Saturday, July 31, 2010

Time on My Hands

So help me I’ve shouted
Bloody murder countless times,

And still I sit and watch
My hands commit the crime.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Up for Grabs


FIRST EDITION COLLECTOR’S ITEM: Want to find out what kind of really bad “poetry” yours truly was writing when he was a bad-ass 22-year-old PFC in the US Army? Well, this is your one and only opportunity. I’m giving away three signed copies of this rare 1966 16-page A4 mimeograph chapbook written and run off during office hours when I was chief company clerk of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Defense Atomic Support Agency (DASA), Sandia Base, Albuquerque, NM. If I remember correctly, only 15 were produced and I still have 8 safely hidden in an underground vault guarded by mischievous subterranean “kallikantzari” (Greek trolls), so after these three have gone wherever they are fated to go, that will leave me with 5. Depending on how much they will be going for on the rare book market once yours truly has departed the scene, the three lucky recipients and/or their descendants might find themselves millionaires!

So what are you waiting for? Go for broke and enter this once-in-a-lifetime poetry contest! You have nothing to lose but your patience and poetic sense of direction if you’re lucky enough to win and find yourself faced with such unforgettable verse as the following:


WHERE IS PERIANDER’S WHOREHOUSE?

I was surprised by the barren
ruins of Corinth. And the dirt
bothered my feet. Where is
Periander’s whorehouse? Or did
I take the wrong road?

Here are the rules:

The first three people who send me an email with the correct answers to these three questions shall be declared the winners.

First question: Which ancient Greek poet was both a poet and a warrior/mercenary?
Second question: Who was the first poet to write lyric poetry in the first person?
Third question: What does this poet’s name mean?

Don’t forget to include your postal address in your email. Good luck!

UPDATE, Saturday July 31st, 11.00 AM: As the response to the above quiz has been nothing short of overwhelming (3 entrants, 1 correct answer), I've decided to extend the deadline to 12 o'clock tonight, Hellas time. Incidentally, you can answer the questions as many times as you want until you find the correct poet(s); if I make it any easier, it won't be any fun.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Uncorrupted

How is it sullied unceasingly

By slews of maculate conceptions,
The poem finds itself still

A virgin.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Epiphany

Lord,

If it’s true that nothing
We have seen so far has prepared us

For what we are to witness,
When that one clear moment comes

To the surface, let us welcome it
As a sign of our ignorance.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Abstract—

otherwise you shall soon see how
poor reminders your eyes are

of that concrete fact.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One Thing a Poem Should Not Be Like

An old man who’s avoided
The relentless

Midday sun and is now
Shuffling his feet

In the shade.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Rain and The Glass, 99 Poems, New and Selected, Robert Nye



The Rain and the Glass, 99 Poems, New and Selected, Robert Nye, Greenwich Exchange, London, 2004.

I first became acquainted with the poetry of Robert Nye when I received my contributor’s copy of The London Magazine for February-March 2003; shortly thereafter, I began a brief correspondence with him, during which he was so kind as to send me two of his poetry books, 14 Po√®mes with 12 collages by Cozette de Charmoy (in French with the original English en face) and The Rain and the Glass, 99 Poems, New and Selected. Here is Nye's enchanting introduction to that book:

“One afternoon in 1952 for no apparent reason I fell asleep by a window in the front room of my house in an Essex seaside resort where I was living with my parents. It was winter and rain was beating against the glass. In my sleep, which was deep, I dreamed a poem. In the dream it was night and there was a different house and rain at another window. There was no ‘I’ in the dream, only this other house and the rain and the glass, and a very strong sense that the dreamer was the rain and the glass, and all this coming as words and rhythms heard and felt, blindly, not as things seen. The essence of the dream was perhaps rhythm, but its substance came as words. When I woke I wrote these words down, adding punctuation and (later) a title. I was 13 years old. It seemed to me that for a moment I had fallen awake. It was after this dream that I knew what I had to do for the rest of my life.

This book contains 39 poems written since the publication of my Collected Poems in 1995, together with 60 selected from that volume. The order in which the poems are presented is more or less the reverse of chronological, so that the last poem in the book is in fact the earliest, that dream poem.

Most of the poems are as first written, some have been revised over the years in the interests of sound or sense or both, a few (having been revised) are now returned to their original innocent state.

The craft, as has been noted, is long to learn. And the last lesson (like the first) may be that craft at best is only half the story, for poetry is not a product of the will. I have spent my life trying to write poems, but the poems gathered here came mostly when I was not.”

—Robert Nye, Foreword to The Rain and the Glass.

In keeping with the spirit of Nye’s introduction, the two poems that follow are the first and last in the book but the latest and earliest, respectively, to be written. Readers wishing to read the poems in-between will have to get the book!


WORDS ON THE WIND

I heard a voice calling
‘Do not be afraid
For blessed is he
Who is what he was
Before he was made.’

They came on the wind
Those singular words
And on the wind went.
Perhaps all it was
Was the calling of birds?

Perhaps all there is
Is the calling of birds
As they’re blown on the wind
And we just mistake it
For singular words?

God knows I don’t know
But now night is falling
I am what I was
Before I was made,
And this is my calling.


LISTENERS

Listening silence in the glass
The listening rain against.
All in the silent house asleep,
The rain and the glass awake;
All night they listen for a noise
No one is there to make.

All in the silent house asleep,
The rain and the glass awake;
Listening silence in the glass
The listening rain against.
All night they listen for a noise
Their silence cannot break.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Geyser

—for Tony Hayward, CEO of BP

You’re always gushing about
Tapping and refining your poetic

When it’s your style
That’s crude.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fogbound

misty-eyed
wayfarer clearly misguided lost
in transition taken in
.

by the way the mist was not
.

missed

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tin, Pannier Alley

Where a wordsmith can be found writing a small street song to the accompaniment of a tinsmith's hammer.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Poet in Reticence, Atacama, Chile

Don’t piss it all away, Aloysius—
Refresh us with what precious

Treacle you purvey but pray
Spare your best for a rainy day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Tangled Poetic Matter

On a bluff over the sea,

Under a low-lying wind-swept
Canopy of pines, a bed

Of matted needles where
The high-strung strident

Body composes itself
By lying silent.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Air of Rebellion

Yours truly, love
In all ways

Fair but unruly
As the wind playing

Havoc in your hair.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fancy That

Now if you could
Only remember how

To perceive you can
Imagine how

It must have felt
Before you forgot.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Body of Summer

Notice if you will, how

The cicada has departed
Its skin and will now

Sing a song stark

Naked, carried on

The back of the wind.



NB
: The title borrowed from
Elytis's "Body of Summer," 1943, which begins thusly:

O body of summer, naked, burnt
Eaten away by oil and salt

Body of rock and shudder of the heart

Great ruffling wind in the osier hair

Breath of basil above the curly pubic mound
Full of stars and pine needles
Body, deep vessel of the day!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Lunar Legacy

for the down-
trodden sluggish earth-
bound masses

that said,

his lunatic majesty left
a heavenly trail
of salubrious saliva.
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