Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shrine to Genius

image from:  via Magpie Tales

Shrine to Genius

Here is his desk, nothing touched

Note the crumpled sheet, still creased by his own fingers

(I see a seashell, cast on a beach)

This is the chair where he sat, where he composed his opus

Note his cushion, marked with wear

Keep behind the rope!

Don’t breathe on the artefacts 

The typewriter ribbons have been saved, cross-referenced and indexed

The room is cork-lined for preservation

There is the stain where he threw coffee

(I see clouds and mushrooms on the walls)

Artistic, you know

Divinely gifted man

The machine is unique, adapted for his needs

The keys, the bell silenced, the action geometric to his order

(Down here, I see battlements)

It is not the original desk, he burned that one

This one was built later, from the same timbers –

You can order a replica in the shop

Postcards and posters are for sale

The Master’s Voice on CD

Books?  No we don’t stock them.

 Ah, such a great man.

Thanks to Tess for the prompt.  For more Magpies, please visit here.


Sunday Trees

almost Hallowe'en

Friday, October 28, 2011

Short Pieces on Short Stories -- A Character

A character forms slowly.  In the beginning you may think you know all the facts about a character – height, hair colour, whether they wear glasses, even shoe size – but then they will surprise you by saying something unexpected, or doing something you’d never considered.  Eventually you realise that you know nothing about your character, and then, rather like the Cheshire Cat in reverse, they glimmer into real being.

Where does this creature come from?  Some say they are universal, ‘out there’ waiting to be written down;  others say they are emanations of our subconscious minds – whatever that means.

I know some characters that are much more real to me than you are – I can hear their thoughts, watch their nightmares and hold their hands when they are filled with regret or misery.  The facts are almost immaterial.  I never worry about shoe size, much.  The character will tell me if I need to know.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Spin Cycle

We use it to shred clothes – oops I mean wring them of excess water

Must be a good thing replacing manual or mangle labour with an automatic process

Must be a good thing

Explain that to the innocent sheet or pillowcase caught in the torture of drowning, poisoning suffocation-through-bubbles and then the turbo whizz

Or the patient going through the revolving doors of  doctor:    pharmacy:    laboratory:    treatment:    doctor:  try-a-new-drug spin cycle

I feel ironed


Sunday, October 23, 2011

In the Passenger's Seat

Lee Friedlander, from America by Car

In the Passenger’s Seat

Praise to the man in the driving seat – with dials and flashing lights,
Command and Control
You have all the levers at hand: brakes, gears, accelerator

All Hail to the man with the buttons!

Pity the one in the passenger’s seat

I see a world you are too occupied to notice:  angles and lives,

the city-kaleidoscope


You are filled with calculations velocity, drift and momentum

Hail to the man with algorithms!

Did you see the double-pattern in the windscreen?

The shadow that walks like a pigeon?

The ruffles in the rain puddle?

Do you hear the counterpoint of the indictor singing to the wiper’s beat?

Thanks to Willow at Magpie Tales for the prompt.  More Magpies can be found here.


Sunday Trees

Friday, October 21, 2011

Short Pieces on Short Stories -- A Story

A story begins with a moment, slightly out of the ordinary, one you might not notice until a narrator points it out to you.  The moment may be locked in a pounding succession of other moments, each flashing past with steam engine power; or it might be a moment of stillness: the hover of a wing, transcendentally frozen, hesitating over a fat red worm.

It could be a moment when eyes lock across a room – strangers’ eyes or family eyes, or the eyes of two garden gnomes, silently saluting.  It could be the moment when a bullet ejects from the muzzle of a handgun and etches a trajectory across the air, into a brain.  It could be a moment of insight, when Jack looks at Jill and understands gravity; or it could be one of those inconsequential moments, when steam rises from a cup of tea and whirlpools in front of your eyes.

A story always begins with a moment:  Now, or Then, or Once.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Last Minute Cruises

He had a forgettable face, the man at the holiday desk,

handing out brochures: save up to 75 percent on

last minute cruising bargains

Satisfaction Guaranteed!

Glossy posters offered: mystery destinations, ports incognito,

we’ll carry you in luxury the jingle sang

and in the fine print                small cabins, no portholes, cryogenics optional

No passports required – We look after all the visas!

All dietary restrictions catered for –.

extra heating available for passengers who prefer a

bodiless trip

I shook my head in no-thanks, turning to hand the brochure back:

All dissolved, faceless man, music and marketing stand:

colour posters replaced with dripping grey

grit underfoot, a patchy gangway, wind and flapping

white blanks peering from the deck

the ship in silent motion, hovering above a greasy sea.

