Tag Archives: poetry

Poem 102: A Monologue on the Eternal Banquet

And here in heaven at the Eternal Banquet
there’s strawberries and cream.
I’m not fond of strawberries, I once said.
Everyone was shocked. They like strawberries.
Just eat the whipped cream, says one, rather than insult the Cook.
You’d think with all the resources up here and stuff like that
they could provide more variety.
But no! When Adam and Eve arrived they said everyone would want
strawberries and cream. Certainly nothing with apples.
Strawberries three times a day. Full stop. Period. Permanently.

Then Queen Elizabeth the First of England
(she’s got really fat – I mean really really fat)
says that if I want variety I should go to the other place.
Hell, I say, what do they eat down there?
Raw quince and crab apples.
All day and every day with no whipped cream.
They’re all skinny as rakes.
For a special occasion they get an uncooked cooking apple.
Well, I say, it sounds like that other place sucks.
So I get stuck into my strawberries and cream.
I’ve been here two hundred and eleven years now
and have never got used to the diet.

Once in a blue moon, for a special occasion,
we have a big feast;
like the other day when Abraham and Sarah celebrated
their four thousandth year since getting pregnant.
We all got a dry pink wafer cookie
stuck in the strawberry concoction.
Honestly, I crave a hotdog.
I wouldn’t mind if it came poked into the whipped cream.

The other day some visitors popped over from
the Conservative Sector for a social visit.
They took one look and said, Bloody hell!
Is that all you eat? You need to sack the Cook.
So we’re having a meeting about it, all fifteen billion of us.
The angel in charge said a decision has to have a 100% consensus
before any changes can be made around here.
That’s impossible, especially with some of the politicians in our Sector.
I’m not putting much hope on our chances of firing the Cook.
Besides, God loves to personally prepare the strawberries for us Liberals.
It’s the reward we get for being always right.
Bon appétit.

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.

Poem 101: We have fallen

What a thrill it’s been to have walked the Planet Earth
albeit for a while
I watched a murmuration of starlings twirl in evening light
Who could invent such wonder?

We have fallen down too fast

It used be said to not wear green with blue
they do not mix; and yet blue sky
green grass – stab of red cow, flash of white horse
Who could invent such wonder?

We have fallen down too

Glimpse of mountains, clouds,
streams, rivers, seas. Beehives!
Impassable forests! A tiny flower!
Who could invent such wonder?

We have fallen down

The chattering rumble of people,
billions, yet not one the same.
The fecundity of Mother Earth!
Who could invent such wonder?

We have fallen

To create a song, a poem, a story;
to skip and dance, to draw,
to knit a scarf, to spin in wind!
To weed a garden, row a boat,
whisk up eggnog, burn a piece of toast,
pick nectarines, fly a kite! Love!
Who could invent such wonder?

We have

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.

Old Monk’s Habits Die Hard

Today’s scheduled tale – Story 2039 “A Newsworthy Photograph” – shall appear out of sequence on February 6th 2021, as I want to say some stuff for today’s posting!

Thing One – A Passing Shower

I am delighted to report that Iseult has reviewed my novel – A Passing Shower – and given it 4 out of 5 stars! Thank you Iseult! The review can be read HERE – and from there to Iseult’s many other book reviews.

I presume everyone’s mother at some stage – at least in Western European Civilization – created some coconut ice. It’s usually half pink and half white. Well, once upon a time there were 5 pieces of coconut ice and I got 4 of them! To want all 5 would have been greedy, and I would have got smacked by Mother, and 5 probably would have made me sick anyway. So I am thrilled to bits with getting 4 stars! If you haven’t read my novel then you don’t know what you’re missing out on. It can be accessed HERE for free.

All sorts of important (and intelligent) people have reviewed my novel apart from Iseult, such as Uma, Yvonne, the late Cynthia, the late Pauline, Lisa, Ian, Andrea, Bianca, Chris. The high percentage of reviewers who have since passed on could well be a hint to you to get cracking before lateness catches up!

I realize that the novel is post-modern and not to everyone’s taste. The narrator is unreliable – in fact she’s a total chaotic mess (try writing a narrator like that! – in fact try reading a narrator like that!) As I said in a comment to Iseult, I once sent the first 50 pages to an agent asking if he would be interested to which he kindly replied with something like, ‘’I think after the first 50 pages I’d get totally pissed off.” The choice is yours!

Thing Two – No More Can Fit Into the Evening

I had said to an editor (THE Editor of Editors – ahem – in fact there are two of them) that I would do something I’m no good at and write a review. Well, here we are although I don’t have any social media network connections to flay about in except for this!

