, but that's impossible. So things must be shown from one sole angle that evokes all other angles without showing them. We must let the viewer gradually imagine, hope to imagine, and keep them in a state of anticipation. This goes back to what I said earlier about showing the cause after the effect. We must let the mystery remain. Life is mysterious, and we must see that on screen. The effects of things must always be shown before their causes, like in real life. We're unaware of the causes of most of the things that we witness. We see the effects and only later discover the cause."

Wooden Boy lets the mystery remain.

What drew me to this poem was its formal perfection. It has a good heart, yet acknowledges, in the way it takes shape, the complications of being human. The repetitious internal obliquely rhyming vowel patterns (before / words / wrong / work / hurts / house / water / floor / Oratory / out / too loud) as persistent a reminder of memory's way of repeating itself as the thin rain.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The driver of the bus is the leader, invisible, and when a too loud voice asserts itself, it's like talking to Dad, the voice goes nowhere but to the rain and silence of the other citizens. Mutiny could be brewing on this ship except even the thin rain will sabotage this.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

I like the different decks of the poem and how it is structured to look like one of these buses. It is mysterious because of the power of the silencing and the thin rain that is all that's left of the loud voice. It is a familiar mystery told in a mysterious way, making this poem a double mystery.

TC said...

The effect of those little decks or stacks is mysteriously formal and architectural in a structural way. And along with the way the little late dramas at the ends of lines get clipped and hinged so as to create momentary cliffhangers, this would bring one to concur with Susan the Sleuth in regard to the general feel of vague spookiness, danger or shall one say apprehension of the previous, not to mention a certain caffeinated adrenalized end of the line tension throughout.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The sidewalk is pink or orange depending on the rainy light.
I haven't learned to smoke yet
still operate in black and white.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Though it might give one the impression of being wayward, this bus knows exactly where it's going; why shouldn't it? It has an excellent driver at the wheel.

Mose23 said...

U V Ray, it's great to see another Midlander loitering with intent around this grand site. Those rough old towns around the North West edge of Birmingham have taken a real hammering, and yet the people there have such a clear sense of who they are, knowing themselves to be forgotten by the callow world beyond.

TC and Susan, thank you for your responses. It's good to see such sharp minds turning the piece over.



gritty photos, gritty poem --

"precisely not to show things. Ideally, nothing should be shown, but that's impossible. So things must be shown from one sole angle that evokes all other angles without showing them"


pink of light in clouds above shadowed
plane of buildings, edge of brown wall
in foreground, sound of cars in street

figures in blue, particular
figure a step removed

in which they belong, space
nothing more, and yet

whiteness of moon reflected in channel,
shadowed green pine on tip of sandspit

TC said...

Most thanks to you, WB. A pleasure all round to have this extremely affecting poem up here, and doubly so to have it visited by a Midlander with previous. This is a gang the world best look out for, in case the bus doesn't come.

Steve, shadowed green pine on tip of sand-spit is wonderful to see in the mind's eye as well as say.

Susan, we start out in the bilious chartreuse and weep over into the jaundiced saffron in the unearthly lurid bus light palette of the spirit.

Vassilis understands somebody's got to be conducting the bus.

Lying abed with a headache trying to sleep but instead hearing Wooden Boy's poem with its hard little end stopped lines, cut as by something sharp, it struck me how, out of all this darkness, the light comes twice -- lights out at the place of prayer, lights on in the bus and waiting for something to happen.

larry white said...

I hear you loud and true, here in a busless little village in Iowa, WB. Never been to your Blessed Isle but your poems and pictures do convey and compel my gratitude amid the thin rain's choruses (a bit heavier here for a welcome change). Thanks as always for conducting, Tom, and warm and wise fellow travellers.