Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


The Faces of Men

How quickly
the Light of the Sun

12 February 1978

This is my shortest poem if you don’t count the title. If you include the title—and why wouldn’t you?—the shortest poem was a nine word haiku—my only haiku—written in 2008. I’ve never been the most loquacious of poets but even by my standards this is short and yet after all these years it still satisfies me. I don’t feel anything more needs to be said. The only changes I’d make would be to get rid of the capitals on ‘light’ and ‘sun’ but that’s what I was doing then and so they stay.

Whenever I think of this poem I imagine one of those motivation posters so popular in the Soviet Union and China where everyone is happy and healthy and smiling at something funny that’s happening out of our field of vision. It’s not meant to be a political poem. It’s actually about mortality, my version of Pozzo’s “They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.”



Gwil W said...

don't question

without our books
of guidelines
where would we be

9 words
11 with title

Jim Murdoch said...

Okay, Gwilliam, you win. I’m off to sulk. Either that or to try to think of something very pithy to say.

Gwil W said...

The shortest poem I know is titled Fleas. Here it is in full.


had them.

Gwil W said...

I've linked my blogpost of today to your masterpiece.

Jim Murdoch said...

I suppose the various pwoermds that are kicking around would be the shortest form out there, Gwilliam, the very smallest (at least according to Geof Huth) being the four letters of Aram Saroyan's "Blod." As far as ‘Fleas’ goes I know it well. It used to be my party piece. I hated those kinds of parties where you were expected to get up and do a turn and so that was mine. Before my audience knew what had hit them I was sitting down again. If we’re being pedantic though my shortest poem is my visual poem #1051.

Jim Murdoch said...

Now sure why the link to #1051 isn't working (at least it's not for me) so here's it in full:

Gwil W said...

Is the visual poem on video?

Jim Murdoch said...

No, Gwilliam. Can you not see it? It's from this post, if you scroll down to 'Day Two'. I suppose it could be animated but I wouldn't know where to start.

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