Sunday, May 2, 2010

Small Mercies

I read there’s a growing shortage of secondary teachers. Pay! On today’s scales there’s little reward for going teaching. Pity and shame. A nation needs good teachers.

I also read that the Guardian has withdrawn support for Labour in the UK elections. Instead they are going for the Liberals. Bye Bye Gordon Brown.

Finally I read that Obama has suspended further oil drilling while they try to douse the spill in the Mexican Gulf. It seems to me the risk of a blowout is always there and anything at sea must be more difficult to end than one on land. Our dependency on oil has consequences.

NZCER has given me a book draft for comment. That’s keeping me out of mischief.

I’ve watched two very different DVDs over the last two days. The first was ‘River of No Return’ (1954) starring Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum. Apparently there were huge relationship problems making it but I was an impressionable young man when I saw it. It is obvious now that the close-up shots of Monroe and Mitchum on the raft were shot in a studio tank. But at the time I was very unsophisticated. I enjoyed seeing it again – and the Canadian countryside.

The nurse arrived to dress my wound while I was watching. I stopped it running while she worked. She asked what I thought of Monroe. I said ‘she’s more chunky than today’s actresses.’ She said ‘I’d say voluptuous.’ 

The other DVD was (2007) ‘Miss Austen Regrets’ a BBC produced drama film based on the last few years of Jane Austen’s life. Rather sweet as a story though I suspect grossly inaccurate about the actual events. A heroine with common sense, the exact opposite of Monroe.

Watching the old western with its emphasis upon guns and right and wrong – The American fixation on guns is partly based on these nostalgic movies – I found the metaphor for a poem I’d started and which was going no where. I saw the movie while at Varsity. On of my texts that year was Matthew Arnold’s book on ‘Culture and Anarchy’.

Small Mercies

A stumble
a frantic grab
a great tear of skin
from my right forearm

Twice weekly
the district nurse
comes to dress it.

It could have
been worse
I didn’t fall
no bones broken
the skies
didn’t tumble

In my youth
men were expected to
act like Robert Mitchum
& woman to be built
like Marilyn Monroe
happily, it is not
necessarily so

Culture & anarchy -
despite the odds, my
life’s favoured the former

& life.

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