Tag Archives: poem

Poem 97: Self-portrait on a blank canvas

(Today’s story will make an appearance at midday (New Zealand time). But first I wanted to post a poem. This is the third (and possibly final) self-portrait poem. The first was “Self-portrait in landscape“. The second was “Self-portrait in still life“. And here’s the third – “Self-portrait on a blank canvas”. Thanks for taking the time to read/listen!)

The blank canvas calls for colour;
a pale blue perhaps for endless sky,
a fresh-filled swimming pool,
Our Lady of Lourdes,
a blue cat.

Perhaps a vibrant green
for vernal growth,
jade parakeets,
new chestnut leaves,
bile spewed or envy all-consuming.
Not everything on a palate’s palatable.

Blotches of red;
too much splattered that
the portrait’s doomed and ruined.
Scarlet garnets show for miles.
There’s no grace in brazen crimson,
no joy in bloodshot blood.
I wish that red would fade.

Other tints ungrace and grace the picture:
a cowardly yellow,
fractured gold,
orange sunlight shattered, a purple patch,
brown (common brown), a slice of black, a splash of grey,
bits of missed transparent canvas.

Sometimes a person comes along
and scrawls unprompted in a space.
Most (but first let me stir another sweetened brew)…
most enter; and exit after scribbling… nothing much.
They mutter in their passing, “What a… what a mess.”

I’m sorry, but it’s all there is and it’s all I’ve got.

If the above link doesn’t play, then try clicking HERE!

1902. Elegy

Gwyneth’s career was about to take off. For maybe a decade she had spent hours a day honing her writing skills, polishing her poetry, proof-reading her novel and proof-reading again and again. And now! A publisher had accepted a collection of her poetry for publication.

It was so rare to get a collection of poetry accepted by a publisher. Volumes of poetry simply do not sell well these days. Every publisher and his mother avoided publishing poetry anthologies like the plague. So to get it accepted was exciting!

Things don’t come automatically however. Things have to be revised and rewritten. Gwyneth was assigned an editor. She was determined to humbly follow every suggestion made; perhaps a change of word, perhaps a different title for this poem or that. The process lasted for two years. It was a tiresome task. Somehow Gwyneth made it through. And then at last! at last! the day arrived! She held her book of poetry in her hands.

Over the next three years two copies sold. The publishing company has now folded.

Poem 96: Self-portrait in still life

(Today there is no story, but Poem 96. This is the second “Self-portrait” poem – the first one was “Landscape” and this one is “Still Life”. This poem is probably not to everyone’s liking. I try to cover as much territory as I can and sometimes feel a bit strangled by the expectations of the occasional some. So if I don’t follow myself I end up in some quagmire of  uncreativity and consumed by self-doubt. Sorry if this didn’t make sense. For those who prefer to be warned, there is a swear word in the poem).

Today I pulled out weeds in the garden.
I don’t have a clue what the weeds are called.
I s’pose they have names.
I have a weed book (with illustrations) called
“Weeds”. All the names inside

are Latin, like Taraxacum officinal
which is just an antediluvian nomenclature for dandelion.
A friend of mine once made tea out of Taraxacum officinal and got the runs.
Yes, I have friends.

(Fa la la la la).

One of the weeds was all tanglely and sticky.
Another had roots so deep it snapped underground.
Yet another was prickly
and another slimy because of spit beetle spit.
Anyway, I couldn’t help but think –

I am a fern frond stuck in a vase in a still life painting
– not that a fern is a weed –
stuck in a vase with a couple of dowdy dead flowers,
and next to a banana.

(Fa la la la la).

I am a fern frond stuck in a vase.
I am a fern frond stuck in a vase next to a banana.
The frond reminds Mabel up the road of the most intricate lace.
But it’s the same all the way up.
It’s the same all the way down.

Everything’s the same.
It’s the same fa la la la la.

(Fa la la la fucking fa la).

Some days I feel the need to escape
the picture.

If the above link doesn’t play, then try clicking HERE!

Poem 95: Self-portrait in landscape

The landscape’s crumpled undulations
stand perhaps as some sort of metaphor.
It’s as if when god got to make me a muttering was heard:
stuff this, who cares about this one?
The blueprint was screwed up
and tossed to the ground.

You know, you know,
people snapshot it, they take pictures
of the blueprint as if it’s the beautiful thing,
and yet the scene proclaims…

(nothing really, it doesn’t matter).

The landscape’s crumpled undulations
are as green as anything; muddled as anything.
There is no old history.
There’s nothing to say the place is sacred,
this dude is home, this fellow’s holy,
this guy is worth half another look.