No band, no tickertape, no farewells

Not quite the short break I'd planned.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Message in a Bottle

Message in a Bottle

I don’t know why the pirates released me; there was chatter amongst the passengers that a witch was in our midst.  Pirates are superstitious folk, perhaps they thought I would bring bad luck to them if they slit my throat, the way they did the one fellow who looked like he could fight.  Maybe they thought I had a secret trick to communicate with ‘rescuers’, the mythical beings all captors dream of, even more than their captives do.

They didn’t cast me off in a lifeboat with provisions, no they chucked me overboard to lighten the skiff while we passed over a reef.  There are lots of islands in the Andaman Sea for a pirate base.

There is rainwater and fruit from the sea:  clams to pry open and fish wash up.  I’ve tried to get a fire going – impossible as there is no dry wood.  I could sacrifice this paper and bottle to get a smoulder burning, but I am a poet and somehow, writing is a more direct line to survival than fire is.

I was a poet.  The Muse is not singing to me here, she doesn’t swim.  There are angels dancing on the tops of waves, all gold and shimmer.  They sweep towards me, arms outstretched and I reach to them, embracing seawater.  I see visions of tall buildings, street lamps and buses.  I heard a train conductor’s whistle calling ‘All Aboard’.  I wake to hear babies crying and the sobs of my mother.  Candles flicker at gatherings of my friends.  They drink toasts to my memory and recite speeches about some forgotten sailor, a mad woman who would take on the world.

That was me.

The sea is a cruel land of insubstantial dreams and riches.  In her benign frock she sparkles and enchants.  In her tantrums she rages and tosses life aside.

I am smaller than one drop of the blood in her veins.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Tales from Exile -- Peking Duck

image courtesy of Magpie Tales

Tales from Exile – Peking Duck

You want 12 duck lady? You not so fat? How you eat 12?

You want frozen? Bad for ducks, not so good cold.

You want to fly with them? Lady these ducks are dead. Not flying again, eating.

No! You take duck to Africa? No duck in Africa?

Special dinner party on island?

You crazy lady.

Africa does that.

(A true story)

more flying ducks at Magpie Tales   Thanks to Tess for the prompt.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Trees + Experimental Tree Plantation

Eighty Years

You’ve stood for eighty years, rooted
searching for your lost love
limbs outstretched in an empty embrace.

As seedlings, after the fire,
did you entwine,
only to have your better half,
your other self,
twin, mate, comrade
taken from you?

Now, like a lover sensing a cooling bed,
who in his sleep seeks across the vacant air,
your limbs await.

Such a tree ...

Such a tree as you could lead the march from Birnam Wood to Dunsinane:
your limbs lifted in signal forward, victory is ours.

Then again, your whirling arms could be a frozen dervish, mid-spin, mid-ecstasy,
enraptured in worship of your Lord.

Or you could be some Nessie of the hillside,
siren limbs luring sailors to the woods of their doom.

Perhaps you are the cursed one, forgotten,
longing for a supernatural reprieve, the maid who roused jealousy in a fatal flirt?

But no, you are a tree: the spirit of these ancient mountains,
ancestor, life-giver, cradle of a secret world. 
You stand high amongst your lesser sprouts,
mere saplings to your mighty rule.

Experimental Tree Plantation

If you would like to offer your own response to this Sunday Tree (or the previous ones), as an experiment, I am offering a ‘Mr Linky’.  Please link your ‘tree post’ rather than your blog, and link back to this Sunday Tree.

I look forward to wandering in your woods.


PS I've never used this Linky-thing so only hope it works!  If it doesn't leave me a message and I'll try again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Care for a dance?


Come to the dance ...

We will dress in sunset colours, wisps of pink and gold and blue,

We will drape ourselves in leafshine, fragrant blossoms for our shoes

Come twirl a nosegay, swing your rosehips, sip a cocktail filled with dew

The best of us will join together: sun and moon and midnight too

The music will be waves a-washing, the sand performs a jazzy tune

Feast your senses, thrill to romance, shimmer as the day breaks through

Come fling your words at random stars, as we caper in the mood.

Join the Party at Willow Manor

Also for those dancing mannequins at Poets United

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Something Different - The Bear

The following are relatively recent pictures taken at a very large energy production site.  The world is full of miserable news; the multi-nationals have bad reputations only exceeded by those of the banks. 

I can't comment on the companies, but some of their staff are heart-warmingly kind. 

This chap must have been curious and decided to investigate ...  once in, he couldn't climb the steep, tall and slippery sides of the hopper.  You would expect a nasty end wouldn't you? 

