Sunday, March 19, 2006

A post-ultimate post

My thanks for the comments, posts & emails.

I have no intention of leaving the ethereal world. It's just that I felt I wasn't giving the pelican the commitment it deserved. Magritte will continue, I'll probably post to As/Is, & I'll probably start a new blog sometime, but at a less frenetic pace. The Blogger Dashboard tells me this is the 1768th post in these two years. That's an average of 2½ per day. Fine while I was in semi-retirement, but now that I'm back working…..

I'm leaving the blog up & intact, (a) because there's a lot of good stuff in here that I'd hate to see lost, & (b) because it's an easy way to find people & I haven't been visiting other sites with the regularity I think they deserve.

I'm also thinking of starting up a blogzine — separately-paged, not continously-scrolled — so if there's anyone out there who wants to express an interest in contributing, my email address is to the right in the sidebar.

So my friends, many of you my dear, dear friends, it's au revoir, not adieu.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A farewell hay(na)ku

After exactly two
years as
hen, I
have decided to

let the Pelican
find a
the free
range. Occasionally I

go &
collect her eggs.

Pen ultimate - a thank you

for Eileen Tabios

So the distances are Galatea
and one does fall in love
CHARLES OLSON: The Distances

It is a dance in two
parts. Is ritual.

Pop song from the
Forties. A trip to the moon.

The bull, the matador.
Dance, ritual, death.

Whose death? A las
cinco de la tarde.

Usually the bull. Sometimes
the matador. Provocation

can have unexpected results.
A procession of flagellants

passes by. I am drunk on the
smell of fermented mangoes.

Red sand blood white.
What colour are your eyes?


for harry k. stammer

The weather is purple
& has an undertow
that buffets me. I
stumble. I fall
into the path
of a bellicose ambulance
which gathers me up
in its lifting arms
& dumps me
in the back. No-one
sees me go. I trigger
the GPS tracking
beacon in my
backwards baseball cap
& hope the response
is all that was
promised me. Only
a pre-emptive strike
by the Dawn Patrol
can save me now
from being shipped off
to a missile silo
in West Virginia where
my health insurance
may not cover me.


Black (for Geof Huth)


A Nocturne for Kirsten Kaschock

What is a dancer? What is it to dance?
Kirsten Kaschock: sleightthing

The dance is

a synchronicity
of celibacy &
sexual excess.

The body embodied.
The body left behind.

Though still
without, within
you dance.

A way of life
a way to life
away from death.

At night the rain
beats black against
the windows. Reflected
you assume the
stance. The rivulets
amend your movements.

The feet. The brain.
Forgotten. Emotion.


The dancer is
the dance.


An Alphabet para Ernesto Priego

A Martian with a clown face can pass as a Venusian.
Butterflies call chaos theory the pissing or pissant theory. They believe that if two men in Guadalajara have a competition to see who can piss the highest, a blizzard will eventually develop somewhere in Siberia.
Codicia de la boca / al hilo de un suspiro suspendida…
Debonair is a tune that makes you want to whistle along with it.
Ebonaire is a dark wood with holes in it. Some people call it a recorder.
Fenêtre is French for window. Perhaps a French window.
Galapagos has tortoises. The lagoon at the end of our street has turtles. Last night I rescued a turtle from the roadway. It was heading in the wrong direction, away from the water. It didn’t make me want to rewrite the theory of evolution.
Heavenly shades of night are falling, it’s twilight time.
Incognito ergo sum.
Jalapeno peppers bring tears to my thighs.
Kevlar is used for making body armour. In an ideal world you wouldn’t need it.
Later he would walk down to the lagoon.
Miles Davis was
Never neutral. Nor was
Quena is a type of flute made from a human bone. I once wrote a poem about it. The poem rhymed.
Reckon you thought I might stick in Quetzalcoatal for that previous entry, but I’m saving him for a later line.
Swallows are what bellies are for.
Teotehuacán is one of the places where the feathered serpent was formerly & formally worshipped.
U comes before
V. But one of the problems about getting old is that sometimes you actually have to check on those sort of things. The alphabet is its own mnemonic.
When you forget it there’s nothing to fall back on.
X-men. Uncanny how we both thought of that together. Snap!
Y am I doing all this? Take it as an act of friendship. Do not question it. Do not pass go.
Zeus was my father. He fell upon my mother as a swan & got up despite the down. Helen of Troy is a sort of sister. Brad Pitt is no relation. But sometimes I think there is an other.


For Jill Jones

An undertrack of
electronic Miles, planes, inner-
suburban street noise
that brings me to a polyglottal
stop. & over all yr poems.
Precise. Polyphonic. Re-
minding me how things
are built
from beneath the ground
up. Not so much
taking me back. Rather,
re-placing me.


A Vale for Tom Beckett

The real de-
natures, the artificial
turns brittle
in the sun. He followed
what was now a
marked path back
to the starting point.
Found fungi of strange
colours, pieces of
metal, polycarbonates
coated with a film
of white dust. He
gathered them up
as he went, small
bundles, several trips.
Re-assembled them
in whatever manner
that they held
together. Started
out again. This time
a different journey.


What sight the light lets in
for Michele Leggott

time of evening
just after the light
begins to fade
& you
begin to
lose your sight

We sat
outside a café
on the quayside
drinking flat white coffees

Talking of Portugal

Let our ferries
leave without us

talking of

The ones
after that
as well



facing away
from the way
the ferry
is going

I sit
on the back deck

It is
a deliberate act

It is
a replication

of your standing
in the same place
on the ferry
that left twenty minutes
before mine

I watched you leave
I waved
I do not know
if you could see me

It is
that time
of the evening

I watch the wharf recede
I am there on it
I am waving

already know
how it felt
to wave

I do not know
what sight
the light let in


I can tell
how it felt
to watch me
wave goodbye

just in case

we ever
need to know


The Allegrezza Ficcione
for who else but

Bill Allegrezza

poet, editor

which starts here, & continues on for many hops


A Little Note for Sheila Murphy

inc (and) escence
of your
po et ry
b (l) inds


The Babur ficcione
for Karri Kokko

So much on the
positive side. Founder
of the Moghul
Empire, great grand-
son of Tamur the
Lame & therefore
descended from
the great Genghis
Khan. It is a lineage
easily able to hold
all the existing
continents together
as a single land
mass. Quite the
white night; & that's
how the miniatures
inevitably display
him. But the friezes
at Khajuraho tell
a different bed-
time story,
show him with
an extensible tongue
inside an elongated
skull that is totally
resistant to tarnish &
corrosion. His glorious
victories at Panipat
are not depicted
here. What is is how
he got his name, The
Man who Lost
his Lung in the
Battle of Cunnilingus.


For Jean Vengua

Your poem posted
just after one
day’s midnight. &
I reading it
not that long after
am already knocking
on the next. Time-
lines, lines of
different longitude;
but our songlines
are sometimes similar
to my untrained
ear. You tell me
what yesterday was
like. In return
I let you know
about tomorrow.


At Trotsky’s Funeral

for Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

Estrépito de plumas blancas en el cielo nocturno
Octavio Paz: Semillas para un himno

Later there would be
questions asked;
but at the time
few people paid
much attention to the
small group standing off
to the side at the wake
that followed Trotsky’s
funeral. Certainly
the two men at the centre
both had bodyguards; but that
was normal here & neither
had famous faces like the
Hitchcocks & Hemingways
that the press were
much more interested in.


A strange pairing
Turing & Oppenheimer. & of
the few people
that noticed them
Octavio Paz the only one
to see that
there was energy flowing
beyond the sexual tension. Ever
the astute metaphysician. “The one
wanted to unravel the moon
by using recursive &
mechanical algorithms; the other
to recreate the sun with a
continuous chain reaction. I
saw the future in them. I saw
several futures.”
      Islas en llamas en mitad del Pacifico
     Mundos de imágenes suspendidos de un hilo de araña


Perhaps the mescal, perhaps
the Mexican warmth, but Turing
was expansive on the day,
eschewing the cyphers
he usually talked in & of. “If
I can paraphrase Hegel,
the thing we learn from history
is that we do not learn from it.
But we are dreamers, & have
chosen to ignore that lesson. da
Vinci designed flying machines
in a flightless age; Babbage
computed a difference engine
far beyond the loom
that knitted Jacquard sweaters. I
have this idea of a machine
whose answers to a set of
questions are indistinguishable
from those of a man. & you,
Robert, you dream of a
Fabergé egg that conceals
a controlled fusion that
will turn the desert into
glass. Conceit & concept –
we have them both. It is
the world that lacks
the technology to
make them practical.”
Oppenheimer smiled.


One of the first things
Oppenheimer did as
director of Project Manhattan
was to invite Diego Rivera
north to Los Alamos to
paint a series of murals
showing the benefits
that nuclear energy
would give the peoples
of the world. At night
Rivera slipped out
to the testing grounds
&, by the light of two
kerosene lamps, painted
on the wall of one
of the Quonset huts
that had been erected there
a mural of Trotsky’s funeral
over-shadowed by a
mushroom cloud that bore
the face of Shiva. It was
the first thing destroyed
by the first successful
testing of the bomb.


Instead of a long chain
of nucleotides, think of
the body as being
comprised of an infinite
tape divided into cells,
a finite number of which
contain a symbol drawn
from a finite vocabulary.

To breath life into it
add a moving head to scan
the cells as they pass; &
depending on the present state
& the present symbol
to overwrite or delete what
it finds there & move
one cell further on. It is not
a sequence of purine or
pyrimidine bases but of
ordered quintuples. Birth
is the initial state; the subset
of final states includes
assassination with an icepick
suicide through cyanide
& the

crash of white plumes
in the night sky.


My life in Vaudeville
for Nick Piombino because he didn't / ask the question
& for Tom Beckett because he gave me / the title

The players in the orchestra pit
are aging, some are
already dead or too infirm
to hold their instruments. Only
the drummer manages to keep
a beat; & that occasionally
runs ragged since his
bass drum had a triple bypass
four months ago. Nobody
wants to play this type of music
anymore. No fame or
fortune in it. The singers have all
left, the jugglers drop more
than they catch & local bylaws
have taken the fire-eater
out of the program. Two years ago
my partner died. No one to replace him
so I've been using a dummy
whose response to "Why is there
a gryphon in the garden?"
is a very wooden
"Because Thurber took the unicorn".
We've had the North Korean
Totalitarian Drill & Marching Band
in for a couple of weeks but now
they've overstayed their visas
& are due to be deported
in the morning. There's nothing
left except to clear the last
tableau & close. Next week it's
strippers, sound machine & a single
spotlight. The theatre's being re-
named, either "Vanishing Acts" or
"Pussies Galore". They'll probably
go for the latter. Boom tish.


for Martin Edmond

You probably don’t
know me but
I’ve seen you
around campus
& would
really like it
if we could get
together. You
could recite poetry
to me & I could
tell you my
life story. Meet me
on Thursday at 5.45 p.m.
under the
Moreton Bay figs by
the Victoria St entrance
to Albert Park. I’ll
be wearing a
raspberry beret &
a Guevara T-shirt. & just
so you won’t mistake me
I’ll be carrying
a copy of Alcools
by Apollinaire in
one hand & Eco’s
Kant & the
platypus in the other.


to every-
one else who

shared the
journey – sincere thanks.

Friday, March 17, 2006

I am listening to the double-CD of the Modern Jazz Quartet's final concert, recorded at the Lincoln Centre in November 1974. They have always been one of my favourite groups, a composite in many ways of the things that move me in music, beyond music. They're a major part of my continuum, a nexus that brought together Bach & bebop, that swung like all hell, very laid back but also very structured, an insistence on the melodic but at times they got real down & dirty. A group whose leader, the pianist John Lewis, insisted that they present with a strict dress code, tuxedos or lounge suits, to emphasize the seriousness of the music, to show that jazz had its place in the concert hall. But whose music didn't lose touch with its roots.

They were amongst the first records I bought well over fifty years ago, along with Miles & Monk & Mingus & Ellington & Sonny Rollins. & amongst those was an extended play 45 r.p.m. which had Django, Lewis' beautiful tribute to the great gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhart, on it. (Lewis has just quoted from Dixie on the track that's on at present to remind me that humour was something else they had.) & Django is the next track up on this album that also includes Round Midnight, A Night in Tunisia, Bags Groove and the adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez. Any one of which would be enough, but all together…..

