Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Have just posted poem #25 in the series, Intermission, to my Series Magritte blog. &, since it's a hay(na)ku sequence, to the group blog As/Is as/well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

My three-cheese salad, with potato & bacon

Fill half the bowl with
torn iceberg lettuce, washed,
taken from close to the heart
but with a couple of
outer leaves left in for
contrast. Then sultanas,
40 grams, one of those
backpack packets, put in
early to absorb the moisture
from the lettuce; & nuts,
preferably pecans, chopped
into pieces half a sultana
size. Peel a carrot, & then
still with the peeler, slice
long strips off it that lie
across the bowl like
Japanese banners, rice-paper
thin. Now the cheese. I use
two at this point, a tasty cheddar
from New Zealand & a Greek
fetta, both cut into cubes
that are slightly less
than a centimetre along each
edge. The tomato is cut
the same way. Cracked black pepper
on the tomato, allowed to
stand for a couple of minutes
so the pepper infuses & then
over all of it some sort of
dressing, perhaps a classic Italian
or a red wine vinaigrette. Or even
use just good old fashioned
lemon juice. Now toss the salad.

*

Boil two eggs. Peel a reasonably-
sized potato - white-fleshed Pontiacs
come up well - & cut into cubes
about twice the size of the cheese.
When the eggs have been boiling
for just under five minutes
take them off & put them
in the sink. Run cold water
over them. Then use the same
saucepan for the potato pieces - it
saves on the washing up. Cut up
two rashers of bacon into pieces
the size of a postage stamp & fry.
(I can offer no alternatives
for those of you with dietary
proscriptions, but you must be
used to it by now.) The potato
is small, shouldn't take
too long to cook, should be ready
at the same time as the bacon.
Pour off the water then empty
the pieces into the frying pan.
Let stand for a few minutes.

*

Peel the eggs then slice them.

*

Cover the salad with the bacon
& potato mix. Take some
smoked cheese & with one of
those slightly concave flatbed graters
that produce extruded cilia strands
sparsely cover the top of the bowl.
Garnish with the slices of egg.
Perhaps some cherry tomatoes as well.

*

Serve with fish or a T-bone
steak. Though it's filling enough
to be eaten on its own.

*

Wine? I leave that to an
oenophile. For myself I prefer lager
drunk from the bottle, ice-cold
so there is condensation on the glass.
It is a special moment
when it catches up
with the backtaste of the pepper.


My thanks to those who've made the journey to my Series Magritte. It's likely to be an uneven series of poems, but I'm posting them as they come & there's no particular order or direction.

What has surprised me since I started has been the number of times Magritte revisited his paintings. There are up to three different versions of some of them. Not just the re-using of his own iconic images but the re-doing of the painting. & then there are those earlier paintings inside a later painting.

& what I've come to hate are the linked URLs that disappear on me....

Monday, March 29, 2004

A day of Desnos

Another extant translation of mine, plus a link to a Kenneth Rexroth translation of another poem by Desnos, plus a link to one of my poems & an outtake.

1. Robert Desnos' Poem for the Mysterious Woman

I have dreamt so much of you
that you lose your reality.
Is there still time to touch that living body
     & to kiss on its mouth the birth
     of the voice that is so dear to me?
I have dreamt so much of you
that my arms, grown accustomed to crossing
     each other on my chest as I embrace
     your shadow, might perhaps be unable
     to hold & enfold your body;
&, confronted with the actual presence
     of that which haunts me & has
     ruled me for days, for years,
I would, without doubt, become a shadow.
O sentimental scales in which we balance.
I have dreamt so much of you that it must
     be past the time for me to wake.
     Though standing / I am asleep, my body
     open to all appearances of life & love; &
     you, the only one who matters to me today -
     I am less likely to touch your face & lips
than the first lips & face that come along.
I have dreamt so much of you
walked so much, talked, slept with your ghost
     that there only remains to me perhaps, for
     all that, to be ghost amongst the
     ghosts & shadow a hundred times more
     than the shadow which walks & will
     walk gaily on the sundial of your life.

