Wednesday, July 24, 2013

TUESDAY POEM | The Rain Stick by Seamus Heaney

Upend the rain stick and what happens next is a music you never would have known to listen for (detail)
Charcoal & Pastel on Paper  |  CB  |  c. 2002

                                         THE RAIN STICK 

                                         Upend the rain stick and what happens next
                                         Is a music that you never would have known
                                         To listen for. In a cactus stalk
                                         Downpour, sluice-rush, spillage and backwash
                                         Come flowing through. You stand there like a pipe
                                         Being played by water, you shake it again lightly
                                         And diminuendo runs through all its scales
                                         Like a gutter stopping trickling. And now here comes
                                         A sprinkle of drops out of the freshened leaves,
                                         Then subtle little wets off grass and daisies;
                                         Then glitter-drizzle, almost-breaths of air.
                                         Upend the stick again. What happens next
                                         Is undiminished for having happened once,
                                         Twice, ten, a thousand time before.
                                         Who cares if all the music that transpires
                                         Is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus?
                                         You are like a rich man entering heaven
                                         Through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.

                                         Seamus Heaney

I unpacked this drawing last week, one of a batch I've had stored away in my little 'side room'. I'd not visited this particular image for a very long time and was surprised by the ways in which it seems - at least, to me - to speak into our current times. Seamus Heaney's Rain Stick provided the original prompt way back in the early 2000s but there's a lot more going on here than the music of that poem. It's always a mystery to me to discover the questions that make their way into our work without our knowing it and without our conscious participation (even when we think we're fully, mindfully engaged?). Behind this image, I found another drawing I'd long considered 'lost', 'gone', 'evaporated' - what was I thinking when I taped it in behind the Rain Stick? (I might post it here some time; it shows a sun dial atop a craggy outcrop - an exploration into Time after repeated readings of T. S. Eliot's Burnt Norton.) 

Life is certainly full of unexpected surprises at the moment, including - yesterday - a visit to my garden from a broody, rust-coloured hen. . . lovely! I wonder if she left an egg amongst the red-legged silver beet?  

This week's editor on the Tuesday Poem hub is Harvey Molloy (his accompanying commentary is exquisite)
with the tender poem Tika

                              "Goodbye takes the form of a blessing.
                              My family press tika on our foreheads
                              rupees into my palm.

                              Mountain-high through time and air
                              the red paint dries, the rice grains fall
                              leaving a trail that could surely lead us home. . . " Saradha Koirala

Upend the rain stick and what happens next is a music you never would have known to listen for
Charcoal & Pastel on Paper  |  CB  |  c. 2002

Thursday, July 18, 2013

TUESDAY POEM (on a Thursday?) | THINGS by Lisel Mueller


detail from Today, a painted response to Kay MacKenzie-Cooke's poem Life's Work  |  CB 2013


                                       What happened is, we grew lonely
                                       living among the things,
                                       so we gave the clock a face,
                                       the chair a back,
                                       the table four stout legs
                                       which will never suffer fatigue.

                                       We fitted our shoes with tongues
                                       as smooth as our own
                                       and hung tongues inside bells
                                       so we could listen
                                       to their emotional language,

                                       and because we loved graceful profiles
                                       the pitcher received a lip,
                                       the bottle a long, slender neck.

                                       Even what was beyond us
                                       was recast in our image;
                                       we gave the country a heart,
                                       the storm an eye,
                                       the cave a mouth
                                       so we could pass into safety.

                                       Lisel Mueller

(Thank you, Louisey)

This week's editor on the Tuesday Poem hub is Jennifer Compton.
Jen has written a marvellous commentary to accompany A Garage
by Australian poet, Robert Gray

                                        ". . . The sun had cut a blaze
                                        off the day. The petrol pump
                                        was from the sixties— 

                                        of human scale
                                        and humanoid appearance
                                        it had a presence,

                                        seemed the attendant
                                        of our adventures on the road,
                                        the doorman of our chances. . . " 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

TUESDAY POEM | Down Dulcie's Street by CB

(Down Dulcie's Street was published some years ago in a collection titled The Song of the Belly Button Man. Today's poem on the TP hub - The night I pierced my own belly button  - prompted me to post it again here. All hail to the belly button - and I do find myself wondering how many other belly button poems there might be out there?*)

                                                      DOWN DULCIE'S STREET

                                        Dulcie draws a toaster house. 

