Cell Block Twenty-Nine

I haven’t seen the sun for days,
Nor felt Compassion’s gentle ways;
My body’s weak, but courage stays,
In Cell Block Twenty-Nine.

They tell me “Falun Gong’s a lie!”
And if I don’t renounce, I’ll die
For price of liver, lung, or eye,
In Cell Block Twenty-Nine.

They type my tissue, take my blood
Until my veins refuse to flood;
And as result, I fall with thud
In Cell Block Twenty-Nine.

Please let this misery be done;
Not for my sake, for everyone
Who lives in pain, and yearns for sun,
In Cell Block Twenty-Nine.

 

Andromache’s Plea

Based on the farewell scene from Book VI of Homer’s Iliad

Love shows her truest face in times of war,
As Hector’s wife, Andromache, made clear.
Although she understood their fate was sure;
These pointed words she thrust, sharp as a spear:

“I would be better dead and buried: gone,
If valour leads you to Destruction’s door!
Because, without you, how could I go on?
You are my husband, family, much more!
Astyanax is still a babe in arms;
His memories of you will fade to scars.
With tear beclouded eyes, bereft of charms,
I’ll look on lonely nights instead of stars”.

Said Hector: “Only cowards sit and shirk
While Trojans brave face up to Freedom’s work!”

 

David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He is Winner of the 2018 Friends of Falun Gong Poetry Competition. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry.

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10 Responses

  1. David Hollywood

    Great poetry on both counts David, both forlorn with tragic outcomes, and you certainly picked very strong descriptions and sentiments and put them together with tremendous control and structure. Thank you.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Thank you David for your appreciation of these poems. Matching description with complementary formal structure is something I always aim to achieve.

      Reply
  2. Joseph Tessitore

    Powerful stuff, David – very well done.

    I will always be impressed with the fact that you have the wherewithal to write about this.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Thank you Mr. Tessitore! There are such a wide range of poetic subjects to choose from in regard to contemporary issues, and great classical works.

      Reply
  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    In line 12, “tear-beclouded” is a compound adjective, and needs a hyphen.

    Reply
  4. James Sale

    I like these poems, especially Andromache’s Plea. The ending reminds me of that wonderful cavalier poem by Lovelace, To Lucasta Going to the Wars, and quoting from memory: “I could not love you half so much, / Loved I not honour more”, which conveys I think your sentiment too. The purpose of life is not to exist, but to be consumed by a higher purpose and the transcendent order of things. Well done, David.

    Reply
  5. David Watt

    Thank you James for your thoughtful comments. You are quite right in saying that we are here for a higher purpose, and that this is my sentiment in “Andromache’s Plea”. “To Lucasta Going to the Wars” is an astute comparison, at least in regard to the sentiment expressed.

    Reply
  6. Walibee Scrude

    Mr. Watt’s “Cell Block 29” reminds me of Romantic Keats’ “La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Victorian Tennyson’s “Lady of Shallott”, and Postmodernist Silverstein’s “Sick”; but the topic, the tone, and the attitude are wrong for that juxtaposition. Maybe the author, or some other reader, could more clearly contextualize it in English (including Australian) literature. Nevertheless, the skeleton of the poem is good; and though the poem could be improved, the refrain works well, especially when it has to pay double duty.

    Mr. Watt reminds me, as do Mr. Sedia, Ms. Foreman, and so many others here @ SCP of the importance of music in our verses, even as some are striving for a more rational and encompassing poetry, a more spiritual and ethical poetry, a more scientific and rugged poetry, a more powerful and enduring poetry. As we nearly complete 18% of the 21st century, there are so many things to hold in the balance, if our attempts to advance English literature and letters in our era are successful, in Australia, in New Zealand, in Singapore, in India, in South Africa, in Kenya, in Nigeria, in the United Kingdom, in Ireland, in Canada in the United States, etc.

    Who knows what we might not accomplish now that we have our own Thersites, Mr. B—-, alongside our eBullient Boosters, who are everywhere in the woodwork? For some reason I am reminded of Pound’s Vortex!

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Hello Wallibee,

      Thank you for taking the time to consider and comment on “Cell Block 29.”

      I am certainly a fan of Keats, and Romantic poetry in general. On the other hand, I enjoy adding humor to my poetry, if the topic allows. There are also Australian influences, including Banjo Patterson, from which I try to learn more.

      You hit on what I think is a critical aspect of formal poetry: musicality.
      Musicality is what makes a formal poem enjoyable to read. We all strive to match a suitable poetic form to a particular topic. Rhythm, or musicality, adds the remaining touches.

      In mentioning Pound’s “Vortex”, I believe you allude to ‘directing maximum energy.’ The likes of Sedia, Foreman, and others here at SCP are doing just that, in a sincere effort to advance English literature. We are fortunate to have the SCP as a platform from which to launch this effort.

      Reply

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