starlings / winter time

It is winter now and I’m passing a lot of time looking through glass. Sometimes seems like everything only exists on the other side of the glass. These poems are about what I’ve seen, and this is what I’ve wondered.

starlings

O simple bird, in summer, squabbling, wretched
  Are you the ones who fly across my skies
at dawn, murmuring above the pier at dusk
in winter teaching me the signs
of the weather, and of time
  I come to live my life, look out for you
Desperate, at such times for the vitality I need
In you – is this the meaning, reason for your summertime greed?

  Are you one, the same?

*

ocean / sky / man

Ocean silver light and peach
Sky blue reflecting ocean
Shining is a mirror of the
Sky alive and moving deep 

Ocean living mirror and the
Sky a plate of life upon it
Starlings like sails in the
Sky above the crying gulls upon the 

Ocean

Sky

Ocean

Man

 Ocean watching on the beach
Man wonders by the railings
Staring at living seas is only
Man watching living sky.

 Ocean silver light reflecting
Sky upon the surface life
Moving deep below where
Man alone is watching life.

three

(poems for the summer)

Brighton coast / Photo by Rachel Silverlight

Night (summer).

 In the stillness of the night I hear
Some car pass down some road.

Or is it the sea? That roaring rumbling
Sound is so distant and so faint.

Or the wind that whistles down these streets
Between the buildings like channels to
The sea?

No matter; the laughing gulls are up.

 *

Three.

The sea belongs to me.
The sea belongs to me.
Three times I have swum now
Three days in the sea
And three makes it true
Don’t it?

The sea belongs to me.

 * 

Fixed
(after Camus)

I will die not happy not sad
it will come to me just as it is
and it will be everything
I will feel some trepidation before,
but no more than any man or woman
at any other change coming.

After all it is fixed
like pain is fixed
and joy has its limit
and cold is fixed
and so death
from the moment we’re birthed
and before
played out in the lottery of the stars
in the light of any distant sun
still playing out forever.

world poetry day / crow

Matt Collier, Crow Country

Matt Collier – Crow Country, April 10

Today is World Poetry Day – whatever that means. If, like me, you only know about it because you spotted it on Twitter, or maybe just now while you’re reading this, and maybe you’re reading it in the future and it isn’t World Poetry Day any longer anyway, that probably ain’t a whole lot. I’m just guessing that there’s a ‘national poetry day’ and an ‘international poetry day’ &c. like there is for short stories, long stories, and just about every author the art institution/general public ever really LOVED (or hated).

This particular day was declared by UNESCO according to Wikipedia. That doesn’t mean a whole lot to me either, although I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the name UNESCO on the TV so I guess today being World Poetry Day is pretty legit. More to the point, I actually happen to be reading a book of poetry at the moment, which despite my literary pretensions is a fairy rare occasion because as I frequently mention, poetry makes me a little uncomfortable. This book is Ted Hughes’ Crow, and I bought it because the quote from the Observer on the back said ‘Each fresh encounter with despair becomes the occasion for a separate, almost funny story…’ Despair being one of my favourite themes, obviously. I was not disappointed and found the quote to be almost accurate, except for the  word ‘almost’. The poems in Crow are not almost but frequently funny; full of black humour. This is one of my favourites; I think it’s terribly good, and it’s for my mother because she likes birds.

*

Crow and the Birds

When the eagle soared clear through a dawn distilling of
emerald
When the curlew trawled in seadusk through a chime of
wineglasses
When the swallow swooped through a woman’s song in a
cavern
And the swift flicked through the breath of a violet

When the owl sailed clear of tomorrow’s conscience
And the sparrow preened himself of yesterday’s promise
And the heron laboured clear of the Bessemer upglare
And the bluetit zipped clear of lace panties
And the woodpecker drummed clear of the rotorvator and
the rose farm
And the peewit tumbled clear of  the laundromat

While the bullfinch plumped in the apple bud
And the goldfinch bulbed in the sun
And the wryneck crooked in the moon
And the dipper peered from the dewball

Crow spraddled head-down in the beach-garbage, guzzling
a dropped ice-cream.

*

The image in this post is by Matt Collier.

 

THIS IS HOW YOU’RE GOING TO DIE

poems for my friends

I was recently at Wilderness Festival, held in the beautiful Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. Apart from the blazing guitars of Rodrigo y Gabriela, an insane production of La Haine with live soundtrack by the Asian Dub Foundation, gentle games of croquet to work off the whisky, rowing boats and pond swimming, late night parties and delightful woodland wanderings, one of the best things about this festival were the talks that were given, hosted by the Idler Academy and Secret Forum.

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FOUTRE LE BIBLIOTHEQUE! (brighton beach sessions, i)

After handing in essays I went to the beach. Once I was there I felt very strongly against the library and was feeling dreadfully wordy and inspired, so I scribbled furiously for the next three days. It’s hard for me to comment on the quality; Hélène Cixous and Maurice Blanchot both propose that the skill of the writer is not in finding the words but in disposing with them; cut and keep cutting; it’s in the weak left hand that the writer’s talent lies. So I’ve tried to edit them all to hell, but they remain more or less the same, and what they are I’m not entirely sure. I would hesitate to call it poetry; admittedly I’m rather shy of poetry. Well it certainly isn’t prose. It’s an experiment, then; I’ll leave it at that and stop disclaiming.

