Jun '14 16


Images from The Found Poetry Review website.

I'm delighted that my 'found' poem, 'The Smoothest Place is Right Here', sourced from Chapter 18 of James Joyce's Ulysses, has been published in The Found Poetry Review's special Bloomsday edition.

You can read it over here.

Happy Bloomsday!

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 30

Rain. Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

Last night I was reading Carol Ann Duffy's wonderful poetry collection The World's Wife, which features fabulously entertaining poems from the perspectives of the women behind famous mythological and historic male figures such as Herod, Midas, Quasimodo, Medusa and many others.

Today's poem is modelled on that idea and her style. Say hello to Mrs Noah.


Mrs Noah

Well he heard those voices and I thought,
here we go again,
so he gets to work carving an ark
and in fairness the weather changed: dark clouds gathered;
at first there was a light drizzle
but then the heavens opened and
down it poured,
and with himself hammering and sawing away out in the yard
it was nice to settle in by the fire
with a few glasses of shiraz
and Hello! and Who Weekly;
God knows I was happy enough to catch up on the gossip
and have a little rest from the daily prophecies
and the heavy-duty theological debates.

Fair play to him; he finished the three-storey monstrosity
and managed to round up two of every living thing
and when it came to boarding,
God! what a military operation.
Two by two they clambered and skittered
and galloped and flippered their way up the gangway,
all of them looking as stunned as myself.

There was no broadband, of course,
no wifi, no mobile signal.
I'm no Stepford wife
but I know how Walter's wife in 'Breaking Bad' must have felt:
it's too bloody late to get off this train now,
better just settle in for the ride.

The stench of shit was goddamn awful:
the goats and kangaroos
dropped mini turd bombs everywhere
and I could've abseiled down
the elephants’ mountains of steaming dung.

Let me tell you, as if the stink wasn't enough
I nearly went insane with the noise,
what with the galahs yabbering and the lions roaring and the wolves howling and the bulls bellowing and the hyenas laughing and the monkeys chattering…
…well, you get my drift.

And then he had the gall to complain
that we weren't having enough sex!
that we needed to procreate!
He didn’t seem to notice
that we were already
fairly rocking and rolling
in a wooden piece of flotsam
in an unprecedented deluge:
not exactly conducive to the ole horizontal jiggy-jiggy he had in mind.

Would you really want your child born in a floating zoo?
I asked him
but he just looked at me as if to say
'You know nothing, Mrs Noah, you know nothing'.

By then I was making serious inroads
into the stash of wine on board
and so was he;
there was still no sign of the dove he'd sent out,
(I silently wished it luck),
he was a bit long in the tooth
to have taken on a project of this size;
had he gone a tad overboard?

The last (damp) straw for me was
when the two giraffes threw up all over the floor,
not to mention the pandemonium that ensued
when the buffalo tried to mess with the bison's mate.

I told him that as soon as we got off this floating hellhole,
as soon as I set my size five on dry land
I'd be leaving him and his menagerie for good
but he pleaded with me, yes he did, in that
'I'm going to convert you' way of his,
and I said no, I'm not changing my mind, no, no,
and then he took me in his animal husbandry arms
and I said ah, no, no, don't be doing that, no, no,
and then he kissed me oh so tenderly,
and I said ah no, no, no, ah no
and he whispered mad secret things in my ear
and I could feel my flood of desire for him rising
as I said ah, no, no ah no ah ah, Noah, Noah, Noah!

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 29

Boo. Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

I set two rules for today's poem.

Last year I used an anagram generator on my name to write a poem on 27 April for NaPoWriMo 2013.

I decided to use the anagram generator again, but this time I plugged in the question 'What will I write about today'. After crashing the server a few times I applied some rules (minimum of two letters) and it spat out 1,608 words.

As if that constraint wasn't enough, I then decided that the poem would be acrostic. Each line of the poem starts with the first letter of each word in my original sentence. The result is a sinister little yarn with an apparently bigger backstory.


What will I write about today?

Wily widow hated the willowy bride,
willed her hell; brutally throttled her,
irately buried the rotted body below.
Wary troubled lad blurted the word ‘adultery’,
aware of the threat, he wrote her obituary
to blur the oily blue of hollowed earth.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 28

Market Mascots. Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

I'm on the home straight of writing and publishing a poem a day for April; only two to go (after this one).

Thank you so much to everyone who has taken time to comment or 'like' my writing efforts. It's a tough and fairly lonely challenge and any and all feedback is a welcome boost to the morale.

A few months ago I wrote the lines 'The trees are singing their heads off / the birds are losing their leaves' and abandoned them. Today I decided to continue. As usual, I was surprised where I ended up.


Much ado about a to-do

The trees are singing their heads off
the birds are losing their leaves
the sky is growing a garden of gnomes
the air is knocked to its knees

everything is higgledy down
all is piggledy upside
the whole shebang is mumbled and juddled
conplussed, muxed ip and stummoxed

We kiss the grief that prays with us
we stroke the love that strikes us
we dance and dine with the sticks and stones
and bones that roll and break us

everything is higgledy down
all is piggledy upside
the whole shebang is mumbled and juddled
conplussed, muxed ip and stummoxed

We swim for our lives in vats of words
we relish the wine that speaks us
we cling to a hope that weaves a web
of lies and to poison that tastes us

everything is higgledy down
all is piggledy upside
the whole shebang is mumbled and juddled
conplussed, muxed ip and stummoxed

We own the leaders who sell themselves out
we give flying honours to hornets
we play with the lives of children confined
we get thin on our thousand-cut pensions

everything is higgledy down
all is piggledy upside
the whole shebang is mumbled and juddled
conplussed, muxed ip and stummoxed

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 27

Eye to Eye . Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

I was at Brighton markets this morning and I picked up a copy of Tim Winton's 1986 novel That eye, the sky. (As an editorial aside, the punctuation of the title is inconsistent; neither the title on the cover nor the main title a couple of pages in is punctuated with a comma, but the titles on the first page and in the copyright information blurb are.)

Yesterday I spent some time reading through the final (18th) chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses for a little project I'm working on. I love the language of Molly Bloom's stream of consciousness and the way her thoughts leap all over the place and not a scrap of punctuation in sight (except for capitalisation of some words).

And so, today's piece.


the way you might look at it

that eye the sky is watching is just about to blink its lid is about to close jaysus whatll we do when the cosmic gale comes blowing with the blink itll unsettle gases and those photony molecool things will go to wrack and ruin and the sky will be bracing itself and going quiet and the atmosphere will be getting all wound up a bit like the way I go when himself is getting all randy on me and the sun will be turning all still and chill and fading while its waiting to see if the eye will complete the blink and open again like it did long ago but sure the sun cant remember exactly how long ago that was how could it remember its own birth I cant remember being born and why would the sky or the sun or the stars or anything else be able to not that Im saying Im all powerful or anything but if were supposed to be the conscious ones then surely wed be the ones who could remember ourselves being born but its probably better we cant remember our entry into the world isnt it enough that we remember it for our young wans all that pain and blood and us shouting our heads off until the slimy little caffler emerges through our impossible tiny hole and anyway the sun will be waiting to see if the eye will complete the blink and open it again because the last time it did that the last time the eye opened it saw the sun into being and it saw the sky into being and now its just about to shut its lid and itll be a long time before it opens again you know what they say eternity passes in the blink of an eye except if youre bang slap in the middle of you know what and himself taking for ever pardon the french but for the most part yes sir eternity passes in the blink of an eye the blink of that one our sky is watching

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 26

X. Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

Today's poem is a playful use of another kind of language constraint: palindromes. These are words that read the same forwards and backwards but that also have the same meaning both ways. I collected a long list from here. Then I ordered them into what turned out to be a rather surreal yarn.

I couldn't find a photo of Robert's that had a palindromic title, so I chose one with a single-letter title. It turned out to be visually appropriate.


Yawn a more Roman way

Kay, a red nude, peeped under a yak.
Lid off a daffodil. Loops at a spool.
Marge, let's send a sadness telegram.
Ma is a madam, as I am.
Name now one man. No devil lived on.
Ma is as selfless as I am.

Tulsa night life: filth, gin, a slut.
Party boobytrap. Pull up if I pull up.
Live not on evil. Name not one man.
No trace, not one carton.

        Rats at a bar grab at a star.
        Was it a rat I saw?
        Star rats. Stack cats.
        Was it a cat I saw?
        Too bad I hid a boot.

Was it a bar or a bat I saw?
Was it a car or a cat I saw?
Wonders in Italy, Latin is red now.
Tips spill, lips spit. UFO tofu.

Are we not drawn onward to new era?
Bombard a drab mob. Borrow or rob?
Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic.
Do nine men interpret? Nine men. I nod.

Cain: a maniac. Dammit, I’m mad.
Devil never even lived. Goddamn mad dog.
Red rum, sir, is murder. Wow.
Name no one man.

        Rats at a bar grab at a star.
        Was it a rat I saw?
        Star rats. Stack cats.
        Was it a cat I saw?
        Too bad I hid a boot.

Gate man sees name,
garage man sees name tag.
I did, did I? I’m a pup, am I?
God lived as a devil dog.
I’m a fool; aloof am I.

Won't I panic in a pit now?
Won't lovers revolt now?
Evil did I dwell, lewd I did live.
"Reviled did I live," said I, "as evil I did deliver!"

