Moving Images 2: Sonic

“A world so flat and fair that everyone gets three lives…”

I’m continuing to write in response to moving image resources online…

This week, I noticed that there’s a whole array of computer games ‘Speed Runs’ (which you can peruse here) – where people screen-record themselves doing a game really fast. So I started writing around a particular game on there to see what happened – but moved on to other remembrances of computer games from my life.

Gaming might not seem like an obvious source of poetic inspiration – but I and many others spent a significant amount of time on Resident Evil, or Super Mario Bros, or – as in this poem – Sonic The Hedgehog. 

I’m also reading Double Bill: Poems Inspired by Popular Culture – so perhaps that ‘zooming in’ on a particular pop-cultural facet of life and seeing where it takes you was on my mind.

It’s not – of course – necessarily about Sonic the Hedgehog…

Sonic

The surname bristles too close to my pew.
As we shuffle out, I lay down five gold coins
for a hedgehog charity (instead of flowers).

And I’m back to the burnt 80s hues of our garden,
where the grandmother we shared laid down un-
diluted curiosity and cat food there, under analogue flash.

And I’m back to Sonic the Hedgehog: my lurid 16-bit
teens. A modular world of layers, levels where
you could curl into a ball and smash through walls.

A world so flat and fair that everyone gets three lives
or more if you gather those hundred gold rings, or know
the right buttons to press. And that dark screen appears:

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The Rules of Twister or, Meaning of Whirl

One of the recent, unusual, French funnels.

Recently, there have been tornadoes in both the USA and in France (!), where they are much less common an occurrence and, mercifully for the French, much less powerful.

So in a bid to capture something of their violence and swirling destruction, I put to use the Lazarus Corporation Text Mixing Desk in conjunction with Google Translate, the internet, and my brain.

Essentially, I put the rules of Twister and definitions of tornadoes through the Mixing Desk (I’m really not sure how it works, apart from removing expletives, or swear words, and generally cutting up the text you put in).

I then alternated (ish) a line from each (the rules and the definition) and – in honour of the recent French ‘tornades’ – put this through Google Translate from English, to French, to (one of their former colonies and because it’s a symbol language), Vietnamese – then back and forth until the language got confused.

At each point, I saved the intermediary translation, then chose the ones I liked at the end and tinkered with it (to give it something of a vortex-form, too – dot dot dot…).

Sometimes when the ideas aren’t a-flowing, you’ve got to prime them. It’s a fun experiment – and perhaps captures something of a whirl of meaning and confusion in the language, as twisters/tornadoes/tornades/cơn lốc xoáy (that’s the Vietnamese) actually cause in real life…

I also like that ‘the Referee’ came up as a figure with the agency: whether that’s the Weather itself, or a God (if you’re so inclined), or Chance, is up to you…

 

The Rules of Twister

or, Meaning of Whirl

 

…the Referee can call, may, may call out:

appearance, emergence of a funnel-shaped cloud.

The colouring arrow – pointing, advancing

large progress. Great examples

power the steering wheel. Then

the Referee spins the spinner, then…

 

…someone or something turns violent

or mobile: devastating, devastating spiral

calls out to the part of the body

of winds turned violent, rotating

with action and passion. Then

the Referee must turn again

a different colour, then…

 

NaPoWriMo 30: Here, Roots Are Not Joined

You fear, you fear her return.

 

IT IS THE END OF NAPOWRIMO. And it really has been marvellous.

I’ve just one poem (apart from that below) I would like to finish today and will have produced over 30 poems throughout April. It’s been a very positive experience: keeping poetry with me all the time; being exposed to new forms and stimuli; and discovering many talented creative-cousins out there.

So, the final piece was to create a poem of ‘inversion’: to find a poem you like and then to invert each word until you end with an interesting mirror-image of the original piece.

See if you can guess the original, from this sinister/sad-sounding one…I really did go as literally opposite as possible, although some words (and ideas) are pesky in not being binary (or not appearing so) and having an opposite. So there’s a bit of flex in my ‘opposites’.

The only clue I’ll give is that ‘here’ in my poem, was ‘there’ in the original…And the title is not literally an inversion, but an inversion of the original meaning (in a native language) of the original’s title!

Confused? Read on…

 

Here, Roots Are Not Joined

 

Tomorrow morn, beneath this floor

You shunned this woman, she who is here –

She is here tomorrow, once again:

You fear, you fear her return.

