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.

 

Advertisements

Prey or, White Metal Cave

A 3M-long scrub python is preyed on by a plane.

In my effort to write two new poems a week based on things I’ve seen in the news, here’s today’s attempt (a little more minimalist that yesterday’s asteroid effort, but rather more crafted!). It’s fairly self-explanatory – but based on the news story from the pic above and the excerpt below. Rather sad, I thought – despite it garnering plenty of attention for its ‘Snakes on a Plane’ connotations. So as is my way, I wanted to write something to present the other perspective…

“A 10ft (3m) scrub python was battling to retain its grip on the wing as a plane made its way between the Australian town of Cairns and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.”

– BBC News, 11th January 2013

Prey, or White Metal Cave

Hunger lured the hermit in

beneath the aluminium fuselage skin:

a white metal cave – a pristine space

for preying (on cloud rodents which were not there).

A head peeps out, tasting its lair,

expecting.

 

Until the monster-bird takes to the clouds and so:

earthquake-shatter hurricane-roar at two-hundred-and-fifty degrees

below. It doesn’t look down at the scrub, shrinking trees, gaping coast. A rope

cut adrift, a tube loosed from its machine, it clings;

stains kangaroo fuselage,

sprays the wing.

 

The last image it might have caught?

Touching shoulder to shoulder, head to heart,

a human, chewing, with a camera-shaped face.

Click. Looks the other way. Python

becomes prey.