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 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 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.

Can You Take a Moment to Rate This Whale? or, The Appening

A Whale App? But not one like the one in my poem-story, I hope.

It appears I’m once again interested in all things animal (as opposed to all things Cosmic) right now – so, from Tyrransauridae last week, to Cetacea this.

Last week, I read a story about the Boston Port Authorities encouraging ships’ captains to use an iPad app which locates the likely positions of whales off the coast and then enables them to chart a slightly different course – thus avoiding the whales. It sounds like a very successful and important initiative -and a great use of the technology. We’ve been making the seas increasingly-noisy for our Baleen cousins which – so research suggests – is making life very hard for them down there. Not only that, but sometimes ships (as per the horrible image on the news story above) even strike whales – causing them injuries and possibly death.

In fact, it’s not my first piece of writing about whales – there’s another piece I wrote, called Whale Fall, which you can read by clicking here on the site for Heads and Tales (a storytelling group with whom I was involved in Bristol). The image of ‘whale fall’ – when a whale dies and sinks to the bottom, creating a ‘feeding frenzy’ as its nutrients and body dissipate amongst the bottom-feeders of the abyss – is at the centre of the story.

But save that for later, until you’ve read today’s poem-story about – well, decide for yourself. Certainly, the idea stemmed from this feeling of intrusion (an Intrusion is the collective noun for cockroaches, by the way – about which there’s a poem-post here). What would it be like if there was something we were drawn to, but which hurt us? (Such things are plentiful, actually). And which kept filling our space until we couldn’t avoid it any more?  I think that was what my subconscious was getting at – how the whales must be with Sonar signals – but I really can’t speak on its behalf, or on whales’ behalf.

And, as someone quoted to me – and I don’t know who said it, or something like it, so this may be a misquote: “Structure the things that come to you”. So that’s what I’ve done. The chance to fuse the ever-more-pervasive app-culture and this news story in s lightly sci-fi way was too tempting . The intersection between nature and technology is of great interest to me: what is ‘natural’, what is ‘technological’, are they always and forever anathema?

The results, I admit, are…odd and perhaps unsettling. But imagine how the whales feel.

 

Can You Spare a Moment to Rate This Whale? or,

The Appening

 

It was not even a noise, to begin with:

hovering somewhere between

sound and sensation. Not quite

synaesthetic – more like a key

which accessed new depths formerly

inhuman, imperceptible.

 

That was at around

10,000+ downloads, but

with each it became

more abyssal.

 

Your lowest vertebra would chime,

softly, sending the feeling through

the tissues joining the spine

to the ribs, oscillating up the neck and

the inner-ear’s instruments –

boiling like a fumarole –

clanged.

 

At around

500,000+ downloads

you could not tell whether the object

you were looking at was itself shaking

or if the optic nerve was being played

as a myelin harp in your head.

 

By that point, on the large screens in cavernous

departure halls, edited-in

between rolling news, the image of a winning

Humpback would flash up, having supplanted

last week’s five-star Narwhal.

 

Then, the merchandise, mimicking

the rounded-off baleen icon: children

wore woolly-hat Rights (attesting

their allegiance to a species) with

a broad hair-toothed grin

on their foreheads, and fleecy-fins,

flopping down, at once

scarf and mittens.

 

But as the number became ever larger,

100,000,000+ downloads,

words began to be missed, then sentences.

Records were broken and now

graphs and arrows struggled

to find space on the screens

between fast-cut images

of flippers, flukes and spouts.

 

On one occasion, a dolphin was slipped in

to the slide-show – a test, perhaps – but

the tabloid headlines and message-boards

turned the air blue

as the Atlantic once was.

 

At some point, the written reviews

stopped – when download figures exceeded

the screen’s capabilities – and there were only

five-star ratings. The app store, mute,

silently swam in icons

of cetaceans.

 

And then the first trip to A&E,

the first fatality. But still the stars,

still the sensation.