I read this poem out at the latest Seahaven Poets open mic session in Seaford.
We had a really lovely evening.
Here it is:
Bang, to the beat of a drum, a cycle, a rhythm, driving life forward, creating a pace in life’s repetition, providing us reference to time’s frightening passage, marking the difference between now and tomorrow – time marked in birthdays, mournings, and love.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, awakening the ears of a tender-brained new born, tying young minds to patterns respected, instinct braided to standard conformance, we watch an infant through measured progression, tied and rated to milestones and notches, percentiles, convention.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, children’s progression forced in patterns familiar, nativities, recitals, playgrounds and parties, sheltered environs for tender young minds, arenas of love intended for play, a chance to express and cut loose imagination, learning of life in cosseted form.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, classrooms and rulers, rules and conditions, indoctrination, acceptance, growth and development, experience controlled in bland human artifice, authority dooms us to channelled rote-learning, arranged by menu, exam and one-sized curriculum.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, being taught what to think , how to act and respond to the call of life’s standards, what we’re taught life expects, to fit the right niches in just the right ways, to aspire to the hierarchy, the fight for success, our paradigm of life, our coveted cause.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, rating folk based on tantrums of testing, discerning who’s worthy through persistent assessment, teaching the difference between ourselves and success, providing safe means to self-measure, self-rate, showing ourselves how we self-disappoint.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, stuffed full of learning, brimful of ideals, walking in shoes too large for their standing, assuming authority through knowledge and lesson, lesson and craft that’ll never be used, lesson and craft that’s so simply forgotten, lesson and craft we leave blindly behind.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, hurtling face first into long-broken territory, breaking new ground for which nothing prepares you, untaught, unlearned, your instinct fulfils you, forging ahead in meek-humble acceptance, not thinking to look at life’s last ultimatum.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, so sure of your purpose, so sure of your tilt, so sure you fulfil your life’s every demand, so sure you respond to every requirement, so sure you are certain you know what you do, the why, the wherefore, the one fundamental, so sure of yourself and what you intend.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, this one final stanza, this last thrashing struggle, collecting regrets of friendships forsaken, words meant but unspoken, chances now gone for the will on the wayside, action untaken against every intention, we find that we’ve lived life’s massive distraction.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, some lessons unlearned in the absence of chance, some lessons unlearned in obstinate ignorance but one lesson learned in absolute fashion, everything gained is left here in desolence, everything here is forgotten in myth, everything here stays on here without you.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, how many regrets, how much disappointment, you can’t change the past but it haunts you in moments, take note of the warnings from those in the know, seize daily the chance thrown out by so many, seize life by the horns and wrestle ‘til done.
Bang, to the beat of a drum, you’ve gone now you’ve passed on you’re looking back sighing, those lessons you learned picked out in cognition, purpose and reason seem shadowed by doubt, you see all the reasons you gave for your efforts, and you see all the ways you’ve been missing the point.