You know, you know,
people snapshot it, they take pictures
of the blueprint as if it’s the beautiful thing,
and yet the scene proclaims…

(nothing really, it doesn’t matter).

The landscape’s crumpled undulations
can be unravelled if anyone cares to loosen;
undo the screwed-up-ness, flatten the blueprint out.
But it’s munted, the twisted scene’s munted,
the blueprint’s screwed-up twice
and chucked to the ground.

You know, you know,
people snapshot it, they take pictures
of the blueprint as if it’s the beautiful thing,
and yet the scene proclaims…

(nothing really, it doesn’t matter).

Someday someone might pick up this bit of trash
and set it on fire.

If the above link doesn’t play, then try clicking HERE!

1774. The Perfect Book Tag

Imagine my excitement in having just returned from taking the dog for an extended walk (and in the process collected a bucketful of wild mushrooms) to discover that someone has challenged me to complete The Perfect Book Tag (even though I’m a free spirit and not taggable). That someone blogs at Dumbest Blog Ever; a blog that is self-described as Stu(pidity) on Stareoids. The postings range from the erudite to the enjoyably stupid, from the sublime to the cor blimey. The blog is well worth the visit (I reckon).

This posting sees a departure from the daily story, and is a bit longer than usual. Of course nothing is perfect, not even myself when I was eleven, but these are some literary works I have enjoyed over the years.

Some snippets of these reflections you may have heard before. I’m not averse to repeating myself. I’m not averse to repeating myself. I hope the selection (which borders on the classic and boring) doesn’t show me up to being a tedious snob. I’m not averse to repeating myself.

The Pretty Good Genre
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

This is the title of O’Connor’s collection of short stories, and contains the best short story ever written – also entitled A Good Man is Hard to Find. Even though you know from the start what’s going to happen your hair stands on end as it happens. The writing is both funny and horrifying. I’ve always been a fan of Flannery O’Connor and a big fan of the short story genre.

“She looked at nice young men as if she could smell their stupidity.”

The Perfect Setting
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange and the Yorkshire Moors are the perfect setting for this extraordinary novel – which surprisingly a lot of people haven’t read. The plot IS the setting. The setting IS the characters. The setting IS the theme. Everything in this novel is integrated into the one thing. Perfectly constructed. I guess I’ve read it maybe 50 times or so.

“I said his heaven would be only half alive; and he said mine would be drunk.”

The Pretty Good Main Character
The Book of Thel by William Blake

Thel is the character in this longish poem by Blake. She is too afraid to come into existence, because that begins the journey towards death. Thel is ephemeral.

Ah! Thel is like a watry bow, and like a parting cloud,
Like a reflection in a glass, like shadows in the water,
Like dreams of infants, like a smile upon an infant’s face,
Like the doves voice, like transient day, like music in the air.

The Pretty Good Best Friend
A Certain Age by Cynthia Jobin

Many readers will be familiar with the poetry of the late Cynthia Jobin. She took a keen and positive interest in so many bloggers and posted her brilliant poetry on her blog. Her final poem Night Draws Near, Brother Ass is heart-rending. I was unaware she had died when I received in the mail from her a collection of poems by William Stafford called Even in Quiet Places.

Let me down easy
the way hints of winter
fall exquisitely today
scattering icy lacy flowers
from a cloud bouquet

The Pretty Good Love Interest
Clarissa by Samuel Richardson

I’m not heavily into love stories, although I have read a great number of novels by Danielle Steel and enjoyed every bit of them. Shhh! But I chose Richardson’s Clarissa because it’s one of the earliest books written in English and I got through the hundreds of pages of love letters never once being able to work out if “they were doing it”. It was all insinuation. Clarissa Harlowe is abducted by Robert Lovelace. That was the gist of it, and I found it pretty riveting really. Besides, I had to read it for exams at university.

“Love gratified, is love satisfied — and love satisfied, is indifference begun.”

The Pretty Good Villain
Richard III by William Shakespeare

I know it’s predictable but it’s inevitable. Richard III is one of my favourite plays. That horrid movie with Ian McKellen missed the point because the film omitted Queen Margaret’s great cursing scene. Each curse comes true, bit by bit.

Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog!
Thou that wast seal’d in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell!
Thou slander of thy mother’s heavy womb!
Thou loathed issue of thy father’s loins!
Thou rag of honour! thou detested—

The Pretty Good Family
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

My sisters adored this novel in my childhood. Once I grew up I was old enough to be seen reading it. When I studied in Boston, USA, I would go to Walden Pond in New Hampshire. The Alcotts, Hawthorne, and Thoreau lived within walking distance from one another. It must’ve been something in the water.“I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now.”

The Pretty Good Animal
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter

I loved this story as a kid – and still do. I think it was because Jemima wanted to hatch out baby ducklings and I kept ducks as a kid and was forever hatching out babies. I didn’t mind the fox in the story because in New Zealand we don’t have foxes. There is something quite magical about a bird’s egg!

“Quack?“ said Jemima Puddle-Duck, with her head and her bonnet
on one side.

The Pretty Good Plot Twist
The Leader by Eugene Ionesco

This short ten minute play by Ionesco is one of my favourites. Mind you, all of Ionesco plays are my favourites! The leader off stage is watched by fans on stage. They go ape-shit over him/her. They go goo-gar. “He’s patting a pet hedgehog! He spits a tremendous distance.” (Incidentally, the actor who said those lines in a production I once directed became the Prime Minister of New Zealand in reality!) When the leader does appear at the end he/she is headless. “Who needs a head when you’ve got charisma?” Ionesco used to write to me but his letters stopped once he died. Strange.

“Shut up! Shut up! You’re ruining everything”

The Pretty Good Trope
Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame

Janet Frame was a New Zealand novelist and this was her first novel. It tells the story of a women with mental problems, who gets shut away in a mental hospital and watches the mountains through the keyhole in her cell. (The story is a lot better than that). Throughout the novel, Frame creates associations with images, so at the end of the novel she only has to mention all these jolly images and you burst into tears! (At least I did).

“She grew more and more silent about what really mattered. She curled inside herself like one of those … little shellfish you see on the beach, and you touch them, and they go inside and don’t come out.”

The Pretty Good Cover
A Guide to Folk Tales in the English Language by D.L. Ashliman

I bought this book for about $250 around 25 years ago. It has a summary of 2,335 folk tales. Back then I earned a living writing for children to perform on stage so such a book came in handy! I don’t care too much about covers, although for a novel I don’t appreciate an artist showing me what a character should look like. That’s the writer’s task. It’s why I’ve never seen any of The Lord of the Rings movies – they ruin the imagination. I like this cover. It’s plain, and in another life I learnt the skills of a book binder and could create plain covers like this!

The Pretty Good Ending
The Playboy of the Western World by John Millington Synge

I think this is my favourite all-time play (at least for today). At the end Pegeen Mike whispers: “Oh my grief, I’ve lost him surely. I’ve lost the only Playboy of the Western World.”

“… it’s great luck and company I’ve won me in the end of time – two fine women fighting for the likes of me – till I’m thinking this night wasn’t I a foolish fellow not to kill my father in the years gone by.”

Thanks for reading!

Poem 93: Yet another poem about a dead cat

My cat woke me at four each morning.
She would jump on the bed and claw the pillow
right next to my eyes.
I would wake, fearful for my sight.
Would I never again see the day slip over the hill?
Would I never again see the moon slip over the hill
or the barley field wave in the wind?
Perhaps by patting the cat I could doze a little longer.
Bloody cat.

Fourteen years ago,
on a night I could not sleep,
I rose from bed at four and fed the cat.
Breakfast at four became her rite, her right.
Bloody cat.

Last year she was sick.
The veterinarian said
“That’ll be one hundred and thirty dollars please.”
I gave up wine and stuff for a month to pay for it.
That bloody cat was more of a nuisance than I ever imagined.

Last week she died.
If she came back I’d let her scratch out my eyes.

1765. Thanks for the poetry

Hi Harvey

Just a quick note to thank you for sending me your book of poetry. Congratulations on getting it published. I was very keen to read your poems as I didn’t until today realize that you wrote poetry. It tells me a lot more about you than I ever imagined.

The book arrived in the mail just as I was about to go to the bathroom. As I was so excited to begin to read it I took it to the bathroom with me and began to peruse your poems while “enthroned”.

The first thing I noticed, and this is a little critical, is that the cover is excellent, as is the print, but why, oh why, did it have to be printed on cheap newsprint? I suppose it’s fashionable to use recycled things, but personally I was distracted by it thinking that your poetry would most certainly deserve better.

Well, I started reading your poems thoughtfully and I guess I carefully read the first half dozen. Look, I don’t want to be negative about things, but quite honestly, the poems did nothing for me. I thought they were banal and simplistic. I’m telling you this not to be cruel and offensive, but because honesty is always the best route to take. How can one improve if one already thinks that one is the cat’s whiskers?

