NaPoWriMo 2.12: Hilarity Crash-Lands in Japan

Or become hysterical – but do go to Japan, it’s great.

Yesterday’s word adventure was to think up a concrete noun – a word for a solid, everyday thing – and look it up online.

Then, the idea is to replace that word with an abstract noun – love, fear, sorrow – and see what emerges:  a ‘replacement poem’.

It’s a nice way of forcing an unusual perspective, a form of remote association (which poetry depends on) – wherein one has to draw together two disparate elements and seek what links them. I found the playlist poem exercise did this, too, linking song titles to a Russian constructivist tower (!).

So I got a concrete and abstract noun (from a third party, to make it interesting), looked up the concrete noun and found a news story about it, or a particular type of it…Then created a sort of deletion poem, cutting down and down until it became something else:

 

Hilarity Crash-Lands in Japan

 

It burst in

from a pit

that orbited Earth

for eight months.

Very interesting

flowers.

 

The ‘extraterrestrial’,

expected in April,

suddenly produced.

 

Form was unusual:

sent to the ISS

with astronaut

Koichi Wakata,

returned to Earth

eight months later.

 

“We are amazed

how fast it has grown,”

Masahiro Kajita,

chief priest, said.

 

Children planted the seeds,

to blossom in 10 tears*,

when children

come of age.

 

 

The original – very strange & beautiful – news story can be read here.

 

* NB this typo was in the original article, but I left it as I liked the image…

NaPoWriMo 2.6: Enceladus Street

image

Enceladus. Not enchiladas.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is to use what’s outside your window to make a list or toolbox of nouns, colours and verbs to play with in creating a poem.

It wasn’t quite happening, so I had a look through the day’s news for further inspiration and came across this story about Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons (not the popular Mexican food, although it does sound similar). Scientists have confirmed that there is likely to be a large body of water which might – a big might – contain some form of life…

So I used the word bank I generated (looking out of a cafe window earlier) and tried to apply them to a poem about Enceladus…This is a useful technique sometimes, to force new or different ways of expressing things. You can, for example, list verbs to do with a job (butchery, or athletics, or ironmongery) and then use those verbs on an entirely unrelated subject matter – so you could get ‘welding’ in a poem about food. (This is something Margret Geraghty describes in her book ‘The Five-Minute Writer’). It’s a nice way to get verbs ‘working harder’.

As ever – it’s work in progress and I have no idea if the word-transposing thing worked here, but it’s something to try eh?

And I am now up to date with my poems! And so to bed, with thoughts of space…

 

Enceladus Street

or, Piece of String Territory

 

A billioned reddened weather vanes

turn to face the galvanized grey

of its vents. The idea of blue

looms in over our sensors:

aqua-marines, royals, magentas.

 

Away from the safety-

yellow of the street-light Sun,

the indecipherable graffiti

of Earth. Our drifting CCTV

taxis, like an echo in this dark

car park, never paying

or displaying.

 

Could this be just

(half)

the ticket?

A prime location to

(almost)

make it?

NaPoWriMo 4: Breath or, Inspiration / Exhalation

An Iain M. Banks Style Spaceship

A curious task today: make something using the names of spaceships from Iain M. Banks sci-fi books.

It must have been a synchronisity (or was it responsive?) for this to appear on the day that Iain has announced that he’s very ill with cancer and will probably not recover. (His very moving and pragmatic statement is here, too).

So I wrote a piece based on two of his ships’ names (all of which are wonderful fun):  Refreshingly Unconcerned With The Vulgar Exigencies Of Veracity and Just Another Victim Of The Ambient Morality. I’ve taken them as the first word for each line in the poem, to push me into a structure.

And, in keeping with my series of poems inspired by science news stories, I was looking on BBC Science and found this story: about the possible diagnosis of (particularly) stomach cancers, using the breath. Essentially, our breath is – the research suggests – like our fingerprint: unique.

Whenever I’ve got stuck in writing, I looked for a next word from the article (a bit found-poem-y, yes) and also sought some Banks quotes too. So it’s a drawing together of today’s announcement, that story, and Banks’ amazing spaceship titles.

It is something of a sketch, with lots of SPACE in it – as it should be…

I’m copying it in as a JPEG below (which may be a bit small) and a definitely-readable PDF here: Breath or, Inspiration / Exhalation

(WordPress is NOT good at poems with any unusual layout in them and I would not sacrifice it!).

A NaPoWriMo poem based on the spaceship titles of Iain M Banks.

A NaPoWriMo poem based on the spaceship titles of Iain M Banks.

 

‘As Above, So Below’ or, ‘Capital E. Control A. Control C. Control V.’

Galaxies or neurons? The Universe is, or is like, a Giant Brain. Or the Brain is, or is like, a Little Universe. Same diff.

Last week, I read this story:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/11/27/physicists-universe-giant-brain_n_2196346.html

It’s not a very recent/topical one (from the end of last year) – but being as it’s about the self-similarity of networks ranging from the internet, the brain and the Universe itself, I figure a few weeks isn’t that significant.

Anyway – the headline is ‘Physicists Find Evidence That The Universe Is A ‘Giant Brain”. An intriguing one, is it not?

