Archive for the ‘poems’ Category

Solace for staycationers

A lot of folks aren’t able to travel as has been their wont these days. One new acquaintance and partner had been planning a short tour of Germany and Italy last summer, a plan put off until at least next summer.

To help them suffer their enforced staycation, I offer this poem from Ladonian Magnitudes, “European Decadence in medias res” to remind them of what they are missing and offer some solace. A recording of the poem follows.

 

 

European Decadence in medias res

 

They’re cutting the gelato in Sirmione

with pure azure lakewater.

In Siena City Hall two old pigeons hunched

on the bitch-wolf’s back trickle lime down

to her teats suckled by the twins.

In the Old City they serve una vera grappa

senese I’ve always passed over at the S.A.Q..

In Otterndorf the Matjes Dutch sushi

raw herring is swimming in salmonella.

In Charles de Gaulle Theseus a clochard

begs our last cents. “If we miss our connection

I’ll strangle somebody!” I said when we finally

found our flight home and remembered I’d said it

arriving. Air France dejeneur croissant et eau de source.

 

“Why scribble in lingo 3 peoples reads?” up at “Poetry Pause”

The League of Canadian Poets has kindly included this fourteen-line poem in its “Poetry Pause” series, which you can read, here.

Synchronicity-invoked Dangerous Supplement

By “meaningful coincidence,” the day I downloaded and taught myself the software I needed to make the raw Zoom footage of the launch for my latest chapbook at least a little more presentable, a Canadian poet-critic shared he’d just published an essay on “‘counterfactual’ poetry anthologies, ” a topic essayed by one of the poems from that chapbook‘s Toronto Suite: “Literary Life in the Capital””

“Literary Life in the Capital” from Toronto Suite

“As on a holiday” launch, for your poetry viewing pleasure…

The March 24, 2021 launch of my latest chapbook is now up online: if you missed the event, you can catch it here.

As on a holiday: teaser #3

https://www.cactuspresspoetry.com/

My latest chapbook, As on a holiday, launches Wednesday 24 March.

It’s a challenging book to present orally/aurally, as the poems are all very short. The reader, too, therefore, is faced with the question of exactly how to connect all these short poems. In the tradition of postmodern poetry, such as that of Homer, Dante, and Cervantes, the collection includes a poem that suggests an approach, the first of Farnad Songbook, read here:

from Farnad Songbook

Looking forward to seeing you all at the launch!

As on a holiday: Teaser #2

https://www.cactuspresspoetry.com/

The launch of my new chapbook, As on a holiday, is getting closer. Today, I offer as preview (pre-hear?) two poems from the section “Made in Germany”.

Everything you need to tune in you should find here.

from “Made in Germany”

As on a holiday: Teaser #1

https://www.cactuspresspoetry.com/

I launch my chapbook As on a holiday (Cactus Press) in just over a week. Between now and then I’ll be posting short readings from the book to pique your interest if not whet your appetite.

The first is part of the “London intermezzo” from the section “Made in Germany”.

from “London intermezzo

The FB Event page for the Zooom launch Wednesday 24 March is here.

“Does Anybody Buy Books Today?”

“Developers” are changing the face and character of cities all over the globe, no less in Montreal, Canada.

The city’s Plateau / Mile End neighbourhood has been undergoing gentrification for years, but a recent flashpoint has been the threatened eviction of a longstanding used bookstore, S. W. Welch. The landlord’s jacking the rent caused such an uproar that locals organized a “read-in” in support.

https://www.facebook.com/events/252390853101086/?acontext=%7B%22event_action_history%22%3A[%7B%22mechanism%22%3A%22your_upcoming_events_unit%22%2C%22surface%22%3A%22bookmark%22%7D]%7D

The story was widely covered in local media, including a number of telephone interviews with one of the landlords, Danny Lavy, quoted in the poster, above. Lavy’s words struck me as so representative of a certain mindset (like those that inspired Basil Bunting’s “What the Chairman Told Tom”) I quickly cobbled them together into a poem of my own.

You can hear the poem, here:

The Developer Defends the Rent Hike that Would Evict a Longstanding Fixture of the Neighbourhood

(You can read another poem about the changes in Mile End, here.)

