The True Rose

rose

Getting up close won’t ever help you find
Whatever makes a rose what it just is
Nor can you catch its essence as it dwind-
les in the distance – nothing can exist
Larger or smaller than its proper size.

You and life cannot have a drink together,
You cannot lock antennas with an ant,
Graveyard and cradle cannot hug each other,
Nobody snows, no mountain wears a hat:
Everything out of context is a stunt.

Oh yes you might observe the rose forever
In some black hole a spaceship falls into,
Petals as petrified as jet fuel, never
Moving, but this is nothing like the true
Rose bees swarm in and nostrils go for scent to,

Is it? Perhaps an astronaut thinks so,
Deep in a crushed-in space, if that suspense
Allows for thought where everything is slowed
Down and the present, past and future tense
Combine like ice cubes in an empty glass.

A real rose trembles on the cusp of Now.
Its shape, its odour and its colour clamour
To grab sensations alien to a flower,
Part bee, part human through the spring and summer,
In winter withered to a jagged claw,

Yet none of this will ever make a rose
A rose forever or make now forever
A rose, a rose that never was, God knows,
But somehow all there is, the undiscovered
Truth about what it means to be alive.

.


Current edit:

22 June 2014

25 May 2015

29 August 2015

The Quantum Thing

raindrops

Raindrops on the rails that stop
Us falling off
The edge of the verandah, hang,
A lynched gang,

Underneath their gallows sky.
What was their crime?
They dare not fall. They don’t have wings.
Trees sprout rings,

Atoms orbits making jumps
In quantum leaps
That keep each new growth from the next,
Like a text

Paragraphed. Thus drops of rain
Need not remain
Rain but could, if they chose, just go
A rainbow

Angling back into the sky,
Water made dry.
But what on earth do raindrops know!
H2O.

Make the jump before you fall
Or grab a rail
And hang there for the darkest crime,
Wasting time.

.


Adapt or die! The world is always changing and we have to grow with it. Easier said than done.

Current draft: 25 August 2015

Swans

wiki swans

How do you catch the meaning of a life?
Not the life on the outside, not the sun
Reflecting off the surface, but within,

Fleeting as whispers. Who lurks in the hide,
Watching us in suspense, binoculars
Turned on us shyly, turned on us like mirrors?

If we are careless, bursting into flight,
Slapping the water’s face with alarmed wings,
Rising until the tips flick spreading rings

Fading towards the shore, their far horizon,
As we climb fading slowly into ours,
How will we learn the truth? Here let us pause

And be the swans he came to scrutinise,
That he may venture from his hiding place
And meet us by the water face to face.

.


Changed the title to ‘Swans’ – 26 August 2015

Wikipedia Pilgrim

wiki skull

An honest pilgrim, being thirsty for
Knowledge and coming to a desert, saw,
Like a mirage afloat on moving hills,
A curious temple built from human skulls.
Wetting his lips, the wanderer croaked “Ah-ha!
This must be the famed Wikipedia
And these the skulls of selfless editors
Who gave themselves up to its noble cause,
Working long hours, transcribing stuff like monks,
Debating meanings and debunking bunk.
Here I may rest my weary feet at last,
Reporting on the sciences and arts.”

As he made for the temple, it withdrew,
As all mirages always seem to do,
For Wikipedia is just hot air
And all it is both is and is not there.
Before too long, because he persevered,
A man who smiled or seemed to smile appeared
From indoors, though the doors had remained closed,
For Wikipedians cannot be opposed
By facts like walls, being expert in the art
Of passing through all spaces like a fart.

I am your guide!” the seeming substance said
Then through a labyrinth of strange rules led
Or seemed to lead the puzzled pilgrim on,
Until the meaning of the rules was gone.
Forget the rules for rules are always old
And lack suspense. All you need be is bold!
Ours is the knowledge anyone can edit,”
And then he vanished almost as he said it.

The faithful pilgrim took him at his word
For what seems nonsense isn’t always absurd.
Scouting around, he found an article
So bad it seemed quite diabolical,
The subject pederasty in ancient Greece,
Nothing of interest to today’s police,
All written from an ancient point of view,
Citing just ancient sources, nothing new.
Disturbed, suspicious, he deleted it.
What happened next, what hit the fan was shit.
The article released a hideous form,
A monster in whose hair snakes hissed and squirmed,
This one her puppet, another one her stooge
Coloured with her mascara, smeared with her rouge,
All dripping poison, spitting out abuse,
Thinking as she did thoughts odious and obtuse.
“You stinking vandal, look what you have done!”
She said, they said, speaking in unison.
“Restore our words, our meanings, spellings, tenses,
All our elaborate cobweb of consensus
Or else!” The pilgrim, not sure what to say
Made himself scarce to fight some other day,
But every day turned out just like the first,
Himself reviled and his reverts reversed.

