Robin Upton's Poetry - Poems about Growing Up, Moving On

If you write poems, I say keep writing and keep expressing yourself. Sometimes I suddenly get an urge to write one, other times a 'poemy' mood comes over me gradually (sometimes over days or even weeks) and I start writing. They are generally about topics I am beginning to understand and that I find difficult to express in other ways. Here are one or two ...

Unanswered Questions

1995 An effort to preserve my confused mental state on paper.

Yearend in June  My Pilgrimage To Hurst

1997 Introspective ones written at the Warwick University end of year party.
On Proving That God is Dead 1998 On the futility of using man's logic to tackle some issues.
Ode to Illums Bolighus 2000 Why clothes buyers are always smartly dressed... 
(Illums Bolighus is a Danish department store)
On Voiceovers in Zia International Airport 2001  A quick snapshot of how it felt waiting at the airport in Dhaka to travel back to UK.
Units Of Emotion 2002 Written to readers in future years who find it via a computer program that sifts through poetry like Google sifts through websites looking for text nowadays.
In Defence of Brave Old Words 2003 About the way in which the English language has mutated to follow our secular culture.


On Proving That God is Dead (1998)

One man said "God is dead. I can prove that might is right."
Another "Prove that black is black and white is white."

One man sought beauty in a young woman's body.
Another found it in the lines of an old woman's face.

One man saw some lines on a page.
Another stopped and read these words.

No one proved that this is a poem.



Unanswered Questions (1995)

I am here today and I have many questions and no answers.
How can I know more?

How did my body get old so fast,
While my mind is not yet young?

My friends are many and my foes are few,
So why do I feel the whole world is against me?

Why do the objects that surround me
Seem only pale reflections of their shadows in my mind?

If I can never know myself,
How then can I ever know others?

Do the stars above me and the earth beneath my feet know me better that I know myself,
Since they treat me more fairly?

How can so many uncertainties spring 
From the same unanswered question?

How can I explain my certainty
That when I am gone, life will go on?


Yearend in June (1997)

I hear the sound of supermarkets,
Upbeat and fast-paced,
But with the distinctive whiff of cheap coffee.
For every goodbye that is said,
There are ten left unsaid,
For every ten that are said,
There is one that is meant.
There is only one that is meant.
That three years can end in a single night.


My Pilgrimage To Hurst (1997)

I don't know what I am looking for,
So how will I know it if I find it?
Amongst the bottles, the cans,
and the will o' the wisps,
I left a part of myself,
So many years ago.

But now it's half light.
Now I can see where I am looking.
So many restless figures around me.
Yes, I am glad I did not come here in company,
Because I know now I would have left alone.


To understand this better, see the small explanation I wrote of the themes of this poem. (Written 7 years after the poem itself, in 2004)

On Voiceovers in Zia International Airport (2001)

The hum of the centralised airconditioning system
Dulls but does not drown out
The drone of the American voiceover
I wish, that I didn't understand English.

An eagerness of Bengalis, betrousered and besuited,
Fretfully tap their boarding cards.
Firmly grasping their tickets
To the new world.

A corner piece of a beautiful jigsaw,
I am content only to be face up,
Playing quietly by different rules,
As if in a world of my own.

A tourist not in Bangladesh but the world,
Here to wish it well every day I am given,
Yet as veterans recount the bravado of Midway,
I still wish, that I didn't understand English.


Ode to Illums Bolighus (2001)

Groomed and uniformed sphinxes stand erect,
Beaming sartorial smiles through invisible glass showcases.
So trained, so professional that one might wonder
For whose benefit they all sport explanatory labels.

Don't be dazzled by the explosion of faces, races and languages.
Behind the display stands, promotions and crazy offers
Computers and barcoded security staff are in perfect harmony,
Ensuring that entropy works backwards here.

Consumers sucked in by arrows, up walkways, from floor to opulent floor,
Patterned, channeled, sensualised into the grand design.
Sheer exposure to images and labels,
Lulling them into socialising with old friends.

Bags and wallets open,
Paper and plastic shake hands,
A smile flashes "Yes of course..."
Strange that sterility can be so seductive.


Units Of Emotion (2002)

One day When I have found fulfillment
My words and deeds alone
Shall witness of my mission.
As your attention purposed
To rest upon this record,
Consider now if through these marks
You can know more of me than I of you.
Can the Love that pens these words,
Now analysed, quantified, qualified,
Ever be understood or given life again?
These heirlooms I've set forth,
Are rugged and rough hewn enough
To well express my purport
That life is more than what is seen and felt,
What is dreamed and heard.
As by the time these words are weighed by our creations 
I will I hope have come to know for sure.


In Defence of Brave Old Words (2003)

Imagine a world
Without any problems
All rights to be claimed
No wrongs to be righted
Emotional support
Individually tailored
Suitably challenging
Behavioural patterns
Superhuman syntax
Predefining relations
Systematically reviewing
Interactional appropriateness
Well, I will not be there because
If I had a mission statement
It could not be in your language
My sinful old life just does not fit
Into the linguistic brave new world
Of known issues to be addressed
Cursed or not, it has its blessings
Even holiness
Amateurish or not, I am not afraid to be who I am
To love
Look me in the eye
And tell me it is 'inappropriate' to 'abuse'

I have published some more poetry here, including one that I wrote on poverty in Bangladesh. 

I only occasionally write poetry these days ... too much time spent on computers:(
If you like my poetry and would like to see more, please encourage me with an email to :)