Clever people, clever bear!    A Happy Ending - let's hope he doesn't come back too soon.


Monday, October 10, 2011

King Kim

image: Michael Sowa, from The Little King
via Tess at Magpie Tales

King Kim

You can tell by his lean-back and hands clasped and sceptre hidden, if not by his slight nose-in-the-air and frown, that HM Kim is not a happy father, disappointment written all over his kingly visage, and breakfast ruined.

His disappointment has grown huge, the source is overwhelming, the evidence so gargantuan, his coffee is cold, bitter and venomous. 

He casts a rueful glance heavenward, to his generous monarch-dad, the one with the liberal ideas that encouraged freedom of the press and the relaxation of the old royal codes. 

(No one prostrates themselves at his door; the bows are perfunctory, mere nods before turning away.  No one backs out of his presence; some forget to stand when he enters.)

It is not frustrated pomp that makes HM’s coffee grow cold, nor wounded pride exactly. 

Coffee will cool on many a breakfast table as his subjects read The Daily Grind: 

sources close to the palace reveal the Royal Chess tournament has ended.  ‘I beat him, I check-mated him, in three moves!’ a triumphant Princess Priscilla is reported as saying.’

Thanks to Tess from Willow Manor for the prompt. You can read more Magpies here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Trees

The Old Man in the Tree

This wood is sacred: it is forbidden to harvest here:
Not mushrooms or berries, not fallen limbs nor timber
Here the birds tiptoe and sing sotto voce
Kookaburras giggle elsewhere and cockatoos retreat
The wombats skirt the grove, no koala takes refuge
Even bushfires leap this ridge
The trees stand on, keeping vigil for the Old Man

The wood is sacred, a cenotaph
Listen to the keening of the wind in the branches:
Never forget, never forget


Saturday, October 8, 2011

This is not a house ...

image from Ella

This is not a house ...

This is not a house, this is a fantasy cardboard cut-out:

Look at all those windows, the shutters, the porch,

all those rooms, the grand ideas.

Home to paper dolls (with extensive wardrobes):

flammable, flimsy and fleeting.

Spiders sneak around spinning their spider business,

flakes of paint drift down, eaves leak,

wood shivers and sags.

All those rooms, filled with piles of paper people ...

This is not a house, this is a chimera

Thanks to Poets United for the prompt.  More of the village can be found here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tales from Exile - Cultural Village or Travelling Circus?

 A few nights ago, one of the local colleges was hosting a conference dinner, and the evening's entertainment was a ****** Village that one can hire for $US25,000 a night.  It was billed as an authentic village experience, with various cultural elements. 

My photos are never great, and these were taken without flash in low light, with my phone, however I think they are interesting and unusual, if not representative of 'real' life here, more a circus fantasy of what it might have been like 50 years ago.

These are some of the cultural icons of life here in Exile.

The majalis, where men (usually from one family or tribe) gather to drink coffee,
 smoke shisha and gossip.

acres of carpet with part of the majalis in the background
and a collection of children 'dancing'

the woman cooking is wearing a white cloak, like a giant apron,
 over her black abaya, but her face is carefully veiled

a falconeer, note the leather gauntlet on his left hand, the rifle in the corner
and the leather hood on the falcon

carpet making: on the right preparing the fleece and on the left a loom
we didn't see them produce anything so I suspect they were merely posing with the tools

more actors with props

model pearl fishing boats

Camel and driver


Monday, October 3, 2011

The Sandcastle Competition

A bizarre and beautiful image from Tess at Magpie Tales.  More Magpies roosting here. 

The Sandcastle Competition

Every year, they rise as temporary sculptures:

castles built on sand

Scenes from movies, fairy tales, famous faces,

and the seven wonders of the world.

Every year, the earnest and dedicated,

denying the inevitable – as we all must –

and with magic soup to hold the sand

Create to last a thousand years:

a man’s lifetime, a wing-flap’s span.

The waves hunch in, the crowds dissolve

the sand – in all its genius – remains.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Trees

Please indulge my passion for trees.  After the fridge magnet saga I thought perhaps I should reveal a more, um, er, mature? nature-loving? civilised? side of my character.  

So far, I haven't written a poem to accompany my small forest.  I know one that was embroidered on a sampler created by one of my great-aunts ('Trees' by Joyce Kilmer) but I do not feel it quite captures the heart of the wood for me.  One of the best I have read is by Dave King and can be found here (I'm sure Mr King will not mind you reading it).

My favourite tree line is from the playwright sometimes known as Shakespeare.  Sonnet 73 (or in my collection 42):

Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

I have often tried to draw this line but have never satisfied myself.