Hölderliniae

The Hölderlin Tower, on the Neckar, Tübingen, Germany

Yesterday, thanks to Cæsura, I got wind of Nathaniel Tarn’s forthcoming collection, The Hölderliniae, a book of poems wherein, “via affairs of love and polity, Tarn speaks through Hölderlin, and Hölderlin speaks through Tarn.”

I received this news with a mix of excited interest and rueful disappointment. On the one hand, like so very many, I hold Hölderlin’s poetry in very high esteem, not least because of its relation to the enduring pertinence of Jena Romanticism, so you can bet a copy of Tarn’s new book will be in my hands warm, if not hot, off the press. On the other, drafts of my own palimpsestic engagements with Hölderlin’s poems, specifically “Heidelberg” and “The Neckar”, now seemed somehow pre-empted.

Of course, Tarn is hardly the only poet to mix things up with Hölderlin this way. In 2018, The Song Cave issued Jonathan Larson’s translation of Friederike Mayröcker’s Scardanelli, and a friend brought to my attention Endre Kukorelly’s H.Ö.L.D.E.R.L.I.N. (1999).

But, then, it occurred to me I had composed poems I could include in this company. Like Mayröcker, my poems allude to Hölderlin by the nom de plume he himself adopted during his (so-called) madness. The first, from Grand Gnostic Central, “Holy Crow Channels Scardanelli” “condenses” some of Hölderlin’s late poetry. The second (graciously published by Dispatches from the Poetry Wars), “Ein Zeichen sind wir…” (We are a sign…) plays off these famous words from a draft of Hölderlin’s “Mnemosyne” and gives a twist to some of the themes common to Hölderlin’s poetry in general.

Time to get back to work on my own Hölderliniae. “I’m told you’re disappointed I have yet / as Scardanelli would write to sing / of Heidelberg…”

 

 

 

Holy Crow Channels Scardanelli

for Moritz Gaede

 

When from the sky bright bliss itself

Calms and quiets the afternoon through

The pleasant world I’ve made my friend

I am no more, I live no more gladly

Life’s lines various harmonies rich

With peace as who today men brightly halo

Is known, which depth of the spirited succeeds

Of a man say I, if he is good

Daedalus’s spirit and the wood’s is yours

The said, that the earth herself turns from

And perfection is without complaint

When unseen and now past are pictures

So shines nature with her splendour from the earth

 

 

 

 

Ein Zeichen sind wir

 

Like preScardanelli Scardanelli would put it

The Thunderer himself just a heartbeat cut

 

The current crashing my chronocide, and twice

Since noon the same software CTD’d in concurrence.

Arachnophobic Arachnophilia

A friend recently shared a factoid from Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson book Extraordinary Insects, that the sum of insect “meat” consumed annually by spiders is higher than the total amount of meat and fish consumed by the human population of Earth. I responded alluding to my deep-seated arachnophobia, probed, here, in a poem from Grand Gnostic Central.


Arachnophobia Prima Facie

“God is the spider in the closet”

Though having an insect’s ratio of legs to body segments is not
And though envenomed like bees wasps and hornets is solitary
A nomadic hunter or sedentary in an architecture species specific
Whose strands are two those adhesive catching any lighting
Others pull like the line on a bob
All have fangs that paralyse no mouth but hollow teeth that suck what they injected digested
Wind carries desiccated exoskeletons away

*

I remember playing in the sandbox
The reek of catshit smooth as clay
Feeling a mosquito on my head
Slapping and looking at its ten long legs
Each twitching

My parents say before I talked
They heard me scream in the sandbox
All there was to scare me
A Daddy Longlegs stumbling in flight
To me

*

Once a glisten from roof to front porch railing
Made me pluck a strand finer than nylon it gave like
Dropping a spider big as my thumb at me

That Summer they had webs in every corner of the back fence
And under eaves and in drainpipes
And I crushed them all Summer with the butt end of a sawed-off hockey stick

They red brown their guts yellow slow white
Our neighbour caught one in his back porch light
The jar misty with web the spider thin beside a yellowing drop days later

I identified it to Mr Froh my biology teacher
As a Brown Recluse a black violin on its abdomen
One of three poisonous species in North America

*

Larger females
Eat the males
On mating

*

After they said Athene
Finding Arakhne’s cloth woven
To show her family’s purple adulteries
And incest perfect rent it enraged

*

Hanged Arakhne a spider turning