John Looker’s poetry collection, The Human Hive, recently published by Bennison Books, is now available for Kindle.
The theme of the collection is our humanity, seen through the lens of human work in all its forms. One of the most intriguing sections is the author’s exploration of the ‘states of mind’ that we can all experience through work. These are portrayed via a range of very different individuals, from an ambassador and caretaker to a clown and ploughman.
The feelings and thought processes of these various men and women (the author’s portrayals of women are as adept as those of men) are portrayed with precision and economy, and the poems are both moving and insightful.
We can easily identify with these common human predicaments: we too, like the caretaker, conjure with the nature of time (why do they say it flies?), and like the ploughman, look forward to ‘home and the intimate night’.
Below are extracts from two very different poems in the collection’s ‘state of mind’ section. The first explores a dancer’s hope and anticipation, while the second, claustrophobic and terse, takes us inside a submarine to share the tensions of ‘life inside a tube’.
Excerpt from ‘Dancer’
She turns and takes a final look at the room:
the mirrors across the wall, the well-sprung floor.
If you ignore the lights, it’s like a womb
where music finds embodiment in dance.
Re-living the last half-hour, she shuts the door.
What did they think of that?
This was the feared audition, the longed-for chance.
Those weeks, let’s say the years, of preparation
had worked their alchemy: as though entranced
her mind and the music fused, her body became
line and shape, gesture, and lightness of motion.
Excerpt from ‘Submariner’
Life inside a tube:
the narrow passageway
from hatch to hatch; the dubious
air; the constant light;
men asleep by day
with mates packed tight
around the table to eat;
a metal world where sight
stops at a glowing screen
just two feet
away; each day a scene
of constant watching, listening,
careful not to be seen
or heard themselves, alert
to others watching, listening…