Tuesday, 18 January 2011


“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.” - W.B. Yeats

I use an Apple computer and I have been an avid fan of Macintoshes for decades now (gosh, that makes me feel so old! ;-). Apple Macintosh is a computer system that I have always related to well as it allows me to do what I want to do intuitively and with minimal concentration on the workings of the computer. The computer software and hardware are there in the background, while I concentrate on what I do in the foreground, being adequately supported “invisibly” by the technology. Whenever I try and use other computer systems they feel clunky and unintuitive and inhibitory.

The reason I talk about this today is because Apple has introduced into its desktop computer operating system an App Store, similar to what you have when you go into iTunes with an iPhone or an iPad. One may download Apps for the desktop computers as one may download them for an iPhone or an iPad. There are Apps both free and to buy. Once downloaded one runs these like other programs on one’s computer. I have downloaded several and they are exceedingly good. One of my favourites is a program called “SketchBookExpress”, which is a sketching and drawing application.

As it is Poetry Wednesday, I am highlighting another of these Apps, called “Desktop Poems”. It is based on the popular fridge magnet poem generator sets that one may purchase in bookshops and giftshops. In these a selection of words are printed individually on pieces of magnetised plastic and one places these on the fridge door, to rearrange at will into short poems… I’ve always thought this a wonderful idea, much romance and culture hidden in this simple word game that can insinuate its way into the routineness of our existence. Desktop poems does the same in an electronic format on the desktop. One generates lists of words and may then arrange the individual words into clusters, rows, columns, tiers, groups and be inspired by them.

The illustration above is a screenshot of my desktop where I have generated a pile of words and I have captured the moment where I am in the process of arranging them into clouds of meaning. The poem below is the final result:

The Quickest Cut

Evening wine drunk from a dark glass,
While on the far horizon, the orange moon peeks,
Rising slowly, soon to wax into silvern fullness.

I watch as short summer withers the garden
And autumn hidden in the piles of refuse and cuttings,
Lies in wait, soon to appear and paint all with rust.

Your eyes, purple as night – light as your spirit –
Watch as your heart heaves in your bosom,
And your whole being yearns for winter’s peace.

The hand holding a knife is ugly, we think,
Until we need a quick solution to slowly dying problems
And a deft, sharp cut is much the gentlest form of release.

My left shoe pinches my great toe, my right ear itches,
Morning will bring with it fatigue, the price of a sleepless night –
I too, yearn for winter, peace and the knife’s quick cut.


  1. I am an Apple user also, having been won over about two years ago. Now I don't know why I put up with anything else for so long!
    What a wonderful idea for an App! I'll download it and try it.
    your poem is sad but beautiful, Nicholas...

  2. Oh Nic!!!! This is a great idea, but are all the words so gloomy? Can you pick some happy words for happy poems????

  3. Your words are so lovely, clear and lyrical. It's an interesting idea you use, yes, your technique to generate what Yeats so pithily and aptly describes as the argument within ourselves. Sometimes my poems, like the one I just wrote and am not entirely happy with, are pure fiction. Perhaps strong emotion is felt, but it doesn't always have to be about the self, as I am hoping this is not about you however beautifully arranged it is. :)

    January 20, 2011 12:10 AM