2. In Memorium: Robert Desnos

3. Robert Desnos' Last Poem, translated by Kenneth Rexroth

4. In Memorium: R.Desnos - an alternate outtake

You spent so many years in dreams
of her; & only in that concentration
camp - a shade among the shades
you called yourself - did you despair
& think you'd lost her. & yet
in that brief poem that they found
upon your dying body, the poem
starting once again with most
of those same words, she is so close
her nearness must have blinded you.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

&, it seems, W.C.W. did love - & do - hay(na)ku

from: Pictures from Brueghel, VII, The Corn Field

resting
center of
their workaday world.

Pictures from Brueghel

William
Carlos Williams
would have loved

hay(na)ku.
Spume from
the Passaic Falls

caught
in a
red wheel barrow.

re
action. reaction.
re action ary.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Beach House / Bath House

Spring, & the queer poets
are back in town
& publishing poems for one another
once again. Private correspondence
was never their preferred medium. They talk
of the Caribbean or Indian Ocean beaches
they escaped the Winter to,
of the young men they met there.
How splendid they were
anointed with lotion,
how splendid they are
embellished with fin de siecle  imagery.

Random thinkings that become threads. Time compressed. Time considered as a helix of semi-precious stones (which is the greatest title I know of anything from anywhere. A story with an inherent landscape concentrate; each word you read breathes a bit more moisture into the landscape so it expands & expands & becomes more real than the real until you are enveloped into its helical folds. This piece by Samuel Delany is exquisite, & contains one of the most beautiful concepts I have ever come across, that of The Singer.

Singers are people who look at things, then go and tell other people what they've seen. What makes them Singers is their ability to make people listen.)

But more about Delany at a later time. Whenever, Neveryona. What has prompted this is a thread that starts with writing about Bunuel below, is picked up by a comment I made in response to a post on As/Is 2 where Jacques Prevert drifted to the surface unbidden. & time compressed is a sentence from one of the introductory essays to Big Smoke:New Zealand Poems 1960-1975 that remarks "In 1964, Mark Young wandered (to Auckland) from Wellington after three years at the Japanese Embassy spent translating Surrealist poets."

The two things mentioned in that sentence overlapped in time, but they didn't share the same space. I'll probably talk about the Embassy later & how, because of diplomatic channels & access to foreign currency I brought in most of the Olympia Press titles - Burroughs, Genet, de Sade, Trocchi, Terry Southern - which were still banned in N.Z. & most other countries. But I discovered French poetry of the first half of last century not through literary channels but through visual ones. Painting - Ernst, de Chirico, Arp, Magritte, Dali - & films such as The Andalusian Dog. There were always references to Breton, Eluard, Prevert, Peret & Desnos et al. in the literature about them so I went looking & could only find the poems in the original French. Was forced to translate them myself. Most of the translations I made have been eaten up by time & poor housekeeping, but a few of them were published, & one of the things that came with my inclusion in Big Smoke was a xeroxed collection of my past published pieces.

All of which brings me to the intention of this post, the following translation of a poem by Paul Eluard. It was first published in Argot, a little magazine out of Wellington, in 1964.

The Woman in Love
by Paul Eluard


She is standing on my eyelids
and her hair is in my hair.
She has the shape of my hands,
she has the colour of my eyes.
She is swallowed up in my shadow
like a stone against the sky.

Her eyes are always open
and she does not let me sleep.
Her dreams in broad daylight
make suns evaporate,
make me laugh, weep and laugh,
speak without having anything to say.



Thursday, March 25, 2004

A Statement

How often we look after we leap.

I should have known that in this ancient continent there would be many Pelican Dreaming myths. Coast to coast.

To the Kadjerong people, the Kaurna people & all those others whom I do not know I apologise for my trespass & ask for your acceptance of my entry. I acknowledge that you are the traditional owners of the land, of the stories.

