Tuesday, 31 August 2010

TUESDAY POEM: "Four Tankas for Lake Monger" by Andrew M. Bell


Man and boy laughing,
their kite dipping on the breeze.
In the silent house,
woman reads Sunday papers,
ear attuned to one car sound.

Midnight-blue swamphen,
first tracks in the dewy grass.
A mist hides the lake,
a spire rising from the mist,
bells tolling, no more silence.

Child cries, hurt in play,
mother comes to console her.
Old woman walks home,
tasting the salt of her tears.
No fire lit for her return.

Girl hangs upside down,
dark hair trailing in the sand.
Gulls dive on ducklings,
dropped from high on hard water,
their blood mingling with the lake.

The poet wishes to acknowledge the Naked Eye anthology (Western Australia) in whose pages this poem first appeared.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

TUESDAY POEM: "Elegy Written Near the Mitchell Freeway" by Andrew M. Bell


The car horns toll the knell of parting day,
The toxic fumes creep slowly o’er the park,
The traffic homeward plods its weary way,
And leaves the world to joggers and the dark.

Now fades the shimmering lakescape on the sight,
And to the air the dusk its stillness brings,
Save where mosquitoes wheel in droning flight,
Ross River virus loaded in their stings;

Save that from yonder television tower
The besieged magnate to his “mates” complains
The A.B.T. has exercised its power,
Sent him packing without ill-gotten gains.

Beneath those tiled roofs, that mortgaged shade,
Where heaves the serf in many an exhausted heap,
Each of the dole queue mortally afraid,
Whose forefathers once rode upon the sheep.

The wheezy cough of beery-breathing morn,
They swallow Berocca for their straw-filled heads,
The clock’s shrill clarion, or their arguing spawn,
Once more shall rouse them from beloved beds.

For they no more have savings in their banks,
Both busy partners toil to meet their ends;
No children run to lisp their heartfelt thanks,
They clamour for Air Jordans like their friends.

Oft did their annual jaunt to Bali yield,
Their furrows smoothed by oily massage strokes;
How jocund were their Customs trolleys wheeled!
Their cases bowed by extra grog and smokes!

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their media-fed dreams have learned to stray;
The Holy Grail of the Lotto life
Has taken free out of the word Freeway.

Ó Andrew M. Bell

POET'S NOTE: This poem was written in 1992 when I was living in Perth, Western Australia.
It is an affectionate parody which seeks to update Thomas Gray's famous poem, Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard, for the modern, urban environment that is the norm for many of today's readers.
    The A.B.T. referred to in the poem is the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal which, at the time, was trying to devolve some of the media power concentrated in the hands of only a few media barons.
     The poet wishes to acknowledge The West Australian newspaper in whose pages this poem first appeared.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

TUESDAY POEM: "Goodbye Freo" by Andrew M. Bell


All day the sky had been an empty promise
then, crossing the park,
the rain came like a visitation,
the wind rousing the Norfolks
into a frenzy of flagellation.
Then it was gone,
leaving Freo freshwashed
and bathed in a quality of light
usually reserved for heaven.
Under the rail bridge
the river uncoiled through the freezeframed harbour
like an oiled anaconda
and the train skated over the scales of this reptilian mystery.
Out from Leighton, yachts and oil tankers
rode the dolphinslick sea.
A pale yelloworange band
cleaved the sea and sky
as the bluegrey roof of cloud slowly collapsed
under the weight of darkness.
Rottnest was a five o’clock shadow on the horizon.
Surfers bobbed like seals, rising
to snatch the last wave
of polished jade
from the encroaching night.

Ó Andrew M. Bell

The poet wishes to acknowledge The Press (Christchurch) in whose pages this poem was published.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Shameless Self-Promotion with an Altruistic Edge

ATTENTION: Tuesday Poets

I was inspired by what I thought was a good idea the other day. Being that we are in a global recession, perhaps the idea of barter might appeal to some folk.

In late 2008, I published a collection of 21 short stories. The collection is called Aotearoa Sunrise.
It retails on Amazon.com for $US 19.97 and in New Zealand I sell it for $NZ 30.00 (plus $3 P&P).

But I was thinking that if there are any Tuesday Poets who would like to swap a copy of their books, poetry or fiction, for a copy of Aotearoa Sunrise, I would be amenable to that.

I have reproduced below the product description for Aotearoa Sunrise that appears on Amazon.com:

Product Description

A collection of 21 short stories in a variety of genres including realism, satire and parody. Set in New Zealand or Australia or Malaysia or Israel or India, these stories have a global reach but a common focus on humanity with its flaws and its nobility. Always, a tone of hope and optimism pervades these stories.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

TUESDAY POEM: "Blood, Thou Art Blood" by Andrew M. Bell


With never a thought for the shadow of corrosion
nor the fertile breeding ground
of eel slime and rabbit guts,
we took adventure’s companion:
the pocket-knife,
and sliced our thumbs.
A fragment of pain
much less than its apprehension;
to watch
the rubyed jewel of life
then run to kiss the earth with salty gravity.
Pressing our thumbs together,
blood into blood,
we made a symbol of our bond.