Heave ho! upon the briny deep,
Oh sailor man.
Wither doth the waves caress the shore.
Who could wish for more
In days of yore?

I can see why you had to get it self-published.

Anyway, thanks again for thinking of me and sending a free copy.

Regards
Maurice

P.S. Don’t you just hate it – like once every eleven years or so – when you’re in the bathroom and realize you’re out of toilet paper?

1594. I feel an interactive page coming on

Hi. My name is Sinead and the other day I felt like getting all interactive on my blog. Lots of people do. They get all interactive and everyone takes part and it is fun. So I thought why not me too? It also attracts new faces to the blog. So this is what I done.

Write a poem no longer than 14 lines and 54 words including the words haversack, hurdy-gurdy, enthralling, table, and Rumpelstiltskin. The posting was accompanied by a picture of an Australian short-beaked echidna for inspiration because they’re cute and lay only one egg every year. So they would be no good keeping instead of chickens!!!!

Well, no one responded, not even my friend Debbie, so I asked my friend Debbie if she had any thoughts as to why, and she said “Nah she didn’t”. She should know because she has an interactive page on her blog and lots of people post pictures of themselves on it. But I don’t want to do the same because it will look as if I never had an original thought in my life. Anyway I never posted a picture of myself on my friend Debbie’s blog because my parents probably read it.

I also asked my biology teacher about it, and all he said was “Not another, Shirley” and I said my name wasn’t Shirley. So he wasn’t worth asking. He’s like that, Mr Thompson, he puts everyone down. But I’m not going to let it beat me so I’m going to put up another challenge and let’s hope this time a lot of people find it attractive enough to enter and give it likes.

My friend Debbie just asked me if I wanted to go down to the town mall, so I said yes, so I’ll come back to this later maybe.

Hi. This is me later. I’ve changed my mind, and now I’m creating a new blog on fashion. I’m only going to have pictures of me wearing my own stuff. Let’s hope it attracts lots of likes. Ms Turnwall, who teaches gymnastics at school and I bumped into her at the mall, and she is always very encouraging, and she said that the idea of my fashion page would not only be thought-provoking but it could also be sensational. So come on, everyone, and give my fashion pictures lots of likes after I post them, probably next week after I finish the written assignment Ms Turnwall gave us to do on Russians spying on our national gymnastics team at the Olympics.

I’m hoping to be a journalist when I leave school so all this is good practice.

Poem 91: Thou wert my gate

I haven’t published a poem on this blog since last July, so here goes. Once again I have had the singular honour of winning the week’s “Terrible Poetry Contest”. My thanks to Chelsea, the instigator and judge. The theme for the week was “Engineering Failure”. I now know better how an astronaut feels when stepping on the surface of the moon – profoundly humbled by the experience. So here then, for your edification, is the terrible poem on “Engineering Failure”. Of course, it could double as a love poem if you want to use it for that.

Thou wert my gate
in the fence of life;
a doorway in the
corridor of existence;
a hole in the
wall of being

Now you have shut the
entrance to your heart
and I am shattered into a pile of quaking reinforced concrete.
No more will I hear your euphonious voice
wafting over the plastic barrier of time;
no more will my nostrils sense the scent
of your hair on the yellow brick road of vivacity.
Oh the audacity!

You have become an engineering failure,
a total engineering failure;
in fact you are the biggest engineering failure
I have ever encountered in my life.
And you are fat.
I wish you all the Botox you can lay your hands on.
You need it.

Strumpet! Strumpet!
You have no reason to blow your own trumpet
for thou art a total engineering failure!
Thou wert my gate
in the fence of life
but now you are just a pile of rocks –
to say nothing of your choice in tasteless frocks.

There you have it. Success has once again tempted me to blather on and on about myself – but, dear me, this is not Facebook. Mind you, I don’t belong to Facebook – or Twitter, or Instagram, or anything except this blog. I don’t even have Google Chrome. In fact, I don’t know if I’m utterly “Yesterday” or completely “Tomorrow”. I’m trying not to get spied on. I don’t even purchase anything on Amazon because of the astronomical cost of postage to New Zealand. Which accounts partly for why I am still reading stuff like Clarissa and Joseph Andrews with the odd contemporary thing thrown in that’s on hand such as John Millington Syne’s Riders to the Sea (my favourite play) and Mrs Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters.

So I hope you have a nice day – in fact a happy, happy day – and don’t feel bad if you haven’t got time to learn the above poem off by heart.