I am sorry for what people whose ancestry I share have done to you with whom I share the land.

This is my myth, my dreaming, though it shares its name with yours.

Your words confirm it is the right dreaming.

how did this get by me?

Have just discovered that a poem of mine, A Season in Hell, was the subject of a thread in an absinthe-lovers forum.

Originally published as a broadsheet in Sydney in 1974 - the original covers by Sasha Soldatow are reproduced here - it was republished 29 years later in Daniel Sendecki's eponymous ezine, now sadly closed, which is where the poster must have seen it.

new poem posted to Series Magritte

& as a cloud
passes across the moon
a razorblade passes through
the girl's eye
slicing it in two

The above sequence from The Andalusian Dog is still the most horrifying cinematic image I know.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

The Andalusian Dog

Bunuel has made a little shit of a film called
The Andalusian Dog, and the "Andalusian dog" is me.
Ferderico Garcia Lorca

Lorca sat silently as he
was being introduced. Neither man
in a hurry. One had the stage,
the other seemed not
to want it, busied himself
writing in a notebook
but drawing the audience
towards him by his actions
until they had only half an ear
on the speaker, both eyes on
the poet. The introduction finished
Lorca rose silently
closing the notebook
& leaving it on the chair. Waited
for the applause to soften
before he started. Whenever I
speak before a large group
I always think I must have
opened the wrong door.

Polite laughter. There was less
laughter, less polite, as he
continued. It is not my fault
if you cannot understand
what it is I am going to be
talking about, if you lack
the duende necessary to understand
my poems on the run
. He spoke of
stammering with the fire
that burnt inside him. That
from the stage. The words
from the chair were clearer,
a letter to his "Dear Family"
detailing the most recent adventures,
some real, some imagined, some
modified just enough to ensure
he came out from them
unscathed & appearing
in command. He recited the first
of the poems he was
including in his lecture, one
that described a childhood as a
solitary wanderer. His other self
sat behind him, bemoaning the lack
of servants, reviling the Jews, the
Armenians, recounting an
idealised & stereotypical vision
of Black Americans that went
no further south
than Harlem. Some of this
in the poems, but diffused,
more stylised, keeping well away
from the raw comment
of the letter left half-finished
on the chair. These
Protestants in New York
are ridiculous & odious
Lorca had written there,
serve only to reinforce his view
that there is only the one
true God & He is Spanish. My Spain
alone is pure; everywhere else
is full of faggots
. Wandering the stage
he was a gypsy. In the chair
he was nailing shut a door
he refused to open, afraid
he might find himself
sitting silently
in the audience on the other side.

In the days when there were intermissions before the movie, the program for the first half was made up of newsreels, travelogues, trailers for forthcoming films & cartoons. Usually the cartoons were either Disney family pap or Looney Tunes "there's no such thing as death no matter how many bullets enter the body or how large the boulder is"; but there were also cartoons from UPA that were totally different to what the others were doing, that used animation as if it were another art form.

Non-violent & without the, usually racial, stereotypes used by the other cartoon makers, UPA gave us the characters of Mr Magoo & Gerald McBoing Boing as well as versions of Poe & Thurber's Unicorn in the Garden. But they also had occasional cartoons that could only be described as almost spontaneous happenings - little theme, no seeming purpose, just something going on & depicted in a singular way. The one I remember is of a drummer coming on screen, doing a drum solo & then walking off. I also remember that most of the audience didn't enjoy it.

What's reminded me of these cartoons is my reference below to John Lewis whose MJQ did a haunting recording, I think with Jimmy Giuffre on clarinet, of David Raskin's Serenade which was part of the score to Unicorn, & thinking about the processes & purpose of Bel Canto, a poem I recently posted to As/Is which is about drunken persimmons. I write a number of poems like this - or, perhaps more correctly, it's the Zen thing where the poem writes itself - & all I can offer up for their creation is that somewhere inside me there is a UPA studio turning out depictions of the occasional mad microseconds of my mind.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

george w. borg & grand theft auto

check this out.

