Friday, November 30, 2012

Clark Coolidge / Five Poems

Five Poems 
by Clark Coolidge
CONJUNCTIONS:47, Fall 2006

The pup is gone    want an amoeba?
or an orange thing?    a “schizophrenic”?
it’s marginal but we’ll play along
the same vocabulary only fun this time
I saw the roaring rush past the clock towers
not even the starlings tried to hold on
a breach of flying objects just the same
to end it all you drop    understand?
Tape ripped from the sides of scrapers with resounding smack
they developed special lamps from the building fund
after supper we made a little model to help us
think it’s all vanilla or nougat at this point?
These light boxes kept on strafing our neighborhood
father came out all struck dumb from the bushes
he was a replacement we realized after
the habitual bulks had been hauled away at last
We made our peace with the director of the piece
a professional masochist named Rama Lama Dingdong
then the credits caught fire lighting the beach
goodbye to anything within reach

She’s like talking to a plate of lemon ice
leads to nothing but sheared streets and Shetland sweaters
the eyes won’t track properly    there’s
something happening over there too    Jay Gatsby
hung on a pier    I’d rather go to Peru
get my heart broke in Cuzco for the elevation
as if I somehow just popped up    I knew it
raised a monster but didn’t turn out right
all you do is shove somebody    go away
screw your head on right reason for example
oodles of confusion and addled high times
usually parks her car on my dime    why
do you think of stripes here?    there’s no point
talking off the top of this nation of mistakes
whole hills of burlap and beaverboard plus other
tons of so far unlabeled whatever    all the shades of vitriol
witness to the fall of youth and its dumbass regularity
the worst part of growing up is the rest of your life

I had a red outfit too one time
then the aliens appeared    they showed me
some miraculous products    artistic
bath appliances    bare spots on bedroom walls
where something once    don’t need to knock to enter
the edge of a piece of paper not empty    I could
go on...why doesn’t anyone?    meanwhile
out at the source of the circus tent
I burned my suit    after that the world
smelled of velvet right to the cheek
the closet    the settee    a photo of nothing
we all should have been bred better and now
there’s always something wrong    insects    well
what do you want?    insects    in a blue moon
someplace jazz is being made    beds rented
I have news    buttons to push    which is which?
eyeballs to fiddle with    knocks that sound like laughs
they’re coming and you mustn’t mention me!
these things mean to be taken seriously
in a yellow cab back to Illinois I suppose
all right let’s have it
pumpkin rises in deserted pond

Do you promise to laugh?    the one about
the five thousand priests and the nine hundred dolls
probably have that one on the wall of your office
up all night with the realization    Tumbling Dice
world without price    born a double palomino
see you in the headlines probably the breadlines
I can hardly see at all    the minutes seem to crawl
most of our cereals come from Virginia the Piedmont
the Delta some bishopric or other    are you
my mother?    this is an homage to Williams to Stevens
to Doodad    Nimrod    Abracadabra and the Cooties
we met down on the farm    the foggy road to
speleogenesis    not good enough?    Elaine May
will save it in rewrite    secretly the snail
is in the mail    I recognized your name on the weapon
what no one else has dared to say: the sun sucks
the drill cores have been misplaced    never saw the results
we’ll gather later at Trees Lounge for the music
alone    I feel Dizzy was almost removed from the show
replaced by Cool Jerk    by the next in line by
the scoopful    an expensive leather tetherball
as a rule    tape your want list here
drop a dime on no one    topspin is permissible
always write your name in the center of the page

I remember when the world was three
the persons were not quite inhabitants yet
but they were sad    chortles in short supply
you’d think they’d learned to bend already
I watched them carry out some very clear operations
questions?    the morning when no different than
usual was invented    play me some Schumann
nothing was canceled due to rain
golf ball or even slaughter    no homes to go to
a slurry of a match useful at any rate
the Godz were out of town    someday they will find
a fossil with a serial number    forget the DNA
comes in tubes with a gravity drive
the Paleozoic starts with an overwrought thriller
ends as one too    what a universe    all details
determined by chance or necessity    one body
gets away and we have nothing    whatever
it will be found to be made of Ridiculum

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wilfred Owen / Anthem for Doomed Youth

Anthem for Doomed Youth

by Wilfred Owen
(1893 - 1918)

What passing bells for these who die as cattle?
- Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Harold Pinter / A selection of his poetry

Pinter in verse

A selection of his poetry

Though his reputation was built on his work as a playwright, towards the end of his life, Harold Pinter turned again and again to poetry - a cleaner, clearer medium through which to express his growing political outrage.
While his output was not held in universal regard within the poetry community (Don Paterson famously dismissed his "big sweary outburst[s] about how crap the war in Iraq is" in his 2004 TS Eliot lecture, with a withering "anyone can do that"), he was nevertheless awarded the Wilfred Owen award for poetry, bestowed biennially on a writer seen as continuing Owen's tradition, for his 2003 pamphlet, WAR. Michael Grayer, chairman of the Wilfred Owen Association, described his poems as "hard-hitting and uncompromising, written with lucidity, clarity and economy".
Several of Pinter's poems first appeared in the Guardian. Read a selection, dating back to 1995, below.
Poem (17 January, 1995)
Don't look.
The world's about to break.
Don't look.
The world's about to chuck out all its light
And stuff us in the chokepit of its dark,
That black and fat and suffocated place
Where we will kill or die or dance or weep
Or scream or whine or squeak like mice
To renegotiate our starting price.
Cricket at Night (3 June, 1995)
They are still playing cricket at night
They are playing the game in the dark
They're on guard for a backlash of light
They are losing the ball at long leg
They are trying to learn how the dark
Helps the yorker knock back the off-peg
They are trying to find a new trick
Where the ball moves to darkness from light
They're determined to paint the scene black
But a blackness compounded by white
They are dying to pass a new law
Where blindness is deemed to be sight
They are still playing cricket at night
Order (12 September, 1996)
Are you ready to order?
No there is nothing to order
No I'm unable to order
No I'm a long way from order
And while there is everything,
And nothing, to order,
Order remains a tall order
And disorder feeds on the belly of order
And order requires the blood of disorder
And 'freedom' and ordure and other disordures
Need the odour of order to sweeten their murders
Disorder a beggar in a darkened room
Order a banker in a castiron womb
Disorder an infant in a frozen home
Order a soldier in a poisoned tomb

Cancer cells (28 August, 2002)
"Cancer cells are those which have forgotten how to die" - nurse, Royal Marsden hospital
They have forgotten how to die
And so extend their killing life.
I and my tumour dearly fight.
Let's hope a double death is out.
I need to see my tumour dead
A tumour which forgets to die
But plans to murder me instead.
But I remember how to die
Though all my witnesses are dead.
But I remember what they said
Of tumours which would render them
As blind and dumb as they had been
Before the birth of that disease
Which brought the tumour into play.
The black cells will dry up and die
Or sing with joy and have their way.
They breed so quietly night and day,
You never know, they never say.
God bless America (22 January, 2003)
Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America's God.
The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn't join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who've forgotten the tune.
The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in the dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America's God.
Lust (26 January, 2006)
There is a dark sound
Which grows on the hill
You turn from the light
Which lights the black wall.
Black shadows are running
Across the pink hill
They grin as they sweat
They beat the black bell.
You suck the wet light
Flooding the cell
And smell the lust of the lusty
Flicking its tail.
For the lust of the lusty
Throws a dark sound on the wall
And the lust of the lusty
- its sweet black will -
Is caressing you still.

The Watcher (9 April, 2007)
A window closes and a blind comes down
The night is black and he is deadly still
There is a sudden burst of moonlight in the room
It lights his face - a face I cannot see
I know he's blind
But he is watching me

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lyn / Ten Books

by Lyn

Simon from Stuck in a book tagged me for this meme earlier this week. The idea is to close your eyes, choose 10 books at random from your shelves & write about them – where they came from, what they say about you. Well, I cheated a little. As my blog is new, I thought I would deliberately choose 10 books with my eyes open to describe my reading life over the past 30 years so that visitors have a better idea of who I am & what this blog is going to be about. The other point is that these are only the books I’ve kept. I’ve weeded hundreds of books from my collection over the years. So, there’s now no evidence of my passion for historical fiction – all those Jean Plaidys & Victoria Holts have long gone. All my school & university textbooks have gone unless I really enjoyed reading them, so only a few classic novels made the cut. So, here’s the list from the books I own now.

The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry – I’m fascinated by the writers of WWI. Owen, Sassoon, Gurney, Rosenberg. This anthology, edited by Jon Silkin, has a lengthy introduction putting the work & the writers in context.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey – a tribute to my love of history & classic crime fiction. I’ve read this book at least a dozen times. It sparked a passion for Richard III that I’ve modified over the years & led to joining the Richard III Society & reading widely about medieval England.

William : an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton – Well, there had to be a Persephone! This was one of the first Persephones I bought. As I said in a previous post, Persephone has been my most important literary discovery of the last 10 years.

Nicholas & Alexandra by Robert K Massie – I first read this in one of my Dad’s Readers Digest abridged volumes. They came out every month with 4 abridged books in each volume. I read the abridged version over & over again until I came across this copy in a bookshop in the mid 70s. It lead to a fascination with Russian history which was also sparked by a children’s book which I borrowed from the school library & read many times & have never seen since, The Youngest Lady in Waiting by Mara Kay, about a young girl at the court of Nicholas I during the Decembrist revolt.

