Day 28 – April Twenty Eight: over the top obits

Some months ago, one of the finest actors of our/any generation died after an incident with drugs went wrong.  At the time there was much speculation about what caused it. There was also an abundance of slightly sickly, sentimentalising of “the soul of the tortured artist”.  

Back then, I PDFed a few of the finer examples I read. Today I tweaked & played with some of the more sick & sycophantic phrases, shaping them into a homage to suffering. (I have not acknowledged my sources, for fear of embarrassing them.)

I ran out of time to finish it, but there’s something there I like.

Beautiful Helplessness

addiction haunts every artist
barely disciplined helplessness
we’re all familiar with darknesses force
if we keep the poison away, the elixir is lost
if we had everything there would be love, no desire
art mends what life shatters, so escape into our creations
torment & talent are inseparable

all the d words appear
drugs, done in a dark places in despair?
artists who’ve done deals with their demons
or rather rock star hubris, deliberately courting death
an arrogant doubtlessness they’re above the rules, above odds

the Faustian pact where only utter self-annihilation suffices

hostage possession obsession carnage

the price of prodigious creative vitality is premature & public mortality
fleeing from pain, transfigurance enables endurance of suffering
solitude & uncertainty are part & parcel of artistic expression.

banal
romantic
hyperbolic
tosh

not all great artists suffer

*****

 2014-04-28 23.51.50

Day 27 – April Twenty Seven: “Sunday Sillies” (sort of) Part 3 – poetry reincarnations

Played around with a series of things today, but most of them serious. Remembered (after forgetting last week) that I was going to use Sundays as a play day for silly experiments & games.  The first two weeks were attempts at humour (limericks & a caricature poem). This one is a crossbreeding of the poet’s game Golden Shovel invented by Terrance Hayes where the last word of each line of your poem is a word from another poem & a “found poem” I made by abridging one of my absolute favourite poems of all time: D.H. Lawrence’s “The Ship of Death”.

I allowed myself up to four words from each of his lines. They appear in the same verse structure as his poem.

There is precedent for this as Lawrence himself edited the poem before his death so there are two versions: a longer one which I believe is the superior & the one I used for this game, & a second shorter version, which lacks much of the longer poem’s emotive power.  My version is midway in length between the two, & apart from one or two clunky lines, still works pretty well I think.

The Ship of Death (Reader’s Digest abridged version)

I
falling fruit
journey towards oblivion.

drops of dew
exit from themselves.

bid farewell
exit
the fallen self.

II
you
will need it.
apples will fall
on the hardened earth.

a smell of ashes!
smell it?

the frightened soul
wincing from the cold
through the orifices.

III
quietus make
a bare bodkin?

man can make
exit for his life
is it quietus?

even self-murder
make?

IV
we know,
deep and lovely quiet
heart at peace!

quietus, make?

V
you must take
journey, to oblivion.

painful death
the new.

bruised, badly bruised,
oozing through the exit
the cruel bruise.

ocean of the end
of our wounds,
flood is upon us.

your little ark
little cakes, and wine
oblivion.

VI
the timid soul
the dark flood rises.

all of us dying
death-flood rising within us
on the outside world.

our bodies are dying
our strength leaves us,
rain over the flood,
our life.

VII
all we can do
build the ship
the longest journey.

with oars and food
accoutrements
for the departing soul.

as the body dies
out, the fragile soul
the ark of faith
pans
clothes,
black waste
waters of the end
where still we sail
and have no port.

nowhere to go
deepening black darkening still
the soundless, ungurgling flood
darkness, up and down
no direction any more
she is gone.
see her by.
gone! gone! and yet
somewhere she is there.
Nowhere!

VIII
the body is gone
gone, entirely gone.
heavy as the lower,
the little ship
is gone
gone.

end, it is oblivion.

IX
of eternity a thread
on the blackness,
a horizontal thread
pallor upon the dark.

does the pallor fume
higher?
there’s the dawn,
coming back to life
out of oblivion.

the little ship
the deathly ashy grey
flood-dawn.

a flush of yellow
a flush of rose.

whole thing starts again.

X
like a worn sea-shell
emerges strange and lovely.
home, faltering and lapsing
on the pink flood,
into the house again
with peace.

heart renewed with peace
even of oblivion.

build it!
you will need it.
oblivion awaits you.

*****

 2014-04-27 14.18.17

Day 25 – April Twenty Five: “national identity day”

As I get older I understand Anzacs, Anzac Day & war more. I also understand it less. Hopefully this poem written at the Dawn Service my Papa used to attend when alive & which we go to in memory of him captures some of those understandings.

keeping the peace

bagpipes fight
the magpies
for supremacy
in cool April air
chilling autumn
leaves & evergreen
eucalypt alike
church bells bless
try to reconcile
that age old
oxymoronic misnomer
fighting for peace

aware what Anzac is
but still shocks
to see the guns
of the catafalque
party so close
reminds it’s more
than just speeches
stirring words
holidays
it’s also old men
getting under
standably drunk

*****

soldier

Image: moi

Day 24 – April Twenty Four: spit-spot off to bed

I’m reading the biography of P.L.Travers (the woman who created Mary Poppins) – it’s a wonderful rich inspiring book (unlike Disney’s saccharine superficial movie).  It sparks, tingles, fires & inspires so many ideas which I dash off as I read. This is the best of them from today.

night terrors

The children are frightened
of ceiling cracks
creaking radiators
& hot water services
which sizzle in the night

We calm them
with ancient tales
of transformation
flights against the sun
forest witches, & other grims

*****

 mary poppins

April 19 – Day Nineteen: the theme continues

Still at country retreat. Same Word Press issue.

This came in a white hot rush & has barely been touched.  It’s almost Day 18: part 2. Or draft two. Or whatever. It’s a better poem than yesterday’s, that’s for sure. Was posted on fb 11 hours before midnight!!! I was impressed.

On at least one level the inspiration for today’s poem should be obvious.

Tomb

Buried. In darkness. Alone.
Wake surrounded. By the scent of aloes.
& bitter perfumes. All is dark, cold. Every
atom aches. Every muscle. Wine soaked.
Sinew & bone. I am sore. To my core.

The air smells. Mushrooms. Liquorice,
Damp smouldering wood. Eat the aloe.
Make myself sick. Eject the poison.
Wounded. In dark places I dwell. Alone
In a cave. Just me. & my angels.

*****

2014-04-24 09.53.56-8

April 18 – Day Eighteen: Easter ghosts

I saved a bunch of articles I was planning to use/explore in poetic form during NaPoWriMo. Yet almost every day, something more “personal” gets in the way.  Good Friday (the day this was written, was one of them.)  This poem was written in the car on the drive between Adelaide & my parents’ farm.

When I re-read the poem for the first time since posting it on fb almost a week ago, the irony is, the poem itself has a huge hole. The one thing I always think about at Easter is not including, other than through indirect allusions.  Maybe it works, maybe it needs to be addressed in May, when NaPoWriMo is over & the editing process can begin on all these half begun, half completed poetical sketches.  I want to tweak it even now, but will save that for later & repost as first put onto fb.


What I think of when I think of Easter

Looking over the litany of Easters past
I recall very few moments of chocolates & egg hunts 
Haunted by decades of bright eyed moons

Floating down houseboat rivers, discovering cunnilingus
Climbing cliffs, faking falls, tomato sauce for blood
Church surfing with fish laughing at services
Glorious joyous days before he finally died
Driving overnight interstate thinking I was driving to true love
Some lost at the bottom of a bottle
Crashing cars in suburban streets
Several lazy long weekends at the farm
Amusing my nieces, annoying the rest
Walking with a black dog, before meeting my souldog

Tonight the moon’s a ruddy oblong egg
Low, ghosting the hills, as I drive north
What is life but a succession of wounds
Public crucifixions, little deaths, lying in darkness
Trapped beyond stone, & eventually rising to do it all again

What pains me are the holes
Years I can’t remember – when I’m the only constant
No other person or thing to act as yardstick
& the holes

Lovers lost, friends forgotten, children never held

*****

blood_moon_by_darkriderdlmc-d4rzhrg

Image: Dark Moon by darkriderdlmc @ deviantart.com

April 8 – Day Eight: The OFFICIAL entry: verbatim

So after the chopping & changing mentioned in the other April 8 entry, I finally got back to the main idea that had caught my attention during the day.

One of my HairyFooted One ring destroying Big Bellied Innocent Tiny people buddies (goes by the nick, RhubarbCrumbles) & I were chatting on Line about houses, where we grew up & whatnot (her & her husband, RL nickname Blokie, are soon to start building one of their own) when she mentioned she was on googlemaps. Actually on it. She even sent me a picture.

This intrigued me & I asked her for more info.  So she proceeded to tell me the story of her google mapping experience.  As she told me, (& by told, I mean typed in conversation with me, like an extended text message exchange) I begun to consider her story as a possible source for Found Poetry.

Now having friends who are playwrights, I was aware of the relatively recent theatre form, Verbatim Theatre (in which plays are constructed using the precise words spoken by people interviewed about a particular event/topic). I thought I could apply the same techniques to Poetry (I also hadn’t heard of it being done before in poetry. Naturally a later google search reveal it had; although the way I was proposing was closer in approach to Verbatim Theatre, than the more traditional Verbatim Poetry seemed to represent.)

So what follows is pretty much literally, word for word, Rhu’s story – presented in poetic form. The only minor tweaks I have made are: 1) taking out all my interjections (which, unusually, were relatively few); 2) even rarer, made slight adjustments to grammar, usually to better structure a reply to a question I asked & to make Rhu’s response flow fractionally better; 3) removed a few unrelated chunks where we talked about the game; & 4) twice moved a line to a different position within the poem.  Now if any/all of these break any cardinal VP rules, I care not. I was more interested in the final product than the process/technique by which I got there. That said I know I can confidently say, “These are at least 95% Rhu’s words, Rhu’s voice, if not higher”. The sculptors knife was only used very lightly.

As always, keen for any thoughts? responses? critiques? of this never-before-tried-by-me, poetic form.

google mapped
or the Alcester Rut

Amusingly I am immortalised in google maps
[Photo]
Taken the week I was leaving the UK (though I didn’t know it at the time)
I know it’s the week before I left because of the shirt I was wearing
I wore it once to paint the hallway
We sold it after my father died.

We left as we needed a change.
Alcester is a small town.
A very small village, technically a hamlet
Kind of like the Lou Reed song
Small Town
It might have been John Cale. Or one he recorded with him.
But the lyrics go something like
Growing up in a small town x3
You just wanna get out
We were stuck in a routine
And had always talked about moving abroad

US wouldn’t have been our first choice, but its where blokie had an opportunity
Yes. We have one brother each. No parents.
Friends are diversely spread across the globe and UK.
And those in Alcester were part of the rut.
We’d watch the footie in the boozer on a Sunday.
Blokie would play darts on a Tuesday.
And quiz league on Thursdays.
We’d still be doing that if we lived there.
So we moved.

It wasn’t a huge wrench.
I’m fairly pragmatic.
And it was exciting.
No tears.
Maybe a small lump in my throat for my bro.
And an odd drunken conv with one of my best mates who declared his love for me.
Like 1 day before u leave, what was I supposed to say to that! Other than awkward.
Probably better for him that I left I suspect.
I don’t want to be anyone’s unrequited love.
And no, no quickie.

US is pretty much as u expect it to be.
Inherently right of centre.
Money orientated
Family orientated.
More religious than I appreciated.
And a complete lack of understanding of anything outside their own shores.

How? Um.
Blokie loves google maps/earth.
If he sees a sports stadium or landmark on tv,
he likes to locate them and see whether its a good place to visit.
I guess he was just having a gander at Alcester, and there I was.

The first thing I bought with my inheritance
was a copy of the Times Atlas of the World for him.
That was a while ago though.
It props up the PS3 now.

 

*****

 

photo

Image: googleearth & RhubarbCrumbles

 

April 5 – Day Five: modern day celebrations

Although it’s posted a few hours late, this poem was definitely written yesterday.  (As Deb Dawson can attest — I was writing it while watched Tom Cruise play, well, um, Tom Cruise, in “Minority Report”.)

A full day, a bunch of drugs (painkiller & hayfever, I’m not that hardcore), a late night & a wishywashy internet connection when I got home prevented an on time posting. Soz.

Once again, the eventual outcome was not the intended topic. It seems so far every day I’ve had an experience which goads me into poetry-attemping mode.  “Today” (Yesterday) was attending one of the few modern day equivalents of ritual, myth, celebration, collective communion we still have as a culture.  I won’t say much more than that.  See if you can work out what I’m doing before the end.  Locals are going to be at an advantage to international readers…  (so apologies to those three people — hahaha!)

 

Coliseum of the Crow

like Orpheus we began
by descending
into the bowels of hell
our coin to pay Charon
given us by a bank
to compensate
friends who lost
everything in a fire
cross the Styx
find ourselves
in a deserted
concrete mausoleum
half a dozen cars
where a 1000 should be
elevated into the arena
inside the new stadium
before the gates open
strange to be surrounded
by such vast emptiness
where crowds are
meant to congregate
we laugh out loud
at the surreality

then a siren sounds
startling us from
our spacestaring
the rush is on
we are washed away
by damned souls
for surely we are all
damned … believing
in the cult of the Crow

 

1. coliseum

2. hades

The Coliseum & Hades: images: moi