This was a time
when blood was blood
and not more virulent
than rats in Renaissance Europe.
When “Magic” Johnson was a messiah.
When dentists and doctors probed with impunity.
Before plasma was a Trojan Horse for haemophiliacs.

even the mosquito’s drone assails our mortality
yet we are loath
to shipwreck its cargo of strange blood.
The body once a temple
now a fortress.
But what is to be our vigilance
when the enemy lies within?

Ó Andrew M. Bell

The poet would like to acknowledge Micropress New Zealand (which unfortunately has ceased as a publication) in whose pages this poem first appeared.

I first wrote this poem in 1993 when HIV and AIDS were very much in the global consciousness. The world's media has long since moved on to other tragedies and disasters, but HIV and AIDS have not gone away. Millions of people, especially in Africa, still die from HIV/AIDS.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

What's Mything Here?

My youngest son and I were cycling to his school one morning recently when he noticed a bumper sticker on a parked car which read: "Bart Simpson, Underachiever". He is a big fan of the Simpsons so he knew only too well who Bart was, but the word "underachiever" baffled him.

He is only seven, but he is already a high-achieving student. This is the norm for him so he is not really aware of the opposite state of being.

The concept was a difficult one in some ways to explain. I tried to do it by resorting to contrast and historical precedent. I explained that before the Simpsons exploded into the global consciousness, American sitcoms had always portrayed the American family unit as wholesome and squeaky clean. Any child of the 1960s can well remember the American television fodder foisted upon us. Leave it to Beaver, Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, My Three Sons...the list goes on. I tried to explain how The Simpsons sought to subvert that very unrealistic portrayal and almost went to the other extreme by portraying a very dysfunctional family.

It got me thinking. Those early wholesome portrayals were nothing more than myth-building. Cheerleading for capitalism and the nuclear family.

But the nuclear family is a creation of capitalism, born out of the Industrial Revolution. And despite the cajoling of politicians and big business, the nuclear family has unravelled to a large extent. It is not a model for most indigenous peoples who prefer the extended family. It is not a model for same-sex partners or solo parents.

We need to embrace all families, however they are composed. We probably need to examine with great scrutiny the concept of the "underachiever" too. Whose standards are we measuring achievement by? Some of this "great" achievement got us pollution, oil spills, vanishing species and global warming.

So I look at global culture, dominated by America, and I ask: "What's Mything here?"

Everyone Wants to Belong

I don't care who you are, be you maverick or sycophant, deep in the human soul there is a longing to belong. It's what banded us together in caves and it's what drives Social Networking in the 21st Century.

I was recently accepted/inducted into a community of poets who publish poems on a group website called the Tuesday Poem.

I felt proud and honoured to be drawn into this community of both New Zealand and international poets. Poetry is not revered like rugby in this country, but it is surprising the number of people who beaver away at making poetry. It is a form of literature that is probably as old as humankind itself.

What drives poets? I cannot actually answer that question. The answers are probably as many and varied as the poets themselves. I humbly proffer the opinion that it is a need to communicate with our fellow humans, to wrestle meaning from the world, to re-frame the world, to look and observe and achieve a different kind of seeing.

Anyway, Tuesday Poem is a wonderful idea. I marvel at all the creative outpourings of others and it stimulates me to write more poetry which is a good thing. It doesn't get the vacuuming done or the meals cooked, but we must balance the lyrical with the prosaic or we will shrivel up inside.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

TUESDAY POEM: "And Still There Is" by Andrew M. Bell


When other couples are growing
as pale and familiar as sun-bleached wallpaper
we are growing together.
Our emotions are an expanding business
that exercises new stock options on happiness.
A wire, tubular and fat with lovesongs,
is strung between our hearts
with the excitement of the first telephone
on which we coo our communications,
well aware that we disgust those of a cynical nature.
We fight and pick faults,
but every night we clean the saddle of burrs
and ride out fresh for daybreak horizons,
anxious to be reunited by evening.
We have nothing to hide from each other
and we never speak without listening.
We build a bridge from our dreams
that takes us into the future,
shaping each unique day with the hands of hope.
And still there is
room for romance to be romantic.

Copyright Andrew M. Bell

The poet would like to acknowledge Valley Micropress in whose publication this poem first appeared.

Visit the Tuesday Poem blog for more - www.tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com

Tuesday Poem