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Monday, October 13, 2008

Poetry of Jim Murdoch

Here we have a few jewels of the Jim Murdoch's poetry with a brief introduction from the author.

I have been writing poetry for 36 years, longer I expect than most of you reading this now will have lived. You'd think by now I might have a wise word or two to say about it. The thing I've learned about wisdom is how simple it is. If you look at Aesop's fables or the parables of Jesus the language is nothing less that ordinary. You don't need to be clever to be wise if you follow me.

A lot of poetry I've read over the last 36 years has been clever, too clever for its own good in most cases. I try not to be clever. That doesn't mean I'm not intelligent because I am, and I have the IQ to prove it, but I've always found people look down on clever people; it's even used as disparaging term, as in clever clogs. No one likes a clever clogs.

So, over the years I've tried to wrap up what I've had to say in neat little packages, short poems that say what they have to say and get off the page because if people don't like a clever clogs they really don't like a long-winded clever clogs.

I think poetry is the most natural of things. Far more people will attempt a poem at some time in their lives than will sit down to write a story or a play. Not all stick with it. It's seen by many as something people grow out of. And for many it is. But I still think that fundamentally most people have a soft spot for poetry and feel let down when something calling itself a poem is presented to them and they don't get it. I know I do.

Anyway, Jasko asked me if I'd present a short selection of my poems here and I'll leave it up to you to judge how much wisdom I've managed to cram into these few lines.


"What's that?" I asked her.
"Saline solution,"
the matron replied,
as she fixed the drip,

"Your wife has lost so
many tears it is
critical that we
replace them. She can

live without hope or
a life or even the
truth as long as she
can cry about it."


For this poem
to operate
properly it
requires a moment
of meaningful silence
at its centre.

A moment of
meaningful silence
is not included
with this poem.

To begin
your poem
to the full please
insert your moment
of silence:

[ h e r e ]

I am sorry
but your moment
of meaningful
silence has not been
inserted properly.
Please try again.

If the poem
does not begin to
move you please remove
the moment of

silence and return
the poem
to the author
for immediate


The girl who lives next door is sad.
She lives on her own
and is probably a lesbian.
We have only her sadness
as proof and the
fact she drives an
sporty car.

The car is fire engine red,
a two-seater and
purrs like a cat.

The girl next door is plain and short.
I don't know her name.
She looks like a fourteen year-old boy,
a sad fourteen year-old boy,
at least I was.
I would not have
been sad if I'd had that
red sports car.

I sometimes wonder what Freud
might have had to say
about all of this.


“All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” – Pascal

A man walks into
an empty room.
There is nothing there
and no one there.

That is to say no
one else is there.
He is all alone
with his own thoughts.

Entering the room
is significant.
Being in the room
is significant.

Where the room is
is irrelevant.
Who the man is
is not important.

What it really
means to be alone
is something he
might consider though

while he's waiting.


You vanished in a second.
That was all it took.
I blinked and then
you were gone.

A bird landed where you'd been.
I shooed it away.
A man stopped to
eat his lunch.

I asked him: "Could you move, sir?"
Soon a construction
crew arrived to
erect a

monument but not to you.
A dog came along
and peed on it.

The first four poems originally appeared in the print edition of Gloom Cupboard #3 and 'The War and After' was written as a response to Jasko's post In the Blink of an Eye.



You sure do get around in cyber space, and interesting as always. I very much like all of these poems, In fact I think 'YOUR STATUTORY RIGHTS ARE NOT AFFECTED' is really great.

Rachel Foxsaid...

Well, here we all are!
I like this -
"I think poetry is the most natural of things."
I love it in fact. I may write it on the wall outside our house.
I like the tears poem someone who has cried LOADS it made me smile right through. My favourite of yours so far? Maybe. Like the rights one too.

Michelle Gartnersaid...

"I think poetry is the most natural of things. Far more people will attempt a poem at some time in their lives than will sit down to write a story or a play. Not all stick with it. It's seen by many as something people grow out of. And for many it is. But I still think that fundamentally most people have a soft spot for poetry and feel let down when something calling itself a poem is presented to them and they don't get it. I know I do."

This whole thought is true and
you have really hit the nail on the head, especially the idea that poetry is something we grow out of. Some people think that poetry is just a sport for maudlin teenagers who aren't athletic and sob at the drop of a hat. Something to be discarded when the hormones calm down, and the teen gets a real job and a life...

Great poems- thanks for sharing!

Jim Murdochsaid...

I'm not sure what happened to my last response but I'd hate you to think I was ignoring you, Rachel and Sorlil - and I seem to recall it was quite a long response too but I can't think what it was I was on about now. I'm glad you liked the poems you did though.

Jasko, you might want to check if you have any unmoderated comments lying around.

And, Michelle, I guess that makes me a maudlin adult. Glad you liked the poems. I have a guest post on a similar theme, Why Am I a Poet? Which you might also like to have a look at. No poems I'm afraid.

J. C.said...

Jim, I do not have the comment moderation enabled so the reason why comment did go through is a mystery to me. Cheers.


Great poems Jim, I particularly liked Penis Envy - I'm sure Freud would have said you are normal!

I was suspended from highschool for a poem I wrote in an English class contest; however, it was not my teacher who was responsible for me getting in trouble. He proclaimed my poem the best in class and he himself was almost fired. The poem was misinterpreted in meaning by an inept school principle. My teacher said to me, "Don't let this get you down. You are a talented writer and you should go write as much as possible!"

He was great, Mr. Royce Ladner, may he rest in peace:)

Jim Murdochsaid...

Thanks for the feedback, Bobby, but, of course, there's only a smattering of truth in the poem; the rest are lies masquerading as truths. My next-door neighbour actually is gay although she'd be hard pressed to pass for fourteen, late teens maybe, and, yes, she did buy a sporty red car a while back which seemed so out of character for her. That said it did get her a new girlfriend so something worked right. Oh, and I do know her name but I'm not telling. Like all boys I did have some interest in flash cars when I was wee but I'd pretty much grown out of that by the time I was twelve, younger probably.

As for your school story, yeah, far too much of that goes on. I just caught the tail end of an old episode of The Wonder Years a week or so ago, one where the new trendy teacher is forced to conform or resign so she quits rather than fight the system much to Kevin's disappointment. I'm afraid pretty much all my teachers were very old school. No "O Captain! My Captain!" moments where I grew up.


I like the simplicity of your words-- it can be read fast and in the end you get much. keep writing Jim!

Jim Murdochsaid...

Khayse, that really is the bottom line for me. I'm really not a very patient guy. I'm better now I'm older but when I was young it used to drive me made just waiting for a bus. I'd end up walking halfway home by the time it caught up with me.

The thing about a short poem is that you can easily reread it two or three times but the longer the piece the less likely. And when I do look at long poems what I see (I don't know about anyone else here) are several small poems all joined up. Either that or a short poem that didn't know when it had said enough.

Thanks for your feedback. Glad you liked them.

Dave Kingsaid...

I'm sorry, the language may be simple, but the poems are very clever - in the best sense of the word, not at all disparaging.


I enjoy reading your poems. Cheers :)


I agree with you Sorlil

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