                                        Outside, a web of copper wire 
                                        weaves windows into walls, ties bricks 
                                        to fascias, laces gutters to roof 
                                        to chimney to fly-away
                                        chimney smoke. 

                                        She sends a charge 
                                        across the facade
                                        singes the white sky 
                                        blue, flashes red 
                                        onto the front doormat. 

Inside, there are no lines 
in sight. Breath settles 
into shadows, thought hovers
underfoot. There are shivers
of sound, the invisible murmur 
of magnetic fields waking. 
They shift and fold the paper 
                                                     envelope of home. 
                                        Dulcie walks us down her street. 

                                        Beneath the double light of moon 
                                        and sun, she draws electricity, trees
                                        and bees. Her felt-tips ripen
                                        fruit, coax flowers to open. She understands 
                                        the secrets of dragonflies, seeds germinating 
                                        in silent underground places. 

                                        You can tell 
                                        she knows ink 
                                        dreams in water. 


Dulcie Kirk was in her late seventies when she drew this house and well into her eighties at the time of her passing (March 2010). I did not know her well but on the few occasions we met, was touched by her refreshing transparency and lack of compromise when it came to her art-making. She was remarkably prolific. 

This week's editor on the TP hub is Saradha Koirala
with The night I pierced my own belly button
by Maria McMillan (from her collection The Rope Walk, described by the poet as "intergenerational persona poetry sequences that feature aerial performers, 19th century ropemakers and gloomy mountain cribs.")

For this week's poetry smorgasbord, please click on the quill.

Sunday, July 07, 2013


Moth (Persephone) |  Charcoal & Pastel on Paper  |  CB

T., 'your' moth prompted me to go in search of this one.

Photograph - T. Clear

There's a woman and a deity in both - you'll have seen them.  

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Buoyant and Billowing

(. . . and almost as pretty as a jelly, Rebecca?)

Macrocystis pyrifera (photo: Shawn Harper - Sitka, Alaska)


Lemons the size of melons   |  Santa Eulalia des Riu, Ibiza, Baleriac Islands 2011


                               This has been a week for citrus 
                               zest and candles, yellow and green - 
                               I see a courtyard there
                               and a lemon tree whose unbound feet
                               turn stones to moss, a random toss
                               of earth incubating delphiniums 
                               for summer.  


This week's editor on the TP hub is Keith Westwater
with Planchette 
by fellow New Zealander James Norcliffe.

You won't want to miss this one (think rhythm, music and 'qwerty') -   

                               "at night the rats
                                are bigger than rats

                                they race back and forth
                                like typewriters. . . "

And speaking of typewriters, today I came across a California-based artist - Jeremy Mayer  - who creates intricate, anatomically-convincing and rather spectacular sculptures out of nothing but old typewriter parts. No glue, screws, nails or any fixings whatsoever aside from those integral to the typewriters. The article I read today introduced his newest work - swallows. Eerily beautiful mechanical birds. With their sharply-determined beaks, soft typewriter key eyes and articulated wings they are imbued with an air of expectancy and inquisitiveness as if poised - and designed - for flight. You can check out his birds here and more of his work on his website.

James's poem with its cast of rats prompts me to direct you to a rat of a different calibre. An unconventional, 'dance-to-your-own-tune' breed of rat. Ratty is PR 'person', office artiste and right-hand assistant to Penelope Todd of Rosa Mira Books. He is also the thoroughly lovable and eccentric partner to exotic Argentian fairy armadillo, Lily-the-Pink and father to three endearing ratadillos. Hop over to the Rosa Mira blog to meet them and to read a fine conversation between Penelope and Australia-based New Zealander Martin Edmond whose essay Winged Sandals is due out from RMB soon. 

It won't be long till Penelope posts an interview with Melissa Green in preparation for the release of Melissa's exceptionally delicate and powerful memoir, The Linen Way. Yay.

Ratty - PR for Rosa Mira Books (brought to life by writer, artist and e-publisher Penelope Todd)