Alphabet

Chaos

Alphabet

So everything is now as yellow as the yellow alphabet.
Bellow below cello, above fellow, saying “Hello,” jello,
always yellow, nobody eats orange jello, mellow, sello
or sellotape, tellow, as in “Tell old salt …” pronounced
“tellow salt” … so many verbal adventures, scales falling
from young eyes, and old ones as wello,
and the melody of music in tone,
on tongue, wonder in the eyes of everyone,
golden yellow, hair high-lighted in the early morning sun.

Commentary:

An endless jumble of words, all joined together rhythmically and linking one thought to another in a succession of jumps that wander from here to there and back again. Team tag: each one of us chosen for a moment, teased, played with, abandoned, picked up again, delight in each adventure.
My party tricks are e-cards, typing on the computer, her name, my name, the alphabet, her mother’ name, another name, and then another. Coloring is my trick too, and finding empty pages that can be followed with color and scrawl and everything that turns the blank page from a wilderness to a new world covered in endless manufactures of meaningful, meaningless scratches.
Joy in small things.  Albert Camus’s theory of the absurd present in almost every moment of the day. Moments that stretch into eternities, eternities seen in a grain of sand. Dw i mwynhau … what do I enjoy? These timeless moments, these glimpses back into my family’s past, Dych chi mind am dro? … these walks into my DNA’s future. Nach ydw: no, I will not be here. But tiny segments of my existence, words and phrases of my Welsh grandfather’s DNA and language, they will be here. Recycled. Again and again. Somehow. Somewhere. Forever. What more could I ask?

Time-Spirits

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Time-Spirits

Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist is a concept from 18th- to 19th-century German philosophy, translated as “spirit of the age” or “spirit of the times”. It refers to an invisible agent or force dominating the characteristics of a given epoch.
Wikipedia

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

Poems for troubled times.

Introduction

Our world finds itself in an incredible mess right now. Somehow, we have to sort it out. Images and metaphors tie past, present, and future together. We must pick our ways through the difficulties of these troubled times, as you must pick your way through the intricacies of these poems. Many of you will give up. Some of you, the chosen few, will make your way to the heart of each poem.

These poems are deliberately cryptic. Each one is a mind game I am playing with you. I do not underestimate you. I have placed clues throughout each poem and if you follow the clues you will arrive at many of the poem’s hidden meanings. Some poems are more difficult than others, their meaning more recondite. Others seem very straightforward, yet still contain secrets.

            This style of poetry has a long history going back to Anglo-Saxon riddles and way beyond, back into the mists of time. Luis de Góngora (1561-1627) and Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645) specialized in similar forms of recondite poetry, often based on metaphor and the juego alusivo-elusivo, the game of alluding to something while eluding the act of saying what it is. Jorge Guillén (1893-1984) and Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) also played this game, as did Octavio Paz (1914-1998). In the works of all of these poets, the clues may rest in the poem or they may be found in a generic knowledge of the mythology of the poem’s exterior world.

             Always remember that “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it” (George Santayana). Otherwise expressed, in the words of T. S. Eliot: “Time present and time past / are both perhaps present in time future / and time future contained in time past” (Burnt Norton). The seeming anachronisms in these poems suggest that all time is ever-present and that each new day presents us with events that have already occurred on many occasions.

Commentary: The idea for Time-Spirits aka Zeitgeist was born around the kitchen table in Island View on Saturday, 22 December 2018, during a literary conversation between Gwen, Victor, and Roger. A poem at a time, one after another, grew from that table top chat. The result: 70 poems, not easy to read, deliberately difficult, that reflect our troubled times. My thanks to Geoff Slater, line-painter, who drew the cover picture: Robin Red in Claw and Breast, a symbol of nature ‘red in tooth and claw’. So are we in the words of Albert Camus who writes ‘nous sommes ou les meurtriers ou les victimes’ . Is it the early bird that catches the worm? Or is it the late worm that gets caught by the bird? Whichever: it’s the worm that gets eaten, until the robin bites the dust, when he is eaten in his turn. Just think of it as nature doing its regular recycling …

 

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Eden 2

 

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Eden 2
(1956 AD)

Mushrooms
cremini oysters pearl
love them

love them not
garlic mushrooms
flash-fried
in atomic frying pans

nor magic mushrooms
nor radioactive fungi
spores parachuted down
mushroom grey
clouds

built this berth canal
an umbilical cord
birthing oceanic links
not division
nor destruction