There is but one way to defeat true horror:
Heroes must scare it shitless with a mirror.
The pilgrim donned a wig of rubber snakes
And laughed because they looked such obvious fakes,
For satire was his weapon, truth his shield,
And justice would supply a level field,
Or so he thought. Where was real Justice then?
It wasn’t in that world of virtual men.

The monster – the real one – flew off to court,
Fuming and fretting, bilious and distraught,
Puppets and stooges augmenting her cries:
“The pilgrim is the Devil in disguise!”
The judges shook their jowels as if shocked:
“Guilty as charged – indefinitely blocked!”
Incensed, the pilgrim shook his fist and laughed
To see how mad and bad things were and daft,
Shouting abuse, confined to a small cell,
As lonely, cold, reviled and scorned as hell…

They said he had betrayed the covenant.
Hypocrisy and lies make good cement.
Now his skull too stares from the pediment.

 


 

I’m still working on it but this far from the event motivation is a problem.

Current edit: 23 May 2014

Sorry

inhumanity

Child, you are unwanted, a misconceived
Enigma in the adult scheme of things,
No portion of the hope that gives us wings,
So you will be made as if you never lived.

I have no words for my regrets,
I cannot even mime my grief,
I am the coin that pays my debts,
A cancelled cheque, an annulled life.

You are a failure, Punk, a criminal,
A poor man, beggar, lunatic and drunk.
You do not know to what depths you have sunk.
You will be educated in a gaol.

I have been tutored by my chains.
I am as upright as my bars.
Give me a chance to be a man again.
Just try to overlook my scars.

Yours is an abject and abysmal race,
An obstacle to progress, a mistake
Of nature, Jew, a  treacherous fake.
You are a problem to be solved en masse.

Don’t you see from my haunted eyes
And my emaciated limbs
How deeply I apologize
For being born the man I am?

You are an editor who uses socks,
A lunatic that won’t co-operate,
And though, up to this point in time, your slate
Was clean, you are indefinitely blocked.

There are already in this world
Tyrants enough, more than enough
Cast, it may be, in the same mould
As you, you stupid shit. Get stuffed.

.


At Wikipedia, I was accused of having sockpuppets and I was blocked indefinitely. It was complete nonsense. I had multiple accounts but they were started and abandoned one after the other, with open decalarations and links to avoid deception. The indefinite block might have been lifted if I had shown myself to be really sorry for my antics. Self-defence was not an option at that point. Defiance was tantamount to Wikipedia suicide. Why was I defiant? I owed it to the victims of worse injustices who never had a chance to shake their fist and laugh. Wikipedia is full of compliant victims. They and their tormentors will soon be the only Wikipedians left. So much for the world’s encyclopaedia! I am still indefintely blocked. Hooray.

Rocks and Breakers

breakers

The headland rocks rise from the ocean wash
As gaunt and harsh as castle battlements.
The breakers drag their tattered banners hence,
Lifting them once more out at sea and thence,
Time after time, surge forward, roil and gash
Themselves on shore with an almighty crash.
It is as if some passion in them, tense,
Urgent and not to be denied, some sense
Of right, propells them to this thunderous clash.

The rocks, locked in their battlements, look on
This turmoil seething at their feet unmoved.
By being patient, they have always won,
With no advantage gained and nothing proved.

Here, as I walk round these tumultuous acres,
My mind sides with the rocks, my heart moves with the breakers.

**************************************************

We all struggle to some extent for a proper balance between common sense and ardour. Common sense is appropriate for maintaining the status quo. If you want to create something or make big changes, you have to ignore realities and just go with the inner flow.

Landscaping

Wiki brown snake

I take the brush-cutter out of the shed,
For it is time once more to slash tall grass,
A tangled and impenetrable hedge
Choking the dam. Once there I prime the gas,
Pull on the cord, adjust the throttle as
The engine kicks and sputters into action,
Then shoulder the strap, making a slow pass
With the great, whizzing blade, section by section
Subjecting nature’s ruins to a man’s correction.

It has been my intent for many years
To turn this dam into a landscaped pond.
It burst some years ago. The water clears
Slowly, as faith does in a broken bond.
There is no such thing as a magic wand.
Sometimes I have lost hope but I return
Time and again to work the stubborn ground,
Imagining the scene when I am done,
Lawn sloping to clean water ducks will quack upon.

Somewhere within this fortress grass I know
A brown snake lurks, her scales like polished brass,
Her eyes black coals, her movements sure but slow
Until she senses an intruder pass,
When she uncoils from the much-too-much grass
A lethal spring. I’ve met this cool bitch twice.
Twice she came short, incising where I was,
Expending all her fury in a trice,
A gambler’s fling. She sure would like to make it thrice.

She won’t come near me while the blade is spinning,
Despite her fangs, her archaic weaponry,
Because survival still depends on winning.
I have replaced the Aborigine,
Tuned to the rhythm of the didgeri-
doo when the fire-place roared and the hillsides rang
With dreams now vanished from all memory.
He kept the tempo of the world he sang
With a rotating wooden blade, the boomerang.

.


This is written in Spenserian stanzas. Strictly speaking, the boomerang was only used by some tribes in the centre of Australia but throwing sticks were universal and they all looked rather like boomerangs. More needs to be added to the poem, I guess, but this will do for now.

Current edit:

18 May 2014

26 August 2015

The World Come Round Again

wiki seal

The ice releases a strange landscape. I
Struggle to comprehend such change, a seal
Stuffed full of fish, warm blubber apt to feel
With whiskers for a secret passing by.
All that the world is is a silent cry.
Somewhere a whale descends, somewhere a keel
Carves up the surface, someone is a meal
For someone else, a walrus dons a tie,
A lobster gets elected, shrimps protest,
A warmer current steals into the bay,
The penguin says the parrot has things best
And bit by bit the known world melts away.

Meanwhile my whiskers pick up this refrain:
Everything is what was come round again.

 

.


 

This is a Petrarchan sonnet, one of my favourite forms of verse. The rhyming scheme gives it a rich structure abbaabba cdcd ee, which is very useful for exploring ideas. The basic theme here is of a world that is periodically recreated, but with a slight change each time. It is an ancient notion, explored for instance by the great Irish poet W.B.Yeats. I think we all get a sense of eternal recurrence after just a few years listening to the news. The crimes, wars, catastrophes and scandals are the same we were told about before. Only the names are different.

The Dreaming

wiki Aboriginal


Noonday in summer, a kangaroo drapes itself on the earth’s dark shade
Under a eucalypt’s high canopy of weary leaves
While through the gully the spirit of Yarrawah gets along down low,
Downwind with woomera-flung spear in hand ready to throw.
Yarrawah dreams of the dance by the fire under towering stone eves,
Shadows cavorting around walls, walls the ancestors made,
Children of Doongarra, spirit of lightning and father of all this,
All that can ever exist. Yarrawah knows he can’t miss.


Kevin, the plumber’s apprentice, takes
His car off-road into the bush,
A hotrod engine, worn-out brakes,
Stereo blaring – what a rush!


Ears begin twitching, the kangaroo listening, that blundering loud noise
Heard in the distance, discerned in the vibration of dust,
Dangerous thunder. Has someone offended Doongarra? Where jump now,
Into which gully, between which boulders, under which bough?
Yarrawah follows his flight. It is always the old dreams that men trust.
Only the dreaming of dreams separates men from the boys.
So it was by the campfire in the days of his youth, so it must be,
And so it has always been. Who can dream better than he?


Kevin too sees the kangaroo.
He has a gun but doesn’t shoot.
He just drives at the mark in view
And runs him over – what a hoot!


Bleeding and twitching, the kangaroo cannot get back on his legs, laid
Out on the earth in the heat, fading to dust with his dreams.
Yarrawah looks in his eyes, seeing all that he sees fading with him,
World like a fire in the dawn, coals in the ash growing dim.
Spirit returns thus to dancing, returns thus the fire’s flung beams,
Shadows cavorting around walls, walls that the ancestors made,
Children of Doongarra, spirit of lightning and father of all this,
All that can ever exist. Yarrawah never could miss.


Nobody eats what Kevin kills.
No spirit could be needier.
At night he edits articles
On cars for Wikipedia.

****************************************************

I live in Oz and there is a strange even spooky synchronicity here between the modern age and ages past. You don’t have to go far into the bush to sense some kind of racial memory in the landscape. The original inhabitants were owned by the land and the land hasn’t surrendered its ownership just because the white man arrives thinking he owns everything. Young whites sometimes exercize their ownership by hunting or killing for the fun of it. This contrast between the ancient respect for the land and the new disrespect is a lot like the contrast in Wikipedia between those with a real respect for scholarship and those who think they can do some original research, between those who are there out of love for learning and those who are there to satisfy some itch. The poem here adapts the elegiac couplet to modern verse. The elegiac couplet was one of the most popular verse forms in the ancient world. The elegiac rhythm or meter comprises dactyls and choriambs and something about its expansive quality puts me in mind of the large, haunting rhythms of Aboriginal language and music.

Snail Mail

wiki snail 2

Who put the snail in the letter box?
Did it crawl there by itself or did
God put it there as a paradox,
Something to see when you lift the lid,

Not at all out of place until then?
Was it the postman, is it a lark?
Nobody knows how it got there or when.
I, like the snail, am kept in the dark.

While it was there, it chewed on the mail,
Like some great enemy of free speech
Justice has now turned into a snail,
For shells are cells slime-bags can’t breach.

I did what anyone with a mind
And a heart does. As if all were well,
I set it down, more in doubt than kind,
Then cursed the bastard straight to Hell.

 

***********************************

I sometimes find snails in the letterbox. I always find the experience disturbing but, as far as I can recall, I have never squashed any offenders.