The first group I ever had was patterned on the MJQ. Not the instrumentation — I had a guitarist & a reed-player (a 14-year old prodigy who played flute & clarinet & baritone sax & later went on to play with Maynard Ferguson's big band amongst others) where the MJQ had piano & vibraharp — but Lewis was my great influence as a composer, & a structurer (if there is such a word) of the music & the way it was presented. (& now Lewis quotes from Charlie Parker's Now's the Time: You hear it every way / a dog will have its day / but when it comes to music / dogs ain't got a thing to say.)

I remember being invited, patronisingly, to perform at one of the Wellington Jazz Society's Jazz for Listening concerts. & now a big hand for these young men…..& I remember being so pleased when we blew the fuckers away. One of those nights…..

One of those many nights. In that place. At that time. I have said before that it was an ideal time & place to grow up in. A small city, with everybody living around the fringes of the inner city, close enough to walk wherever you wanted to go, open enough to have everybody drop in unannounced at all hours of the day & night. Where the poets mixed with the painters, & the musicians, & the actors, & the gays, & the hipsters, & the beats. & everybody knew everybody, & knew everything that was going on.

That was then, & in a sense is still now, for one seeks the thickness of the past when the present is so thin it will shatter if you put pressure on it. & I am feeling fragile, clearing the decks so there isn't too much weight around.

The MJQ album has finished. Bags Groove has died away. What other music by dead men shall I put on? I flip between Miles & Bach, pick Miles. Time After Time.

I have a need to weep.

A new issue

of Moria is up.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006




a p.s.

perhaps, a
Biro de change.

The Dharmasekar ficcione

When asked
why he had followed
particular pursuit, Sunil
Dharmasekar, pre-
eminent amongst
modern Tantric sages,
attributed it to
the invention & subsequent
mass production
of the ballpoint pen.

"I was young &
naif," he said. "Until
the age of twenty-
three I did not know
that the appendage be-
tween my legs had a
purpose beyond
exuding fluids. I
taught myself
to curl it over a
quill to write my
poetry, & then,
through exercise
& the attachment of
weights, extended it
to also hold
an inkpot. Finally
more exercise, a
further extension &
eventually I could bend
the quill back
& dip it in the ink.

"There were problems. Mind control stopped the fluid flow; but since poetry would never pay the bills, I set up in the market as a scribe. Most of the time fine, but several times a day, sometimes a customer, sometimes a passerby, someone would set something off inside me & my appendage would uncoil & send ink everywhere. Once or twice the quill almost took an eye out. I thought my business would be ruined, but instead it blossomed. Parents would bring their children in, ask me to write something trite, but they seemed more interested in the spring in my, by now, instep. They called me lingam, though I never knew why. At least not then.

"& then, the ballpoint pen came along. I found it was much easier to hold it in my hand, &, of course, there was no need to carry an inkpot round with me. I put my appendage away at first, but use had left it as a helix that still uncoiled & had a tendency to flee the nest. & the parents demanded me naked when I wrote, muttering something about how they had to be sure I was not a fakir practicing some kind of rope trick. Then the Socialists brought in universal education & everybody learned how to read & write. & again I thought I would once more be a poet with a starving garrotte, & again I was wrong. Only now they didn't bother to have me write anything, jusr asked to see what they were now calling my dowry dowsing rod..

"Eventually one of the mothers stayed behind &, you might say, took me in hand. & a few other places as well. She taught me a few tricks, how to control the uncoiling, how to increase the reaction. Explained to me that the more intense the spring, the more money I was likely to get from grateful parents. Which was becoming necessary, because I had almost exhausted that demographic. I began giving lessons, private sessions. I franchised my technique.

"I wrote the first of what would become many books. For the title page, I always returned to my early ways though now with a goose-feather quill & an alabaster inkpot. But the body of the book was always written longhand, in ballpoint of course.

they say,
life's a Bic."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

with the
keys on
the dark
porch I
to lose
the poem
that had
found me
through my
walk home.

It's the weekend.

should have
been grooming the

pelican. Spent time
with Magritte