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.

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



This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.