Selected poems by John Donne – One of my favourite poets. This could have just as easily have been Byron, Keats or Emily Dickinson. This slim Penguin has travelled with me & been read & reread many times. I don’t read as much poetry now as I used to but Donne is a fond memory, especially the songs & sonnets.

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain – I remember reading this book over Easter, it must have been around 1980 as this copy has a still from the TV series on it. I was totally absorbed in this wonderful book. Vera’s experiences in WWI & the loss of so many of her loved ones made a deep impression on me. It started my love of the writing of the period, not just the war but the between-the-wars period when it was written. I’ve since read Vera’s diaries & some of her fiction. An inspiring woman.

Ladies in Waiting by Dulcie M Ashdown – Another historical book. This is here because it was one of the first books I remember saving up to buy. I had to go into the city several times a year as a child to see an eye specialist. There was a bookshop on Collins St & I would go in each time & look longingly at this book, saving up & always hoping it would still be there. I finally bought it. It cost all of $14.95, but it was the mid-70s & I had to save my pocket money.

South Riding by Winifred Holtby – There also had to be a Virago in the pile. I’ve been reading Viragos since the compaby began & discovered so many favourite writers between the beautiful green covers. Besides Vera & Winifred, there’s Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Von Arnim, Rosamond Lehmann. The list goes on.

Now, the list wouldn’t be complete without a couple of titles from the tbr shelves.

The Diary of a Country Parson by James Woodforde – This is a beautiful Folio Society edition. I’ve been a member of the Folio Society off & on over the years. Their books are always beautifully produced & illustrated. I love journals & letters & I will get to the parson one of these days.

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset – My dear friend Dani at A Work in Progress read this a couple of years ago, wrote about it so persuasively that I bought this gorgeous Penguin edition with every intention of reading it immediately & haven’t started it yet.

So that’s the list. I could have chosen another 10 books quite easily. It would be interesting to do a list just from the tbr shelves. Why did I buy it? Do I have any real intention of ever reading it?? There’s always my retirement, I suppose.


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I'm an avid reader who loves middlebrow fiction, 19th century novels, WWI & WWII literature, Golden Age mysteries & history. Other interests include listening to classical music, drinking tea, baking cakes, planning my rose garden & enjoying the antics of my cats, Lucky & Phoebe. Contact me at lynabby16AThotmailDOTcom

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jacques Prévert / The Garden

by Jacques Prevert

Thousands and thousands of years
Would not be enough
To tell of 
That small second of eternity
When you held me
When I held you 
One morning 
In winter's light
In Montsouris Park 
In Paris
On earth
This earth 
That is a star

Friday, November 9, 2012

Jacques Prévert / Alicante

by Jacques Prévert

Jacques Prévert / Alicante (Rimbaud)

An orange on the table
Your dress on the rug
And you in my bed
Sweet gift of the present
Freshness of the night
Warmth of my life

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Jacques Prevert / This Love

by Jacques Prevert

Jacques Prévert / Cet amour (Rimbaud)
Jacques Prévert / Este amor (De otros mundos)

This love
So violent
So fragile
So tender
So hopeless
This love
As beautiful as the day
And as wretched as the weather
When the weather is wretched

This love
So real
This love
So beautiful
So happy
So joyous
And so ridiculous
Trembling with fear
Like a child in the dark
And so sure of itself
Like a tranquil man in the quiet of the night
This love
Which made others afraid
Which made them gossip
Which drained the colour from their cheeks
This love
Watched for
Because we watched for them
Snared, wounded, trampled, finished, denied, forgotten
Because we snared, wounded, trampled, finished, denied, forgot it

This love
Still so alive
This is yours
This is mine
This love
Which is always new
And which never changes
Real like a plant
Quivering like a bird
Warm and as alive as the summer
We can both
Go and come back
We can forget
And fall asleep
And wake up
To suffer old age
Fall asleep again
To dream to death
To smile and laugh
Young again
Our love endures
Obstinate as a mule
As alive as the desire
As cruel as the memory
As stupid as the regret
As tender as the memory
As cold as marble
As beautiful as the day
As delicate as an infant
It watches us
And speaks to us
Without saying a word
And I
I listen to it
And I cry
I cry for you
I cry for myself
And I beg you
For yourself
For me
And for all those who love
And who are loved
I cry to it
For you
For me
And for all the others
I do not know
Stay there
There where you are
There where you were before
Stay there
Don't move
Don't go away
We who are loved
We have forgotten you
Do not forget us
We had only you on this earth
Do not let us grow cold
Further and further away every day
It doesn't matter where
Give us a sign of life
In a nook in the woods
In the forest of memory
Suddenly arise
Take us by the hand
And save us