2.28: Big Deal

 

The Sloth: A Big Deal (for real)

Here’s my news story-based poem (using pretty much just words from the article itself).

The story was from the BBC Science & Environment site and you can read it here and concerns new discoveries about the energy-saving anatomy of sloths.

So I felt any sloth poem demanded to be quite short and minimal. And noticed the scientists had used the phrase ‘Big Deal’ twice. Which, for an animal so energy-conscious – many things must be…

 

Big Deal

 

There is not much left

in the tank. 7 to 13 %

is a big deal.

 

For energy saving experts

anchoring organs

is a big deal.

 

Their stomach, liver, kidneys

and even bowels:

a big deal.

 

Nothing they do is normal.

They are ‘off the wall’.

An extremely slow

and low

big deal.

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 29: Excerpts from a Report on the New Poem Aquarium

An empty aquarium – shall we fill it with poems? Shall we?

So yes, it being the end of NaPoWriMo, I’m going quite deranged and using increasing amounts (and oddities) of Found or – in this instance what I’m calling ‘Poached Poetry’. (Poached in the sense of hunted and stolen, or I guess it could be poached in the egg-sense.)

This has reached new and ridiculous heights (or depths) today: I have just watched a news report about a new Chinese visitor attraction and written bits of it out as a poem, giving the attraction a new title.

To retain the (very tiny amount of) enigma, I will only post the link to the original news report at a later time…

What do you think the report was actually about?

Don’t throw a wobbly trying to figure it out.

 

A Poached Poem

or, Excerpts from a Report on the New Poem Aquarium

 

…Psychedelic, otherworldly, primordial:

visitors can now get up-close and personal

with the creatures, albeit from a safe

distance. Even the more dangerous species

are a sight to behold…

 

…Some have quite long tentacles and,

as a result, they look quite graceful

when swimming…

 

…More than 3000 are on show,

dozens of species

in eleven tanks

some weigh more than

twenty tonnes…

 

…The museum says it is not easy

to keep the deep-sea dwellers

in captivity. They’re poor swimmers –

a special circulatory system

is required, just to keep them

afloat….

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 24: Dust Across the Beam

Hyde Park Picture House: 100 in 2014!

As you may have noticed, things have been a bit cinematic on my blog during NaPoWriMo.

I’m reading a few poems (including my poem about the Invisible Cinema walking tour, from earlier in the month) on Sunday morning at an event to mark the centenary of Hyde Park Picture House. And here is a piece I wrote based on an earlier prompt from Canal Laureate Jo Bell, which was to write a poem of Welcome.

So, to celebrate the Picture House’s centenary, I wrote a welcome for its next 100 years – and here it is:

 

Twenty-One Thirteen

or, Dust Across the Beam

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may your bright skies usher in

the twenty-first century’s pigeons –

their future-coos upon the roof’s tiles

(not nesting in seats, feathering aisles).

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

the elaborate plaster flowers which grow

from the walls are the germinating magic bean

of all the cinemas to which we can no longer go.

A furrow of many bulbs (and most no longer glow).

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may the red curtains of each romance

open and close, close and open

on the clumsy ill-fated dance

of faltering fake yawns

and thousands of missed chances.

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may never the popcorn of cinema dreams

be trodden under giant flat-screen feet

confining chorus gasp, behind-you screams

to closed-curtain houses on sparse streets.

 

Welcome, twenty-one thirteen

and all the seconds in between:

may the 26-flicker of each second’s cell

combine with the terabytes of files, to tell

stories as many as dust across the beam.

For stories are light and light is the spell.

 

So welcome, twenty-one thirteen:

may all your future screens,

even in desperate certificate eighteens

times contain only some scenes

of the mildest peril.

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 21: White Violin or, Lord Raby’s Massive Silver Wine Cooler

Lord Raby’s Massive Silver Wine Cooler – as so described on the signs in Temple Newsam House!

