Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Falling Asleep to Puppet Theatre

I wrote a poem about 5 years ago when I was staying at a guesthouse in Taidong in Taiwan - it was about falling asleep in front of the telly, on which there was a programme of Taiwanese puppet theatre playing. I've just been reading about, and watching videos of, the brilliant Murray Lachlan Young. The following poem is my 5-minute attempt to rewrite that old poem, while emulating Young's rhymes:

and when you slump down in your chair
vision starts to go: eyes dropping, drooping
whether it's bedtime or not, you do not care
your thoughts wander to ancient gods swooping
as your dreams gather your mind's eye sets
to lightning scooping

and though really it's just the telly noise
from where you're sat it's become really real
so that on-screen battles of toys fighting toys
become burning exchanges: every blast you feel
as one mystic being kills another again you think 
you yourself have been run through with steel

then you wake up and realise where you are
it's just a front room with a fan going and a TV on 
someone outside's just pulled up in a car
all that fear and apprehension might well be gone
but still on the goggle box
a wild witch floats past, graceful as a swan

what's puppet theatre anyway, when storms gather outside
watching children's programmes in a foreign land
I really do need a guide

Friday, 9 March 2018

draft: Yeboah Inferno Mash-up

draft of a proposed Tony Yeboah Dante mash-up - feedback needed, of course
illustrations by Gustave Doré, with a few changes, included for fun

midway through the journey of my childhood
I found myself at an intersection
between stages of youth

teenage angst lay ahead
all around were savage
the very thought of it renews the fear

I can't say how I wound up lost
so full I was of slumber
hearing only Oasis and Greenday

I had abandoned the true way
left those hours of watching Leeds
highlights back in the day

once I met that guide
glorious rays spoked out round
terror ceased

beforehand I'd been a shipwrecked sailor
watching waves reaching a desolate shore
no living soul to know

now rested and calmer at least
it seemed I was alone no more
gone suddenly from famine to feast

I beheld him in that vast desert
"have pity on me" I cried
"whether you're undead or just alive"

to show he lived still
he scored
in off the crossbar

said "I've transferred from Germany
to show you the way"
well, I've loved football from then till this day

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

5-minute Poem: Schlachtensee



there were peaceful moments there when you felt the whole city had melted away - sun shining constant - and the trip had made it all the better - travelling by train makes the pace rattle and soothe -
"your head has time to adjust to the new location"
- and this, a place only a few miles outside of the capital city of one of the industrial powerhouses of the world, whether or not the industry is decayed block techno squats
- and this a place where the midges stand in a halo, the nonstop sun is reflected and refracted through pines and that water
- you sink into sediment -
space is granted to you alone, even as you pass other bathers,
even as you know you'll return to the sausage and chips/the bar benches and beer
even though the train station waits at the end of the swim-reading-nude day
ach du scheiße: Guernsey discovers nudism in Germany
- on this point a moment, forgive me: a statuesque woman, who looks like she's hiked halfway across the country, small dog in tow, stops just short of the path and strips off completely before plunging into the cold water - is this why I remember Schlachtensee?

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Accidental Nonsense Poetry

having my phone in my pocket means that I'm often in trouble 
it's developed a habit of ringing people, without me asking it to do so,
and messaging folk that I haven't seen or heard from in years
(a receipient of one such message simply messaged back "??"
had he not done so I wouldn't have known that my 
hyperactive phone had been sending him utter gibberish)

then today I opened up Google Drive,
only to find that a new document was sitting proud at the top of the 'recent' pile.  
it's a rewriting of an old poem of mine, Went Running in the Rain
I think this version might have improved on the original. 
it seems more creative and it's not a great deal more difficult to follow
(also, unlike the original, it mentions both Ed Milliband and a 'turncoat'):

  + ?090 flew
In short-lived but no less blissful forgetfulness
Then, crrdddgc3:-3)1)&”?:$wrongf_!2?
@@@1/2oming stitch-stricken round the final turncoat ovgoio ou
I could smell so many rain-freed scents listing ed Miliband to the gym now I'm
As barbeques &did burn
And other summer smells rose on the air
The earth reeked of fertility
The grass gave up some living spirit
And I had to walk for the last bit

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

江雪 - River Snow

江雪 - 柳宗元 [River Snow by Liu Zong-yuan]

thousand mountains; flight of birds unseen
on ten thousand paths footprints vanish
lonely boat: old man in straw cloak and bamboo hat
fishing alone in the cold river snow 

This poem has the title ‘jiang [river] xue [snow]’. It was written in the 8th or 9th century. The poet, 柳宗元 [Liu Zong-yuan], lived from 773 – 819 and is one of the so-called Eight Great Prose Masters of the Tang and Song [dynasties]

The translation above is one that I put together myself. I tried to keep it as close to the original as possible. Any feedback would be welcome. There are many, many alternative translations online and in print.

The original poem can be found in the classical Chinese poetry collection Three Hundred Tang Poems, which was compiled in the 18th century. This anthology, which actually contains over 300 poems, has come to represent the canon of classical Chinese poetry. The poems contained within it were written during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907). 

caligraphy version of the poem - a bargain at $2,950 from this site

The poem has inspired many works of art, as seen below.

15th-century artwork from Zhou Wenjing, featuring part of the poem

artwork featuring the poem found here

artwork featuring the poem found here

Friday, 23 February 2018

Looking up Love

I needed a thesaurus to understand how you make me feel:
your fluent locomotion exceeds the extremities of what's real.
It's commonplace for me to admire the architecture of your chasis:
the way you've swept me off my feet demonstrates true efficacy.

Your transcendence expedites my pursuance of adequate terminology
as I struggle to find your equivalent among any known philosophy.
To declare with confabulation in what regard I hold your semblance
is more problematic than seeking, from air and water, independence.

so, I've no words, and it comes down to simply this
you're the best of all birds - now give us a kiss

Friday, 9 February 2018

new obsession

sadly I have a new obsession: decades-old Russian/Soviet propoganda art, especially the posters that glorify the Space Race 

Glory to the workers of Soviet science and technology!
It is sad to think of the disparity between the ideals depicted in these beautiful images/the goals aspired to and set out in the slogans versus the crippling poverty and drudgery that people reported from behind the so-called Iron Curtain.

yet it is becoming an obsession - my own curtains drape for Stalin now, though I know he was a killer - I have covered my windows in slogans also

In the Name of Peace
I find it hard to be unaffected by the glory. It's religious almost. It's patriotic and political of course. But the sense is of something beyond everyday, something majestic. I'm a sucker - as with religious icons, here these designs get right under my skin.
Soviet Aviation  - Pride of the People!

I don't know the language and wasn't even born when they were made, but I get inspired - the urge to work hard (always weak in me) rockets skyward

Long live the friendship between the peoples of the USSR and China

the ideology may be all wrong/the context you could misconstrue: it's just colour that I like, and optimism too

through worlds and centuries
these pieces of art were made to indoctrinate and publicise but at such a remove of time and place they look gorgeous to my eyes

In the name of peace and progress!

For anyone else who enjoys these images, there are far superior blog posts on them here (from the BBC) and here (from Russia Trek).