Derek tastes of earwax

Derek Tastes of Earwax

Cool mint clink of the beer glass,
he holds it up to the light,
spies the bottom with his eye,
and grabs the sloppy seaweed bar cloth,
then several turns inside the glass:

squeak – sharp

squeak – lemon

squeak – sherbet

glass shines as new
ready to receive
heady liquid hops.

Zinc tablet dribbles peter –
“‘Ere ya go, mate!”,
he lands the pint with
a chocolate thud.

He’s grown accustomed
to the taste-sounds
of his pub and his locals…
well, almost…

The door creaks soaply open,
the call goes out:
“‘Ow goes it, Derek?”
He tries not to cringe
at the earwax appellation,
mutters under his breath:
“Damn you wet nappies
There’s no need to shout…
certainly not THAT name?”

Today at dverse we are working with synesthesia. The poem above is very loosely based on a BBC Horizon documentary, where a publican experiences tastes when he hears or thinks of words (earwax and wet nappies being taste examples he gets for certain names). I’ve extended the synesthesia into tastes for general sounds, as well as names, in this fictional scene.

I’ve also dug around in my archives for two short nature poems that also have synesthetic qualities. One is from 2006, and the other from 2010 (Tui is a New Zealand bird).

Sun Sounds

The sound of the sun
on freshly rained grass
brings out the awakening
dew of the lotus heart

Tui haiku

20130531-105910.jpgphoto credit: Sid Mosdell via Wikipedia

Song of a tui
light refracting through glass
tuneful rainbow


58 thoughts on “Derek tastes of earwax

  1. oo i like the sounds of the sun on fresh rained grass….very cool….like your pub crawl…names that sound like earwax….intriguing you saw this on a documentary…love the choices you made though as seaweed def gives texture to the wash rag…ew…ha…the cool mint clink of glass is a cool one as well..

  2. Very intriguing offering you’ve served up today, I rather like “Sun Sounds” & “Tui haiku” plus some great lines in the first poem !! but then again I’m a sucker for any poem with a beer glass and a bar in it !!! You’ve got my mouth watering for a frosty pint right about now, how bout’ it mate ?

  3. This title is awesome! The title alone does it for me, but the imagery, the talking interludes, the sherbet squeak… this has it all. What a fantastic piece! -Mike

  4. Three excellent examples and the pub one I could really see in front of me,,, including the earwax and the dirty glasses, and just as Victoria points out synesthesia lends itself so well to haiku and shorter poetry… I really liked that I can put a name to things I’ve done before.

    • Yes, though I’m perhaps a little too precious about the use of the word “synesthesia” because of my brain and cognition background. There’s such a big difference between imagining associations for poetry, and the actual condition (it can be quite debilitating for someone: crossing a busy city street is difficult when all the sounds appear as colors disrupting the visual scene), so I’m a little tentative about using the term, preferring synestheticeque or quasi-synesthetic, but they are quiet unwieldy words…oh, well.

  5. the tuneful rainbow… so cool and really fascinating about him tasting words…earwax..ha…so special…the sound of sun on fresh rained grass is cool as well..

  6. taste! yes, of course. I often forget that sense. The colors you bring about through the senses are amazing. I really love your haiku- a dance of sight and sound.

  7. ..these are lovely offering Rowan… and can you pls write more of this Tui bird..i thought it was a bleeding heart pigeon at first glance.. smiles.. the sound of sun is indeed really nice… glad you can hear him when he wakes the world everday… smiles…

    • The Tui is a lovely bird (from the bellbird family, with a curved bill for nectar sipping). There’s also a national beer called Tui, so there’s even a tie in with the first poem : )

  8. “tuneful rainbow” a pairing I won’t forget–beauty! Loved the bar scene–not too long ago I re-read Oliver Saks’ the man who mistook his wife for a hat and thought about writing about the patients who experience true synesthesia. Glad I didn’t because you did a brilliant write–really wildly fun!

    • Oliver Saks is a wonderful writer, and I love that book. I encourage my students to read it, as it gives a compassionate feel for the patients, which can be missing in scientific presentations of cases. I’m so glad you enjoyed my poem : )

  9. I live and learn – ‘Synesthesia’! It begs for manipulation at the hands of a playful poet and you begin with an opening phrase that I swear I actually heard. I’m not kidding. Having set the benchmark the reader is now aware of what you’re up to and understands what follows. This is a very clever technique and I congratulate you on your use of it as a device to add a sonic element to your words (and names). Very well done and beautifully read Rowan.

    Your quatrain is a lovely melodious enjambment and the haiku is dazzling.

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