A green finch takes a liking to our Callistemon |
already cozied up to sun & rain.
The finch | itches its beak | nibbles insects
& pollen dusts its feathers when it scoots
from branch to branch— from this distance the blooms
resemble lobster pincers | provide ample
cover & keep the famished tabby cats at bay
—there’s no Romanticism for that bird
only the rotary of struggle | it knows
no adjective to discuss the pleasures of flight |
its xylophonic vocals | good for an annual fuck
—the remainder of the year serves as beck
n’ call | alarm to warn his own of predators nearby.
& what we feed the air spins in his brain
the size of a walnut | the chaff filtered
with a diaphanous beat | the talent
of lungs no larger than a kidney bean.
The finch never reminisces that time
its brother got its head stuck in a Pepsi™ can
& suffocated high on processed sugar
—nor when its nest was ransacked
by magpies | who slurped the yolk
of its seed clean from the calcified womb.
There is no past for it to ponder |
no mind to give matter to a past | only successive now.
i’ll leave this fat worm clinched with a paper
clip to the 2nd brush on the left | that really red
one sharing the tip— an easy meal | a little rest.
To purchase Isacoustic volume 1 featuring poetry by me & a spectrum of other fine poets click here.
A new poem. Photograph by me.
Let’s call it a sacrifice
It must have worked, whatever killed it
: the drought has lost
its footing; except now, the once
named, being dead, is just that
—or a sacrifice, sufficient enough
to sate the appetite of a god.
i don’t believe in such fads,
but many do & whoever
they are, they’d speak carefully, something
or other, to this inert object,
throat like a purse turned inside out,
chest bloated with a final
breath, eyes fixed
in a manner, watchful.
Sitting down beside it,
touching its soft hair, they’d say
let there be more lives given,
that the gods are minded to stop
the weather spoiling our labours,
without petty anger, nor
distraction in their voice.
i put the back of my hand under
its nose & felt a weak draft
— whatever is happening,
it feels like an extension
of taking part in life.
i’ve been mostly off the radar this week, so much work & perhaps a bit too much booze & trying to oscillate between Foucault’s The Origin of Things (which is just now starting to make more sense after 160 pages that have taken a month to read), David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, which is hilarious especially is ventured into the sordid world of porn & of course trying to write when all that has been hounding me is a character study of a fictional character i made up called Saul Sintooth, who is an unkempt weasel of a drunk who i have plotted (among many other scenes) into an annual Dervish festival where he performs a naughty trick of getting beautiful women to hold thermometers, which he proceeds to melt with his despicable gases until the mercury drips on their fingers, then he peels off to other misdemeanours. i have committed nothing to paper, because it is such a stupid idea & i should stop listening to Viv Stanshall’s Sir Henry at Rawlinson End because although it is brilliant i just conjure festering tripe in my head, in obnoxiously, exorbitant amounts.
After that little catch up a Soliloquized rant, which may be a little hard to swallow.
(The photograph despite there being no cormorant, drizzle or Alka Seltzer® is nonetheless, where i 1. wrote the poem (though not on the day i photographed the landscape) & 2. where cormorants can often be seen, but usually in higher tide than pictured.)
Drizzle & cormorant, the tenor
of undiluted sadness no Alka Seltzer® tonic
can nurse— & snipe forage the litter
of me, find little to nothing whatsoever, not today…
perhaps tomorrow. Dirt beneath fingernails.
There’s no love just talk & U-turns.
No foresight beyond unconquered hurdles.
That lighthouse must be taking the piss;
the delineation of Biyang island advises
me on everything i need but cannot have
— turn me into a gull, anything other than
this risible flesh & shtum pulse. Parade me in
God’s own showroom, hang my pelt
on a nail & leave me to dry out.
i wrote this some time ago while staying in the village Daesa-nim built, which is called 신불사 Shinbulsa. It was March & cold in the mountain. i spent much of my time climbing up to a peak where a 3 headed Buddha had been chiseled hundreds of years ago. i really wish i had begun taking pictures then to give you some concrete-visual of the astonishing views from that village & peak & the peculiar 10ft relief carved in the Mt, but a photo of Daesa-nim will have to suffice.
looking out the window on 신불사
between the valley’s hips mist squeezes like sand
funneling down the neck of an hour glass
counting down our lives in water drops.
for now the world down there is gone.
it cannot touch me. i cannot know for certain it is even there.