It may have been around in the land of the free for a while, but out here in the colonies I have only just discovered it, courtesy of an email from Robert Creeley to Michele Leggott which she has forwarded on to me. (God it feels great to name drop.)

th(an)ku hay(na)ku

Brilliant
& prolific
were the words

Tom
Beckett so
kindly used to

describe
me. Here's
yet another poem

to
show he's
half right. But

ascribe
all flashes
of brilliance to

the
excellent lighting
specialist I employ.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Straighten Up & Fly Right

If even as late as this morning
someone had said to me
Nat King Cole, asked me to name
who went before, who came
after, I would have responded Ray
Charles after, Art Tatum before. Could also
have rattled off the antecedents of the
latter, the stride pianists, most of whom
I do not like - it is what we were
taught. &, with a bit more time, I
could have provided a list of those who
I thought had followed on, what I had learnt
through listening to them, tracking
the jumps, bridging those infamous degrees
of separation. But that was before
I played this economy-priced two-CD
collection of tracks by the King Cole Trio
from the late forties / early fifties
& found in them an alternate set of lines,
bits borrowed from the beboppers &
distilled into what would turn up with
further distillation in John Lewis' work
with the Modern Jazz Quartet & on
beyond that. It's like finding a point
where the homology of the past & future
share the same space. A consensus sequence,
or one flower that bears the seemingly
disparate characteristics of many flowers
growing where you least expected it.

The New Zealand electronic poetry centre have honoured me by giving me an Author's page on their site. It means a lot to me, for although I've lived in Australia for more than half my life, I've always considered myself to be a New Zealander.

The page contains poems from 1959 to the present, bits of prose, a bibliography & a variety of ephemera. It's gone live today although it's still under construction. The official "launch" will be in July. I'll be going across for it.

There's a link in the sidebar.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

It's the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by George W. Borg & his coalition of the village idiots; &, if anything, my opposition to their presence there has hardened. To mark the date, I've decided to re-post a poem that first appeared on the As/Is blog a couple of months ago.

Their Given Names
for Chris Murray

If we wanted or
needed to, we could
find out the names
of not just the nine
that prompted your poems
but all the coalition personnel
who have died in Iraq. We
won't, however, see any
TV footage of the
ceremonial choreography
when their bodies are
returned to the States -
the visual documentation
of the nightly dissembly line
that was the daily dead
coming back from Vietnam
put paid to that forever.
We do see footage
of the unscripted funerals of
Iraqi civilians, some of it
anyway. There aren't
enough camera crews around
to cover them all. Nor enough
time. But try finding out
their numbers & their names
in the sanitised anonymity
of acceptable collateral damage,
a category whose equation
seems to have no upper limit
unless we give it one. & that
won't come until we
give them back their given
names. & write about them.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Another conversation piece

"The art of
conversation is dead."
Do you agree
or disagree? SMS
your answer
to 1234 567 890.

Friday, March 19, 2004

I have decided to start a blog for my Series Magritte poems. The URL is in the links section on the right.

I have always found imaginary landscapes more real than the real. The paintings of Magritte & de Chirico, the novels of LeGuin & Delany - I am comfortable in these though I occasionally find them disturbing. Perhaps it's because I live my life vicariously, or perhaps it's because I have never found, though I've lived in quite a few of them, a city that felt like home.


Thursday, March 18, 2004

Series Magritte #11

The empty mask

If we give
objects
different names to those
they were made or
born with

are we changing
reality
or merely re-
arranging it?

If I
tell someone
that a chair
is no longer a chair
but now
a tuning fork

how can I
make them
agree with me

when they
already say
the sky
is sea & see
a forest as
the human body.

Laughter &
curtains
are interchangeable.

They is me.

This time Alice waited patiently until it chose to speak again. In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, & yawned once or twice, & shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom, & crawled away into the grass, merely remarking, as it went, "One side will make you grow taller, & the other side will make you grow shorter."

Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland