Wednesday Workshop: Recycling


Wednesday Workshop
09 May 2018

Recycling 1

“You never know when you might need it,” my

grandfather said, finger-nails cracking red-
waxed parcel string. Bright sealing wax rained down
on the tablecloth, covering it with hard,
scarlet chips, wax cracked, tight knots emerging.
One by one, my grandfather first loosened
them, then sought the string’s free end, following
it along its snaking way from knot to
knot. Like Theseus following his twine
through the labyrinth below the palace, my
grandfather mused, hesitated, followed
the clues given him by the knotter’s mind.
Set free from its parceled knots and lashings,
he looped the string around his fingers and
tied the twine into a tight bow that he
stowed away for future use. Reef knots, slip
knots, sheep-shanks, bowlines, bowlines-on-the-bight,
he showed me how to tie them all. He taught
me too how to never tie granny knots.
“Never cut string with a knife: untie knots,”
strict his advice and followed still today.

Recycling 2

cracking red-waxed
parcel string

sealing wax rained down
staining snow white tablecloth
wax cracked
hard scarlet flakes
tight knots emerging

now seek the string’s
free end
then follow it
the way it snakes
linking knot to knot

the mind of she who tied

set free these
parceled knots and lashings
loop string around fingers
tie tight the twine

a child’s bow
to be stored
for future use

Haiku 1

string yields blood-bright scarlet wax
a thread to lead through the parcel’s labyrinth
open now the magic box

Haiku 2

blood-bright scarlet wax
a thread through the labyrinth
open now the box

There are many ways to recycle. All are valid. Some are more valid than others.




a double sword
this clearing out
of odds and ends

the library diminishing
book by book
so many memories
slipped between the covers
dust-bound now
yet springing so quickly
back to life

sorrowful not sweet
these multiple partings
from people I will never see again
save in my dreams

I think of book burnings
so many heroes
going up in flames
fire their beginnings
fire their ends

fire the means of forging
the Omega and Alpha
of the book world
that surrounds us

fire encircling us
death’s bone fires
consuming us
outside and in

Book Burnings


The Island View Book Burnings 

“Nobody gives a f*ck about your f*ckin’ books,” Jess said, as Jim spoke about the joys of his collection and what he intended to do with it. “Believe me, nobody wants those f*ckin’ books.”

Jim didn’t believe her at the time. But she was right.

Once upon a time, Jim had three great web pages. They took years to build and to consolidate. They also enjoyed great popularity and had many visitors. The first was taken down by the people who ran the website, they never told him why. The second became obsolete, almost overnight. Jim couldn’t add to it, and one day, it just wasn’t there anymore. The third one disappeared. Jim lost his voice, his photos, his videos, his feeds, his work and his identity. Planned obsolescence: the touch of a button, a click on the delete key, and great chunks of identities vanished forever. What is it with this world?

The Angel of Death came and knocked on Jim’s door. “All you have I own,” he said. “All this will come to me.”

“Then you can have it now,” Jim replied. Next day, he lay the foundations for a fire in his backyard.

I am ready, Jim thought, I’ll build a bonfire, sit on top like Guy Fawkes, and I’ll burn myself, like a Buddhist Monk, along with all my soon-to-be orphaned and hence unwanted books.

First came Jim’s papers: 53 banker’s boxes of documents, records, and papers he had taken for recycling. Ten seventy-five liter bags of intimate letters, signed papers, early handwritten versions of poems and stories he had fed into the shredder and left out for the garbage men. Nineteen boxes of books he had delivered to the charities who collect such things.

Books: they had fornicated in the dark and overflowed Jim’s shelves with their off-spring. A thousand Jim had given away. Three thousand remained. Jim thought the process was too slow. At the first sign of rain, when the woods were less dry, and would not flame at the slightest spark, Jim decided he would burn them all.

Bureaucrats: they deleted the country’s scholars, they eliminated all the scholarship that did not tally with their crippled and crippling minds, they refused to sanction what their oh-so-limited intelligence couldn’t understand … soon, Jim would wave his magician’s wand and he and his life work would disappear in a single act of academic and cultural suicide.

Jim had already shredded his manuscript copy of Flores de poetas ilustres (1603). Nobody spoke Spanish. Nobody could read the hand-writing. The Flores of 1609 swiftly followed. Jim had copies of five of the six known manuscript versions of the Heráclito Cristiano. Who wanted to read such things? Jim decided to commit them all to the flames along with his autograph copy of the Naples manuscript, the one written by an amanuensis (and who the hell in these days knows what an amanuensis is?) and corrected by the original poet, Quevedo, whose name nobody can now pronounce.

Jim’s sorry to say that these pieces will mirror the fate of the Evora manuscript and those autograph manuscripts from the Biblioteca de Menéndez y Pelayo in Santander that have already gone.

Jim also has copies of all the early manuscripts of Quevedo’s novel, the Buscón, and they too are destined for the flames. Who cares? If people cannot pronounce the author’s name, how can they read the manuscripts of what is probably Quevedo’s greatest work? Written in 1601, published illegally by a bookseller in 1629, targeted by the Spanish Inquisition, his authorship at first denied, then defended by the author … Jim has copies of all that correspondence between poet and priest and Inquisitor, but who now cares? It can all go.

Facsimiles, too, will flare into flame. Who cares? Who now knows what a facsimile is? The ancients buried their warriors with grave gifts of horses and armor, jewels and food … photocopies, facsimiles, microfiches, microfilms, they will all go with Jim to the fire. Jim shall sate the Angel of Death with everything he owns, unless that being stays Jim’s hand or carries him away before he can light the match.

I will grieve.

Does anyone else give a damn?

Catching and Caging

IMG_0375 2

Catching, caging, and making them sing

We track them through their courting ceremonies

hunt them down by the noise they make

clutch them tight between anxious fingers

We weave glass jails

sentence them one by one to green imprisonment

At day’s end we ferry them to city apartments

incarcerate them like canaries in their cages

and wait for them to sing

At first they are silent in this strange environment

we feed them with bread dipped in brandy and wine

and sooner or later they sing in their captivity

Now they will not eat

they await the liquor that burns them

into fiery tongues of song

Our midnights are haunted by their spirituals


Thursday Thoughts: An Old Song


Thursday Thoughts
8 March 2018

An old song

… an old song, words and tune wrapping themselves around your neck, a loose scarf, brilliant in the sunshine, and oh so warm, flapping as you walk the streets, and people see the scarf’s frayed ends waving in the wind, so they wave back at you, and then they see those same ends tucked back in your jacket, hugging you tight, a pair of arms borrowed from your lover, and oh the light in your eyes, and the sun picking out the gold spots in your hair, and all’s well with the world …

… or left, left, left, right, left … it’s a marching song and the world falls away as you walk to work or to play and every day is a new day with blood stirring and this call to arms, to alarms, to alarums, and everything up for grabs, and you, marching in tune to the tunes in your head and the words wrapped around you, warming you, comforting, as you sing and stride along …

… or maybe it’s a sad song, and there’s rain in the sky, small drops gathering, a heavy mist, or a light mizzle, and you walk as if through a cloud, and yet you are still dry and warm and comforted and the words wrap themselves round and round you, and yes, you are sad, but you are comforted, as if in a verbal comforter, and the sun breaks through and hugs you and the raindrops radiate the brilliance of that sunlight, winking off your tears, as they gather at leaf’s end and spread sun’s twinkle from the radiance of flowers …

… and today it’s a Nor’Easter … snow in the air … on the trees … on the ground … a steady accumulation … you know how its is … and a fire in the fireplace … warm heart … warm heart … no travel today … books and the computer beckon … a time to read and write … to remember the old ways … the old days … those memories … a warm scarf wrapped around the neck … and the comforter … comforted … and comforting … so much to wrap around you … so much to wrap your head around …




Red brick the universe,
red brick crumbled
sparrow crumbs now.

Red brick,
not lily-white limestone,
nor chalk,
white cliffs,
will tumble,
tugged down
by fierce tides

Red brick
and rough:
the builder’s hands,
life- lines fortified,
unfettered brick dust.

Red brick,
heart, liver, lungs:
red holes, not black,
where red roses

Red brick,
shattered into red
dust and this sun
a dwarf brick
shrinking in its

Red bricks:
their dust become
gas giants,
Saturn’s rings,
useless wooden wagons
drawn up
in second hand westerns.

The huff and the puff:
brick shit houses,
these red brick
universes, built to last
way beyond
those dreaming spires,
that failed, will fail,
and still fail to inspire.

“Here endeth
the second lesson:
Book of  Brick.”