Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday Poem - The Silence of the Stars by David Wagoner

                    THE SILENCE OF THE STARS

                     When Laurens van der Post one night
                     In the Kalahari Desert told the Bushmen
                     He couldn't hear the stars
                     Singing, they didn't believe him. They looked at him,
                     half-smiling. They examined his face
                     To see whether he was joking
                     Or deceiving them. Then two of those small men
                     Who plant nothing, who have almost
                     Nothing to hunt, who live
                     On almost nothing, and with no one
                     But themselves, led him away
                     From the crackling thorn-scrub fire
                     And stood with him under the night sky
                     And listened. One of them whispered,
                     Do you not hear them now?
                     And van der Post listened, not wanting
                     To disbelieve, but had to answer,
                     No. They walked him slowly
                     Like a sick man to the small dim
                     Circle of firelight and told him
                     They were terribly sorry,
                     And he felt even sorrier
                     For himself and blamed his ancestors
                     For their strange loss of hearing,
                     Which was his loss now. On some clear night
                     When nearby houses have turned off their visions,
                     When the traffic dwindles, when through streets
                     Are between sirens and the jets overhead
                     Are between crossings, when the wind
                     Is hanging fire in the fir trees,
                     And the long-eared owl in the neighboring grove
                     Between calls is regarding his own darkness,
                     I look at the stars again as I first did
                     To school myself in the names of constellations
                     And remember my first sense of their terrible distance,
                     I can still hear what I thought
                     At the edge of silence where the inside jokes
                     Of my heartbeat, my arterial traffic,
                     The C above high C of my inner ear, myself
                     Tunelessly humming, but now I know what they are:
                     My fair share of the music of the spheres
                     And clusters of ripening stars,
                     Of the songs from the throats of the old gods
                     Still tending ever tone-deaf creatures
                     Through their exiles in the desert.

                     David Wagoner

For more Tuesday Poems, please click on the quill. 

This week's post marks the beginning of Tuesday Poem's third year.  Zireaux is today's editor on the hub; welcome the ways in which he pushes the boundaries of what constitutes poetry. . . Zireaux has chosen a 'clip' - a conversation - between Australian TV favourites, Kath and Kim. He writes '. . . Ideas are not what poetry is about. Poetry is spoken music (some might say written music, but I'm less convinced of this, unless we equate reading with hearing, which seems a stretch)' and '. . . I can't help but feel that by isolating poetry, by assigning it to a particular habitat, we're neglecting an abundance of poetic forms -- in the deep hydrothermal vents of literature, in the ice caves, in the teeming jungles of planets beyond. . . "    
". . . The deep hydrothermal vents of literature, in the ice caves, in the teeming jungles of planets beyond. . .' Ah, poetry! Thank you, Zireaux

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday Poem - The Poets' Birthday - TP Collective


The shyest sparrow's supplications in the early evening trees
are a careful arpeggio - each note liberates a flotilla of leaves
fleeting, indeed, left scattered as archipelago in a dew-grass 
The song's begun: feathered entreaties lift from every hedgerow, every
field, join in one great arc of beak and wing and downy plume --
brief benediction for the worker trudging home, a heart-lifted pause
at day's end. Summer's pages fall. Leaf by leaf, they shorten days,
strip bare the trunks, spill forth a concertina of split, sagging plums,
crimson globes -- Demeter's heart strung low against the blue note 
sky. Furrowed fields lie flat beneath the tramp of corn-fed feet.

The scene is set, two candles lit, another year opens a window 
through which we pass in streak of silver, burst of wheels' screech, breath
of horns' bright blasting. Inside, the chink of glass against china,
bubble of laughter tossed from one guest to the next draws us
to its warmth, the blissful promise of shared experience, swells
the soul's bright plumage. A winking flame copies itself on the clean
slope of the knife before it passes. The reflection flickers: and beyond 
the window frame, a final guest hesitates in mauve-hued shadow, ghost 
of Keats maybe, listening still, reticent, reluctant to eschew 
autumn's arias or chorus. And hear now, along the bay, 

the pulse of song ticks out again in joyous iteration, a boy kicks 
a ball against a wall, a sole finch adds bebop syncopation. Gabble, 
and its consistency of warm honey dampen the tenor, the tune -- best
left out in the tang of sharpened daylight. Shadows unwilling to retreat
stand shoulder-to-shoulder and beat the day's thrum chanting come, cold,
come, dark, come firelight, we too have our part. Gladly, watch effulgence fade,
into this gentler glow of murmured crackle and spark-fed thoughts. Each year
is gathered and falls away in a clap of digits, up from nothing to where
we find ourselves surrounded. It's come to this: the riffle of breath, the winking
flame. One is out, then the other. Stay with us, poet, it's time to start over.  

A global birthday poem written line by line by 26 poets from six countries and 12 cities over two weeks - from Tuesday April 3 to April 17 2012 - in celebration of Tuesday Poem's second birthday. 