 

If you go, at nine in the morn, tomorrow

This woman will be left, by you, here.

So, if you are blind, beneath this stair

You could imagine her here.

Come here, come here, I will leave ever more.

Come here, come here, but open the door (whoosh!).

 

Tomorrow morn, I will feel beneath this floor

That the giant woman is here.

She is here tomorrow, once again:

Ah, why do you fear her coming?

NaPoWriMo 26: Stories and/or Plans and/or Ideas

This became the nickname for my Mum, so my step-dad made her an actual Mothership logo - AWESOIME.

This became the nickname for my Mum, so my step-dad made her an actual Mothership logo – AWESOIME.

 

Here’s my Day 26 offering, from Jo Bell’s lovely prompt to write a sonnet (or something sonnet-like) about your parents, distributing the lines across your Mum (ABABCD on Sandy, then), then your Dad (CDEFEF on Jeremy, then) and finally, you – for the last couplet (GG on me, then).

It was a fairly quick effort – been a busy day at work! But I managed to keep to the structure – and I hope made it a positive and celebratory piece, to contrast with yesterday’s Picnic Ballad.

I hope you enjoy it and get some insight into both of my parents – and consequently, about me. (And if either of them is reading this, I hope none of it seems unjust or unkind 😉 )

 

Stories and/or Ideas and/or Plans

 

The Mothership: an endless story told

like growing hair heroic silver-grey

and given to the air. She does enfold

each waif and stray; narrates each passing day

 

in technicolour. Even through dark acts

her voice can send out parcels to lost hands.

And he, a voice of malleable facts,

whose mind is full of ideas and/or plans

 

or more the first, or half of the latter.

So given to the earth, so given to

burying in objects and a smatter-

ing of  blushed-untolds, or prides never-knew.

 

And I: am I story, plan, or idea?

I am all three: part told, unfurling, here.

NaPoWriMo 25: Picnic Ballad

Here is your hamper…

…have a lovely time

Sometimes, you’ve just got to let it all out. But, so a long-standing motto of mine goes: Make Your Pain Entertaining.

It’s not been a great day, so when the prompt of a Ballad came through, I wrote the following ‘picnic ballad’. Don’t worry, it won’t be anything as chintzy as you first imagine.

The idea came from working with a student today, on Tennyson’s ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade‘, which features the lines ‘All in the valley of Death/ Rode the six hundred’.

And the student asked, ‘Why have I written there’s no hope of them coming back as a note underneath it?’ 

To which I responded, ‘Well, if I said I was going for a picnic in the Forest of Despair, would you think it was going to be a nice picnic?’

And so when I got in, I wrote this, about that very forest. It just sort of…popped out.

Probably best to read it either if you’ve had a really good day, or a really bad one.

I might get it set to music.

 

Picnic Ballad

or, As I Wrote This My Pencil Snapped and As I Typed It Up My Computer Shut Down

 

[CHORUS]

The city’s full of scorpions,

There’s locusts in the air:

We’re going for a picnic in

The Forest of Despair.

 

The wrought-iron gothic entrance gates

Say we should turn around;

But we have flesh and knives and plates

And Gingham for the ground.

 

[CHORUS]

 

Among the leaves, the birds do sing

Ballads of woe and fear;

But we shall thwart their whispering

With bread stuffed in our ears.

 

[CHORUS]

 

The squirrels bury in the ground

All hopes of picnics past

And six feet down, they can’t be found –

The tree-rats dig too fast.

 

[CHORUS]

 

Up in the balmy, cloudless sky

The Sun’s great furnace fumes.

His black baseball-cap upon high

Which reads: “I OWN YOUR DOOMS”.

 

[CHORUS]

 

We’ll leave there with our bellies full

Of Emptiness and Pain

And – gored by the resident bull –

Plan when we’ll come again.

 

[CHORUS]

 

Around these tangled roots of lines

The bindweed-mind writes QUIT:

Its gobby trumpets blare and whine

That life can be a chit*.

 

[FINAL CHORUS,

REPEAT AD INFINITUM UNTIL

YOU CAN NO LONGER BREATHE:]

 

The city’s full of scorpions,

There’s locusts in the air:

So join us for a picnic in

The Forest of Despair.

 

*Be careful not to misread this rhyme as something rude: a ‘chit’ is, in fact, ‘a signed note for money owed for food, drink, etc.’ or ‘any receipt, voucher, or similar document, especially of an informal nature’. Thus, life is merely a receipt or short note – perhaps just a poem, like this one. Cheerful, eh?