Eden’s Garden
a walk in the park
an earthly paradise
closed to many
open for few

lost now
that projected paradise
not much room
four maneuvers
all things
vanished in a flash
horizon’s banana
split in an instant
everything lost

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Eden 1

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Eden 1
(1956 AD)

wet rags of dirty washing
hang on the Siegfried
line’s barbed wire

flesh rent ripped
broken-glass anger bottled
blood-mottled concrete

bones mixer-crushed
blood sacrifice a keep-safe
ash-cross camouflage
stretched sketched
over grime and crime

heavy the spike-toll
rooted the rock
chips off old blocks
these flint flakes flying

faceless this sphinx
inscrutable smile
where now
sands of the Nile

ample ammunition
beneath this apple tree
flat-footed lame-duck walk
goose-stepped after expulsion

walled this garden
to lock what in
to keep who out

 

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Cogito ergo sum

 

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Cogito ergo sum
(1812 & 1942-43 & 2019)

I think therefore I am
what I am but what am I

a man who borrows and buys
who runs up false credit

sneaks away from unpaid bills
and reads fake falsifications

or listens to such things on tv
talk shows where noddies nod

finger-talk shaking their heads
and grinning so much people can

even see them smile while chatting
with them on land-line phones

I am at the center of my universe
egocentric terracentric heliocentric

a boiled egg this world a cracked
shell this starry firmament

and me with my silver spoon
poised to dig into worldly riches

stuffing them into my mouth
as I lie in the ripped steaming

horse’s belly behind me dead cities
the whole world flaring into flame

ahead of me this winter snow my fate
an albatross noosed around my neck

 

Comment:

Poetry is made up of little touches, a metaphor here, a line change there, a word less, an idea more.  As a result, poets dabble with their verses, shifting them around, sliding them about. I call it “shuffle and cut”. Some arrangements are more effective than others; the big question: which is which? Every word-change alters tone, emphasis, meaning, exposition. What, for example,  is the correct place for “the center of my universe”? Should it start the poem? Should it appear in the middle? Which is more effective? While one answer may please one person, that same answer may displease somebody else. As poets, we must make choices, we cannot always “have patience and shuffle the cards”. Somewhere, the cards, like the male deer who visit my garden, must stop. But where do they stop? Where do the words make their final stand?

Cogito ergo sum
(1812 & 1942-43 & 2019)

centered on my universe
terra- helio- ego

I think therefore I am
what I am but what am I

a man who borrows and buys
who sets up false credit

runs away from unpaid bills
reads fake falsifications

listens to talk shows on CBC
tv shows where noddies nod

shake their heads or smirk
grin so much people can

even see them smile while
talking to them on the phone

a boiled egg this world cracked
shell this starry firmament

me with my silver spoon
poised to dig into worldly

riches stuffing them into my mouth
I lie in the warm steaming belly

dead this horse behind me cities
whole worlds flaring into flame

ahead of me this winter snow my fate
an albatross noosed around my neck

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Dustbin Alley

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Dustbin Alley
(1789 AD)

all the dustbins
dancing down the street
trying to achieve
a spring time copulation
to create more dustbins

you can’t have a revolution
without dustbins
dustbin … dustbins … dirty
dusty dustbins

a sadistic way to look at
basket-bins full of sawdust
heading between potholes
wind-blown bins
a right St. Vitus’s Dance

him sitting next to me
knitting a new red cap
to place upon
the old dictionary
me standing
on Gibraltar’s Rock so fair
this square in Paris
Place de la Bastille
where tumbrils rattle
over cobbles

Old Moll in a Moll’s Cap
toothless fairy
at a Goblin Party
afraid of mushrooms
scared of toadstools
[sick]

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Tangled Garden

 

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Tangled Garden
(1916 AD)

indoor daffodils
drink water
dosed with chemicals
survive in a vase
refuse to crumple
won’t furl their flags

outside
sunshine and shade
Cape Daisies Peonies
Sunflowers
Black-eyed Susan
threading her colored ribbons
through butterflies
and Bees Balm

towering the Hollyhock
seeded by a surprise wind
coming in from nowhere

weeds crowd together
vox populi
these dandelions
beloved of the gods
ubiquitous
totally indestructible