NaPoWriMo 2.1: Eat Chips

“Ten trillion flies can’t be wrong…”

**WARNING**

Parental Guidance – (Mildly) Explicit Lyrics

 

So it begins. And I do enjoy the challenge of NaPoWriMo – it’s amazing what you can generate when you sit down for half an hour and actually focus…

Today’s first prompt from NaPoWriMo is to write in response to a randomly-generated quote from the Bibliomancy Oracle – which is a fine and useful resource. Here’s what the Oracle returned for me to work with and what I did with it.

So as per my warning – it was poet Bruce Andrews who swore, not me, Guv…

 

Eat Chips: Voice Over for a Culinary Tourist Film

 

“Ten trillion flies can’t be wrong: Eat Shit.”

– from ‘Seven Poems’ by Bruce Andrews

 

Or failing that, why not come to sunny Hudders

where rather than eating shit, you could eat chips instead.

 

Here, there is no need to fear or ever be very afraid

for long ago was laid in the streets between the wounded

mills, the industrious larvae of the potato.

 

These days, you see, such as flies are we

to the Chippy: their homely tabbards

invite us to the counter

– glinting, silver, sleek –

into this slick of chips.

Here’s tea.

 

Behold your wriggling chips:

chips that crawl from the fryer’s

mouth, chips that whisper trans-

lucence through thinning paper. Chips that,

like copious ketchup sweet, squeeze

the days from your

pavemented

arteries.

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Pirates

Image

Last Saturday, I went on a workshop with the Canal Laureate, Jo Bell, about whom you can read more here.

We spent some time talking about detail – using specific canal-furniture names (boats, bridges, places) in writing – and then moved on to ‘becoming’ various combinations of watery figures. Myself and another writer became a poet and a jogger – both of whom were horrible people. But hey – they’re often more fun to write as (maybe).

Another boat-related idea had been flitting around in my head, which I’ve just had another go at. Having not been sure how to approach the topic, I epiphed (all over the place) on the way home. 

It was some speed-writing (thanks Natalie Goldberg, for the encouragement – from a book nearly as old as me – ‘Writing Down the Bones’) generated an image – so I went with it…

 

Pirates

 

My friend, like so many,

fears them intensely,

so when she asks me,

a glimmer of hope:

“Are you safe from them

on boats?” I’m obliged to say

No.

 

For never before have I existed

so closely alongside them. Shipmates.

Brushing my teeth in the morning, in the

lower-right corner of the window,

in one swings with a toothless grin –

its rope dewed with the white

frothy grog that is splashed

from my chin.

 

Attracted by the dusky glint

of our black-gold chimneys,

they hoist ragged sails there which –

gaping in the trading winds –

display the body-parts of victims.

 

At night, they are not as sociable as

popular images would have us think.

Don’t gather together to eat or drink

their pillaged bounty; engage in a customary

YARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Instead,

they loiter under gunwhales,

bristle between the welds of steel,

biding their dark-clad time. (Though

on the vacant ship next-moor

they’ve moved in – squatting – on a riot

of their crystalline rigging.)

 

So my friend says, “Oh Gina G!

I had thought you might be safe at sea.”

But no, for ours is the realm of the

Pirate: their map and their maws;

their plots and their prey;

their own many-cutlassed laws.

Snails, or Cycling in Shropshire

An uphill snail…

A brief post, as – after NaPoWriMo – I’ve had a bit of breathing space…But feel like the fallow time is done and the ideas they are a-flowing again.

Having just returned from a week in lovely Shropshire (which really is stunningly beautiful), I had a couple of rustic animal-related ideas (I do enjoy writing about animals). It’s a wonderful county and made me appreciate anew how many diverse landscapes we’re lucky enough to have on Our Curious Little Rock in the Atlantic (or, Britain, as it’s known).

Here’s one of the animal poems, about cycling in a hilly terrain while in otherworldly holiday-time:

 

Snails

or, Cycling in Shropshire

 

We trail the treads

of our tyre-tracks.

Thwarting

all Earth’s gravity,

all of time:

a week of our life,

all we can see,

stretching

over our backs.

Little Shadows

How a bee might see a flower – except, not really, because they *smell shapes* (kind of).

I’m brewing a project – a series  of workshops and performances – around BEES (I always feel I have to capitalise it) for this summer, called BUZZ WORDS (I credit thanks to Mr Ian Billings for assistance with the title).

So, with that in mind I’ve been looking out for bee-related stories, inspiration and reading – and tweeting bee-related excerpts from poems too. (They should show up on my Twitter-widget, bottom right).

One such story was this – the amazing symbiosis and (literally) electrical relationship between flowers and bees: plants can ‘communicate’ with bees how much pollen they have ‘in stock’, by changing their electrical field (excuse my usual mangling of scientific language). But the weird thing is that, from other reading I’m doing, bees don’t see in the same way we do at all – and nor can we really understand their ‘plastic sense of smell’, where – get this – shapes have fragrances. All very synaesthetic, which lends itself hugely to poetry, I reckon…

There’s an inherent impossibility trying to perceive as another animal might – but for me, that’s part of poetry’s job. To enjoy the plasticity of language and our imaginative faculties – which are, to a large extent, uniquely human. So this poem was trying to point towards what ‘being a bee’ might be like, but on human terms. (We don’t have any others, do we?)

The title takes its name from a terribly courtly and gorgeous song by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (the acoustic version) – so do have a listen (after reading). Just as flowers and bees have a symbiotic relationship, so do bees and humans – but who ends up the ‘shadow’ is still unclear. Hence the conclusion of the poem, perhaps: certainty is always plastic, being is always relative.

 

Little Shadows

 

Imagine that montage moment in the film

noir, where the PI  ranges the city streets,

neon lights lurid and rain-streaked and longing:

thinking thinking thinking about

what it is he doesn’t

yet know.  See it?

 

Imagine that, but now see it POV

and at nine-thousand times multiplicity

and instead of a He, you’re a She and you’re

flying flying flying about

at roof height, just knowing

knowing. OK?

 

Imagine that cutaway shot of a sign

which in the film says

GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS

all luminous-pink curving

tonguelike, now says:

ASTER X FRIKARTII.

 

That louche flashing purple

PRIVATE SHOW, now reads: SALVIA

NEMEROSA CARADONNA. Yeah?

 

And that raunchy Latin text becomes

a shape that bypasses your eyes

nine-thousand times and becomes the aroma

of everything – literally everything –

you have every wanted

or known. Right?

 

Imagine those nine-thousand

cutaway shots above a bar

of endlessly-pouring holy beer

have become a pendulum, pulling

your entire being with the breeze

of its transcendental scent,

the gravity of its colour. Yes.

 

And imagine that there’s no mystery,

only endless little shadows of yourself shining,

weaving through every single city street,

drinking drinking drinking in

the plastic certainty

of being.