Wollemi

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Kingsbrae 21.3
21 June 2017

Wollemi Nobilis

To see you on this day,
the summer solstice,
when time and the sun
stand still,
is to recall you as relictus,
then to acclaim you
as Lazarus,
risen from the dead.

Your fossil footprints
walked for so long,
two hundred million years,
and you walked with them,
unknown, unrecognized,
lost in the wilderness.

What poverty in language:
we either describe you
in impossible scientific Latin
or else we reduce you
to a chocolate coco pops
breakfast cereal.

Hand-cuffed, chained,
your feet rooted within
this immobile crockery pot,
you will never leave us now.

You are your own solstice,
a stationary seed,
growing to adulthood,
sown in a circle
of never-ending time.

Comment: I have been trying since Sunday, 5 March 2017, to write this poem. But what are four months in the life of a seventy-three year old poet or a pine tree that was thought to have become extinct 200 million years ago. I do not have the words to express how I feel looking at this throwback to the time of the Dinosaurs. And maybe that is how this poem should start for it is, after all, Wordless Wednesday … “I do not have the words …” and thoughts, too, jam in the brain and refuse to cycle, let alone re-cycle. So, I’ll leave this poem for now. That said, I will probably come back to it. Meanwhile, do I ever fel so absolutely, totally, and completely inadequate.

Sometimes

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Kingsbrae 20.3
20 June 2017

Some Times

Sometimes,
something happens:
lightning strikes the tree,
the upraised golf club,
the umbrella,
the baby’s stroller.

Maybe
an earthquake rocks the house,
or
hailstones as big as golf balls
shatter the greenhouse glass.

More often
it is as silent as frost on geraniums,
or clothes on the line quick-frozen in the wind.

Slow crumbling:
a breaking down by freeze and thaw,
free fall on the cliff face and the subsequent scree.

A cloud passes overhead:
our sunshine vanishes.

Blockhouse

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Kingsbrae 19.4
19 June 2017

Blockhouse

We have become comfortable together.
We sit, food untouched on the table,
and play catch-up with our lives.

I tell her about my writing problems
and she tells me about her hopes and
fears for the future now her partner’s
walked out and left her for a younger girl.

Later, I sit in the car while she walks
on the headland by the blockhouse.

Mist covers Passamaquoddy Bay.
There was a time when I thought
she might walk out into that mist
and fade away, but she was strong.

Now I watch her walk away and
know that she’s really here to stay.

Waves

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Kingsbrae 19.2
19 June 2017

Waves

Some nights,
the stars leave
their constellations
to walk alone.

The planets, too,
grow tired of company
and shine in solitude.

Where now the Zodiac
and Plato’s Platonic
dance of the spheres?

Who knows why a man
will one day walk out of the house,
and never return?

Who knows why a woman
will abandon her children,
turn her back on her lover,
and look only at the wall?

I only know this: that the tide
is composed of multiple waves,
and that each one lives and dies,
alone on the beach.

Stand Off

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Kingsbrae 16.3
16 June 2017

Stand off

Yesterday,
a raven and an eagle,
bald-headed,
faced off on the ice.

They stared at each other,
necks tucked into
hunched shoulders,
feathers fluffed,
otherwise unmoved,
unmoving.

Each dared the other
to make himself vulnerable,
to stretch out his neck
for the dead fish lying
beside the ice hole
they both guarded.

It seemed as if
they were waiting
for the opening whistle
that would send them
head to head
in mortal combat.

Immobile combatants.
Slow dance of moving ice,
cracked and crackling.
Sudden swift sparring:
a dance of death.

Beachcombers

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Kingsbrae 15.4
15 June 2017

Beachcombers

Low tide on the island,
the bay haloed with silence.
Wading in the distance,
tourists and school kids,
shapes wading in shallows.

Soft footprints, my past,
through a seascape of echoes:
sand at the Slipway
and
rocks at Pwll Ddu.

Another sea now,
and a similar shoreline;
same light in the sky
as, barefoot, the bathers
still hop and still stumble
over sharp pebbles.

Time walks backwards
and fills me with sorrow.
Ghosts of my mother,
my father, lost brothers.

Clouds cover the sun:
so sudden the tear-tang,
salty on tongue

 

 

Carlos Carty

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Journal: Carlos Carty addressed the group of resident artists tonight. Carlos is from Lima, Peru, but he has lived for the past few years in Brazil. He told us how, at the age of 15, he had discovered music while still in school. It was, he said, love at first sight. However, musical instruments were expensive and not easy to obtain, so he learned to play rhythms and music on throwaway things, empty boxes, plastic and glass bottles, material that could be re-cycled. He was self-taught and has had few lessons. However, his explorations have led him to the Pan Flute, the Andean flute, the Chinese (or sideways) flute, and to many of the myriad flute-like instruments that are played in the Andes in general and in Peru in particular.

Carlos is interested in all types of music and would love to be a full-time musician, dedicated exclusively to his music. However, he has a family to look after and music alone will not keep food on the table. This was a problem shared by all the artists in residence. He then told us of some of his difficulties. He also told of his preference for his own people’s traditional music. This music existed before the Incan Empire and long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores who laid his land and his people to waste. Part of Carlos’s musical experiments have centered on restoring a melodic happiness to a Peruvian traditional music that is, by nature, sad. Add to this his ability to create music from all types of recyclable material, and you will see Carlos as an innovator. His own compositions demonstrate this innovative spirit and he happily blends any and all types of music to the traditional music as he searches for new ways in which to express himself, his moods, and his emotions.

With regards to KIRA and the Kingsbrae experience, Carlos stated that six months ago, while thinking about his application to KIRA, he realized how important it was to write down his ideas and focus on the elements that made him the musician that he is. From these cogitations arose his ideas on the eclectic nature of music and the necessity to recycle not just music, but the means by which music is made. Music, for Carlos, comes as an imitation of nature. It is the sound of water, of rocks knocking against each other. It is the sound of the wind through grass and reeds, the beating of wood on stone. He also spoke of the various waves of immigrants who came into Peru. The African slaves, in their moments of leisure, expressed themselves in sound, sounds made from the very materials with which they were laboring. This too became a part of Peruvian music.

One of the reasons why Carlos loves the flute is that it is one of the world’s most ancient instruments coming after the percussion of wood on rock and taut animal skin or shells. Flutes go back many thousands of years, to ancient Greece, among other places, and they are the world’s original instruments and bind all cultures together via the international language of music.

Many questions followed Carlos’s presentation. Most of them centered on a clarification of one thing or another. However, thanks to Anne Wright, a very productive theme was introduced: the relationship between North American aboriginal music (especially the first nations peoples of Canada) and the traditional music of other aboriginal American people. This theme merged into the question of identity, loss of identity, and the attempt to recover that lost identity, especially in the current age when so many differences are so easily erased. Language, culture, identity, music … they are all tied closely together. Carlos is an excellent ambassador and has the personality to explore and develop such links as these. Perhaps there will be further room to develop these contacts at a later date.