(It began one night)


humid and green smelling
the whisky cat stretched out, fell asleep in front of
the window in the shabby garden room
where skin is sticky, socks, feet
hair sticky, palms sweaty, nails, knickers and
eyes are hot
darting swifts birds you can hear but not see
shrieks like sonar, like bats piercing
the sound of the silence of the laughing gulls
from their rooftops
and chimneypots, wherever white on purple
lavender dove grey indigo
ice cream van moment
the air of moisture; breathing steam
sweat, dew on arms, chests, legs
evaporates from the damp leaves and thunder
groans from vaults above
where the buckled ceiling expects;
the nestling violent cloud whose sighs
move so prettily with a song, in the flowers.
on either side of ours, where families came,
patios clean and pleasant
not this one.
tangled mess overgrown grass, weeds
even the rose not a real rose but a
dog rose
looking at
gaps in the pointing
wrinkles in flaking white wood of the pane
decking of old pallets
rotting breaking treacherous underfoot
wooden chair, cheap, sliver of wood
curling, cracking upwards but
I can see over walls
where the whisky cat sitting there looks back.

garden room where jewelled lights and silent gulls
hats furs clothes, shoe crammed floor
and red little toenails on the ends of legs
says,
the wind always rises before the rain.

***

nothing separates us from the garden
not glass, not space between us
the chipped old red bricks
so favourably and fortunately keep us dry
warm in the red light crystalline garden room exotic where
whisky cat comes in because the window is wide open
but how to bear closing it when
the garden in the room the room in the garden
the sweet rain that falls on wood making it slick, shiny
first summer rain
falls like first snowdrop, daffodil, bluebell, dandelion
first dog rose to bloom

Don’t hesitate to tell me what you think. This doesn’t really feel like ‘my’ work – that is, I can’t appropriate the words. It’s become like a horse and I’m looking at it and I get on to ride, but it’s risky business – the horse is not yet broken; it’s doing what it wants to do and I just sit tight and try to get somewhere (anywhere).

tuesday: THREE WAYS TO HEAR A POEM

thanks to Patrick for the photo

I’m going to write something about Brighton. I was lured out by the sun and by a visit from my friend Patrick, so I played the tourist a while and thought it was time I shared something of the best of Brighton. Three days is not enough to do everything in Brighton, I discovered, but we did manage to do quite a lot. Read on for a travel diary of an illicit midweek holiday…

Tuesday.

It has been a delightful week here in Brighton: waking up to the feverish blue sky on Monday I knew we were in for a treat. It is the first week of the Easter holidays and I was ready to begin some serious work on my term papers, but then my friend Patrick came to visit with Lance (my new friend, oui?!) and it all went to hell; or, more likely– to the sea.

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how not to say

Yesterday I attended a graduate colloquium on the figure of the hedgehog/porpentine/hérisson/istriche…: a very important figure for such thinkers as Derrida for reason I cannot do justice to: I will do a violence if I say that the figure of the hedgehog on the highway is both exposed, and, with his spikes, ready (reading*) to wound. Simultaneously wounded and wounding – poetics (if this prickles your interest I would recommend having a look at Derrida’s ‘Che cos’è la poesia?’ – ‘what thing is poetry?’). Now, after 10 weeks of seminars (today was my last) deconstruction remains something of a foreign language, so listening to a seminar is like listening to something in French, and I only grasp at phrases thinking ‘ah, I know that!’. In other words, I am not fluent. The papers that were delivered were, however, beautiful. Whatever – deconstruction is a beautiful language. Perhaps if I were able to study those papers that were read I might have gained something academic, but I did not; but that is not to say I gained nothing at all.

I am kind of averse to poetry. Don’t dislike it as such, but do not understand it. I don’t understand ‘what thing is poetry’, what makes poetry ‘poetry’; feel much more comfortable with ‘prose-poetry’, which is admittedly my favourite way to write. After a while, though, I started to feel like the notes I was scribbling felt more like poetry than anything else, and enjoying it, the idea built itself a castle. Well, without further ado, here are some notes on Derrida/the colloquium/the hedgehog that constitute my first go of a poetry in a very long time.

 

How to not say

 

Blanchot – the instant of my death
What can never arrive
to arrive without arriving (the letter)
the ‘I’ can never arrive; travelling toward the elusive ‘I’
Writing in the night
the scene of the Invention of language.

To invent is to know how to say ‘I’
to say ‘I’ is to invent.
Departure, arrival, what lies between?
What and where the destination
a promise that always leaves something to be desired
Aporia.
‘certain passion of the singular mark’
Testimony, confession, signature

Rogues and highwaymen
voyeur?
A certain non-place
Movement: voyage
‘I’, ‘it’, ‘itinerate’
Monolingualism of the Other and the voyage.
crossroads.
Portrait of the Traveller as Hedgehog

Vulnerability, nakedness and the animal
writing begins in the naked space
the vulnerable non-place of uncertainty

Autoimmunity; hérisson’s spikes
The danger of penetration
The mark as a body (corpus)

‘quills upon’
Quills are clothes or prosthetic weaponry
‘Quills upon the fretful porpentine’
(autoimmunity)
‘fretful’ fret frets: words echo, tremble, reverberate meaning

bask in a radiance of silence.

 

*

 

The mechanical (the machine) and chance.
Hedgehogs and flamingos.

Filthy white sheets.

What is it to be a poet? A poet-philosopher.
The ‘first dreamer-philosopher’

 

 

*I wrote ‘reading’ at first instead of ‘ready’. It’s impossible for me now to let any kind of slip just go, so I thought I’d let it remain