& all the finches, the chiffchaff chuckling the sun up
must be chuckling at something.
& all the other finches, the bull the rose the green
in their own time come to the walnut tree
to contribute a single peck to rake away the rheum
& clear up everything, regardless so much mist below.
age added more crow’s feet to Daesa-nim’s temples
he resembles the dried lotus roots
arranged ornately in painted cups
suggestive of something: a myth of preservation
or should we say that only of cabbages fomenting
in red pepper paste, ginger, garlic & eel
mixed in clay pots a child could sleep inside, beneath the earth?
this time of year frogs reenact the biblical plague
romping in the lotus pond filling with spawn
—ribbling lusty ballads in all directions dawn to dusk
a colony of lovers busy with continuity.
i wrote this to stave my boredom whilst inside the belly of the Ikea Leviathan. So this poem has been to hell & back.
The magpies won’t exculpate us
even though we scared off all their competitors
& they alone occupy the cherry blossom
on the brink of renewal
— they’d do well for a diet of worms
though, rather than discarded noodles.
Bored, marched reluctantly to Ikea,
i consider the magpie’s greed: i feel like
i’m being dragged through a bramble hedge
: everything looks like leaves & twigs,
shelves of nest building materials; the spittle of birds
for gluing things, sold in tiny tubes; poor
verisimilitudes for sun, moon & stars.
Shoppers are wingless magpies with credit cards.
this was an actual vision/dream i had one autumn while visiting Daesa-nim some years back now. i had been guiding three South Africans around the village & up the mountain all afternoon. then i was left alone before dinner, the weather fine & my eye lids heavy, i went up to a pavillion Daesa-nim built, from which you can look down into the village below & which is parallel to Deokyu Mt. the following poem is that sleep.
it is true— an interesting coincidence or more perhaps— i am not at liberty to give a concrete explanation to the inexplicable; that is what makes it thus.
this poem has appeared here before at some point, perhaps, but i am quite fond of its imagery, which though mythic in tone, was to me at least very real, so i feel it avoids the charge of being mythological & becomes a document of an odd occurrence & so i thought to post it again.
bong hwang dae
how could i forget the day i saw a phoenix
while resting on one of the pavillions Daesa nim built.
the giant bird beak to claw in a coffin of flames,
a nuclear body snagging at the sky’s lucent blue,
gulping & belching clouds of helium & sulphur it carved around itself,
lungs like gas chambers untroubled by fumes,
it scattered sparks like particles of dust
over the furthest pine slopes of the mountain basin
each time it flapped its wings like horizontal sails.
its caw was so loud i heard glass shattering in the next town
echo through the mountain pass to where i lay
hermetically sealing my ears with finger-plugs,
apoplectic as the phoenix quickly lowered in altitude
until directly over me consuming me in its self-ignited furnace
of gaseous breath & heat— a noise stretching to the pitch
of inchoate static cackling in my brain like a Catherine Wheel.
i later told the dream to Daesa nim
of course he said, that’s the pavillion of the phoenix— bong hwang dae.
the heron appeared on Robert Okaji’s O at the Edges first time around, but i feel it was perhaps buried under so much waffling prose of mine in ebullient response to Robert’s questions, which was immensely therapeutic & enjoyable, but now i think i’d like to give the poem some space to breathe, accompanied by photography- i also fiddled about with the poem & made some changes, quite a few lines have been replaced to give the poem an alternative sense to the original. so…
look here see the heron stiff as a quill- sophisticate
:its slow footing sostenuto flight encumbered almost
heavy & somewhat awkward (if you’ve ever handled a quill
you’ll know exactly what i mean) & yet it plots easily
through troublesome wind- shifts it even- at will with steady
beats of its wing. avoids all threats & obstacles with gazelle ease
ripples the brook like a feathery Christ. still as taxidermy
it teaches like a nude figure in porcelain or stone
how to be oneself whilst on parade- rather than another’s object.
i see them flanked by sewage on all sides- their evolution
ransacked. yet a healthy colony teems these foul stench waters
outside 한림 town: & i’d read they prefer pristine environments.
i’m more like a dog: restless & sweaty agitated for next
-give brief sniffs at things- uncompromising in my forwardness
lash out from a leash invisible if concentrated on my anger
communicate with excrement & whines scratch myself recklessly
– but i’m looking into how i might become more like the heron
: evoke a clear response to noise with wet feet soft as ear lobes.