First Lines – a poem for National Poetry Writing Month

I’m dipping into National Poetry Writing Month again. After a quick browse through the prompts on the Lagan Press website I chose not today’s but that of Day 7: First Line – “Pick a poetry book off your shelf and select a poem (don’t think too much about it, be random, choose a particular favourite, or just a well known one). Write down the first line of the poem, and use this as a jumping off point for your own piece.”
The book I picked from the shelf was Seamus Heaney’s collection ‘Human Chain’ and the poem that was on the first page I opened was ‘The Conway Stewart.’
So with a nod of thanks to the late great Seamus Heaney, here is the first draft of a poem which I will for now call ‘First Lines.’

 

First Lines

‘Medium’, 14-carat nib.
It mattered in those early days,
what type of pen I used.
As if a finer point or nicer colour
could somehow produce
a better tale.

These days
most of my work is hammered out
on a laptop keyboard,
garnering speed to meet a fast-approaching print deadline
head on.

I smile sometimes
at the criteria by which I once judged pens.
Now my preference
is the cheap ballpoint that moves swiftest
across my reporter’s pad
and doesn’t smudge, keeping my shorthand
legible and true.

14-carat
is still the aspiration,
be it in news or prose or life,
though now I know
that what is gold
does not tend
to glister.

 

©Siobhán McNamara

 

 

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