        Rats at a bar grab at a star.
        Was it a rat I saw?
        Star rats. Stack cats.
        Was it a cat I saw?
        Too bad I hid a boot.

        Rats at a bar grab at a star.
        Was it a rat I saw?
        Star rats. Stack cats.
        Was it a cat I saw?
        Too bad I hid a boot.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 25

Save Water. Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

I've just started reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. For today's poem I chose at least one sentence from every 100 pages (the edition I'm reading has 1,070 pages of very small type). I ended up choosing 12 sentences from pages 151, 278, 316, 429, 506, 563, 589, 647, 728, 840, 924 and 1,026. Then I ordered them in as meaningful a way as possible.

To select which of Robert's images I would use, I added up the page number values and divided the result by 12 to get the average, which was 583. I then used the image from day 583 of Robert's 1000-photo project.


A random shrug

She had heard no mention of his name
She had seen the brief pause in his glance
He did not care to explain his presence
How did you find out where I was?
He was so tired of all those people
The words in his mind were like the beat of steps
She did not trust the useless young men
And then she gasped because the trail had turned
It seemed to her that she saw him fall
Men do not live by the mind, you say?
There is no way to disarm any man
Learn that there are things beyond your reach.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 24

Silhouette Swan. Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

The inspiration for today's poem is two literary hoaxes; one in Colombia and one in Australia.

Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian novelist and winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, died last week (17 April). Back in 1999 he was treated for lymphatic cancer. On 29 May 2000 a farewell poem, titled 'La Marioneta' or 'The Puppet' and supposedly written by him, was published in the Peruvian daily La Republica. The poem was in fact written by Mexican ventriloquist, Johnny Welch, for his puppet sidekick 'Mofles'. Read about it here.

The Autumn 1944 issue of Australian avant-garde magazine Angry Penguins published a set of poems by Ern Malley. They turned out to be hoax poems written by poets James McAuley and Harold Stewart as a "literary experiment". Read about it here.

Dymocks bookshop in Adelaide is hosting an Ern Malley tribute reading this evening at 6 pm.

For today's rescued poem (you can read about that process I've developed here) I used two source texts: the first is the actual poem, 'The Puppet', purported to have been written by Marquez. The second is the text of the preface and statement to the Ern Malley poems (collectively called The Darkening Ecliptic.) The poem title is a combination of two interesting images I chose from the poems: 'black swan of trespass' and 'trembling intuitive arm'.


Trembling black swan

Sleep light and dream of cream things
wait for the genuine moon
to serenade the stars;
let each line loiter, knowing
that wings teach man to walk
all the way, exposing
him to tears and sun
and poems; he will live
his tiny span of life
and at a certain dying moment –
when his little rag
of soul is falling, falling –
he will fly.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 23

Pixellation. Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

Today I was browsing the book Adventures in Form for inspiration for today's poem and I came across a footnote which said that Reginald Fessenden broadcast the first human speech over a radio with the message "1, 2, 3, 4. Is it snowing where you are, Mr Thiessen? If it is, telegraph back and let me know."

So I fell down another rabbit hole and found this article about him .

I decided to write a 'rescued' poem (you can read about that process I've developed here). I rescued today's poem from the IEEE article and a Wikipedia article about snow.

This rescued poem is different from most of my other rescued poems in that the subject doesn't deviate significantly from the original source texts; that's probably because I was intrigued by Mr Fessenden the innovator and how unacknowledged he was/is.


Is it snowing where you are, Mr Thiessen?

The voice he heard was crystalline and thin
like the air of thundersnow and cloud
through which the waves of sound were broadcast.
Mr Thiessen was indeed astonished
by the miracle of wireless speech:
prescient question about that stormy coast
and its thick and frozen landscape; acoustic echo
from the gifted Mr Fessenden.

And a man's own story is like snowflakes:
unique and thin words wafting in the ether
trapped in a transmission atmosphere
settling onto giant private icebergs;
or even snowflakes hardened into hail,
crushing and dampening a private dream.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 22

Tanunda Show Clowns. Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

I've been writing a poem a day and publishing it here each April for the last few years. In 2012 I wrote a fun 'nonsense' poem called 'Washing the hog' which I had a lot of positive feedback for, so I thought it was time for another one.


Gobbling the gook

You bimp me glain an blup me guld
to nink el seet sotiros
I bimp de flayne, your gurpy trud
we ninkie vell de leerus.

        Let's hippna way me wanti cheer
        hipp no weemy thayring
        we'll fing de naypa ciggidy heer
        an you kin ripty claring.

An you kin vane de bibbly bung
an you kin stawn de neep-o
coz win you slean I run de ween
an wan to bing de kleap-o.

        Let's hippna way me wanti cheer
        hipp no weemy thayring
        we'll fing de naypa ciggidy heer
        an you kin ripty claring.


I capta loovie you.
You manka cooby me.
We fing de sakay noo
an ripty chaky vee.


        Let's hippna way me wanti cheer
        hipp no weemy thayring
        we'll fing de naypa ciggidy heer
        an you kin ripty claring.

        Let's hippna way me wanti cheer
        hipp no weemy thayring
        we'll fing de naypa ciggidy heer
        an you kin ripty claring.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 21

The Change. Photo by Robert Rath from Robert's website.

It's day 21 and we're at the cusp of two astrological signs, Aries and Taurus.


Change

An unseasonally warm north wind
has blown up,
knocking over the bins,
unsettling the dog,
heating this cool brick house;
it whooshes away the gum leaves
that have built up in our driveway
and around our front door;
its sad rounded edges buffet me
as I take in the washing;
it carries wistful grit that sticks to my skin
and stings my alien eyes;
it sighs and sighs as it portends
endings and clearings and whys and mendings
and the beginnings of a cool change.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 20

Planet Posidonia. Photo by Robert Rath from over here at Robert's website.

This morning I spotted an ad for 'Quantum Jumping', which is a meditation program of some sort. I was particularly taken with the line '...on an inter-dimensional quest for a better you...'.

What I enjoyed more, however, was Skepacabra's sceptical take on it; some of the comments are brilliant. (But be prepared to fall into a time warp if you start to read them.)

Today's poem is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek response to this pseudo-scientific gift-wrapping and online hawking (sorry!) of our mental capabilities.

That quantum leap

I want to jump between universes
on an inter-dimensional quest for a better me,
with a multi-dimensional scream
I grip white-knuckle-tightly to the silver mental strands
that keep me connected to here, now,
and when I land with my spine intact
(in spite of subjective sneakers weighted down by doubt)
and lugging a backpack of questions
I will wander, amazed,
through the unfamiliar maze of familiar, meet
my past, other-present, or future self
and ask for advice on how to write better poems
and songs, how to play the piano like a pro,
how to be the best version of me
and finally ask:
why have you never jumped into my universe?

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 19

Simply Beautiful Bokeh. Photo by Robert Rath from over here at Robert's website.

This afternoon I (re)watched the 1986 movie 'Children of a Lesser God' starring William Hurt and Marlee Matlin (she won an Oscar for her performance). Sarah Norman (Marlee Matlin) is a deaf woman who works at a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. James Leeds (William Hurt) is a speech teacher at the school. Although they fall in love with each other, conflict occurs because he wants her to learn to talk but she doesn't want to. The movie ends with them reconciling and William Hurt's character saying: "Is there someplace that we can meet that's not in silence and not in sound?"

This turned out to be the prompt for today's poem.


Half-way house

Somewhere between silence and sound
beginnings and ends curl around
each other, blending and fending off the in-between;
lips part in surprise:
an unheard word half-forms and fades,
a lemon-scented intention on the exhale.

In the no-man’s land between silence and sound
the air is spare and the earth is mute;
your cells stir and your blood simmers
and you marshal your resources for quiet combat.

Then there's that place
half-way between silence and sound
when he might look at you
and lean in to kiss you.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 18

Preparations. Photo by Robert Rath from over here at Robert's website.

I slipped into a cool virtual rabbit hole today. I came across poet John Gallaher who posted some poems by another poet, Alfred Starr Hamilton.

Today's poem (including rhymes and word transitions) is modelled closely on Hamilton's wonderful 'Cinderella' (which you can read if you scroll down to Gallaher's post dated Saturday March 23, 2013).

It looks fairly simple, but in fact it was quite challenging to find a useful combination of compound words and rhymes while maintaining a surrealist feel.


Snow White

after 'Cinderella' by Alfred Starr Hamilton

were you ever a little skylark
out in the dark
not too tiny a skylark
but a little skylark
and the way was dark

were you ever a little skylark
out in the sky
not a big sky
but a little sky
and the way was dark

and you had your light with you
not too big a light
but a little light
and your name was Snow White

wonderfully you were invited
to marry a prince
not too proud a prince
but a perfect prince
and you had your light with you

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 17


Sticky Canopy. Photo by Robert Rath from over here at Robert's website.

Over the last couple of days I've been reading some wonderful poetry by Medbh McGuckian and Lorna Crozier. Today's short poem is kind of a Q&A with myself about why I should write at all, when so many others do it so brilliantly.

Perspective

And you ask yourself: who am I
to explore the delicate skin of things,
to inspect the thin beliefs
that puncture a hungry earth?

Others are more fluent, more able
to unravel the knotted strands of ordinary and
irregular; more able to conjure
wisps of what was known, fragments
that pray to be remembered.

And then you realise: only I
see the folds I see,
only I am in my own place,
only I stand where I stand
in the long shadow of this glittery mystery.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

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