Martian poems

Martian poems

– 1 –

Silent lords

A noble race, these silent lords,
Who walk on four long legs
And speak with their ears.

Their plodding servants,
Two legs short,
Feed them, dress them,
Clean their houses, tend their gardens,
And receive no word of thanks.

And when these mighty princes travel,
They take their bondsmen with them,
Slung like packs
On their broad backs.

 

– 2 –

The Red God

His image hangs in every home,
His effigy in every window:
The Red God is coming.

Ahead of him, the people race
From place to place
Their cheeks and purses hollowed out
By this frenzy in the cold.

For he must be propitiated
With gifts and feasts and sacrifice:
Only those who stand unblemished
Will know his favour on that night.

And yet, among the true believers,
The infidels wait furtively –
Another’s name upon their lips,
An ancient heresy in their hearts –
All but lost in the noise and glare
Of the Red God’s triumph.

 

I first came across Martian poetry back in 2004, had a go at writing some and really enjoyed it. Only now have I got round to publishing it. This pleasingly whimsical form, which was briefly in vogue in the late 70s/early 80s, centres on describing familiar things in unfamiliar ways – as though you were a Martian seeing them for the very first time, with no prior understanding of what they are, how they work, what they’re for and so on. The images can be surreal, surprising, and sometimes rather charming in their deliberate naivety: there’s also a whiff of the delightful Anglo-Saxon riddle verses about them, too, which I really love. These two are about horses and Santa Claus, by the way.

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10 thoughts on “Martian poems

  1. Hi Nick, these are lovely poems 🙂 The last one I first thought was about Sint Nicholas, who is up and about rooftops these days. Santa is his younger cousin. I had never heard of Martian poetry, (seen as if from Mars I suppose?) But you did it very well 🙂

    To see the world with different eyes, makes us understand ourselves better I think.

    Ina

    • Yes, as I understand it, the name ‘Martian’ poetry comes from a piece called ‘A Martian Sends a Postcard Home’ by Craig Rainer, in which he describes everyday objects (books, cars, babies etc) as if he was a visitor from Mars seeing them for the first time. I haven’t written any for ages, but I think I shall be having another go before too long…glad you liked them 🙂

  2. I have never run across the idea of Martian poetry before, even though I once wrote a play based on characters from The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. The idea intrigues me. Why not? Isn’t that what poetry is supposed to do, at least partially, to look at the everyday, heighten the reaction to it, and then see the moon or the sun or the stars or your true love’s face afresh in a way that is surprising? I don’t suppose that I do not also believe that poetry should have unalloyed truth and even unvarnished trueness at its core, but maybe not all the time. These are delightful, exercising the imagination as well as the sense of poetic wonder.

    • Thank you so much for visiting – and for your thoughtful, insightful comment. I’ve always agreed with the writer, whose name I forget, who said (of fiction, rather than poetry, but I think it still applies) that ‘just because something didn’t happen doesn’t mean it isn’t true.’

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