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.


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.


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

Apr '14 16

Whose Planet Is This?. Photo by Robert Rath from over here at Robert's website.

Day 16's poem had its starting point in this gorgeous photo of yesterday's blood moon by Robert Rath. I played with words and transitions based on sound and/or meaning and managed to find my way back to the blood moon.

Riff on a blood moon

blood moon
cut noon
cup spoon
dub tune
lux tone
flex stone
vexed bones
text moan
lapsed bond
taps wand
traps frond
bats abscond
the rhythm of a couplet is hypnotic
the prism of a public is myopic
the literal and the average are narcotic
the lunacy of language is hematic

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 15

Cheltenham Cemetery. Image courtesy Adelaide Cemeteries Authority (www.aca.sa.gov.au).

Day 15 and it's the half-way mark. Today, some lovely poem-y friends and I went to Cheltenham Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in Adelaide. This poem is an early capture of some of my ideas from the visit.

Notes from Cheltenham Cemetery

Here in Cheltenham Cemetery, graves marked
with pale blond sandstone and polished marble
shimmer in caustic sun.
Simple announcements and elaborate shrines,
artificial bouquets and gold-lettered monuments
are evidence of thousands mourned
and then there are the weathered stones:
stories erased,
no traces remain.

beloved husband of Annie Sheeran
died Feb 24 1895 aged 30 years
also Annie, daughter of the above,
died Feb 27 1895 aged 4 years

It's peaceful here
there’s a resigned gravitas
like that which follows a thunderstorm
or a terrible loss
and you try to imagine
Annie Sheeran in the harsh light
burying her young husband James
and a few days later,
her four-year-old daughter Annie

and the traffic sounds die away
and factory sounds fade
and the birdsong becomes stronger.

The elements have had their way with this place.
Along the edges of the path, gum tree roots push the earth to offer up its catch
while elsewhere, the ground has sunk into coffin-sized hollows,
sucking headstones and grave markers with it,
making room for more stratification:
layers of dead
on layers of dead
on layers of dead.

Barbara Joan Heyward,
aged 7 years and 8 months, accidentally killed

The deadly sun and sharp sky
offer no relief
to the ordered rows of

names    names    names    names
dates    dates    dates    dates
in loving memory of    in loving memory of

and jar with the mayhem of
lives lived, celebrated, mourned and forgotten here
and you try to imagine Edward and Joan
burying Barbara, aged seven, accidentally killed.

Here, in the shade of a tree, a modest car is parked
and an elderly woman and her son polish the black stone
of a grave, place fresh daffodils in the jar
on the fresh-turned, dry red dust

and I think of Kilmurray Cemetery
where my father and mother rest,
on the other side of the world,
the earth there is so lush
compared to the thirsty earth here
but it makes no difference:
the end is the same.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 14

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

It's day 14 and I'm running dry. Today's poem came from snippets of conversations and sad news reports.

Sad news days

We drain the dregs of imagination
from the base of a glass
our desperation rests in a stranger's arms
our tears are laced with traces of hope
but fear remains;
the ocean guards its secrets
while twinkling cities
tell tales of the vulnerable:
the elderly, forgotten, in nursing homes;
a young boy, starved for 14 days;
six babies, buried in cardboard boxes.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 13

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

For today's poem I decided to revisit the site Bibliomancy Oracle for inspiration. I clicked the button and got this quote:

Tell me your desire
and I'll rush to fulfill that wish:
a star from the sky
or do you want a starfish?

from Caiçara Song by Flávio de Araújo (translated by Rachel Morgenstern-Clarren)

I decided to use the star/starfish question as a starting point and see where compound words would take me. I also changed the rules after the fourth line (see if you can spot the change).


Do you want a star from the sky,
or a starfish?
Do you want a sun from the heavens,
or a sunflower?
Do you want a bone from the yard,
or a backbone?
Do you want a heart from the butcher,
or a sweetheart?
Do you want a line from a song,
or a lifeline?
Do you want a man from a film,
or a human?
Do you want a ship from the harbour,
or friendship?
Do you want to get on,
or forget?
Do you want life from a game,
or an afterlife?

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 12

Today's poem is made up of titles of poetry books that I grabbed at random from my shelves. I didn't pay too much attention to the titles when I was choosing. I reordered the titles for the poem and added a few words.

What a small stack of books says

On a moon-spiced night
The shadow owner’s companion meets a
Goddess on the Mervue bus and insists on
The colour of saying
Where's Katie?
North she answers, then
Smoke encrypted whispers murmur
The circle game all
Along the line of our
Public dream
Thick and thin lines shape
Stepping stones through
Dark bright doors to
The simple truth:
The poem's heartbeat

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 11


I saw a young woman walk into a pole this morning,
head down, eyes to phone;
she lurched back and regarded the obstruction,
(seemed somewhat surprised at the interruption),
glanced over at her companion
(who shrugged),
she smirked, then continued walking
eyes back to phone

and I couldn't help picturing
a cartoon bubble of exclamations
above her head

and what else did she miss
as she liked and lol'd
trolled and scrolled:
a funny t-shirt slogan? a hip haircut?
an admiring glance? a chance meeting?

Sometimes it seems the more connected we are
the more detached we become
as our online ties sever our offline bonds,
virtual the new reality.

And I wonder did she update her Facebook status:
'I walked into a pole this morning lol'.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

Apr '14 10

In May 2013 the University of Adelaide launched its new brand positioning tagline 'Seek light', '…drawing on the theme of light and the search for new knowledge…'. It ties in with the University's motto Sub Cruce Lumen (Light under the [Southern] Cross).

Today's poem combines this idea with a story about two young girls who suffer from a condition called Xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) – an extreme sensitivity to UV rays from sunlight.

On the use of abstract concepts in brand taglines

The tagline is curt, direct; instructs us to 'Seek light'
clipped words tip their type to the Southern Cross
concept fits well in the agency brief.

As I head to the Hub for a coffee
I see all the eager light-seekers
and I wonder how the nocturnal feel
in the glare of this dazzling metaphor:
does it throw their circadian rhythms?

And the directive would be fatal
for the two sisters who must hide from light
because UV rays damage their DNA
and their systems cannot repair it,
so by day they stay in their darkened, candle-lit house
and at night they play and picnic under the stars.

I return and buckle down in my tunnel
watching, hoping, for light at the end.

Posted by Jennifer Liston

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