Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Quarantine" by Eavan Boland


In the worst hour of the worst season
    of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking—they were both walking—north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
     He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
    Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
     There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
      Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

by Eavan Boland


For more information about poet, Eavan Boland, see:


Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Talk to Strangers" by Saul Williams

 


Nah, I wasn't raised at gunpoint
And I've read too many books
To distract me from the mirror
When unhappy with my looks
And I ain't got proper diction
For the makings of a thug
Though I grew up in the ghetto
And my niggas all sold drugs
And though that may validate me
For a spot on MTV
And get me all the airplay
That my bank account would need
I was hoping to invest in
A lesson that I learned
When I thought this fool would jump me
Just because it was my turn
I went to an open space
'Cause I knew he wouldn't do it
If somebody there should see him 
Or somebody else might prove it
And maybe in your mind
It may seem I got punched out
'Cause I walked a narrow path
And then went and changed my route
But that openness exposed me 
To a truth I couldn't find
In the clenched fist of my ego
Or the confines of my mind
Or the hipness of swagger
Or the swagger in my step
Or the scowl of my grimace 
Or the meanness of my rep
'Cause we represent a truth, son
That changes by the hour
And when you open to it
Vulnerability is power
And in that shifting form
You'll find a truth that doesn't change
And that truth's living proof 
Of the fact that God is strange
Talk to strangers when family fails
And friends lead you astray
When Buddha laughs and Jesus weeps
And it turns out God is gay
'Cause angels and messiahs
Love can come in many forms
In the hallways of your projects
Or the fat girl in your dorm
And when you finally take the time
To see what they're about
And perhaps you find them lonely
Or their wisdom trips you out
Maybe you'll find the cycle's end
You're back where you began
But come this time around
You'll have someone to hold your hand
Who prays for you, who's there for you
Who sends you love and light
Exposes you to parts of you
That you once tried to fight
And come this time around 
You'll choose to walk a different path
You'll embrace what you turned away
And cry at what you laughed
'Cause that's the only way 
We're gonna make it through this storm
Where ignorance is common sense
And senselessness the norm
And flags wave high above the truth
And the two never touch
And stolen goods are overpriced
And freedom costs too much
And no one seems to recognize
The symbols come to life
The bitten apple on the screen
And Jesus had a wife
And she was his messiah
Like that stranger may be yours
Who holds the subtle knife
That carves through worlds like magic doors
And that's what I've been looking for
The bridge from then to now
Was watching BET like
What the fuck, son? This is foul
But that square box don't represent
The sphere that we live in
The Earth is not a flat screen
I ain't trying to fit in
But this ain't for the underground
This here is for the sun
A seed a stranger gave to me
And planted on my tongue
And when I look at you
I know I'm not the only one
As a great man once said
There is nothing more powerful
Than an idea, whose time has come

by Saul Williams

For more information about poet, Saul Williams, see:


Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Linoleum" by Tess Gallagher


for Mark Strand

There are the few we hear of
like Christ, who, with divine grace,
made goodness look easy, had
a following to draw near, gave up
the right things and saw to it
that sinners got listened to.
Sharpening my failures, I remember
the Jains, the gentle swoosh
of their brooms on a dirt path
trodden by children and goats, each
thoughtful step taken in peril of
an ant’s life or a fat grub hidden
under a stick. In the car-wash,
thinking of yogis under a tree
plucking hair by hair the head
of an initiate, I feel at least
elsewhere those able for holiness—
its signs and rigors—are at work.
Ignominiously, I am here, brushes
clamped, soap and water pulsing
against my car. (A good sign too,
those asylums for old and diseased
animals.) My car is clean
and no one has had to
lift a finger. The dead
bugs have been gushed away into a soup
of grit and foam—the evidence
not subterranean, not streaming along
the asphalt in sunlight so dazzling
I attend the birth-moment of
the word Hosannah!
 
I care about the bugs and not
in this life will I do enough towards
my own worth in the memory
of them. I appreciate the Jains,
their atonements for my neglect,
though I understand it makes poor farmers
of them, and good we all
don’t aspire to such purity so
there’s somebody heartless enough to
plow the spuds.
 
Early on in admiration, I put off
knowledge, and so delayed reading about
the Jains—not to lose
solace. But in the County Library,
turning a page, I meet them as
the wealthiest moneylenders
in Western India. Reading on,
I’m encouraged—the list of virtues
exceeds vices—just four
of those: anger, pride, illusion and
greed. The emphasis clearly on
striving. I write them down
in the corner of a map
of Idaho: forbearance, indulgence,
straightforwardness, purity,
veracity, restraint, freedom from
attachment to anything, poverty
and chastity.
 
Choosing, getting into the car to
get to the supermarket, hearing
over engine noise the bright agonies
of birds, the radio news with the child
nailed into a broom-closet for
twenty-four hours by parents who
in straightforwardness sacrificed
forbearance, I feel a longing
for religion, for doctrine swift
as a broom to keep the path
clear. Later, alone in the kitchen
with the groceries, I read the list
again. Overwhelmed by the loneliness
of the saints, I take up my broom
and begin where I stand,
with linoleum.

by Tess Gallagher 


For more information about poet, Tess Gallagher, see:


Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Three Limericks: Auckland, Tekapo and Wellington" by Daniella Judge


AUCKLAND

An abundance of sky scrapers
Tiny corner stores selling ice breakers
Auckland is so shit
Who can survive it?
Airport littered with white traders

(Poet's comment: "This poem is about Auckland and the fact that I don’t like it."


TEKAPO

Lupins line the Tekapo road
A skiing town, worth a change of zip code
Star gazing, hot pools and a lake
Lets go, lets go for a break
Jump in! and join our car load

(Poet's comment: "I’ve had really good memories in Tekapo and thinks it’s a great place to take a group of friends."


WELLINGTON

The glimmer and gleam of Wellington
Living there you'd hate to be bedridden
People with funky style
Wearing every textile
Eating food that would win on Hells Kitchen

(Poet's comment: "This poem is about how I likes the funky clothing styles in Wellington and how the food there is really great."

by Daniella Judge


Daniella Judge is a charming and delightful young woman whom I met at the monthly Catalyst Open Mic (first Wednesday of every month at Space Academy, 371 Saint Asaph Street, Central City, Christchurch).

Daniella is a Masters of Writing student at the University of Canterbury and hosts a radio show, The Paperback Loop, on RDU 98.5FM on Tuesdays, 9:30-11pm, talking all things books. 



Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Tuesday Poem (song): "Man of Sorrow" by Sing Sing



TECHNICAL HITCH: Try as I might, I could not get the video to embed so the best I can do is give readers the YouTube link if they wish to view the accompanying video. Thank you for your internet patience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XvReL3wXqQ

In the shadow of day I'm feeling so bright and lonely,
In the harsh light of dawn I'm feeling so bright and lonely,
Lost the trust inside me, became like brittle wire,
The lizard sheds its skin and I don't feel entire

And in the shadow of day
when the night rolls away
with the breath of the dawn
I see my face pale and drawn, pale and drawn

Leaving a man of sorrow,
Leaving a man of sorrow

And as we scratch through the day,
I fold my troubles away,
You walk away to the sun,
We finish what we've begun, we've begun

Leaving a man of sorrow,
Leaving a man of sorrow

(Lead break)

Leaving a man of sorrow,
Leaving a man of sorrow,
Leaving a man of sorrow,
Leaving a man of sorrow,
Leaving a man of sorrow,
Leaving a man of sorrow

by Bell, Chung, Daly, Roxburgh and Scott

For more information about the rock band, Sing Sing, see:

Auckland-based Rock Band, Sing Sing, were active from 1984-1986. This track was from their eponymous 5-Track EP. This track was chosen to be filmed by Television New Zealand for two separate TV shows - the late-Sunday-night-screened, Radio With Pictures, hosted at the time by Karyn Hay, media broadcaster and, in later years, author. The second clip of the same song was filmed in Auckland at the studios of the TV show, Shazam, which went out in the late afternoon and was aimed more at a teenage demographic. Shazam's host at the time was Phillipa Dann. Phillipa also interviewed the band extensively for her Rock Music column which was published in the tabloid newspaper, the NZ Truth, which, according to Wikipedia, ceased production in July 2013. Sing Sing produced a second 3-song EP titled "Owning the Sharks" before disbanding in September 1986 due to the death of the drummer, Ken Chung's, father. Sing Sing did audition other drummers, but never found one with the right musical chemistry for the band. Ken Chung and bass player, Patrick Roxburgh, had been playing as a rhythm section for years. Pat and Ken teamed up with Andrew Bell, vocalist and lyricist, and Nick Scott on guitar. Andrew and Nick had been playing together in a Coromandel-based band called Godzilla (not a metal band but they came to rue that choice of band name because of the monster-metal associations) from 1980-1983 when they relocated to Auckland. Godzilla had done very well in a Battle of the Bands competition held at Mainstreet cabaret/rock venue in Auckland. That year the Battle of the Bands was won by The Gurlz with Kim Willoughby out front and second was The Skeptics, a post-punk noise band from Palmerston North. Sing Sing recorded the first EP at Last Laugh studios run by Martin Williams and Jon Cooper. The second EP was engineered and produced by both Jon Cooper at Last Laugh and Steve Garden at Progressive Studios. Sadly, both Last Laugh and Progressive Studios are no longer going concerns. Both Sing Sing EPs were released by Ode Records with Ode Records owner, Terence O'Neill Joyce, doing the Chinese Calligraphy (which said Sing Sing) on the first eponymous EP. The Sing Sing EP was released in 1985 and its follow-up, "Owning the Sharks", was released in 1986. The second EP received much positive critical press, especially its feature track, "Backwards", which was praised by Colin Hogg writing in the Auckland Star (now sadly also defunct). Particular mention was made of the wonderful sax solo by featured saxophonist, Ricky. Sing Sing, having disbanded by the second EPs release, were unable to capitalise on its sales and positive press for building their live audience. Pat Roxburgh sang the lead vocal on the track, "Stardust" from this second EP, "Owning the Sharks. In the latter stages of recording the first EP in 1984-1985, Sing Sing decided to fatten their sound so Chris Daly was added to the line-up. Chris brought with him a different but complementary guitar style to Nick Scott and the two traded places as both rhythm and lead guitars. Chris also fattened the sound in the studio with his keyboard and vocal skills. All members of Sing Sing, excluding the vocally-shy Nick Scott, sang backing vocals on various tracks. The track, "Killing Time", from the first EP even featured a five-part harmony backing vocal from Andrew, Ken, Chris, Pat and engineer, Martin Williams. The talented Rowan Hunt, also an engineer at Last Laugh recording studio, played the keyboards on the track, "Killing Time", ". Martin Williams had valuable input into the first EP and, as well as engineering the tracks, he is credited as co-producer with the band. Martin, as well as being a skilled drummer and engineer, was also a member of the woefully-shortlived Auckland band, the Grammar Boys, who had a major label album release. Martin Williams brought his day job engineering at Harlequin Studios, a 24-track studio, into his passion project, his own studios, co-owned with Jon Cooper, Last Laugh, an 8-track recording studio. Last Laugh was a more affordable option for independent Auckland bands and Martin's skill and keen ear brought warmth and "fatness" to tracks that may have got lost or sounded tinny in a bigger studio. Eight tracks meant thinking more innovatively and Martin certainly did that as did Jon Cooper. Both were invaluable as engineers and soundscape creators for bands such as Sing Sing. After Sing Sing's demise, a newish songwriting partnership sprang up between Andrew Bell and Pat Roxburgh who co-wrote and recorded two more tracks at Last Laugh. The tracks, "Shame" and "The Spark", remain unreleased and the Analogue Masters are presumably lost to the ether or some skip somewhere in downtown Auckland circa 1987-1990. The only remaining copies of these 2 tracks are on cassette (old-style technology, folks) owned by Andrew Bell and, presumably, also Pat Roxburgh.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Tuesday Poem: "The Thing" by Louise Wallace


I need to find the thing I am good at.
I have something wonderful inside,
waiting to be said. It has not been easy.
Spanish guitar, cake design, lyrics for lullabies.
I really shine at nothing.
It needs to come smoother than this -
the way water flowing through wood
would feel, if you put a hand to it.

I saw the cover of Gillian Welch's latest album
in the Sunday paper. Immediately I knew
this was the kind of beauty I would aim for.
Something that makes normal people
feel worse about their lives.

by Louise Wallace


For more information about the poet, Louise Wallace, see:

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Hard Times" by William Carlos Williams


Stone steps, a solid
block too tough
to be pried out, from
which the house,

rather, has been
avulsed leaving
a pedestal, on which
a fat boy in

an old overcoat, a
butt between
his thick lips, the
coat pushed back,

stands kidding,
Parking Space! three
steps up from his
less lucky fellows.

by William Carlos Williams 


For more information about the poet, William Carlos Williams, see:


Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Tuesday Poem: (Song) "New Test Leper" by R.E.M.

 

I can't say that I love Jesus
That would be a hollow claim
He did make some observations
And I'm quoting them today
"Judge not lest ye be judged"
What a beautiful refrain
The studio audience disagrees
Have His lambs all gone astray?
Call me a leper
Call me a leper
Call me a leper
"You are lost and disillusioned"
What an awful thing to say
I know this show doesn't flatter
It means nothing to me
I thought I might help them understand
What an ugly thing to see
"I am not an animal"
Subtitled under the screen
Call me a leper
Call me a leper
Call me a leper
When I tried to tell my story
They cut me off to take a break
I sat silent five commercials
I had nothing left to say
Talk show host was index-carded
All organized and blank
The other guests were scared and hardened
What a sad parade
What a sad parade
Call me a leper
Call me a leper
Call me a leper

by R.E.M.

For more information about R.E.M. see:


Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Late Song" by Lauris Edmond


It's a still morning, quiet and cloudy
the kind of grey day I like best;
they'll be here soon, the little kids first,
creeping up to try and frighten me,
then the tall young men, the slim boy
with the marvellous smile, the dark girl
subtle and secret; and the others,
the parents, my children, my friends --

and I think: these truly are my weather
my grey mornings and my rain at night,
my sparkling afternoons and my birdcall at daylight;
they are my game of hide and seek, my song
that flies from a high window. They are
my dragonflies dancing on silver water.

Without them I cannot move forward, I am
a broken signpost, a train fetched up on
a small siding, a dry voice buzzing in the ears;
for they are also my blunders
and my forgiveness for blundering,
my road to the stars and my seagrass chair
in the sun. They fly where I cannot follow

and I -- I am their branch, their tree.
My song is of the generations, it echoes
the old dialogue of the years; it is the tribal
chorus that no one may sing alone. 

by Lauris Edmond


For more information about poet, Lauris Edmond, see:

https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/6e1/edmond-lauris-dorothy

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Tuesday Poem: (Song) "Down in Splendour" by Andrew Brough

 


Hey, down in splendour
Join the slide
Standing on the seashore
And the tide
Comes rolling through your eyes
You've got no place to go
Comes rolling through your mind
You've got no one to know

Hey, down in splendour
Take a bow
Blinded in the white light
And the crowd
Die slowly in your arms
You're left to lie alone

And save your face of changing colour
And your smile of fading colour
'Cause you'll never know another
Who will give you ever after

And you shouldn't have to say goodbye
And wonder if this way is how
It's gonna be
And you shouldn't have to say goodbye
And wonder if this way is how
It's gonna be

And save your face of changing colour
And your smile of fading colour
'Cause you'll never know another
Who will give you ever after

And you shouldn't have to say goodbye
And wonder if this way is how
It's gonna be
And you shouldn't have to say goodbye
And wonder if this way is how
It's gonna be
And you shouldn't have to say goodbye
And wonder if this way is how
It's gonna be.

by Andrew Brough


For more information about songwriter, Andrew Brough, see:

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Tuesday Poem: "The Hand that Signed the Paper" by Dylan Thomas




Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Alcohol" by Serhiy Zhadan

 
The green river water
slows in warm bends
fish zeppelins
scatter the plankton
and tired bird catchers
attempt to catch
every word.


Hold on to
the brightly colored rags and scotch tape
that bind the slashed wrists
of these heroic times.
One day you will turn off this radio,
you'll get used to her,
to her breathing
and, dressed in your T-shirt,
she'll bring you water in the middle of the night.

On the terrace the left-over cups of tea
are filling up with rain water
and cigarette butts,
you and I share a cold
you and I share long conversations --
you don't notice the morning rain
you go to sleep late
and you wake up late
I write poems about how I love
this woman, and I invent
newer and newer words
to avoid
telling her.

by Serhiy Zhadan (translated from the Ukrainian by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps)


For more information about poet, Serhiy Zhadan, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serhiy_Zhadan

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Behind the Wall" by Tracy Chapman



Last night I heard the screaming
Loud voices behind the wall
Another sleepless night for me
It won't do no good to call
The police always come late
If they come at all

And when they arrive
They say they can't interfere
With domestic affairs
Between a man and his wife
And as they walk out the door
The tears well up in her eyes
Last night I heard the screaming
Then a silence that chilled my soul
I prayed that I was dreaming
When I saw the ambulance in the road
And the policeman said
"I'm here to keep the peace
Will the crowd disperse
I think we all could use some sleep"

by Tracy Chapman

For more information about Tracy Chapman, see:


Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Tuesday Poem: "The Mower" by Philip Larkin

 
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found  
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,  
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.  
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world  
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence  
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind  
While there is still time.

by Philip Larkin


For more information about poet, Philip Larkin, see:



Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Homecoming" by Tishani Doshi



I forgot how Madras loves noise
Loves neighbours and pregnant women
And Gods and babies

And Brahmins who rise
Like fire hymns to sear the air
With habitual earthquakes.

How funeral processions clatter
Down streets with drums and rose-petals,
Dancing death into deafness.

How vendors and cats make noises
Of love on bedroom walls and alleyways
Of night, operatic and dark.

How cars in reverse sing Jingle Bells
And scooters have larynxes of lorries.
How even colour can never be quiet.

How fisherwomen in screaming red
With skirts and incandescent third eyes
And bangles like rasping planets

And Tamil women on their morning walks
In saris and jasmine and trainers
Can shred the day and all its skinny silences.

I forgot how a man dying under the body
Of a tattered boat can ask for promises;
How they can be as soundless as the sea

On a wounded day, altering the ground
Of the earth as simply as the sun filtering through
The monsoon rain dividing everything.

by Tishani Doshi


For more information about poet, Tishani Doshi, see:


Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Spellbound" by Emily Brontë


The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

by Emily Brontë


For more information about poet, Emily Bronte, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Brontë


Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Willin' " by Little Feat

 



I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow 
I'm drunk and dirty don't ya know, and I'm still, willin' 
And I was out on the road late at night
I'd seen my pretty Alice in every head light 
Alice, Dallas Alice 
 
I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari 
Tehachapi to Tonapah 
Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made 
Driven the back roads so I wouldn't get weighed 
And if you give me weed, whites and wine 
And you show me a sign 
I'll be willin', to be movin' 
 
Well I've been kicked by the wind, robbed by the sleet 
Had my head stoved in, but I'm still on my feet and I'm still, willin' 
Now I smuggled some smokes and folks from Mexico 
Baked by the sun, every time I go to Mexico, and I'm still 
 
And I been from Tucson to Tucumcari 
Tehachapi to Tonapah 
Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made 
Driven the back roads so I wouldn't get weighed 
And if you give me weed, whites and wine 
And you show me a sign 
I'll be willin', to be movin'
by Lowell George and Little Feat
For more information about Little Feat, see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Feat

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Tuesday Poem: "Genius" by Warren Zevon

 


I've got a bitter pot of je ne sais quoi
Guess what---I'm stirring it with a monkey's paw
Since I saw you coming out of my barber's shop
In that skimpy little halter top
Did you light the candles? Did you put on "Kind of Blue"?
Did you use that Ivy Leaage voodoo on him, too?
He thinks he'll be alright but he doesn't know for sure
Like every other unindicted coconspirator
Mata Hari had a house in France
Where she worked on all her secret plans
Men were falling for her sight unseen
She was a genius
There's a face in every window of the Songwriter's Neighborhood
Everybody's your best friend whey you're doing well--I mean good
The poet who lived next door when you were young and poor
Grew up to be a backstabbing entrepreneur
Albert Einstein was a ladies' man
While he was working on his universal plan
He was making out like Charlie Sheen
He was a genius
When you dropped me and you staked your claim
On a V.I.P. who could make your name
You latched on to him and I became
A minor inconvenience
Your protege don't care about art
I'm the one who always told you you were smart
You broke my heart into smithereens
And that took genius
You and the barber make a handsome pair
Guess what---I never liked the way he cut your hair
I didn't like the way he turned your head
But there's nothing I can do or say I haven't done or said
Everybody needs a place to stand
And a method for their schemes and scams
If I could only get my record clean
I'd be a genius

by Warren Zevon

I personally think Warren Zevon was a genius himself.

More about Warren Zevon: