Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Part One of a ficcione for Bill Allegrezza

There can be many starting places. Which one you pick depends on where you're coming from, & in what direction you are going. It is probably wisest to select from those points where there is most co-incidence, since that way more journeys are possible.

Here there are two. One excludes itself, because that is where everything unravels; & though it also ties everything together there is no longer any anticipation, knowing the story, aware of what will happen next since it has already happened. The other, then, because that is where past & future coalesce, where a grain of pollen caught in the leg hairs of an ephemeral insect is brought in contact with another & fertilises it. Without the past there is nothing. Without the future there is no story.

So then the place to start is a ryokan famous for its onsen, its hot springs, at Lake Shikotsu, a caldera lake in Hokkaido. The year 1937, the month December. There is a conference going on disguised as a religious retreat, thirteen participants, twelve of whom are serving military officers with higher degrees, in history or cultural studies. The thirteenth, a civilian, acts as the de facto chairman. He holds several positions, Professor of Military History at Kyoto University, director of one of the largest zaibatsu (& linked by marriage to another), Cabinet Minister & a member of the currently secret Preparations for War oversight committee.

Six of the officers are Japanese. The others are two Germans & two Italians, a Spaniard & an American. They are paired, sharing rooms, one gaijin to each Japanese officer. The Professor has the best room in the inn to himself.

next part
This page is clever.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A note on Lizard

Lizard was the first poem I ever wrote. I was seventeen, suffering teenaged angst & concerned about my mortality which, for some reason, seemed particularly fragile at the time. I don't know why but I decided to write about it, perhaps write it out of me or clarify my feelings. It ended up being a poem; & in the course of writing it my attitude towards death turned around. I was quite happy by the time I'd finished. I cannot remember if there was much revision. I have a feeling that there was little if any. & even then I wrote at a typewriter. Something about the separation between writer & instrument – you have to hold a pen; there is a distance between your fingers & a keyboard. It's like the start of a relationship. Those tentative touches to test the waters.

I knew no writers, though my mother wrote verse for the women's magazines of the time, knew poetry only through college & that part of my first year at University when I attended lectures. I think we did Eliot & Yeats at Uni, but everybody else I studied had been dead for at least a century. I was unenthusiastic about it. I was a musician, a classically-trained contrabassist. The cello would have been my preferred instrument – it still is the one whose sound I love the most if I put aside the personal sound of Miles Davis - but I was a lover of jazz, & the bass was an instrument for jazz.

But here I was writing. & sufficiently impressed by what I'd done to write some more. Three poems altogether, in the space of a couple of weeks. I showed them to my mother who suggested I send them off to the N.Z. Listener, a colonial imitation of the English Listener, the back with the radio programs, the front with articles & reviews & one or two poems in each issue. It was one of the few serious outlets for poetry at that time available in N.Z. I didn't know what literary journals were, or little magazines. Unsurprising, because I think there was only one of each in the country then.

They were accepted. Lizard was the second poem published, just after my eighteenth birthday.

I still played & wrote jazz. But when I returned to university the next year I had the cachet of being a Published Poet. Yes, definitely capital letters. I didn't consider myself a writer but others did. I was asked to edit the University Literary Society's annual publication. I became involved with other writers. I discovered Poetry, got influenced by people who wrote it, felt I had to write, wrote crap for the next three years. There was nobody I knew who wrote like I did when I started out so I started to write like other people who I really had nothing in common with.

Somewhere during this time I gave up playing music. If I'd played flute or piano I might have continued, but playing bass in those days was a dangerous undertaking. Wellington isn't known as windy Wellington for nothing, & there weren't many yank-tanks around, & none owned by anyone I knew. The taxis were still relatively small, English-made but not English taxicabs. Most of them I couldn't fit my bass into. I had to carry it, my shoulder fitting into its waist, whenever I had to play anywhere. Ultimately the visions of me getting caught in an uplift & blown down a hillside or off the bridge between home & the university became too much.

What saved me from becoming a pallid poet in the English tradition was Don Allen's 1960 anthology The New American Poetry which probably made it to N.Z. the year after its publication. I found in it poets whom I felt at home with, who wrote in a similar manner to how I had done when I first started writing, whose influences I didn't mind. Who I quite shamelessly stole from. Gary Snyder's Riprap – Lay down these words / Before your mind like rocks; MY's The Quarrel – Put down those words / rocks picked hastily from the beach of mind. Charles Olson's The Lordly & Isolate Satyrs; MY's Oriental Bay – The motorcyclists of Cocteau / were Death's / angels. Frank O’Hara's In Memory of my Feelings – My quietness has a man in it; MY's The Tigers – Within the tiger / reels a turmoil of desires. Poems to Denise Levertov, to LeRoi Jones. They went through my blender, came out sometimes smooth, sometimes chunky. But within a couple of years I was writing as myself, still referring to those who'd influenced me but from a different stand- & viewpoint. Openly acknowledging my influences is something I have always done. From Mirror/Images: "There is / an A-Z of those whose images I have pursued / perused & used."

& it all started with Lizard. It makes use of stereotypes but I knew no better then. It has the last vestiges of my belief in Christianity although I think that had gone out the window a year or so before, but not that long ago to make me hesitate to use facets of it. Lizard is, in all senses, a pure poem. Colloquial, uninhibited by influences, its form shaped by the poem rather than the reverse. Because I always lumped my earliest poems in a basket labelled "crap, not to be opened" it took me forty years & the prompting of others to recognise it for what it was, a poem that still works, & something to be proud of.

"When one is seventeen, one isn't serious" wrote Rimbaud. But he was fifteen when he wrote it, & I think he probably changed his mind in those intervening couple of years.

Lizard

I sit on the parched front porch;
around me the house is falling down,
soon my rocking chair may fall through the verandah.
The lizard under the shadow of the rock looks at me
as though I am its new tenant.
My skin is dried and crinkled like my landlady lizard.
I may shed it soon.
Perhaps human skin is the latest lizard fashion —
Lazy Lizard, poke your tongue back in.

Old Elijah in the pawnshop looked at me between rows of watches,
'Latest crocodile skin bags, Sir.'
I wondered if his wife had died.
E.Levy's Emporium; goods bought, sold and exchanged.
Amongst broken guitars, pictures of flowers and chipped vases
ruled 'Lijah,
amongst his rocks, in their dusty shadow.
'Lijah Lizard, put your Woolworth glasses back on.

The sun beats down on my little verandah.
Here I am sitting like a guard watching my own Sahara.
Join the French Foreign Legion.
See the sands.
Allons enfants de la patrie.
French generals, German captains
dwelling in the shadow of Moroccan rocks,
Legion Lizards, put your képis back on.

It is near the end for me now.
Perhaps it is best to rest
instead of cramming in all those little things
I would like to have done.
I wanted to see the big city.
Still, there is an even bigger one
waiting for me now,
waiting for me in the shadow of the rock of ages.
Leaving Lizard, put your halo on.

1959

Monday, June 28, 2004

Check
out the
long lovely hay(na)ku

by
Jill Jones
at Ruby Street.

Les Amants

There is a painting by Magritte.

There is a poem by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen.
Crag Hill is back from wherever with a veritable moving van of goodies. Too many to keep score of.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

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.

Friday, June 25, 2004

After Han-Shan

(On a sumi-e painting of
Han-Shan & Shih-te by
the Zen monk Sengai.)

Han-Shan, old chinese poet madman,
tramp & hermit, a true poet of the colloquial.
Often he came down from Cold Mountain
to visit Shih-te at the Kuo-ch'ing Temple.
The monks there cannot understand them;
these two madmen laugh at everything - Ha Ha!
Their laughter rings out, loud & clear
as the black-ink brush strokes of this painting.

1966

This is not an apology

I have no compunctions about posting old poems of mine. To most of you they're new.

Adding

Clayton Couch's Word Placements not just because he's one of my favourite editors but because he's also a fine poet

&

Vincent Ponka's Napoleonic In the Works. I misread a word in the last two lines of his first poem
Napoleon
Eroica for an empire.

as erotica. Was mildly disappointed when I realised there was no t. As penance I will refrain from mentioning the Ws of Wellington, Waterloo & Winter.

For Jean Vengua, hoping she gets it, hoping she never gets it

Escherichia
Coli - usually
shortened to E.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

but, I write you to let you know . . . not one person from this community called poets, not one from this group checked in to see how I was.. not one cared enough to imagine the weight this might have on one who is also a transperson... not one person.... and I can not come to but one simple conclusion... this is a hopeless battle, because no one . . . no one, has a clue... and thus the battle is lost...humanity is lost poetry is lost
kari edwards, at transdada.

mea culpa.

Life with the lions

Often you would talk of lions - a
natural enough subject, I suppose, for one
born under zodiacal lionsign with mane
of tawny hair & great laughing lionmouth
even though it never was - save once - real
lions that you spoke about. Rather of
statues, of illusions & allusions, almost as if
you were unwilling to admit there were other
living creatures that looked like you.
                                                               Down
from some small New England town at eighteen,
to New York & bigcity snow, & an acid freakout
outside the public library - flickerflacker
interchange of situations, justseen Potemkin re-
curring amongst these other steps where the
stoned lions have started roaring - that kept
you, for the moment, frozen - yes, like a
statue - & permanently ensnared by the image
of the lion.
                   Whether you fled or / followed them
I do not know. Only that the wealth of your
pilgrimfathers let you travel the world, to find
more lions in Mexico & London, Lisbon & Ankara &
christ knows where else, all stone or steel
or stuffed, & all sufficiently still to let you
overlook your fear of them, to come to look
like them, to learn the illusory/allusory lore,
from Ginsberg to 'The Girl Beneath...'
                                                      Which is where
we came in, you with your talkingbook of jungle
tales, me fluctuating between derision & desire.
I bought 'Born Free' once, drunk, to give you
for your birthday; but sobering up kept it, & my
silence. Until that night when you fucked me
more ferociously than usual, & I felt carnivore breath
on the back of my neck, real mane brushing
my shoulders. & as you came in me I
called you 'Lion'. You belted me across the head
& said "Shut up! I hate the fucking things."

1974

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The pheasant coucal

I thought when we got new neighbours who had two rottweilers late last year that we wouldn't be seeing this bird again. I'd only sighted it twice but it's pretty spectacular.

Then yesterday, in the afternoon, when Lauren & I were on our way down the back driveway to go for a walk along the lagoon, we heard a rustling & saw Centropus phasianinus  running up a tree. It flies, but doesn't seem to like it. Prefers to hop from low branch to low branch. Couldn't see it when we came back; but a little later, when I was outside having a cigarette, it hopped up from the ground & onto the pool fence, hopped along that & then disappeared into the other neighbours' place.

It's the only Australian cuckoo that doesn't lay its eggs in other birds' nests.
& a reminder about the Hay(na)ku Anthology. Submission details, links & cribsheets are available here.

A note to / on / for Joseph Garver

I have decided to add a sidebar link to Joseph Garver's Artificial Prospects to go with his Hay(na)ku blog.

With some trepidation. Joseph seems to approach his blogs with a scorched earth policy. He raises them, then razes them. I am reminded of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, where only when certain stars are in alignment & the right words are said does Cthulhu's island prison of R'lyeh rise from the ocean.

Currently Artificial Prospects contains illustrations of the Kama Sutra constructed by the Pensecola Polytechnic woodwork class. Pictures of the aging Levon Helm have gone, along with a photo of what looked like an early Mormon missionary, also named Joseph Garver, that seemed to stay up for about three hours.

Still I shall perservere. I like the way he manipulates the hay(na)ku form whilst still staying true to it. & I will gladly forgive the omissions & commissions of anyone who so openly declares their admiration for Eileen Tabios.

So please, Joseph, don't be so damned self-defacing. Otherwise I shall be forced to set the Great Old Ones on you. & you know what will happen then.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I have died & gone to heaven

In the last few weeks
harry k. stammer has done some variations on a poem of mine at As/Is
Martin Edmond has written a ficcione for me at Luca Antara
Jean Vengua has shared the depths of my darkness at Okir
& now the sublime Jukka-Pekka Kervinen has honoured me with not one but two pieces at his Nonlinear Poetry. Jukka, dear friend. I am tongue-tied. I can only speak in clichés. I am over the moon.
As the nameless shameless one would say. Forgive me while I preeeeeeen!

First contact

in memory of Rodney Kirk Smith (1937-1996),
for so many years / the invisible shoulder


Begin with what could so easily
have been the end. You, me & the
architect, asleep in the belly
of your old Citroën, parked
in the middle of the main road
an hour or so south of Auckland.
Having decided, as the party
was unraveling, to take to the highway,
to carry on the lifelong conversation
even though we had only met
quarter of an hour before. You drove,
were the last to go to sleep, stopping
where & when you finally felt
like it. Fortunate that the where
was too far north for the
coal & timber trucks that ran all night
& the when was everywhere else
mid-sixties New Zealand at
4.30 in the morning. To wake to a
landscape of cows & high voltage
power lines, observe it for the time
it took to smoke a cigarette, then
turn around & head back to the city
tacitly acknowledging the impulse of the act
but never questioning it. It was to be
the perennial pattern of our dance.

Monday, June 21, 2004

I have been trying to think of things to say to Jean Vengua in appreciation of this poem. Nothing goes far enough, deep enough. I am left indebted. Silent. But what need of words when others speak so forcefully on your behalf?
harry k. stammer rewrites Shakespeare. His blog refurbish'd. 'Tis black, on blue.

the hay(na)ku habit

Tom
has fallen
off the waggon
.

Cold
turkey never
works. You have

to
taper off.
Word by word.

Line
by line.
Tercet by tercet.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

The blue-faced honeyeater

The call from the garden unfamiliar. Go searching. Stand still. Find it bouncing in one of the palm trees. Back to the birdbook. Find it in amongst the honeyeaters.

An amazing name. Entomyzon cyanotis. White belly, olive back, a "conspicuous facial patch". Blue. Cyano, from the Greek kuaneos.

An amazing call. If a whistling kettle uttered discrete noises on the way to reaching orgasm this would be what they were like.

Queet. Queet. Queet.
Abolish fools. Jukka
pauses in a
solid state
to tell it like
it is. No phasing,
deliberate phrasing.
Ethical. Optical.

The correspondence of M.C.Escher

Each evening he would write
what had happened
to him on the back
of an envelope. Sometimes
would add an address
to the front & send them
off to people he knew
or to others picked
at random from the pages
of the telephone directory. He
kept no record of where
they went; paid little
attention to what he
wrote. Now & then
he would send them to
himself. Could not bear
to throw them away
when they arrived. A pile
grew on the table in the
hallway. One day he read
them. That evening
he wrote about it. Addressed
it. Sent it off. To himself.
This is what I'll be doing for three days in Auckland.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Elizabeth Taylor was eleven when she made Lassie Come Home. It was the first movie I ever saw. I was four going on for five. There had still not been a successful atomic bomb test.

This time next month I will be in New Zealand.
This time next month I will be in New Zealand.

On my last night in New Plymouth I saw a Charlie Chaplin movie, City Lights or Modern Times, I think the latter. It was showing at the cinema across the road from the hotel where we were staying before we caught the morning train to Wellington. I was eleven. I do not remember moving from Hokitika to New Plymouth six years earlier.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

My true thoughts on Ronald Reagan

My recent post on Ronald Reagan's funeral may have implied some sympathy for the man. To counter that suggestion - & prompted by my note on the latest issue of sidereality  below – let me just excerpt this from a poem of mine that appeared in the last issue.
Terminator Arnie's one-man army
is on the march to Sacramento, the victory celebrations
compered by a talkshow host. Maybe
the whole set-up is the lead-in
to another Jay Leno one-liner. The comparisons
are with Reagan, but he was just a fuckwit
puppet. It's Jesse The Body Ventura
who’s got a lot to answer for.
Or any excerpt from J.G.Ballard's wonderful 1968 piece Why I want to fuck Ronald Reagan. I'll content myself with just one.
In assembly kit tests Reagan's face was uniformly perceived as a penile erection. Patients were encouraged to devise the optimum sex-death of Ronald Reagan.
The latest issue of sidereality is up. Since I have no understanding of sidereal time, I will refrain from mentioning that it's a little later than promised but only say that it was well worth the wait. It overflows with great stuff.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A note of celebration

It's great to see a host of poems on As/Is again. & what a line-up! Sheila Murphy, Nick Piombino, harry k. stammer, Bill Allegrezza, Rachael Kendrick, Billy Ryan, kari edwards & Vincent Ponka.

Hie thee hence. Immediately!!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

fijado por los jóvenes de la marca

Outside of the days following a note here that I've posted a new poem, most of the hits on my Series Magritte come via Google. Most of them are non-English speaking searches - Europe, South America, Israel. Seems like you stick in Magritte & almost any other word & there you are.

Usually I only trackback one step to see what's on the Google page(s). But today, on a search out of Argentina, I decided to go one step further & have the site translated. I must admit I was most impressed by the lyrical quality of my poems, their resonance. I never knew I had it in me. Or out of me. Here, in all its Spanish leather, is marque la serie de Young Magritte.

I only have a couple of links on the page, but are they impressive.

puntos de desaparición de los beckett del tom de la semejanza

poesia no lineal de los kervinen del jukka-pekka

& the one you're on now: el soñar pelican

This added a bit later, after checking the link was okay. If you do go across, click on the links to Tom's or Jukka's - it's still his old Motown link - page & check out what that gives you!

I have always liked this poem by James Schuyler

SALUTE
Past is past, and if one
remembers what one meant
to do and never did, is
not to have thought to do
enough? Like that gather-
ing of one of each I
planned, to gather one
of each kind of clover,
daisy, paintbrush that
grew in that field
the cabin stood in and
study them one afternoon
before they wilted. Past
is past. I salute
that various field.

first published in New World Writing in 1951

Monday, June 14, 2004

A footnote to Martin Edmond's Zheng He ficcione

His body was taken back to China and interred along with his testicles, kept, as was customary, in a sealed pouch carried since castration always on a belt at his waist.
Martin Edmond: Zheng He: A True Ficcione

All else you say is true,
though few know about the
voyage to Luca Antara. Most
thought we stopped at Java;
but he & I went further south,
in a small boat, with a
trusted crew. The same
who later kept the secret
of his burial. What history
records as happening
is a fiction. Certainly
there is an inland tomb, with
Allahu Akbar inscribed
upon it. & a nearby stela
gives details of the seven
voyages. But remember
Zheng He was both a
Muslim & a sailor: Islam
decrees a speedy burial
& the tradition of the sea
demands interment in the
ocean. We wrapped him
in silk once we'd reattached
his young boy’s balls to
their proper place with
gum arabic. & one day
out from Calicut, during the
first watch, accompanied only
by our murmured prayers
& the creak of wood being
pressured by the sea, we
did commend his body
to the waters. Entire again.
Tom Beckett has left the hay(na)ku diamond, temporarily I hope. But stepping up to bat & scoring a home run with her first hit is Kirsten Kaschock & her Sunday Number Theory.
If I don't
post anything
else today
the date
will be the
title of
this poem.

some notes for another ficcione

Legend has it that Bodhidharma cut off his eyelids to stop himself from falling asleep while he meditated. Tea plants are supposed to have sprung up from where his eyelids touched the ground.

Hsuan-Tsang, Xuan Zang in Pin-Yin

moine et pèlerin bouddhiste chinois, également connu sous le surnom de Tripitaka
As I approached China's extreme outpost at the edge of the Desert of Lop, I was caught by the Chinese army. Not having a travel permit, they wanted to send me to Tun-huang to stay at the monastery there. I told them that "if you insist on detaining me I will allow you to take my life, but I will not take a single step backwards in the direction of China."

In a preface to the first edition of Monkey, Wu Cheng-en made reference to an earlier journey west to seek the true Buddhist sutras. The remainder of the preface was so obscure that it was removed from all subsequent editions & hence never translated by Arthur Waley.

Passed down through generations of the Allegrezza family is a story that a twelth-century ancestor traversed the Silk Road a century before the Polos.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Saturday, June 12, 2004

The Dead Presidents

O actor! my actor! your fearful script is done.
The B-grade movies have all been shot, but still no Oscar won.

*

I caught part of the Ronald Reagan funeral on television. Had heard The Battle Hymn of the Republic from a distance, came upstairs a little later just as they were launching into Beethoven's Ode to Joy. Then the brief military bit, the precision marchers with that strange crooked arm step, lining up beside the coffin & then carrying it back down from the nave.

I'd hoped for more. What I saw I was moved by, not by who it was but by the ceremony of it all, the RITUAL. Funerals of heads of state or royalty are one of the few places you can find pure ritual these days. I'd seen a shot of the coffin being transported to the Capitol, a line of motorcyclists abreast across the road, the hearse, the riderless horse with the empty boots facing backwards in the stirrups. I'd hoped that the funeral procession leaving the cathedral would have more pageantry, more ritual, to it.

But, I suppose, this is one of the drawbacks of having an elected Head of State. They came come from anywhere in the country & are then are returned there for burial. By motorised hearse, by aeroplane. There is not a centre where everything happens. The U.S.A. is a young country, & though it tries occasionally to pretend it has the history of a European state, these are the occasions when that is shown not to be true.

The Queen Mother of England would probably have occupied a similar level of my estimation as Reagan in that I had little time for either of them. But her funeral procession was amazing. Pure ceremony, pure tradition, pure ritual. The flag-draped coffin on a catafalque, the mourners marching behind, in rank, the silence of it all, the rhythm of measured pacing, the occasional creak of the gun-carriage's wheels, the firing of distant guns. Centuries summarised in an act that happens only a few times each century.

The ceremony was almost the antithesis of what William Carlos Williams wrote about in Tract.
I will teach you my townspeople
how to perform a funeral –
for you have it over a troop
of artists-
unless one should scour the world-
you have the ground sense necessary.

& yet I somehow think that who ever did manage the Queen Mother's funeral did scour the world & did have the necessary ground sense.

*

I heard about the assassination of John F. Kennedy whilst I was riding on the small bus that then crossed the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand from Whitianga to Thames.

A narrow road in a temperate rain forest. Most times only wide enough for the bus. Branches scraping the roof. Few passengers.

The driver had a little transistor radio. Reception was, understandably, crappy at best. Scratchy. But through it all, breaking into the music, came a severe & oh so serious voice. "Stand by for an important news item." Repeated. Then, "The President of the United States, John F. Kennedy has just been assassinated."

Because of the dateline this was the morning of Saturday, November 23 in Aotearoa. Hearing the news anywhere would have caused shock, but to hear it in such surroundings was utterly bizarre. & distressing. Even to someone like myself whose politics were left of left, JFK was a figure of hope. Vietnam was still to move from S.E. Asia's equivalent of off-off-off Broadway. The Cold War was still the main occupant of the world stage. The Bay of Pigs was someone else's fuckup. The Cuban missile crisis had been resolved because of JFK's steely resolve & we were all breathing a little easier. Frank O'Hara was still alive. Kruschev was still coming on the right day!

We changed buses & headed for Auckland where we were to stay at the house of some friends who gone away a couple of days earlier & who had told us where they'd left the key. Drove into Auckland to a main street dotted with newspaper billboards – yes, they still had afternoon newspapers in those days – that proclaimed PRESIDENT KENNEDY ASSASSINATED. Not many people around, only the billboards.

Caught a taxi to our friends' house. Went inside. First thing we saw was a newspaper billboard on the wall. AMERICAN PRESIDENT ASSASSINATED. Freaked out, totally & utterly. How, if they'd been away for the last two days, could this have got there? Moved closer. Found it to be a reproduction of the billboard announcing Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Did not breathe any easier.
But sleightists also vanish. The performers know when such a moment has been reached, and by which of them. They feel the brief removal of their own--they call it “wicking.” It quickens their skins. They taste metal.

From Kirsten Kaschock's sleight: 6: the problem with wicking at NEGATIVE WINGSPAN.

Friday, June 11, 2004

In memory of Ray Charles

In the 1950s, in my teenage years, my musical preference was jazz. Being a jazz lover then meant that all other music – classical, I must admit, was tolerated – was excluded, even though the musicians who played at the bi-monthly Rock n Roll Jamborees at the Wellington Town Hall were the same ones that played at the quarterly Jazz for Listening concerts. (This duality was universal. If you have a look at the back covers of Ricky Nelson records there is often a photograph of the back of a guitarist with the name of Rock Murphy who is not to be confused with the great jazz guitarist Barney Kessel who died earlier this year.)

But I was also a teenager. & that meant hit parades on the radio with Sinatra & Nat King Cole & Patti Page & Perry Como but starting to shift towards the early rockers such as Bill Haley who, although greatly admired, were still old enough to be our parents.

Then came the younger guys, Gene Vincent, Frankie Avalon, Gene Pitney, Elvis Presley, but they still tended to work in that older, popular, tradition. Take a look at Elvis' backing band sometime. It was the rhythm & blues influence that finally got things going. At first mainly sanitised white versions of black music, Pat Boone doing Little Richard's Long Tall Sally, but people like Little Richard & Fats Domino & Chuck Berry started getting on the charts.

& sometime in the second half of the fifties this incredible single, I got a woman, by Ray Charles. Perhaps it first made it on to the charts in a cover version by a white girl singer – Connie Francis? (though thinking about it a bit more I believe it was Hallelujah I love her so that was covered) – or perhaps it was the next single by Charles, What'd I say, that broke through. However it fell out I still loved the sound of this guy's voice, the way he phrased his songs. Loved his band & the backing singers, the tenor solos.

But I still didn't buy his records. Still stayed with Miles, Monk, Duke Ellington & the MJQ. Until one day in 1959, in a listening booth in Begg's Music Store in Wellington, I played two albums recorded at the Newport Jazz Festival the year before, Duke Ellington with an exquisite extra-long tenor solo by Paul Gonsalves, & Ray Charles. & I bought the Ray Charles. &, like Allen Ginsberg, I listened to Ray Charles blues shout blind on the phonograph....

Later I would buy more albums of his, with strings, with his band, with Milt Jackson. Would forgive him for recording country & western songs. Would forgive him for anything after having listened to The Genius of Ray Charles which has what seems like the greatest assemblage of musicians in history on one side – most of Count Basie's band plus some of Duke Ellington's plus Ray Charles' own band - & on the other, mainly with strings, some more interpretations of standards.

There is a version of Come rain or come shine on it that is truly one of the great tracks of all time. I am listening to it now. I am weeping.

Prelude to a ficcione

The name of Francis Roche does not appear in the list of musicians who took part in the Miles Davis / Gil Evans album Sketches of Spain. He was meant to have been there, was meant to have played the bass clarinet lines that lie like an echo under the melancholy of Miles at the beginning of the adagio of Joaquín Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez.

The lagoons are drying up. A heron stands at the midpoint between the two banks.

The locals say - & to be a local you must have lived here for at least forty years or had three generations of your family do so – that when the lagoons are this low it means a flood is coming soon. I'm not so sure, but I must admit that there is less water than when we arrived a year ago, & there have been rains in that time.

Ten pelicans move across the water. That effortless glide. They are in a line at first, like nuns in a French movie. There used to be islands of them. Now most have gone south, to Lake Eyre in South Australia. Not an annual migration but something that only happens when there is water there, thousands of kilometres away.

Who knows what they are drawn by? Variations in atmospheric pressure, some strange bird telegraph? Perhaps implants at birth, for that is where their breeding grounds are. Whatever it is they are drawn by an instinctive knowledge that there is water there, for the first time in several years, the inland rivers feeding it, the final point of a months'-long journey down the continent from further north that I am now.
Harry K Stammer is keeping my name alive at As/Is. My sincere thanks, Harry.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Luca Antara

Peter - click here


"Europeans, the Dutch, ‘first discovered’ Australia in 1606. This paper claims there was probably an earlier Portuguese exploration of the Tiwi Islands in northern Australia around 1600. And it puts forward a novel bearing technique for comparing antique maps to corresponding modern publications. The technique is used to demonstrate that a 1602 map, by Emanuel Godinho de Eredia, then a leading cartographer, probably depicts these islands."

The above is part of the abstract for: Peters N. H.., (2002) Eredia Map 1602. Ouro and Luca.Antara Islands: A Case for determining that Ouro and Luca.Antara Islands shown on the Eredia Map are, respectively, Melville and Bathurst Islands of the Tiwi Islands of Australia, Cartography, Vol. 32, No. 2.


Martin Edmond is, like me, a diasporised New Zealander living in Australia (though this year he is back in N.Z., at Auckland University as the writer in residence). He is a writer whose work I like very much, although, because of my 25-year absence from all things literary, I have only discovered it in the past couple of years. He is also my interrogator in our upcoming Q&A to be published soon by the New Zealand electronic poetry centre.

He now has a blog, Luca Antara on which the first post went up a couple of hours ago. Its excellence is a harbinger of things to come. I have just broken a bottle of champagne over it. Bon voyage.

Since, once again, I am emmeshed in Borges, it seems like a good time to post this thirty-year-old ficcione

Pipe Dream

In his 'Book of Imaginary
Beings' Borges tells of a
Muslim myth that the Earth
is held by an angel standing
on a rock of ruby that rests
on the back of a bull, Kujata.

& further, that this beast
is supported by Bahamut , a fish
so immense that all the waters
of the world placed in one
of its nostrils would be like a
mustard seed set in the desert.

Beneath Bahamut   is a sea above
an abyss of air; beneath air
is fire; & beneath fire is a
serpent so great that were it not
for its fear of Allah, it might
swallow up the whole of creation.

They stop there. But I suspect
that at the bottom of everything is
Hassan-i-Sabbah, the first assassin
& the father of grass, & he is
either dreaming us all or, at the
very least, blowing kif smoke

into the snake's face, to keep it happy.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Jill Jones also stirred to hay(na)ku by the Transit of Venus.
Jukka-Pekka Kervinen's work at Nonlinear Poetry continues to knock me out. Ever-changing, ever-developing, exploring, always exciting. Far far & away my favourite site.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Caught on tape

Certain words are flagged
for recognition. The surrounding
passages on the endless
monitoring tapes are
isolated & extracted, sent past
voice recognition software,
digitalised for immediate
interpretation of combination
& association. Names, times,
places. More words to add. This
is no brief history of the world
but a paranoic infinite
dictionary. By themselves
the words are meaningless.
Meaning is added later. "I am
going to the shops" is sufficent
reason for assassination.
Beware of imitations. They are made in sweatshops in Myanmar & rebadged once they get past Customs. At the genuine Series Magritte there is a new poem up. It's about pleasure & pain. You understand those concepts, don't you Tom? Especially the latter.

Reciprocities

Shanna Compton's brand new insects.
Nick Piombino's fait accompli.
A new issue of Tin Lustre Mobile is out. Plus assorted other goodies at the page.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Taking the long way home

The long way home. No reason
for it other than
a change to the day's
routine. Circumnavigating
the south side of the city
as if it were a lollipop. The bridge
the stick. Then following
the river for a while until it
bends away towards the north. I
am confused by it, always think
it flows in the opposite direction,
that the sea is its source. My way
this way is past the Showgrounds,
airport, golf course, the Botanical
Gardens. Places of interest
if this were an interesting
place. Some birds about. Doves
on the wires & a handful
of magpie larks. A run uphill
& over, the hills beyond, the
shadows giving extra shape
to them & texture to the flood plains
ironed out below. Then halfway
down. & home. The universe is
wider there. & outside, inside
the garden, there are many more
varieties of birds than I have driven
past. When they call I come to them.
From David Nemeth's nemski:
And the ugliness of the Mark Young / Tom Beckett feud is reaching Sillimanian proportions.

Jesus, Tom. I read this & think that the next time you & I engage in a sparring match we should add a kung fu soundtrack so people realise that this is repartee between friends that occasionally goes over the edge.

What was it the ever-astute Eileen said some months ago of an earlier exchange of ours?
Who
says whiteboys
don't have ego?

A sincere salutation

Dear
Tom. My
hand in thanks.

I
enjoyed this
cut & thrust

of
words exchanged
across an ocean.

Honours
are even.
The Referrers' List

will
stay. Go
get your century.

Friday, June 04, 2004

At eratio Gregory Vincent St Thomasino adds a great deal of depth to the current discussions about Jukka-Pekka Kervinen's new images.

Sent by Pelican Post to the Fortress of Solitude

Dear
Tom. (Or
should I say

dear
Superman in
your blue body

suit
with the
underpants worn outside?)

If
you are
still thinking of

not
paying up
let me just

add
as an
additional & very

appropriate
frightener these
words from Allen

Ginsberg.
Improvising our
conversation in Paris

at
Père Lachaise
& the future

poem
that takes
its inspiration from

the
light bleeding
into your grave.

I've
always liked
a foamy brew.

Washes
the dust
from duelling hay(na)ku.

PS.
Koalas have
chlamydia. Kiwis don't!

I am waiting for Kirsten Kaschock's east to appear.

Jukka-Pekka Kervinen

A new issue of Jukka's e-journal xStream is out. Siblings as always, staight & auto.

There is an excellent pre-tornado post by Chris Murray on Jukka's new images that is extremely thoughtful & insightful.

& the following extract from an email from Jukka about his most recent pieces may be of interest.
Yes, if you mean the new images, they are hard to read and
it is deliberate. I wanted to letters and words disappear
and re-appear like being in a heavy fog. I want reader
to try 'guess' words. Basically the whole idea is (again)
from music and composition. There are (this is only one
categorization) two kinds of indeterminacy; between composer
and score, and between score and player(s). I try to simulate
different kind of indeterminate situation, where the point is
not the random/stochastic methods I use, the indeterminate
situation is between the paper (image/poem) and reader.
Althought it is 'hard' to 'read' (actually I didn't mean
that words are read as much as seen), I have enjoyed my
'personal, intimate' stochastic process of 'reading' them.

He parries Tom Beckett's clumsy thrust

You
do not
take me seriously?

For
that the
price is doubled,

$200,000
now, still
in $50 bills.

Beware.
I have
an arsenal of

exquisite
corpses. The
clock still ticks

&
Cascade is
a better beer.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Bush or Chimp?

Courtesy of Bill Allegrezza's p-ramblings is this site, Bush or Chimp? A note on the site says it was last updated in March last year, just about the time of the pre-emptive strikes on Iraq; & I can't help wondering if maybe that Kevin Kline (?) movie about filling in for the President has been made real & it's the chimp that's actually been in charge & nobody has been able to tell the difference. After all, there has been an awful lot of monkey business going on since that time.

when young he pulled the wings off flies

Dear
Tom Beckett.

Unless you leave

$100,000
in used
$50 bills at

the
grave of
Guillaume Apollinaire in

Le
Père Lachaise
by next Wednesday

I
shall wait
until Vanishing Points

reaches
99 on
the Referrers' List

&
then turn
it off again.

Democracy
is spittle
on the lips

when
used by
former leaders. Is

faecal
matter, an
unfortunate by-product of

this
re-inventing themselves
as conscienced liberals.

When
in office
they did not

know
the word.
Only three words

mattered
then. Autocracy.
& absolute power.
Usually I write about large birds. They are easier to see, always majestic in their element – the various raptors easyriding the thermals, the pelicans gliding on the lagoon - & usually announce themselves. When a cockatoo lands in a tree / the branches bounce. They are easier to identify.

But there is pleasure in the small birds also. A joy of discovery, of the type that Denise Levertov writes about.
I like to find
what's not found
at once, but lies

within something of another nature....

Often you will hear them first, with a voice that is larger than their frame. A song from within the leaves of a tree. & so you wait, & watch. If lucky, the first, perhaps the only, thing you see is a small flash of moving colour. Focus on that, watch the spaces nearby. Move quietly to obtain a better view.

Today a red-browed pardalote, Pardalotus rubricatus.

It nests at the end of a tunnel bored into an earth bank.

It doesn't like being photographed. These were all I could find.

That small
fall of rain
just after
midnight
that readies
every-
thing for
another day.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I have squashed Squawkbox & gone to Blogger comments. My apologies to all those whose tracks I have obliterated. I still love you!

Reciprocities & some more e-zines

I am reciprocating the kindness given to me by their links to the pelican & have added Josh Corey's Cahiers de Corey, Lisa Urbanic & Vincent Ponka's Ironic Cinema & Jack Kimball's Pantaloons: Tykes on Poetry to the sidebar.

& a very new blog that has the makings of a very good blog, Kirsten Kaschock's Negative Wingspan. My thanks to Josh Corey for his post that brought this to my notice.

Have also added a few more ezines - Big Bridge, Shampoo, Trout & Znine.

& am thinking about putting the Referrer's List back up. Was experiencing difficulties in the downloading of the pelican - maybe its beak was too full - so I took it off. It seems to be running okay now, so I'll probably restore it shortly.