Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Tuesday Poem: "Silent Night "

They told him he was an orphan,
to be swept, like so much dirt,
under the Empire’s carpet.
He had further to go than the Israelites
to be delivered into slavery.
The men of God would make an honest man of him.

This was not an attitude of prayer
as he knelt naked outside Brother X’s room.
This was no crucifix
he was made to clasp in the dark.
This was no blessed communion
he was forced to receive on his tongue.
This Judas betrayed him with more than a kiss.

Forty years he has carried his cross,
hoping for a resurrection of the truth.
“Silent night, unholy night,” we all sang
and then,
like God,
we were strangely silent.

The poet wishes to acknowledge The Press in whose pages this poem appeared.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Tuesday Poem: "Lament for Lost Literary Comfort"

Once I looked to the Bard for words profound;
ageless, his wisdom ran unabated.
Yet Hamlet is now ideologically unsound,
“the slings and arrows” historically Iocated.
I wept for the creature of Frankenstein,
spurned by his master, forced to roam the Earth.
But I’d been subjectively positioned in a paradigm
by Mary’s anxiety about childbirth.
I read Balzac, Hardy and Henry James
describing “worlds” which seemed quite sensible.
Now Eagleton’s exposed their bourgeois games
I find them morally reprehensible.
I dreamt of being Robinson Crusoe
or proud, fierce Hawkeye in his buckskins dressed,
but Fenimore and Defoe have to go,
they’re culturally encoded and empirically obsessed.
Inspired by Guinness, did James Joyce sit down
to see what magic flowed when he was pissed?
The stream of Ulysses floats Bloom-about-town
dreamthinkingnever : “I’mamodernist”.

I’d gladly give Woolf a Room of Her Own
and be one of the boys with Hemingway,
but sensitive guys leave their bulls alone
say de Beauvoir and Luce Irigaray.
No more fun with Wordsworth being daffodilly,
no simple pleasure reading Mickey Mouse;
Steamboat Willie can’t help but look silly
dissected by Foucault and Levi-Strauss.
The Bible shows intertextuality
says the two Jacques, Lacan and Derrida.
Judas, a construct of bisexuality?
The anal fixations of Herod are?

It’s got so bad I deconstruct a holiday brochure.
I can’t even fart without Roland Barthes and Ferdinand de Saussure.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Courtesy and the Dodo

            I’ve been wondering in recent years if courtesy isn’t going the way of the Dodo. What used to be called “common courtesy” doesn’t seem all that common nowadays.
            Nowhere is the lack of courtesy more evident than on our roads. I’m often reminded of a Disney cartoon I saw as a child in which Goofy was a mild-mannered individual who changed when he got behind the wheel of his car. Then he sprouted Beelzebub-like horns and became a devil, rude and obnoxious to his fellow motorists.
            I am constantly astounded by the rude and thoughtless, not to mention downright dangerous, driving I witness daily on our roads. Here are a few of my favourite offenders: the Roundabout Sailor, Mister Catch-Up, Speed-Up Gonzalez, the Anti-Kerouac, Toots and the MayGoes and Master Kill-Your-Kids.
The Roundabout Sailor sails through roundabouts without giving way or even looking whether he/she needs to give way. This individual relies on dumb luck to survive.
Mister Catch-Up is very territorial and even though he is a long way off when you pull out from a side road, he accelerates ridiculously to tailgate you and thereby express his displeasure.
Speed-Up Gonzalez likes to speed up to block you so that you cannot change lanes even though you have been indicating this intention since the Second World War.
The Anti-Kerouac likes to get On The Road in front of you, in first gear and doing 10 km/h, even though he/she could have waited 30 seconds to occupy the miles of empty road behind you.
Toots and the Maygoes aren’t chilled out like their counterparts on the Jamaican reggae scene because they toot their horns the millisecond the light goes green. I’m driving an old Toyota Corolla, Toots, not an F-18 fighter!
Master Kill-Your-Kids, a sub-species of Boyus Racerus, speeds at 100km/h down your quiet suburban street with no thought to the impetuous pre-schooler who may chase an errant ball on to the road. You can spread speed-humps around like chaff in the wind, but Master is like dirty engine oil always looking for somewhere to leak.
No doubt you can think of other examples and perhaps, like me, you dream of a day when courtesy would sweep like a contagious virus through our driving population and motoring could be a pleasure.

The author wishes to acknowledge The Press in whose "Good Living" Liftout this article first appeared.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Tuesday Poem: "Lake Toba, 30 June 1993"

“You can never go back,”
someone famous once said
and it’s true.
Wading out from the paddy field, I swim around
to view this piece of the past from the water.
But it has changed. Its name, its appearance.
Fifteen years on
and there is more, more of everything
but less of spirit.
Our memories stay frozen while the world
moves on.
I climb the steep stairs from the lake.
An old woman sits under a Carlsberg umbrella.
I feel foolish, but I have to know.
“Was this once called Christa’s?”
She cackles delightedly through her
betel-ravished gums
and in broken English I think she is
trying to tell me she is Christa.
I walk down the hill
past a stream of local “hello” purveyors,
but they blur behind
the gallery of faces mood-lit in my mind,
people who once meant so much
lost now in time and distance.
You can never go back.
You can only lift the lid of history.

The poet wishes to acknowledge Micropress NZ (sadly ceased publication) in whose pages this poem first appeared.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Harvey McQueen RIP

I didn't know Harvey McQueen personally, but he was part of our "family" of Tuesday Poets and was a well-respected New Zealand poet and author. So I was saddened to hear of his death.

He died on Christmas Day which, on one hand, is a good day to die since it is a day of joy and giving and happiness. On the other hand, I suppose it throws a shadow of grief over subsequent Christmas days for Harvey's loved ones left behind.

Goodbye, Harvey, although I never knew you in person, I enjoyed reading your poetry and your blog, Stoatspring. I guess God will have a good gardener now to spruce up the gardens in Heaven. May your spirit be at peace and may you look down on us struggling poets with love and affection.

My sincere condolences to Harvey's wife, Anne.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Tuesday Poem: "Golgotha"

“Ethnic cleansing” is an hygienic phrase
Which could have rolled off Joseph Goebbels' tongue.
That Balkan soil from which the Great War sprung
Still yields the crop of hatred neighbours raise.
A Pole who twists the swastika in praise
Swept Hani from the Boksburg social rung
And still the scent of frangipani hung
And clung like power while the townships blaze.

Was Nietzsche right when he said God was dead?
Now whose redemption song can Marley sing?
Why won't we see the hater suffers too?
“Love” was the word Christ-Buddha-Allah said.
Love fuelled the dream of Martin Luther King.
God, forgive them, they know well what they do.

The poet wishes to acknowledge Galloping On 4 (an anthology, Western Australia) in whose pages this poem first appeared.