Friday, December 31, 2004

& a reminder

that today - or tomorrow, depending on yr time zone - is the last day for submissions to The Hay(na)ku Anthology, to be published in 2005 by Meritage Press.

riding the rails

A train
hasn't run
along this line
for at least
ten years
but the rails
& stations
remain
in place
so I can
still make
the journey.

poles apart



poles apart contains a selection of our collaborative work, both published & unpublished, plus some 'each for the other' pieces. Included are excerpts from The Oracular Sonnets, Karl Marx' Rubric Journal & The Sketchbooks of Hieronymous Bosch. Available through lulu.com.
 Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Fifth Book of Peace

The bookshops of Rockhampton are not places to browse in. They're where you go if you want to order something in - though I did find a copy of Bob Dylan's Chronicles on the shelf. The only copy I might add.

Where you go to browse are the newsagents, who bring in remaindered books by weight. "Give me a couple of hundred kilos of popular paperbacks, &, say, fifty kilos of those larger-sized ones. Oh yeah, & a tonne of sports books." Books appear which would otherwise never come within 700 kilometres of Rockhampton.

I picked up Maxine Hong Kingston's The Fifth Book of Peace in such a bin a month or so ago, for a fraction of its original price. She's a writer I've liked ever since I found The Woman Warrior in a similar chance fashion in Sydney, maybe in a second-hand shop. I started reading the new book a couple of days ago, & was struck by an image a couple of pages in where she describes rushing back to find her house burnt down in a firestorm in the Oakland-Berkeley Hills. "Someone once told me about a child who lived at the time of the burning of a great library. He caught pages of burned paper, and read Latin words."

I suppose what made this image so poignant for me was the recent fire at Michael Rothenberg's home in which he lost his books & his archives. When I returned to writing a few years ago Michael was the first editor to encourage me & give me a place to publish. I mourn his lost library.

SOFTBLOW, Stylus & Singapore

SOFTBLOW is a relatively new poetry e-zine out of Singapore. It refreshes rather than bringing out issues, keeping about eight poets on the "front page" & an archive of those others whose work has previously appeared. So far the majority of contributors seem to be non-Singaporean & include MTC Cronin, Catherine Daly, Simon Perchik & Lewis Warsh.

The latest issue of Stylus features Singaporean poets, & includes an interview with Cyril Wong, the founding editor of SOFTBLOW.

Asian-American Poetry

"Some people like to collect open-toed sandals. Others like to throw boomerangs at wasps' nests. I happen to like to read Asian-American poetry (using the most expansive definition possible here.) I've read A LOT of it, more than anyone I know personally. In fact, I doubt that there are that many people in the world out there who has read more than I have, but if you think that you have, by all means, let's talk! I'm starved for conversation about Asian-American poetry. I started a whole blog about it, for goodness sake! (And as we all know, starting a blog is clearly a cry for help.) Like I keep trying to convince my bedroom mirror, I have a life, you know."
from Asian-American Poetry, a new blog started by Roger Pao.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

& in one of those

strange acts of synchronicity, the The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami blog, the SEA-EAT blog for short has just paid a "next blog" visit to Series Magritte. This multi-authored blog contains extremely extensive news & information about resources, aid, donations, volunteer efforts & links from both sides of the Indian Ocean.
The only way I can comprehend the enormity of the loss of life in the tsunami that swept the Indian Ocean is to picture myself standing on top of Mt Archer, looking down at the city of Rockhampton below & imagining all of its 60,000 inhabitants dead.

Yet this is a natural disaster, made more horrific by the speed at which it happened. But it is less than the death toll of Iraqis since the U.S. & its partners invaded that country. To envisage what Man(un)kind does to its fellow humans, I would probably have to be in a satellite looking down over the continent of Australia & imagining all of its 20 million inhabitants dead. & even that might not be enough.

We may not be able to stop the war in Iraq. But we can provide some help to the devastated communities in Southern Asia. Two Australian agencies seeking donations are Care Australia & oxfam. & there are others. kari edwards has a comprehensive list of U.S. sites at transdada.

fast amulets

parrakeets anneal the landscape
he changed the room around
five metres of mud lay between the path & the water
the last vestige of light was a yellow butterfly

a rockhampton blues hay(na)ku

Cities
that never
sleep / never die.

The
others shut
up shop early.

Monday, December 27, 2004

snakes alive

There are no land snakes in New Zealand. There may be some exotics in zoos, but I don't remember ever seeing them. So because you are unfamiliar with them you grow up on a diet of rattlers in Westerns, asps zapping Cleopatra & snakes in myth & scary movies & end up being shit-scared of them.

It's a fear I brought with me to Australia. & because I have yet to see a snake in the wild I am still afraid of them. I've seen snakes behind glass in zoos here, & loose in displays at local Shows. I found a shed skin when I went walking in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney when I lived there. Here in Rockhampton I once heard the cat yowling at what I thought was the tom next door, went out to shoo it away, found no cat but saw / heard something long & lizard-like slithering away across the dead leaves in the garden. Put it down as a possible sighting.

& yesterday the closest I have come yet, finding a dead snake on one of the pavers next to the path in the back garden. About eighteen inches long, but in two parts. Killed by maybe an owl or a kookaburra or perhaps even the cat, though if it were the latter I would have expected it to have been at least part-eaten. & I don't think the cat has the classical education to sever it in accordance with the principles of the golden mean.
In
the evening
he would play

hill-
billy songs
on a banjo.

What
was worse.
We sang along.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

           Huh?
           Bum-
           bag?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

My French is so execrable

that someone has asked me to post the original of my de Chirico poem below. Here 'tis

Giorgio de Chirico's Departure of a friend
            Time is clasped

in the hands of the station clock

even as the hands of friends
           grow cold
in their final parting.

one shadow is the
           form of two men -

& it is autumn.

living in the tropics

go outside
raise an eyebrow
break out
into a sweat

green ants
on the left foot
black ants
on the right

four varieties
of mosquito
monitor
yr blood flow

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

a favourite dedication

Were it not for Maurice Pilorge,
whose death keeps plaguing my life,
I would never have written this book.
I dedicate it to his memory.
Jean Genet: Notre-Dame des Fleurs

&

a bonsai textual conjecture by Jukka.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

draining the adriatic

The irrepressible César de Oliviera, aka Super Sharp, silver medalist in the prestigious Prémio Lopes-Graça de Composição for 2004, has posted his ideal house plans up at Hauptwege und Nebenwege. Before budding architects get too excited, he lists his desired specifications which include a library based on Borges, & it should also be noted that the gardens incorporate the Duchy of Luxembourg within the garden, & the swimming pool is given as the Adriatic Sea transported.

Which leads me into a koan of sorts. If you dig up the Adriatic Sea, then the Mediterranean Sea would rush in to fill up the space & the Adriatic Sea would therefore still be there. So would César's Sea be the real sea? Or a fallacy?

Giorgio de Chirico's Le départ de l'ami


           Le temps est étreindit
dans les mains de l'horloge de la gare

de même que les mains des amis
           croitent froid
dans leur séparation finale.

Une ombre seule est la
           forme des deux hommes -
et c'est l'automne.

 Posted by Hello

Monday, December 20, 2004

harry k stammer zooming in on the intersection in an excellent series of posts. 12/18, 12/16, 12/15/04.
I have cold climate genes. I was born in a town where the only ways out were the railway tunnel that ran under the mountains & a road pass through the mountains that was often snowed shut. I began school in another town where I refused to wear shoes so that I could break the ice on the puddles with my bare feet. The town after that was far enough south to be able to see the Aurora Australis. Strangely enough I have never lived anywhere where snow was commonplace.

I remember coal-fired trains, coal stoves, no ice-boxes but a cupboard, called a safe, that was on the outside of the house, with zinc mesh so that the wind could breathe through but the flies couldn't enter. The milk was delivered, tipped out into billy-cans from a churn. The bread was delivered, unwrapped, tasty, loaves that broke in half & which I used to love eating the insides out of. There is a Henry Miller piece I have always liked called the Staff of Life in which he bemoaned the trend in the U.S. towards tasteless bread. Which has now conquered the world, & bred niche markets for bread the way it used to be. At one hundred times the price.

There were outside toilets, "dunnies", that would be emptied by the night-soil man. I do not remember, but my parents have told me of, the night-soil collecter who was prosecuted because he also used to deliver the milk. At the same time.

All this prompted by the fact that it's hot & humid & uncomfortable at present, & I'm reading volume one of Bob Dylan's Chronicles. "The sound of trains off in the distance more or less made me feel at home." Not an autobiography, more of a memoir. Large chunks left out that I would rather have been put in. Though maybe that's how the ongoing volumes are going to be, collated like a game of leapfrog or a knight's moves in chess, each part jumping about, so that you need to read the volume after to discover what happened halfway through the one before.

& historic events as almost throwaway sentences.
"As for me, what I did to break away was to take simple folk changes and put new imagery and attitude to them, use catchphrases and metaphor combined with a new set of ordinances that evolved into something different that had not been heard before."

Sunday, December 19, 2004

sound & vision

I am not a radiohead, usually only listen to it in the car. Watch tv, & am conditioned by its weekend rules of Saturday = sport, Sunday = things serious. Which is why I only caught the last half of Jill Jones reading her poetry on Radio National because I saw her post announcing the upcoming program & filed it away as serious = Sunday, forgetting radio does not run under tv rules. But I loved what I heard, & will catch up with the full program when it is linked at the Poetica site. Hopefully it will be up tomorrow (Monday) & will be available for the next four weeks or so. Hie thee hither.

Had to load RealPlayer in preparation to listen to it, & glad I did, because when I logged back on later on there was an email from Michele Leggott saying that video clips plus texts of the poems from the reading for the 3rd birthday celebrations were now up at the New Zealand electronic poetry centre . So if you want to see a ten minute clip of my first reading for thirty years it's available there in both dial-up (resolution in dial-up is pretty crappy so best kept as a smallscreen) & broadband formats.

11.05 p.m. The link to Jill's broadcast is now in place. Listen to it. It's a beautiful & moving program.

a week in the life of JoJo

Woo..
yo wazz up, ppl!
My first posting worx.. heehee.. clap for me.. *clap*clap* juz kidding! Mmm.. currently now nothing to share la.. If i have things to share, sure got thing to share de.. haha.. i will be back for things to share.. Muahaha.. I will be sharing all the stuffs around me.. and maybe lame jokes too.. haha.. LoLx.. Rock my life! Cya!
~signing off~
aka JoJo

Argh.. Ouch! and Yea..!
heehee.. today i helped my church to distribute fliers ar.. quite tiring la, but is fun and worth it la.. Juz don't know why ar.. Haha, I juz luv my church a lot..! revival nation, Rock 'n' Roll! So after i came home, I got terrible headache.. Argh! *Pain*Pain* I hate it! haha! Mmm.. so i pray and tell God to take my headache away.. hee! So after for a while, it's gone.. haha! Yea! Thank you, God! you see, God can do anything. Nothing is impossible for God! With God, things will be great.. Muz have this craziest for God! Ya? Heehee..
~signing off~
aka JoJo

yea! water baptism on the 26th Dec 04!
Woo.. my church will being having water baptism on 26th Dec 04. Muahahaha.. This is the day, I have been waiting for... Although I know that I will have parents objection.. But I wanna go for it because of God. Hm.. Coz He called me to go for it and etc... haha! (come and ask me more about it. very interesting worx.) heehee.. Me wanna know God more and more daily. I want to talk to Him and hear Him daily too. haha.. Wanna have visions and dreams from Him. The most importantly is want to win more and more people to know Christ. Yea! hee! Juz keeping loving God forever! Rock 'n' Roll again! =X Oops! Juz Kidding!
aka JoJo

How's my life before I know God...
So before I know God.. All this days, in my life is meaningless.. Friends around me, want to commit suicide. Hate my family, feel like killing them, so that my life may be good without them.. Basically no love at all loh… until I get to know God.. His love is great, powerful and etc.. Accepted Christ, because He touched my life and He’s the one who give me a chance to prove that I can change. Want to love Him more and more everyday.. Mmm.. I think that all, coz i make it shorter.. haha..
Heehee.. I accepted Christ on 28th March 2004.. Wow.. still rmb.. haha! lol!
H.M. Texas

How I got my tongue? (Holy Spirit's language)
haha.. I received my tongue on Thursay, 20th May 2004. Some more in class leh... Keke! Cool ar?! Mmm.. It go like this.. That day, I was having my maths lesson in class, then felt boring and a bit moody la.. So decided to put my head on the table and rest. Then for a moment, my teacher called me to wake up and dont sleep. So I talked back to her, saying that I didn't sleep la.. So I put my head on the table again, and i don't know why I started to open my mouth and speak in tongue. So I wanted to stop it cos' i scared that people will get shocked for nothing.. But I juz couldn't stop it, until for a while and it juz stopped..(Luckily is not very loud, or else i think everybody would be staring at me.) Then my heart was beating so fast.. Really it's super fast! (Wow!) Then my friend sitted slightly a part from me, he's like in a shocked.. He looked at me and asked me, "What are you doing?" Then I smiled back to him and said nothing.. Hahaha.. I was delighted.. Woo.. Feel like shouting at that moment but I can't.. heehee.. So before I got my tongue, I just didn’t doubt God and I kept praying and asking God for it. Yup! So new Christian, whenever you pray, don't doubt God. If you do, then it mean u don't trust Him.. So keep praying and ask God to give you tongue, if you dont have la.. Soon you will get yours.. Trust the Lord with your whole heart..
A kid who want to have visions and dream from God,
JoJo

say Wow! cos' my cousin is saved..
Yoyo!
Muahaha.. =X Oops! to happy ar.. Can't wait to share...! My cousin, Celeste, accepted Christ today... Wow! Clap for her! *clap*clap* heehee.. Yea! u know what?! next will be my parents! haha! God bless them! After my parents, then will be my whole household. Amen? Yea! Just keep loving God and really trust in Him.. Yea! I really want to see all of my friends to get save too.. Cant wait for that too...! Yea?! Yahoo!
Rock'n'roll
JoJo
Yeeha!

Yoyo.. wazz up, ppl!
Haha! Finally a friend of mine kena saved.. haha! i dont know when la. Me, everytime called her to go my church, but she dont want.. She always mixed with bad accompanies la.. Me, worry for her until like siao.. heehee! Sometime also pray for her, hope that she will get to know Christ. Hooray! now she know who is He! Praise the LORD! prayer works! God is listening! ok?! dont play play ar.. =X Oops! haha! now she's currently in hostel la... Sigh.. nevermind! haha.. i told her to come my church after she come out.. then she said, 'OK ar'! haha.. Yea!
Jojo

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Friday, December 17, 2004

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Negative Wingspan

For me, one of the greatest - if not THE greatest - writing blogs around is Kirsten Kaschock's Negative Wingspan. Her writing takes my breath away, & her most recent posts especially so. I now have to have an oxygen cylinder conveniently at hand when I visit.

The semantics of postcards

When I drive, I think of the inside lane as being that closest to the kerb & the outside lane as being that closest to the centre of the road. Lauren, my wife, the scientist in the family, uses the terms the other way around. So now, to avoid confusion, it's your side & my side depending on who's driving.

& so it is with postcards. I consider the front of a postcard to be that side with the address on, like an envelope. Apparently that's wrong. The address is on the back. So below is the back of Jukka's card.

from Jukka 12/15/04



a little bit battered in the mail

   Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A new issue

of Bill Allegrezza's Moria is up.

Series Magritte

I was reminded when posting The Listening Room below that it must be almost a year since the first poem in the series appeared. Checked, & found that it was twelve months & twelve days ago when the initial one was posted to As/Is.

Which is not why I posted TLR here. Series Magritte only contains links because (a) I'd probably get into deep shit with the estate of the late René if I had pages of images (b) it would take ages for the page to download & (c) sometimes the link(s) appear in the poem rather than the title. I've decided that I'd occasionally like to see both poem & painting together, & since I've got the hang of hello, I'll post a few here.

There have been 58 more poems since that first one, & I've jottings for another couple. Most are as they first appeared trotting across the wasteland of my brain; so there's shit & good, dark & light, directly referencing or only tangentially so.

& a confession. Giorgio de Chirico used to be my main man, but Magritte is now as I've dug & pried my way through his work. I love his juxtapositions, his familar/ unfamiliar objects & people in unfamiliar/ familiar surroundings.

& I still want to write a poem about the opening sequence to the Simpsons where the Magritte clouds appear.

The Listening Room




An apple
on the table
is no threat; but
walk into a room
to find it
filled by a
giant apple.....

*

Had gone
to write "the apple
peers out the
window". Wrote
"pears" instead. A
slight tectonic drift
of associated words
done accidently &
unconsciously.

*

Magritte's
placement of objects is
deliberate, is earth-
quake territory. The
displacement of space
by things that should
not be there
but are seemingly
quite at home.

*

Maldoror in whom I dream apples.

*

Only a painter
could place
this giant object
in a space where
the entry
place & space
is so small.

*

Cliffs, chasms. A
precipice pre-
cipitated by the
unexpected. It is why
even in the light
we fear closed doors
& rooms that
may not be empty.

*

How large the tree?
Who picked the apple?

*

There are no
eyes. How then to
tell in
what direction
it is facing? The
apple appears
to be looking
out the window. Small
wordplay. All
the room
that's left to
manouevre
in. There
are no ears.

*

What is it
listening for?

(Series Magritte #19)

   Posted by Hello

an apology

Dear
Tom. I
really wanted to

write
a poem
for yr competition

but
found the
telephone lines were

down
when I
tried to get

in
touch with
my other self.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

precision can not be measured, because there is no machine yet built that is precise enough.

The meeter & greeter of the south side



In
Spain they
have statues of

matadors.
In Rockhampton
statues of bulls.                Posted by Hello

Monday, December 13, 2004

storm damage

38° C., about 75% humidity. The storm, a reticent lover, lingers behind the hills, threatens, never arrives. The constant sound is airconditioner noise – next door/here/next door.

The storm hits, 700 kilometres south, 2000 kilometres south. Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra. Hail, high winds. Airports close, planes are damaged. Here we get five seconds of rain.

I cannot write. I blame the oppressiveness but it's not that. I turn into Blogden Nash on the pelican, I leave postings in the comments boxes of other blogs. I look through my Magritte books. I think about revising The Allegrezza Ficcione for publication. Martin Edmond feels that my prose should be more lyrical, that I should be more forthcoming about the eponymous hero. I read his latest post on Luca Antara. He writes that it is the revision he enjoys when writing, the workings toward the finished product once the first draft is complete. That is the part I hate. Let it stand is my motto. Though I rarely adhere to it.

What I really think is getting at me is that I am no longer stimulated by Rockhampton. I've explored it as far as I can. I went to a concert on Friday, in the local municipal theatre. Enjoyed it, but the sound was designed for a larger venue, was overwhelming in the context; & that is almost a summation of my vexation.

In retrospect it was the re-settlement period, the transition from big city to small city, that kept me agile. But now I am settled in, & I look around, & I am living in a bigoted, racist, country-music loving, redneck environment where the shops close at about 7 p.m. & don't open on Sundays.

I think about joining Tom Beckett & Jim Ryals in walking away – temporarily? permanently? - from blogging. Probably won't. I still rely on it. It is a prime source of contact with a milieu that, strangely enough, I ignored when I lived in Sydney. But I knew it was there, even if I didn't take part in it. I think there may be a poet living in Yeppoon, about forty kilometres away from here, on the coast. Then again, it may just be rumour.

So here I am, uninspired, over-perspired. I have just put on my third T-shirt of the day. I need something to look forward to. I dream of California, of Finland, of Portugal. L. is going back to Sydney next month for another conference. I have decided to accompany her. I need the cosmopolitan fix. Big city osmosis.

adding

Alex Gildzen's Arroyo Chamisa.

the couch poetato

He looked on
poetry as a
spectator sport

to be
watched from
the comfort of
his loungeroom

taking note
of the most
spectacular
moves

so he could
later use &
claim them
as his own.

She writes to tell him

life has turned to shit since she moved
south of the river. Not just the mosquitoes
but the mould getting into everything,
the books decaying before she gets
a chance to read them, the isolation.

Nothing is permanent. In winter
the river floods, eating away at its banks
& bringing down debris that weakens
jetties & bridges. In spring the tides attack
from the other direction, finishing
the job. The bridges break, the boats go
spinning away. You cannot swim in the bay.

The paper the letter is on is stained. She
points this out to him, identifying
the marks around the edges as those
that are caused by the moisture in the air;
the ones in the centre come from rain
dripping through the roof as she writes.

The rest, she tells him, are her tears.

from calligraphies. xPress(ed), Fall 2004

Sunday, December 12, 2004

"Hence, my number one suggestion for publicly advancing one's work as a visual poet is to pretend to be a painter and aim for exhibitions rather than publications."
      a quote from Bob Grumman

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Fall 2004 range

of e-books has just been published by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen's xPress(ed).

Writers include harry k. stammer, Clayton Couch, Gregory Vincent St Thomasino, Andrew Lundwall, Andrew Toppel & Jim Leftwich, John M. Bennett & myself.

the arm is back

Carl Annarummo has resurrected arm | sasser.

The Poets' Corner

Poets' Corner, that wonderful site curated by Anny Ballardini, has just been augmented with additional poets including Barry Schwabsky, Andrew Lundwall, Patrick Herron, Sheila E. Murphy & Kent Johnson. The full list of new items is posted at narcissusworks.

From Jukka


front side of to M (I)
 Posted by Hello

Friday, December 10, 2004

L. visits Sydney after a year away

Don't really
realise how much
you take in, how
much you
miss it, until
you move away
come / back again. With-
drawals in a
small town. Big
city osmosis.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

wishes & dreams

   So I want to stress the importance of the wish . The real magical element is the wish , and if we don't know the wish then we stumble about and we accept entrapment because we don't really know what we are going towards. Then we have no strength, we have no inspirational visions. I took dreams as the guide. Sometimes the dream was prophetic, it was a warning, it may have been a symptom of anxiety. But very often it was a dynamic  dream, the real creative dream that propels you forward and illuminates the wish. And having once a vision of the wish, then we can move towards it.
Anaïs Nin: A Woman Speaks

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Every month or so

I take a journey on the Blogger next blog random train. Despite the programming & design skills encountered which I quite admire, I usually get pissed off before too long because of the constant posting of song lyrics, the text message language & the pop-ups that get me stuck, unable to exit.

Most times the blogs seem to be out of South-East Asia, but this afternoon the first one I was taken to was Portuguese. Only about six posts over three or four months. But a couple of posts down was this photo that frightened the shit out of me. I don't know if it's an anti-gun lobby poster or some such, but check it out. & be afraid, be very, very afraid.

I Populate a Private Europe

On most warm nights you will find us
walking the streets on the edges of the
inner city. Sandstone terrace houses
come right up to the pavement, there are no
lawns, no patios. People sit on their stoops
or first-floor balconies to take the air. Sycamores
grown up over the last two centuries
blunt the streetlights. Their branches stretch
to the houses, we walk beneath them, shutting
each other out of our thoughts in the same way
the trees shut out much of the light. I drift
through the mixed metaphors of a private Europe,
populate my dreamy avenues with those I'd like
to find there. You prefer to watch the passers-by,
to take them on some private dance, up the street
down the street round the corner where the real
action starts. They're innocent you say as I
question your glances. I reply that innocence
is a presumption, something you lay
tenuous claim to in the hope no evidence
will be forthcoming that proves you
otherwise. In the dimness I risk the moral
high ground. There is no innocence in the way
either of us interact with our separate populations.

from Sun Moon's Mother, just published by Poetic Inhalation

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I'm delighted

to be able to pass on the news that Martin Edmond, of Luca Antara has shared first prize in an essay competition run by what is probably New Zealand's foremost literary magazine, Landfall.

Martin Edmond and Tze Ming Mok are the winners of the 2004 Landfall Essay Prize.
Judge Vincent O'Sullivan says the winning essays immediately stood out from the other entries. "A good essay picks up on the times when it was written; it is a form that tells us what it is to be contemporary. Each of these essays tells me about the country I live in and come from in ways that are fresh and challenging."
"I was taken with Martin Edmond's sophistication and deft intellectual turns. Tze Ming Mok had a drilling eye for what it is to begin as an outsider, and a sharp assessment of what the inside implies and excludes."
In his essay 'The Abandoned House as a Refuge for the Imagination', Martin Edmond explores the rich imaginative source of old houses, of his past and of artist Philip Clairmont and writer Ronald Hugh Morrieson.
Tze Ming Mok explores belonging in 'Race You There'. Her essay looks at being Asian in New Zealand - the encounters of racism and colour-blindness and the need for Asian communities to address the Treaty of Waitangi.
Martin's blog has been quiet of late, due partially to his recent trip to Malacca & nearby islands, partially to the fact that he acquired some venomous virus while he was there & partially to the fact that is he currently finishing his latest book.

I came across the above news today, through a chance series of links; & in one of those marvellous acts of synchronicity I also received through the post from N.Z. a DVD of a reading I did for the nzepc archives where Martin took part in the roles of an audience of one & interlocutor. I was expecting a DVD in a plain plastic case which I could then copy & send off to a few people who I owe "solid" favours to. Instead it came professionally presented, a beautiful wrap-around cover, bearing the University of Auckland coat-of-arms & with copyright problems all over it. So I'm in the process of finding out how to get further "official" copies.

Joy / Division

Eileen strikes a provocative pose in her posts of December 6 where she comments on joy in readings, the separate(dness of) audiences, who do you read?, who do you listen to?

As she says, open yourself up to the world.

la règle du jeu

most
'given constants'
are only temporary.

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 27 - A Postscript

The Ministry of the Interior today announced the death of Umberto Allegrezza, the Italian scholar who has lived in Uzbekistan for the past four years & is well-known for his translations of Alisher Navoi & other historic Central Asian poets.

He was killed six days ago by an avalanche whilst on a climbing expedition in the Pamirs, but his death has only just been reported with the return of his climbing companions.

His body could not be recovered.
The Tashkent Daily Record, April 4, 2001.

A reminder of the tragic death in a climbing accident of the late Umberto Allegrezza, the Italian scholar who resided near Bukhara for a number of years, has come about with the publication in a Finnish literary journal of five poems, purported to be translations by Allegrezza of Phoenician writers.

Nils Pedersen, a Danish systems analyst, claims to have been given a notebook containing the poems by Allegrezza in a backpackers' café in Termez. "It was a strange gift, but I thought it was nothing special at the time," said Pedersen. "Then a week or so later I saw a report of the tragic accident on State TV & wondered if he'd had a premonition of his imminent death. I decided to keep the notebook until I returned to Oslo & see if I could get the poems published. I have just arrived back here after five years abroad."

Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, the editor of the magazine xStream in which the poems appeared, said "I have seen the notebook. It has on the first page the inscription 'Translations from the Phoenician, #3 , Umberto Allegrezza, Bukhara 2001' with five poems on the next recto pages. The hand-writing on all these pages has been verified as that of Umberto Allegrezza. I believe in the poems' provenance."

Allegrezza is remembered for his translations of Alisher Navoi, Rudaki & other known & unknown historical Central Asian poets, but is probably best known for his co-discovery, with the late Professor Alexei Vershenko, of what is now considered to be, albeit prototypical, the earliest recorded ghazal, which they found amongst early manuscripts in the UAS Institute of Oriental Studies in Tashkent.

Professor Vershenko's grand-daughter, Dr Kamilla Patel, speaking from the family farm, commented "I have not seen the poems but I believe them to be spurious. Someone is taking advantage of Doctor Allegrezza's good reputation. Besides, it is a well-established fact that apart from some inscriptions on monuments, there is no writing from the Phoenicians still in existence. If there were manuscripts they would have been discovered by now, & definitely not in Uzbekistan."
The Tashkent Daily Record, December 7, 2004
Previous Part

Monday, December 06, 2004

Series Magritte # 57




The False Mirror

  sky
in the
  eye


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A couple of days late marking the anniversary, but

On December 3rd, 1984, thousands of people in Bhopal, India, were gassed to death after a catastrophic chemical leak at a Union Carbide pesticide plant. More than 150,000 people were left severely disabled ––of whom 20,000 have since died of their injuries––in a disaster now widely acknowledged as the world’s worst-ever industrial disaster. None of the six safety systems at the plant were functional, and Union Carbide’s own documents prove the company cut corners on safety and maintenance in order to save money. Today, twenty years after the Bhopal disaster, those who survived the gas remain sick, and the chemicals that Union Carbide left behind in Bhopal have poisoned the water supply and contributed to an epidemic of cancers, birth defects, and other afflictions. Since its purchase of Carbide in 2001, Dow-Carbide has refused to clean up the site, which continues to contaminate those near it. It has refused to fund medical care or livelihood regeneration, and it has refused to stand trial in Bhopal, where the Union Carbide Corporation faces criminal charges of culpable homicide (manslaughter), and has fled these charges for the past 12 years.
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
There are echoes of Bhopal in the current Australian activities of James Hardie who, also through a series of legal manouevres, have decided profit has preference over compassion & responsibility & are fighting to stay at arm's-length from compensation claims relating to asbestos deaths. The claims are estimated to amount to around $2billion. Last week James Hardie handed over $82 million to the compensation fund.

20 years before Bhopal was the invasion of Vietnam. 20 years after, the invasion of Iraq. Australia was/is a strong ally of the U.S. in both. Industrial. Military. Forgive me when I say it's not complex but a simple overriding desire for power & profit.

Both countries refuse to ratify the Kyoto Protocol for controlling green house gas emissions. The U.S., like Israel, refuses to recognise the authority of the International Court of Justice fearing that its citizens may be charged with war crimes. The Australian government has just refused to sign a non-aggression treaty with the ASEAN group of countries because, it admits, doing so may offend the U.S. The U.S. has just said (& in doing so have completely demolished their earlier claims that they aren't engaged in torture at Camp Delta - nobody shoots themselves in the foot quite like the military) that confessions obtained through torture are admissable as evidence in the kangaroo court they've set up to try the Guantanamo Bay internees. But then, the U.S. has always refused to recognise that the Geneva Convention rules should apply.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Buddhist vampire

The problem
with being both
a vampire & a
Buddhist, & being
staked around
the end of the
First Millenium
is that when
the wheel had
turned & he re-
turned to a
corporeal existence
some four or so
centuries later
he came back
as a page of
Leonardo da Vinci’s
Notebooks. When
they held him
up to a mirror
they still couldn't
make out what
he was all about.

A nice piece

by Nick Piombino on "But why write if you have nothing to tell us?".

Issue #26

of xStream is out, available in html, as a pdf download, &, as an additional option, in a hardcopy print-on-demand version available from lulu.com.

The Decline & Fall of Genghis Khan

The few photographs
of Genghis Khan that
are known to exist
date from the Barnum &
Bailey years & show him
standing either before
a backdrop of The Great Wall
or outside a circus tent
made up to resemble
a yurt. Invariably
he is dressed in western
clothes - derby hat, three-
piece suit, wing collar, a
pair of shiny black boots
over which are the spats
that were de rigeur
for the time. It is said
he chose to appear
like this so as to be
unrecognisable to the
Lords of the Spirit World
who would otherwise
capture his soul
through the capture of
his true image. The beard,
so important to the Han,
is bound by a leather
thong, pulling it together
in a pigtail as if to face
the queue of servitude
full on. He is a small
man, an innocuous uncle,
an unlikely claimant to
the title of Conqueror
of All Asia which was how
he was promoted. Perhaps
his appearance is why his
act never proved popular;
though historians of a
slightly later time identify
the lack of popularity as the
first stirrings of the American
xenophobia against all Asian
races. After this the programs
of B & B never mention him
again; though there is a single
photograph taken shortly
after Bailey's takeover
of Buffalo Bill's Wild West
Show in which, at one end of
the back row of the lined-up
Native Americans, just under
the first F of the banner
"The Former Foe – The
Present Friend", wearing a
feather head-dress that trails
on the floor, is an elderly
stocky unshaven man gazing
hollowly into the distance,
as if inside him there were
no soul left for the Lords
of the Spirit World to take.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Jukka's new blog

mailXart
& I'm also adding Geof Huth's qbdp:the mailartworks to the sidebar because it was through Geof's blogs that I came across this marvellous art form.

There are enough links listed between the two sites to show what a wonderful world of mail art there is out there.

Just out

from Andrew Lundwall & Jeannie Smith's Poetic Inhalation is a new issue of Tin Lustre Mobile, plus creative writing from Skip Fox & kari edwards, plus a couple of reviews, plus three new e-books, one of which, Sun Moon's Mother, is, if I may be permitted a moment of self-promotion, the first of two I have coming out this month.

Karri Kokko's

Poem | in re | verse is starting to emulate the Odyssey. Or perhaps, more appropriately, emulate the Kalevala.

Green Ant Dreaming


There are a number of varieties of ants running about our place. Some so small that I need my glasses to see them, some quite large - the black "meat ants" that bite quite strongly & the green ants of which there are probably millions in the back yard.

Green ants build their nests in trees, by sticking leaves together. For adhesive they use a secretion obtained by squeezing the bodies of their pupae. Usually their nests are about the size of a mango or papaya; but there is currently one in the garden, on top of a palm frond, that is the size of a basketball.

Their clear abdomens - dig the back ant - contain an ascorbic acid-like substance that is used by the Aborigines as bush tucker.
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the saturday omens

Half an ear open
for the omens. Okay,
maybe a whole ear,
listening out
in shopping centres or
on the car radio for the
unexpected song. &
half an eye open
for the birds, a new
variety or a king-
fisher. Either qualifies.
So in a town where
country is king
& the supermarket
manages to demean
your favourite anthems
from the sixties, hearing
Ray Charles' last album
in the concourse – sad
at his passing but the
voice so beautiful - &
later seeing not just
a kingfisher on the wire
but a group of
previously unseen grey-
headed, mottled-body
apostle birds foraging
in the grass near
the lagoon as you
drive home hopefully
means you're going to
have a really great day.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Rockhampton notes

The solitary busker is back in town. Turns out she's not a backpacker but a uni student, doing music in Brisbane, home for the holidays.

& the lagoons in the Botanical Gardens have dried up so much they're now mowing them.

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 26

A few hours later Ibrohim lead them into a small arroyo over which the trees grew, hiding it from above. A kilometre further on the dry stream bed ended under a large overhang of rock. At the back of it, invisible until one was almost upon it, was a cave mouth.

They dismounted. One of the riflemen got grass out of a saddle bag to feed the horses with, the other poured water into a depression for them to drink from. The horses seemed disinclined to wander.

Ibrohim took a haversack out of his saddlebag, slung it over his shoulder. He waited for Tamur – slow because of age - & Umberto – slow because of saddlesoreness – to dismount, & then the three of them set off into the cave, Ibrohim turning on a large flashlight as they entered.

The cave sloped downwards through the sandstone. They walked for perhaps five hundred metres & then the cave branched off in two right angles. Ibrohim shone the flashlight down one. It ended in an open area the size of a small room. There were faded murals on the walls. The other way seemed exactly the same, without the murals, but that was the way they went. When the reached the open area Ibrohim turned hard left & Allegrezza discovered that there was an opening in the wall.

"I do not know how the cave was made" said Tamur from behind him. "Part of it seems natural, part carved out of the stone. Possibly at some point there might have been an entrance through which rainwater ran & gradually eroded a channel away. Perhaps earthquakes. This area is known for them. Or it may have been this way ever since it was thrust up from the sea. & there are rivers that run far below."

The cave was wide enough for them all to walk side by side, though they walked in single file, & high enough for them to have no need of bending. It was long. Allegrezza held his watch in the flashlight beam & saw that almost three hours had passed since they entered it.

Then the slight slope stopped & the cave flattened out. There were a lot of small rooms, cells, off both sides, & Ibrohim paused to light them up. Small Buddhas sat in alcoves surrounded by decorative panels as colourful as carpets. Some were carved out of the wall, some carved from pieces of stone. "This was a place of pilgrimage, of hermitage" said Ibrohim. "It still is a place of spirituality, of great beauty. Buddhism is not the path I follow, but I try & come here at least once a year, to spend some days by myself, to look inside myself. I do not regard these as idols, not matter what the Koran says. They are not things of worship but articles of a faith I respect."

"You asked, Umberto, why I kept things hidden" said Tamur. "If this place was known about then within a few years there would be nothing left. The Buddhas would be taken away, the murals chipped off the walls. It's a market I know about, Umberto. A shark market. Perhaps I am like them, keeping things hidden away where only I & a select few can appreciate them, but I preserve these things in the hope that some day someone may come along who doesn't covet them." He looked around him. "I do not come here often enough."

They continued on. There were two large halls on their left – "A dining room I think" said Ibrohim as they passed the first, "& this, because of the large Buddha in the corner, was probably a meditation hall." - & then the walls of the cave ended.

Ibrohim turned off his flashlight. "Wait here a moment." He turned on a smaller torch. Allegrezza could see a number of wooden barrels in its limited light but beyond that was darkness. He watched as Ibrohim reached down & picked up a bound bundle of sticks from the floor in front of the barrels, lifted the lid of one of the barrels & dipped the bundle in. Then he took a cigarette lighter from his pocket & lit the sticks. Oily smoke came off.

The small torch was turned off. Ibrohim walked some distance away from the barrels & then bent down & placed the burning bundle into a hole in the ground. "Behold" he said.

Moments later a flame appeared about five metres off to Ibrohim's right & a bit lower down & began running across the wall opposite where they stood in the beginnings of a downwards & continuous spiral. Allegrezza watched its progress, a ziggurat of flame. He could make out the silhouette of a railing against it & walked over to it.

The area was like a large well, two hundred metres across. As the flame moved steadily downwards, passing at first ten metres beneath him & then ten metres below that a few seconds later, the well began to be illuminated. Allegrezza peered over the side. There seemed to be a massive shape in the centre. The flame reached lower. Forty metres, sixty metres.

Slowly the giant head of a sleeping Buddha could be made out, then the body, then the feet. If the well was two hundred metres wide, then the figure was nearly one hundred & fifty metres long. The flames went lower, reached a point close to the head, then stopped. The head, resting on a stone pillow, was twenty metres high, the toes ten.

"The reclining Buddha of Bamiyan" said Tamur. "It exists, not as long as described by Hiuen-Tsiang, nor in the place he said it was, but it truly exists.

"What was written in that first introduction to The Journey To The West is basically correct. There was a man, called Qashqari, though whether that was his real name or whether he was called that because he came from the Qashqar province is unknown, who did journey to India to bring the sutras back to China. He obtained copies of the texts, but on his return journey he was injured in a rock slide here, so badly his legs were crushed & he could go no further, so he stayed here & taught. The two standing Buddhas were built to honour Buddha & to bring pilgrims, but the secret of this place was known to some, the rock that rose from the centre of it, so they carved this statue in honour of their own special teacher. He died before they finished it, & is entombed here, in that niche just to the right of the statue's head. If you allow for his mummified state & the smoke stains, it is true there is some resemblance between his features & the face of the statue."

"How do you know so much about him, about this place, when the rest of the world knows only rumours?" asked Allegrezza.

"All things, all people, eventually came to Hassan-i-Sabah. He had a follower whose family came from this place & who knew the secret of it. Hassan sent some of his men out to find it, which they did, but the people who had originally lived around the feet of the standing Buddhas had disappeared, wiped out by pestilence & invaders, & none of the current inhabitants knew what lay inside the cliffs. Hassan ordered that it remain secret but that the knowledge be passed down through the custodians of the Library. Most of us have visited here. I believe that there are still some others who know of this place. Ibrohim & I have both seen traces of visitors, visible only to one who knows the place well, but our paths have never crossed, & they appear to guard its secret as jealously as we do. Nothing has been taken from it. You will be the fourth person we have brought to share its glory. Giovanni was the first. That is his skeleton down there, just beneath where the flame ends. There is a leather-bound journal beside him, kept shut so the ink will not fade, that I am sure will be of intense interest to you."

Ibrohim, meanwhile, had been busying himself pulling a large bundle out from behind the barrels. It was a rope ladder, with metal loops at the top which he fixed onto two small metal bars that had been set a metre back from the well's edge. He then pushed the ladder out & over the edge. The wooden rungs of the ladder could be heard bumping against the wall as it unrolled.

When the silence came back again Ibrohim turned to Allegrezza & gave him the haversack he had taken from the saddlebag. "There is food & water in here for ten days. There is a battery-operated lamp that should also last that length of time if you do not use it constantly. The oil will burn for about seven days. There are small ventilation shafts that draw the smoke down into a river cavern far below so you will not suffocate. There is a hole to use as a latrine that discharges to the same place so you will not need to live amongst your waste. No-one will disturb you." He embraced Allegrezza then turned away.

Tamur took a small bottle from out of his pocket & handed it to Allegrezza. "There are pills inside. Opium, refined, pure & very strong. One will make you dream, ten will kill you. Use them wisely." He put his arms around Allegrezza & then kissed him on both cheeks. "I will never forget our time together." Then he, too, turned away.

Allegrezza started climbing down the ladder. It was quite steady considering its construction & length. As he descended he noticed that it had been built so that those portions that came close to the fire channel were reinforced in some way & though warm did not smoulder.

He looked up & could see the faces of the two men peering over the railing. When next he looked they were only blurs. He reached the bottom & stepped out onto the floor of the well. The ladder was pulled back up. He heard Tamur call out. "Go with joy, Umberto."

He walked across to the skeleton he had been told was his ancestor. The clothing had decayed & there were only remnants of leathery flesh on the bones. But around the waist was a belt, now greatly over-sized, & it had as a buckle a metal letter A, lengthwise in an oblong border. Involuntarily he made the sign of the cross over the remains, something he had not done since his early childhood. "Continue to rest in peace, Giovanni. I will be joining you soon."

Then he set out to explore the area. There were four mummies in alcoves, that of Qashqari obvious from the shattered leg bones. The walls were plain, perhaps pink, though that may have been the reflection of the flames. There were three skeletons on the floor, the other two on each side of the sleeping Buddha. It was impossible to tell who they had been. Both had obviously been here for a long time, but apart from the bones & the scraps of flesh that clung to them the only item still remaining was a curved dagger in a sheath that had fallen through the rib cage of one of them. He decided that he would take up a position at the Buddha's feet when he felt his time had come.

He tried to climb up onto the Buddha, but found it difficult. Eventually he managed to get up at the ankles. He took his shoes off to make purchase easier & carefully worked his way up towards the face. There was a definite smile of enlightenment. He hoped that he would appear the same to any later visitor.

He thought about sliding down to the ground from where he was, but decided it was risky & that he had no wish to spend his last few days suffering the pain of a broken leg. He turned around & made his way back to the ankles & climbed down from there. Then he walked once more to where his ancestor lay.

There was an ink bottle with its contents dried & turned to dust. A stopper & a quill pen lay on the gound beside it. Between the bones & the statue was a large leather book, closed with a clasp. He opened it up & began to read the journal of Giovanni Allegrezza, faded, but still legible.
"That there be someone who, at a later date, will read this journal I have no doubt. & let me say to them that what I am about to set down, no matter what they may think, is, although fantastical, a veracious account of my travellings. This is not a ficcione."
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