Friday, May 21, 2004


I have discovered by accident that I have a poem in the latest issue of Znine, the University of Texas at Arlington's quarterly (?) ezine. (Okay, I admit it, I found it doing my monthly vanity search on Google to see if I'm still alive – Googlism reassures me that I am – or if I'd been made Pope & nobody had told me yet.) A small issue, but I was very happy to see that I'm sharing the pages with Harry K. Stammer.
In view of my recent posts it might be construed as a bird poem which it is, but only accidentally so. It's more about words or, rather, specific words. I have a thing about some words which I can't usually do anything about except possibly uncover them late at night & salivate over them privately like a collector of stolen art. Most can't be worked into a conversation or even a poem except through artifice.
The word from the Znine poem is quincunx, & the chance arrangement of olive-backed orioles was the only time I've seen one live. There was a newspaper photo, years ago, of five nuns playing in the snow; but how the hell do you work that into a conversation? "What a lovely quincunx." Bam, straight in the kisser. So, given the opportunity….
But there are some opportunities you wish you'd never been given. I refer to the secret stash of words in a poem written the day that I heard of the death of Alan Brunton, New Zealand poet, actor, playwright, essayist & publisher (including my The right foot of the giant). That usage wasn't forced. I do not remember meeting Alan though our paths probably crossed in 1969, the year I left N.Z. But we were both interviewed for a radio program about the times that the anthology Big Smoke: New Zealand Poems 1960-1975, which he co-edited, covered. I was particularly struck by the beauty of his speaking voice. & the word "mellifluous" came to mind.
Apart from that, as I say, artifice. A hay(na)ku posted to As/Is

is one
of a number

words that
frustrate me in

I never
get an opportunity

use them.
Take this poem

as an
act of onanism.

& the following, from around 1975 which was when I stopped writing & which first appeared in The right foot twenty-five years later.


Standing, staring from the belvedere
at the moon which, in syzygy, is
full & surrounded by xiphoid stars,
he is entranced by the perfume of the
ylang ylang tree as it drifts upward,
moving widdershins with an eddy
of the wind.
              Though there is a
meretricious aspect to the evening
he can, for the moment, forget he is in
exile here, a giaour who has been
banished from his own land & is now
on a diaspora without definition, &
mostwheres feeling as out of place as an
anthropophage in a vegan restaurant.

Later he will descend to his room, to try &
write, a lucubration which, as the mesmerism
of the evening wears off & full awareness
of his severed roots returns, will become
more trite, more pleonastic. To be forgotten
or, at best, included in some future adespota.

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