The book is called No More Can Fit Into the Evening: An Anthology of Diverse Voices. This volume of 369 pages by 39 poets from all over is edited by Thomas Davis and Standing Feather for Four Windows Press based in Wisconsin.

There are a number of poets featured you would possibly know from the blogging world. There is Bruce Goodman (who appears far too often on my blog and has six poems), the late Cynthia Jobin (who has 8 poems), John Looker (who has 10 poems), Ethel Mortenson Davis (who has 11 poems), and Thomas Davis (who has 9 poems). Other poets within the volume probably frequent the blogs but I’m not that good at spotting mountain lions in long grass. Having a decent lot of poems from each writer is a brilliant way of getting the flavour of each poet. Rather than simply sip a single martini one gets to hog the whole bar.

My personal poetry-writing voyage is a little chequered. When I was a kid at school – around about aged 15 in 1965 – a “famous” (still famous in New Zealand although dead) poet – James K. Baxter came and spoke to us. He said “Practise writing poetic forms for twenty years and then write your poem.” I attacked poetic forms with a vengeance. And then a couple of years later I showed a poem to another “famous” poet (who shall remain nameless) who pronounced that the poem was a load of crap. I didn’t write another poem for fifty or so years, and then my blogging friend, Cynthia Jobin said “Why not?” So I started writing poems again, and again resorted often to traditional poetic forms.

I am not too good at always comprehending contemporary poetry – and as the title of this volume says, it is “An Anthology of Diverse Voices”. So what I am doing is taking a poem a day – in no particular order – and reading and pondering it each morning. That way I think I am learning to see what each poet is doing and also coming to some understanding of how some contemporary poetry works. It is rather rewarding! A bit like a monk doing half an hour’s meditation each morning.

So I am nowhere near finishing the volume and feel a bit rude recommending it before I’ve finished reading it. However, I can’t wait a year. I should really chat about some of the poems I have pondered, but won’t because you can do it yourself! The voices/styles/concepts/methods in this anthology are so varied and wonderful that I think it’s an ideal book to take a poem regularly and ponder. After all, of course, it’s not a novel! It is a meditation book of modern poetry – even for those who are not too much into poetry. I can really give it no better recommendation than that. As the poet Robin Chapman says in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (p.102):

It’s the morning of the world
I want to tell you about…

Available at Amazon and all sorts of other places. Four Windows Press is HERE.

Finally, by inference, a story: As one of my students years ago said – he was the captain of the school’s top cricket team and a fairly solid sort of bloke – “Thanks for making us read Wuthering Heights. It was bloody good.”

Poem 100: Falls into silence

The lake, as waterfowl take flight, falls into silence.
Limitless stars appear; the night falls into silence.

Sports fields and schoolyards ring with songs of children’s laughter;
Summer lawn with no such delight falls into silence.

The burgeoning kowhai tree in spring weeps golden tears;
Winter shade shedding lustre bright falls into silence.

Parents watch each child leave to face uncertain futures;
The pathway, steps that fall from sight, falls into silence.

Lovers for the first time disagree on little things;
Each, baffled how to solve such plight, falls into silence.

Trains approach with clatter and clashing of steel on steel;
Tumult passes; the scene of might falls into silence.

And Bruce, his time perhaps nearing certain certain-end,
Defying fading of the light, falls into silence.

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.
Apologies for poor quality – broken mic and wrong mic settings! – I have to crawl under my desk to make a recording, which would make for an excellent photograph should I know how to operate the camera’s time-lapse button.

Poem 99: At last! A poem for academics!

See the new moon up-slip
and flare its vicious whips of light
across the back of night.
The moon bears no delight, but brings
dull rays of hurts and stings
made yesterday. It sings cold songs
old songs that don’t belong
if we are to move on and make
a fresh and novel take
in the lake while baking a cake.

To hear this poem being read click HERE!

Apologies for poor audio – broken mic.

Poem 98: On a child leaving home

All shall know a time of knowing raindrops on the window.
Storm clouds break apart, bestowing raindrops on the window.

Woven branches of a boulder river’s plaited pattern
echo tangled paths of flowing raindrops on the window.

No sunshine in this early morning’s churlish rooster’s call.
Stay in bed! The cock’rel’s crowing “Raindrops on the window!”

Some folk imbibe a fear-filled brew, and full of sad dismay,
dread the storm, dislike the growing raindrops on the window.

The cellist plays a longing air of now-gone, buoyant years,
enthralled in thought, rapt in bowing raindrops on the window.

Bruce knows the time has come for you to step from where you grew.
Blurred sight hides your pathway going. Raindrops on the window.

Listen to this poem being read HERE!

Apologies for the poor audio quality… broken mic.

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.

To hear the poem being read click 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.

To hear the poem being read click 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.

To hear the poem read click HERE!