While I was up in Wellington last week, I had the great pleasure of meeting Mary McCallum - capable, exuberant curator of the Tuesday Poem initiative. The fact Friday was NZ National Poetry Day meant poetry was being celebrated in various shapes and forms around the city; we arranged to meet at Unity Books where two new collections (Dear Sweet Harry by Lynn Jenner & Lives of the Poets by John Newton) were being launched.
Mary and I had a moment's shyness once we'd put our plan in place; each of us felt a need to say we hoped we'd be recognizable in the flesh since we probably don't entirely resemble our blog photos these days. But, hey presto - there we were, like 'pop-up characters materializing from the pages of a children's book' (Mary's expression) - and we had zero difficulty identifying each other. It was a treat to also meet Tim Jones, Helen Heath, Helen Lehndorf, Helen Rickerby, Maria McMillan and Sarah Jane Barnett. Tuesday poets, all.
Yesterday I mentioned that I had a few quirky photographs to show you... Tondo is one of them. I was walking down Cuba Street in the city centre with my camera, looking for unusual shop window displays when I noticed a plaster detail several metres above street level on one of the old facades. Someone had glued a set of false teeth into the centre of this architectural feature, then painted them this rather splendid 'decay' yellow. The teeth had me laughing out loud. . . they introduced an element of humour and charm to an otherwise unexceptional, plain-faced old building.
I couldn't decide on a poem for today, so I thought it might be fun to do something a little different. Rather than leave my Tuesday Poem space blank, I'd like to suggest we compose a poem together today. If you're game to join in, please post a one-line response to these teeth/this Tondo in the comments box? Or you could write a line in response to the line - or lines - that precede it... Any random association that occurs while you're visiting would be welcome? I'll collect the lines up in the order they appear and post our combined composition at the bottom of this post.
To get things going, I'd like to suggest the word TONDO as a title for the poem.
Thanks for joining in this little lark! Have fun...
For more Tuesday Poems, click here.
* tondo |ˈtändō|
noun ( pl. -di |-dē|)a circular painting or relief.ORIGIN late 19th cent.: from Italian, literally ‘round object,’ from rotondo ‘round,’ from Latin rotundus.
A crazy image of false teeth is bound to give rise to a quirky poem -
Here's our creation so far. . .
Oh gaping maw of yellow decay
too far beyond cold to chatter,
that jaw had a tongue in it
and could sing once. Heart
in my mouth, teeth on a platter;
operas, arias, whispers and roars
pressed now in cold silence.
Mandibular gymnast, expectant
that I so longed to chew
the fat, the lean - and you?
I've eaten through your absence
(oh, the gnawing pain
of an abscess). Draw close.
Listen. I whisper, I groan
alone with cigar smoke, a bucket
fountain, feed on the rain
rust down. "A serious case
of tondo-itis", the doc said.
"It's been a while since
I've done this. It's good lubrication
for my pen!" said he, slipping
the thin tool from the kid-skin
case, "not to mention the lump
of cash in my pocket. . ."
Do not stop, tondo. Go round.
Begin again. Do not, Tondo
gaze too long into the mirror
of your name. Easier dead
than said in the lipless
jawless, disembodied scream
of myself; but is not death
a phrase of life? Let the scream
become a song. From such a maw
did Delphic wisdom issue? Perhaps
Tondo, you are our new oracle?
A surprise by
Therese Clear, Marylinn Kelly, Mary McCallum, Maggie@at-the-bay, Claire Beynon, dinahmow, Penelope Todd, Bernadette Keating, John Griffin, Clare Dudman, Pam Morrison,Tim Jones, RachVB, Geoffrey Dunbar, Susan Landry, Harvey Molloy,
and those of you who might yet like to contribute (take your time; there's plenty of it!) -