(ADDENDUM: if you enjoyed this one, then why not try my other NaPoWriMo musical efforts: A Sea Shanty for Failed Urban Development and The Pies of Awareness – which feels like a sister piece to this one. Sometimes I write happily; sometimes I write grumpily; usually I write with energy. Such is life!)

NaPoWriMo 23: A Triolet for Entropy

The Universe loves things to get more disordered. (So most of us fit right in – We Are Stardust!)

I’m running on a slightly altered NaPoWriMo timetable, or flexi-time, if you will: there’s a Welcome and a Blessing brewing for Sunday, from earlier prompts. But as I’ve slightly stumbled on these – and am going to return to them – I thought I’d try out a triolet from today’s NaPoWriMo prompt.

Looking around for some inspiration, I found this article about entropy and intelligence – which slightly blew my mind. In essence, this is about the idea that the Universe tends towards a more disordered state – and that by applying this idea to some models, they become analogous to what happens when ‘intelligent’ beings are involved. That we, as intelligent (supposedly) beings, are also inherently entropic. Apparently, even the evolution of walking may be relevant in this system. Roll on the bedlam!

I think that’s what it means, anyway. Although I suggest you read it yourself, as the reporter clearly knows what they’re talking about a lot more than this poet.

And to celebrate this un-knowledge of our inherent entropy, I wrote an orderly triolet…

6061841765_df55494046

NaPoWriMo 20: Rising Suns

Piss-en-lit! Taraxacum!

Yesterday’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to use a prescribed list of words and include 5 or more in a poem. Jo Bell’s prompt was to write about something that was growing. So I did both: PROMPT-JAM. Yeah.

As I walked near where I live yesterday, I noticed a patch of grass with lots of dandelions on it – and I was thinking about John Donne and his poem Sun Rising. There was an Afternoon Drama about him on last week – The Flea (which was  wonderful: a great rendering of some of the poems and a great dramatisation of that moment where he met his young wife – you can listen to it here for the next couple of days and I recommend you to!).

So this poem’s a response to Sun Rising with a slightly different cosmology in mind – using that wonderful line ‘nothing else is’ as a starting point.

And, of course, sneaking in lots of those pesky words from the NaPoWriMo list*.

 

Rising Suns

or, What About Everything Else?

 

If nothing else is, then what is this? Oh

bilious soil, gerrymandering generator

of dunderheaded dandelions. Lying

on this lawn’s gutter

trying to be stars.

 

Piss-en-lit! Taraxacum!

You are the cowbird’s feed –

no more than seaweed

on this ocean green.

 

Do they not know the Sun

is non-pareil? Cyclops Sky,

look the other way from

earth’s rodomontade! Its

jagged leaf-curls, its petal-sways

firing a gaudy artillery

of interstellar rays.

 

For there is no centre,

not in you, not in me:

only endless circles,

miraculous spheres;

svelte self-similarity,

and ego’s ghostly tears.

 

*Words included (some slightly altered in form! Is that allowed?) from NaPoWriMo’s prompt:


generator
miraculous
dunderhead
cyclops
seaweed
gutter
non-pareil (having no equal)
artillery
curl
ego
rodomontade
twice
ghost
cowbird
svelte

NaPoWriMo 19: Dating the Deep

COLOSSUS SEEKS KRAKEN

Yesterday’s prompt was to write a poem in the form of a personal ad (from NaPoWriMo) or to write about a particular word you really love.

So: I love the word ‘cephalopod’ (and am fascinated by this group of animals) – so I’ve fused the two prompts into the following. (I’m not even sure it’s a poem; more just a silly tinkering with acronyms and the conventions.)

Just imagine this appearing in an edition of Deep Sea Dating magazine…

 

Dating the Deep

or, FEEL YOUR WAY

 

Version one (acronyms):

 

FEEL YOUR WAY:

COLOSSUS (20-25m) seeks

KRAKEN 4 WLTM or B2B

ENJOYS PnP Energy

Looking for LTR

ALAWP (within reason)

GSOH, WE

 

Version two (acronyms explained):

 

FEEL YOUR WAY:

COLOSSUS (20-25metres) seeks

KRAKEN 4 Wavy Long-Tentacled Moments or Beak to Beak

Enjoys Predation and Preserving Energy

Looking for Teuthological Reproduction

All Large Whales Pursued (within reason)

Great Set of Hooks, Whopping Eyes

 

Appendix – 

Original homo sapiens acronyms:

 

ALAWP: all letters answered with a photo (probably means the advertiser will only reply to letters that attach a photo)

B2B: Does not exist, made it up

GSOH: good sense of humor

LTR: long-term relationship

PnP: party and play

WE: well endowed

WLTM: would like to meet

NaPoWriMo 18: Me or Him, Even

Even?

A really quick one today, from both Jo Bell’s prompt (write about something you feel guilty for) and the NaPoWriMo prompt, to start with the same word as you finish with.

So I’ve done both – about a time at school which stays with me, when I pushed someone (after an embarrassing incident) who then fell off a table, on to a chair, tipped back and got concussion.

To this day, I still don’t know if I meant that to happen, or just to get them to shut up. Either way, the outcome was the same.

I was also thinking about third-person and about balancing one’s idea of self now and then, I guess. So here’s a poem of guilt (and/or embarrassment, and/or shame) about that incident – which starts and finishes with the word ‘Even’:

 

Me or Him, Even

or, Exchange Rate

 

Even now, he sees himself, in poet-first

third-person, pushing another

off a desk. Then the word

Concussion. The phrase

Get a teacher.

 

Did he mean it? He still doesn’t know.

Or where the memory should go.

There are several places –

guilt, embarrassment, shame –

three different addresses on the same

street: a whole neighbourhood

of doubt.

 

The victim sits on a table, pointing, laughing

at my basketball-bruised red face

(from his moments-ago powerful throw).

Then the shut-up-shove and there he goes,

dropping into a chair. It pivots – over-

balances, like teachers (like me) warn they will –

out-of-control, back, against the wall.

He was surely culpable, vengeful.

 

Then the changing rooms chants

when he was off school. Being named

Murderer.  He was surely shamed.

 

But what’s the difference

what box I put it in? Even now

I do not know what makes

intention and action,

me and him,

even.

NaPoWriMo 14: I AM ANTI-BOTNET

An infographic of how a Botnet works…I’d like to see an infographic of my ANTI-BOTNET. Anyone?

Tasked with creating a ‘persona poem’ yesterday (with the suggestion of a superhero). So I started trolling the internet for some inspiration – and came across this story from today, which I found simultaneously interesting, amusing and alarming.

WordPress (which hosts this very site) has been ‘attacked’ by a ‘Giant Botnet’ of some thousands of linked computers since last week – and this may have been a pre-cursor to a much larger attack (a ‘Mega Botnet’?)…When thinking, then, about a superhero – I thought we (WordPress users, many of whom will be using it to share their NaPoWriMo efforts) could do with the ANTI-BOTNET.

Last month, I went to the Leeds Trinity Writers’ Festival Day and we did a workshop on the ‘Techno-Poem’. This seemed such a rich thread of techno-speak, -images and -ideas, I thought… HERE COMES THE ANTI-BOTNET (WHO ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITALS).

BE WARNED, READER – THIS ONE IS VERY VERY SILLY:

 

I AM ANTI-BOTNET

or, http://www.IFEARNOTHING.infinity/forever/BAM

 

I AM ANTI-BOTNET. FROM WITHIN THE

NETWORK’S SPACES, I EMERGE: FROM THE

DARKLING ROBOT’S SHADOW, I WILL SURGE

INTO THE NETWORK PROTOCOLS

OF YOUR TECHNO-SOUL.

 

I AM ANTI-BOTNET AND NO MALICIOUS

SOFTWARE THREATENS ME. NO IRC

CAN CHAT ITS WAY THROUGH

THE INTERNET RELAY SUITE

OF MY CYBER-MIND.

 

I AM ANTI-BOTNET AND MY CAPS-LOCK

IS FOREVER ON: ZOMBIE-COMPUTERS

FEAR THE ENCRYPTION OF MY CRY;

THE SPAMDEX-NETQUAKE OF MY ROAR.

I CODE FEAR IN TO SKYNET,

YES – EVEN TERMINATOR.

 

I AM ANTI-BOTNET AND NO BOT-HERDER

USHERS ME TOWARDS DESTINY.  MY

ALMIGHTY ALGORITHMS SELF-ARISE

IN THE SILICONE-STEELY SOLIDITY

OF MY BILLION-BILLION-WEBCAM EYES.