Filling in an earlier gap from NaPoWriMo: I started writing this a while back based on a trip to Temple Newsam House, just outside Leeds. It’s an amazing house – no doubt about it – and it’s great that it’s now in public ownership, with gorgeous grounds to walk or cycle round.

While I was there, there was a concert of Early Music – a series of concerts, in fact – and I sat down to listen to some violin music and then got chatting with the musician (Gina Le Faux, about whom you can find out more here) about her violin (which you can hear in the SoundCloud widget above!).

And that conversation informed the following poem, which I’ve only just finished – and still needs tinkering. But the central idea was this: what do we preserve and what do we dispose of? And, more vitally, who do we preserve and who do we forget?

While it’s a great thing that the house is in public ownership, it also made me wonder why we are still so fixated on the aristocracy of old: I wonder what the people of future centuries will look upon as ‘worth preserving’ – for that preservation starts now.

Oh and ‘Lord Raby’s Massive Silver Wine Cooler’ (pictured above) was called just that on the signs in the House. There was something undeniably impressive about it. And a little bit ridiculous. And more than a little smug. (Oh – we own it now, too, by the way).

Anyway, here’s the poem:

 

White Violin

or, Lord Raby’s Massive Silver Wine Cooler (at Temple Newsam House)

 

Sat, courtly, beneath the gleaming shadow of

Lord Raby’s Massive Silver Wine Cooler

the early music begins: notes overflow

from a Thomas Tilley (Real) violin.

 

(To me, just a violin, but

as I chat with the musician

about the instrument she’d played

we strip away its ancestry,

how this violin was made:

 

Picked up from a dealer, who noted

that it actually dates back to 1776;

an uncouth previous owner had coated

it in Vegas-white emulsion Dulux.)

 

In each room, a day-tripper to aristocracy,

I strip back the varnished gentility. Imagine

what the laminated guide would be for

mine, or any other family. What would we

retain of our ignoble genealogy? Will our IKEA

wallpaper, our B&Q garden furniture,

draw in paying crowds to see?

 

The centrepiece of my 70s-built living room

was the Orange Plastic Pernod Ice Bucket.

That, Lord Raby, was our bulbous,

spirited, pop-heirloom; or

as close to one as we’d get.

 

The historic wallpaper’s birds may be pretty

but their songs – territorial, shrill – are rotten:

silver families are laminated, remembered;

Dulux families are all but forgotten.

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 15: Transaction on a Spring Day – A Pantum

The OWL (Observation Wheel Leeds) at night – which is the ‘great revolving wheel’ in the poem…

 

Today’s prompt: a Malay verse-form “of rhymed quatrains (abab), with 8-12 syllables per line. The first two lines of each quatrain aren’t meant to have a formal, logical link to the second two lines, although the two halves of each quatrain are supposed to have an imaginative or imagistic connection” (to quote the NaPoWriMo site).

I am not sure if it follows the rules fully – but I tried! Might put another one up later/tomorrow too…

AND (in the style of ANTI-BOTNET) I HAVE NOW CAUGHT-UP FROM BEING FOUR DAYS BEHIND!

 

Transaction on a Spring Day

 

I push the DVDs across the till,

Exchanging our feelings about the stories;

Above the skyline, a great revolving wheel

Magnifies the sky-screen’s bright-blue glories.

NaPoWriMo 12: Want/Need

A magick key (for an inadvertently key-shaped poem)

 

A quick one this: I don’t often get slushy and when I do, it tends to be short! And this is very much in that vein.

The prompt for the 12th was to write a list of things you would want to say but would never (thereby, of course, saying them) – so this started from there and became a brief love poem of things unsaid:

 

Want/Need

or, Doors/Keys

 

I want to say

I didn’t know that before

you, I didn’t realise

there was so much

I didn’t know that

I thought

I couldn’t do. But

you,

you and me,

both glass doors,

both lost keys:

you don’t need

to hear it.