The Tuesday Poets are (in order of their lines): Melissa Green, Claire Beynon, Saradha Koirala, Janis Freegard, T. Clear, Catherine Bateson, Renee Liang, Elizabeth Welsh, Alicia Ponder, Tim Jones, Kathleen Jones, Helen McKinlay, Helen Lowe, Eileen Moeller, Orchid Tierney, Susan T. Landry, Keith Westwater, Belinda Hollyer, Harvey Molloy, Bernadette Keating, Andrew M. Bell, Michelle Elvy, Catherine Fitchett, P.S. Cottier, Helen Rickerby, Mary McCallum.

Unable to post this year: Sarah Jane Barnett, Robert Sullivan, Zireaux, Emma McCleary 

                                            Editor: Mary McCallum, TP co-curator

This synopsis of the poem's process from Mary McCallum. . . "Tuesday Poem is two years old, and The Poets' Birthday is a magnificent way to celebrate. It kicked off on April 3 with a line from Boston poet Melissa Green and has been criss-crossing the globe ever since like a digital marathon, with all the adrenalin and excitement you can imagine it generating. 

The posts were twice a day, usually around 8 am and 6 pm NZ Time. As soon as a poet had logged into the TP blog and posted a line, s/he emailed the next poet on the roster to pass on the baton. 

I love this image of the Tuesday Poet hard at work, it comes from our own Susan Landry in Maine: '... sitting in her bathrobe in Maine, hair sticking out in nine different directions, coffee cup rings marking her desktop...' There is something very familiar about this.

Claire Beynon contributed the poem's second line from Ibiza, Spain, ten hours after Melissa Green posted, and Saradha Koirala from Wellington, New Zealand, came up with the third. And on it went.  We passed the baton around the world from Dunedin to London to Canberra to somewhere in Italy to Seattle to Auckland to Maine and many other places besides. And look what came out! A poem about song and celebration, light and company. 

Mary was quoted on Beattie's book blog last week as saying: 'It's an exciting process watching the lines go up one by one - seeing the thinking behind each line: the language, the line-breaks, where it's left for the next poet to pick it up. It's like watching one poetic mind at work with each poet acting like one of the many competing voices that a poet hears as s/he writes: 'break the line there' 'no don't' 'rhyme it' 'don't you dare' 'how about plums to echo plume?' 'what are you thinking?' and so on.'

We are once more delighted to raise a glass to our remarkable bunch of poets and devoted blog readers who come together in this place once a week to enjoy and celebrate poetry. We are a community built on trust, generosity, flexibility and a mutual obsession -- and long may it last. 

Happy Birthday! Ra whanau ki a korua!"

Please join our celebrating poets - click on the quill to visit our Tuesday Poem hub and from there be transported to each of the poet's blogs. . . 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Poem - Setting The Record Straight

                             SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT 

The stations of the cross
should number seventeen
not two times seven; three extra
added onto the Resurrection scene
would lend courage to generations
of grieving mothers. 

The story should not end 
with Jesus coming back to Life 
from Death only to be taken 
again, stolen by angels 
right before his Mother’s eyes.

What of Mary 
after the Ascension?

Mary should be shown
pacing stone floors with rage
and longing, walking desert dunes
on bare, blistered feet, twisting
silk into countless useless knots,
embroidering her loss
into the spines of chairs.

Yes, Mary should be seen,
lying awake at night, wondering
about God and Gabriel,
not praying but waiting,
waiting for the simplicity
of sleep, for her wordless
sorrow to rise.


This week sees our Tuesday Poem community continuing the magical process of creating a collective birthday poem. Please click on the quill - you won't want to miss its unfolding. . .  

This is where I spent the closing hours of Easter Sunday - Es Vedras, Ibiza. . . . . .  


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Homesick Waters

Zara Neale Hurston* - Santa Eulalia, Ibiza

I came across these words etched into a glass door on a little-used side entrance to the conference centre; easy to miss as the words appear and disappear according to the time of day and the angle of the sun's light.

My days here have been full-on. . . high on the stimulation side, with a rush of input and accompanying call to solitude for rest and processing in between. The programme comprises lectures, all-day workshops and fine, engaging company. . . forget about getting any (outward, at least) preparation done for the paper I'm preparing for Phoenix. Something's incubating, that much I know. I walk home contentedly from the conference venue each evening accompanied by the soft-edged moon (she'll be full this Friday), the welcome smell of warmed citrus and the island's stone. I'm good for nothing but sleep by the time I get back to my apartment.

This week's Tuesday Poem is just about ready to post (dedicated-if-slack co-curator that I am - and this is our birthday week ; ( ) and will follow this one. Meantime, I'm just wanting to put a hand out and say howdy. One thing I do do each morning is read your blogs while I have my breakfast. . . There are some rhythms one simply must uphold!  

Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an American folkloristanthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Of Hurston's four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. (Thank you, Google. . . ) 

Drain cover - Santa Eulalia sidewalk