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James May at the edge of space - The Ex-Communicator

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July 28th, 2009

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10:13 am - James May at the edge of space
A poem I'm working on. I was thinking of taking out all the punctuation, but instead I have tightened it up since I posted this.

James May at the edge of space

Affable television presenter shot at vast expense

into the upper, upper top of air

sucked peach-mush in his suit and strapping,

looked on the curvature of Earth and said

"I can’t find the words."

AA Gill was outraged: "James,

if you can’t find the words

what are you doing on television?"

Neil Armstrong was on television once;

his words were written by another man,

and then he spoke no more.

The biosphere is a meniscus, which

refracts the sunlight in a blue slice.

At the edge of space it becomes clear

that Earth is our god but she is unconscious of us.

She is as dumb as rock,

and we must speak for her:

Neil, James, and all men and women

with dark minds

inimical to understanding

as the crushing interior of the sun -

that which we dare not see and may not know.

Below the sky, thoughtless of space,

drift into our gaping mouths, gold

words melting unearned like sunflakes.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 28th, 2009 10:18 am (UTC)
Can I ask about the rationale behind the caps and non-caps at the start of lines? Usually poems either have a cap at the start of each line, or caps where prose would use them, ie at the start of a sentence, but neither seems to be the case here. Also some sentences end in full stops and some don't. I like the second section in many ways, but not being sure exactly where sentences begin and end is making it slightly harder to read than it might be. Is this indicative of work-in-progress not being quite sure yet which conventions it wants to follow?
[User Picture]
Date:July 28th, 2009 10:20 am (UTC)
Well, it is a work in progress and I'm editing it on the screen. The rationale is to indicate when there's a greater or lesser break in the flow. I'm thinking perhaps take the punctuation out altogether though.

ETA - thanks for the food for thought. If I sounded distracted above it's because I am thinking about what you say, and haven't decided what to do yet.

Edited at 2009-07-28 10:53 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:July 29th, 2009 11:15 am (UTC)
I like that. And I saw the program that inspired it! :-D
[User Picture]
Date:July 29th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC)
(Thank you) I heard Stephen Fry talk about it, and he echoed AA Gill's criticism of James May, so I looked up the program and the review.

Edited at 2009-07-29 01:45 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:July 29th, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
I didn't mind that he was lost for words. I just enjoyed the sight with him.
[User Picture]
Date:July 29th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC)
I like the first section a lot. That many people who have been in space can't really describe it is great, as an idea - and makes sense; why should they have words? All the words were made for earth.
[User Picture]
Date:July 29th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Words made for Earth. I like that

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