So I wanted to write something about the idea of networks – and the people who work in this kind of theoretical mathematics, which is so entirely beyond my understanding (technically, if not thematically). I don’t know whether working in these kind of mind-blowing theoretical (yet perhaps realer-than-real) realms of science would make you more connected to the world around you, or indeed make you feel the total insubstantial nature of the world around you. So that’s the feeling from which I started to write, imagining one of the scientists involved, lit by the glowing bank of computers which must have been deployed to crunch this much data…

As I posted the news story on Facebook (one of the networks it mentions), a friend used the phrase ‘As Above, So Below’ to sum it up – and that formed the starting point of the poem. At what point is such an aphorism just as useful as all the data we can find? When do we cease to be able to understand (and just need to allow the Universe to get on with it)?

I don’t know – but I hope you enjoy the poem. The ending fully let out my inner-hippie, and I make no apologies for it 😉

 

As Above, So Below

or, Capital E. Control A. Control C. Control V.

 

‘Universe Is A Giant Brain’: journos, tip-tapping innocently,

will claim they cannot see the difference between,

like, metaphor and simile.

 

Knowing this, the analysis complete,

he sat at the centre of the screens, replete

in the data. The sense of having caught

something. Then, a gagging spider, he

Selected All and hit Delete.

 

So, on every page of the report

he reproduced the phrase in haste –

Copy Paste Copy Paste:

As Above, So Below.

 

 

As that very morning, LinkedIn

had asked him if he would like to connect with

Everything. Capital E.

Control A. Control C. Control V.

 

He uttered: Fundamental Laws,

as Facebook asked him what he thought about

Everything? Capital E. Pushing question marks

down cables in the floor; whispering answers up

into the lattice-dark. As

Everything updated its status:

As Above, So Below.

With a winking smiley 😉

 

Control A? Control C? Control V?

Capital E. Controls Cosmos. Controls Velocity.

Consciousness Copy. Vastness Paste.

Control Facebook. Paste Brain.

Copy Everything. Paste Same.

Cut Above. Paste Below.  And so

the report was pasted onto his profile:

As Above, So Below.

 

So, he sent Everything a message

as the single word ‘Love’. Capital L. Thinking:

As Below, So Above.

Pick One Fleck – Apophis

There he is! Yes, the slightly-less blurry one with the big red arrow pointing to it. That isn’t actually there, of course.

As part of the new year’s Free-range Writer Plan, I’m going to try and write at least one or two poems each week, inspired by things I’ve picked up in the news or online (or perhaps from the Fortean Times, which I was lucky enough to receive a subscription to for Christmas).

Sometimes it’s useful to choose a subject and make yourself write a poem about it – so that’s what I’ve done with Apophis. Yet another threat to the Pale Blue Dot (as Carl Sagan called Earth) is passing us at the moment – the Apophis Asteroid, which will also pass within 22,364 miles of our planet in April 2029, giving it a 2.7% chance of whacking into us. Which would be annoying.

As ever with such astronomical phenomenon, I’m not sure how scared I should be. As scared as we should be of Nibiru/Planet X, the mysterious elliptical-orbit planet that was meant to run us off the solar-highway recently, perhaps? Well, this is real – so a dial up the Fear-o-Meter a little, certainly.

Curiously, I wrote the following poem and then looked up what else is 2.7% – and found that, “The house advantage in single zero roulette is 2.7% and for the double zero game it is 5.26%”. So there we are: my roulette ball image was not so off-the-cuff.

This is largely as it popped out of my brain, with some tweaks as I typed it out. I hope you enjoy it – and May The Odds Be Ever In Earth’s Favour.

 

Pick One Fleck

 

Just one, from the hole-

punched carbon sky and wonder

at its stats, its vital ballistics. Wonder

whether cosmic winds blow it

our way; whether Newton or some other

more modern, more menacing, model

may stack odds against Earth’s favour.

 

 

The roulette ball: Apophis

freewheels the not-so-clockwork model

above my head. No, not

above our heads: around them,

spinning like cartoon concussion,

a character impacted. The Micky Mouse

Milky-Way squeeze-and-stretches

the life-expectancy of this

billions-years-young billiard ball,

awaiting its gong for supper.

 

 

So that will be the next time:

twenty twenty-nine. Visions blurred,

screens thick with dust of fear. When

Hollywood Lears hover near

cinema seats, with light-shows projected

from our eyes and bouncing back into

the dinosaur-mind. When masses

collect on mountaintops, praying

through rehashed prisms of extra-

terrestrial life-guards and super-

natural knowledge of ancient civilisations long-

since ceased and of hyper-

sensory conspiracies of governments who

govern the stars (but who can barely keep their own

noses clean of the tar of smear).

 

When shots are littered each second

at worlds within our own, this speck of glitter in

the eye of space could make it blink

the ground into its own reflection, infinite bits,

out of being. But how lucky we would be

to see it, to be here: when there are more dead

than living than ever before. How lucky to be

the last crater-act,

the final flaming curtain,

the ones who saw

it happen.

 

And in case you have never read it, here’s Carl Sagan’s piece of writing about our Pale Blue Dot – which is a wonderful reminder of both our insignificance and, perhaps, the need for perspective when dealing with other Humans.

Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot – viewable larger at the original site