Anecdotal Poems

here are all of the anecdotal poems together. I recommend that if you are interested & have stumbled upon this blog for the first time through this post, to go back & read the anecdotal poems individually as there is more to read on the process there; especially in the final poem.

Anecdotal Poems

하나 : approach to the stream

하나

the storm’s strong hinged arms shook the land like a snow globe
/ i don’t know when this happened / a few weeks ago?
/ cross stitched branches / trunks / twigs & leaves / outlined in chalk
/ the weather’s juvenile obstacle / a foot poking out of a blind corner
/ a puerile attempt to protect something . to halt .
/ i kept my eyes open for camouflaged snakes it may have hired
/ for wild pigs / snouts like baked potatoes / it may
have whispered propaganda in the soft ears of.

the trail steadily climbed / inching clockwise
& then sank like a thought become feeling
to a stream / its crowd of voices / gently / yet suddenly
/ kidnapped the pop & crack of twigs beneath my boots
/ the fricatives of sun crisp / wind dried foliage
/ even the wind became quieted by the spirant stream/

but still the path pestered with things of death
/ some trees broke so clean they looked guillotined
/ i did not want to stub the soil & free a list of bleak analogies
/ relating things around me to massacre
to hideous acts of genocide / of political lambs
bleating the slaughter of their right to ideas
/ i carried a reminder on my back i’d not become aware of yet
/ i remembered stories i’ve been told
of commoners escaping into mountainous terrain from their persecutors
/ if they weren’t executed / many usually starved .
/ a period of korean history blinded by two ideologies
where taking sides meant taking risks
& everybody chose a side / even against their will .

was the weather insensitive for shedding so much light
/ for the sky made blue as prison uniforms
on days when people died in droves for ideologies?
you’d think the sky would darken for such an occasion
/ that weather could consider etiquette.
to see the sky as nothing but a prison guard
/ to witness the charge of the weather confine me / wasn’t natural.
if the sky can have impure intentions
can water too make for itself a case of impurity?

 

두: the influence of kim chiha

the give & take of stone & water is remarkable
: the water takes the minerals it needs to purify itself

& in return hacks & polishes the stone a tongue
with which to taste the minerals it keeps inside itself

/ i sat where this phenomenon was happening
/ a stone pad bleached with sun, a rug of moss

/ i shook my bottle of fresh muju makkoli & squeezed
its neck so as to settle the enzymes down

/ but still they frothed in the bottle cap / vying for air
/ i poured a cup & gulped it like parched soil

/ the enzymes / lively as chiffchaffs in walnut trees
/ foaming on my lips & tongue & nesting in my beard

/ while they played doctor in my stomach
i started reading kim chiha’s five thieves / i needed makkoli to start .

/ how poor kesoo / under torture / blabbed to the corrupt police chief
whose words menaced like a tiger’s fart .

/ a poem that talks about the rife corruption in korea
following the war of ’50 -’53 / he was mad again to write poetry

even if he got the paddle across his arse
or once again was locked away where even starlight couldn’t reach .

/ i heard the motion of the stream form a sentence
사람이 짐승이 아니다 : man is not a beast .

howled with the desperation of a man dragged
against his interests for something he didn’t know he did

/ i tried to piss my name in hangul on the shrunken leaves
exhausted from a long captivity beneath the snow

once my makkoli was finished / i napped with chiha’s poems
for a pillow / the sun in my face. wind & water in my ears.

i would follow the stream for better company
& due it knowing where it came from & where it must go.

 

셋 : the stream’s character

하나

to ascend the stream i grappled vines
as sinewy as pagan gods
/ trusted the integrity of numerous branches
/ most offered me their final ounce of strength
so as to climb a face of rock covered in wet moss
/ or cross well-polished stones
the grip of my boots could not be trusted with
/ even the stones that appear assured must first be tested
/ as in a game of chess its best
to plot a route as far as can be seen ahead of you.

all day & night much is demanded of the stream
: as long as human memory it has been a lapidary
/ meticulous, it buffs its private collection of stones
that differ from the parched stones of a trail
the filthy stones that have been pressed into the soil.
it also tends an unspoilt arboretum, a nursery of pine & maple.
& finally it weaves scruffy rugs
/ treating them with its homemade shampoo.

a woodpecker’s pip like a metronome
/ sends me back to a pebbly beach in brighton
/ the sound of one pebble clinked against another
/ a person i just met / a friend of a friend
/ explaining how all grains of sand
were once part of a single pebble
& that the future state of all pebbles
was to one day turn to sand.
i thought this so intensely wise
& from somebody only 23.
it has always stayed with me,
came to me there / again / ascending the stream.

the stream was done with me, unlike it / my intellect is fallible.
i hoped that later on it would lend me more revelations
/ would teach me from afar through memory & anecdote.

 

넷 : the mythology of the stream

하나

i continued on a man-made gravel path .
i was / at first  uncertain of its purpose
/ it wasn’t a hiking trail
/ wending through the mountains as it did / like a dollar sign .
once i’d noted the tanned soil / thirsty / bare
/ the piles of pillaged pine / warmed in the sun / belching fragrance
like a dying man’s carefully picked last words
/ it was clear / the man-made intention of the lumber road .
yes, the road was off-white, but stained ochre
it would have suited more the motif of my stomp.

i mistook the squawking f15s for the silhouettes of falcons
/ their engines like the loud slurping of coffee
/ the peace & quiet disturbed then fading like a singing bowl.
i imagined mythopoeic village kids / bored / seeking adventure
/ trading fables & trusted sources about the f15s’ mission
/ just as i mythologized the environment around me when i was young
& often still do.
they don’t need the dull truth told to them just yet
: that r.o.k. & u.s. forces were doing annual military exercises
/ monitoring with omnipresent belief in themselves.
it seems so easy to apprehend imagination & myth there
: everything is so unashamedly real.

fidgety coal tits said wurzel repeatedly in funny accents.
searching the origin of their nonsensical twittering
led me to mistletoe / the god-head’s nest in miniature .
i am always pleased to spot a bushel of mistletoe
/ as if i were a miltonic character . suffering doubt . shown the face of god .
it always reminds me of an apothegm my parents use
: wherever you make your bed is where you call home.
it seems to me that being roguish / mistletoe has no origin
/ no place to call its own / it seldom grows in colonies
/ but latches on to any host it chances on & there germinates
/ it borrows from its host all of the vital nutrients required to grow .
completely at the mercy of chance / the routes of birds .
some judge it parasitic / a pest to elegance
/ however / its medical potential is well documented
: an enemy to cancer cells.
once dried / it brews into a tasty tea with a woody odour .

i paused to clear sweat from my eyes & swig some stream water
& noted something of importance about myself
: i could not write like this / pausing as i stomp along
to scribble notes & remedy the itch to plot
the acts & observations i leave myself open to / if / i had a companion
/ i become too involved in them / bending to what is rightly theirs
: my undivided attention to what composes them
/ people deserve to be fixated on / to be studied.
i realise this is a characteristic of mine
/ i don’t think anybody knows about
& will be as surprised as i was to discover.
it is the reason i came to this odd country alone
& persist on periods of loneliness.
i receive no essential joy from myself
/ i manage only the completion of selfish endeavours
/ to busy myself / distract even / with the transmutation of life into poem.
of versed life / pushed far enough ahead that i can feel infinite now
/ like the hunter gatherers who printed their hands on a cave wall in argentina.
this poetry lark seems the final method i have left to me
& i am mad with the task.

다섯

if only a friend / if only any companion at all
would have been with me up
there by the glittering stream / naiad-less
/ where everything pushed & pulled
but nothing moved or stirred but i
/ or on that artificial white mountain path
/ you wouldn’t need to read this anecdotal poem
/ an exercise in the emotion of place
/ i’d have just entertained it in passing & quietly forgotten it .

final anecdotal poem : 넷 : the mythology of the stream

 

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the white mountain path

i have a lot to say about these poems. non of it is very good. i am on the whole unhappy with the result & for numerous reasons. first of all, the poems are too informed by the landscape, that is, the content is too informed by the central motif of the stream, which would not be too bad if i had achieved the desired effect that i had in my head when i decided to attempt this method of composition. the problem has arisen due to the original notes taken on the walk being too long. once i had got it all in front of me it amounted to maybe 7 – 8 separate poems that were all written in lines as long as Wallace Stevens stride & maybe 50-100 lines each & this would have just been a dull slog for any blog reader & would have made me look boastful even if i could have pulled off such a feat. i think a better poet would have managed such a long piece. i am not that poet.
to answer why this has sullied the effect i originally intended is probably quite obvious to you by now: the stream seemed a good location & furthermore, symbol for a poem that worked on both the level of a landscape that a protagonist might move through & moreover the stream of consciousness that develops whilst moving through the landscape. but that is just too much movement.
as i wrote far too much & decided to edit what was already a mesh of thoughts & motion, i lost something. i think i lost the substance of the poetry & actually ended up editing a diary entry, never having kept a diary & knowing full well they are not edited, i shot myself in the foot. any impact i wanted them to have i feel is lost as the work doesn’t know what it wants to be.
the form too is ugly. i read so many contemporary poems with this sort of wending free verse structure & i always say i want to achieve it myself, because i like it; i think it is a flexible form that can be applied to many themes. i actually took my inspiration for the form from a fragment i read of Michael McAloran’s breath(en) flux, which was published at Poethead. a brilliant & complex poem. but i have just made a hash with the structure, it looks awkward, like a gangly person with small feet. i still have much to learn about the confessional mode.
but i take solace in the knowledge that the confessional poem is still largely uncharted territory for me, at least a honest, well more honest, first person witness of experience.
whilst i was still fidgety & awkward about titling myself poet & studying with the simple aim of one day being proud of something i wrote, i did something that is probably normal: i abstracted everything, hid everything beneath the stones of symbols, jokes i had with myself & character from myth & literature. this was natural as, when i was a child i hid all of the things i wanted to do & be, as i was terrified of being alienated from people at school: if they found out you wanted to be a poet, life could be very difficult.
i wanted to be a gourmet poet, like the classic poets of the high brow schools after i had learned about them later in life. the closest i came to confessional or self reflective poems or even honesty, was when using the third person, a tip i took from Wallace Stevens; who even now worms his way into my style, as can be seen in my Wallace Variations poems. those poems are really a way of exhausting his hold on me.
regardless, i am not unhappy with all of it. this final poem has some good moments & i think the similes work well & there is a little more artifice to the piece, which seems totally absent in the other three. there is an emotional audacity, while maintaining & fulfilling poetic lines that i feel are not mimicked or imitable. this is important as it shows that the line came from a portion of myself i recognize only if it comes through in poetic form. this is the source of all memorable lines of poetry: they are an absolute, pure expression of the poets mind. it is like when Robert Crumb talks about the lampposts & details in the background of his comics you can’t make that up he tells us, they are incidental; but a character is a pure expression of his, as the line that expresses something deeper rather than details of environment, are in a poem. an example in this poem of a line direct from me would be

it seems so easy to apprehend imagination & myth there
: everything is so unashamedly real.

this is completely different to say

once i’d noted the tanned soil / thirsty / bare
/ the piles of pillaged pine / warmed in the sun / belching fragrance
like a dying man’s carefully picked last words

which is really just detail but nevertheless important. a poem full of inspired lines would develop nothing & leave the reader exasperated. these moments are seldom achieved & i would say it is the reason any serious poet puts anything of the world & mind into poetic language. perhaps it is a minor form of satori.

i think it’ll be a while till i attempt anything of this sort. & now i’ve inspired you with confidence onto the final anecdotal poem.

 

넷 : the mythology of the stream

하나

i continued on a man-made gravel path .
i was / at first  uncertain of its purpose
/ it wasn’t a hiking trail
/ wending through the mountains as it did / like a dollar sign .
once i’d noted the tanned soil / thirsty / bare
/ the piles of pillaged pine / warmed in the sun / belching fragrance
like a dying man’s carefully picked last words
/ it was clear / the man-made intention of the lumber road .
yes, the road was off-white, but stained ochre
it would have suited more the motif of my stomp.

i mistook the squawking f15s for the silhouettes of falcons
/ their engines like the loud slurping of coffee
/ the peace & quiet disturbed then fading like a singing bowl.
i imagined mythopoeic village kids / bored / seeking adventure
/ trading fables & trusted sources about the f15s’ mission
/ just as i mythologized the environment around me when i was young
& often still do.
they don’t need the dull truth told to them just yet
: that r.o.k. & u.s. forces were doing annual military exercises
/ monitoring with omnipresent belief in themselves.
it seems so easy to apprehend imagination & myth there
: everything is so unashamedly real.

fidgety coal tits said wurzel repeatedly in funny accents.
searching the origin of their nonsensical twittering
led me to mistletoe / the god-head’s nest in miniature .
i am always pleased to spot a bushel of mistletoe
/ as if i were a miltonic character . suffering doubt . shown the face of god .
it always reminds me of an apothegm my parents use
: wherever you make your bed is where you call home.
it seems to me that being roguish / mistletoe has no origin
/ no place to call its own / it seldom grows in colonies
/ but latches on to any host it chances on & there germinates
/ it borrows from its host all of the vital nutrients required to grow .
completely at the mercy of chance / the routes of birds .
some judge it parasitic / a pest to elegance
/ however / its medical potential is well documented
: an enemy to cancer cells.
once dried / it brews into a tasty tea with a woody odour .

i paused to clear sweat from my eyes & swig some stream water
& noted something of importance about myself
: i could not write like this / pausing as i stomp along
to scribble notes & remedy the itch to plot
the acts & observations i leave myself open to / if / i had a companion
/ i become too involved in them / bending to what is rightly theirs
: my undivided attention to what composes them
/ people deserve to be fixated on / to be studied.
i realise this is a characteristic of mine
/ i don’t think anybody knows about
& will be as surprised as i was to discover.
it is the reason i came to this odd country alone
& persist on periods of loneliness.
i receive no essential joy from myself
/ i manage only the completion of selfish endeavours
/ to busy myself / distract even / with the transmutation of life into poem.
of versed life / pushed far enough ahead that i can feel infinite now
/ like the hunter gatherers who printed their hands on a cave wall in argentina.
this poetry lark seems the final method i have left to me
& i am mad with the task.

다섯

if only a friend / if only any companion at all
would have been with me up
there by the glittering stream / naiad-less
/ where everything pushed & pulled
but nothing moved or stirred but i
/ or on that artificial white mountain path
/ you wouldn’t need to read this anecdotal poem
/ an exercise in the emotion of place
/ i’d have just entertained it in passing & quietly forgotten it .

 

 

3rd anecdotal poem : 셋 : the stream as character

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the stream in person

 

 

*if you don’t want to be bored by some bad attempt at an exposition on my intention & what a poem is, skip ahead to the poem.

after the 3rd or 4th time visiting the stream it started to reveal more & more. it unfurled its history through the details of its influence upon the environment. a geologist would gather this insight immediately but i am not one, & of no particular talent. so i learn through a poetic seeing; which is another way of seeing that probably isn’t right but nevertheless exists as a paragon of some sort that can be followed with some success & little harm to thinking. the world must first stand out for me, must court me with its beauty, must tug my gaze like a flame tugs the attention of the moth. it is much like what Theodore Roethke does in his childish & more playful poems, which read like a series of childish questions about the world; Dylan Thomas does something remarkably similar.
it is not a productive way of going about things, it delivers nothing of value… the stream does not do what i say it does, it is not a character, so what is it that draws us to doing this, not just to streams but animals & even objects? its genesis came & (continues even more so) comes from the egocentric hold over the world we believe we have, which is deeply conditioned in us as its self anointed proprietors & began from the moment we commanded a flame from a branch or a seed into fruit or flower.
we gave godly appellations to the produce of nature, we claimed that which sustained us, developed myths to give further credibility to its nursing of our wants. this evolved into personification on multiple levels & we see it now with disney & children’s cartoons.
when we personify something natural we are binding our self with nature, cohabiting not only physical but also mental space, a sort of contagious magic (in the Frazerean sense). you can see an untranslated version of this if you watch somebody take in a spectacular view, they pause & note everything they are seeing, it is the beauty of it they might say, but there is that additional emotion, which is registered, leaves an imprint, but goes unchallenged, it remains only that sense of something beyond us; if they probed they might discover that it is the landscape, the beauty of the natural world of what it means to our survival that is so much entwined with them that they are confronted with a sensation that is difficult to articulate; it the same as tryin to describe love- it is impossible to get to the core of the emotion. this is where art & the poem come in: the poem is a very precise expression of the self manifesting itself into a pantheistic paradigm, it is this sensation attempting to break our silence & becoming.

this is what i think i’ve done & then tried to articulate my self cleverly by giving some gaudy explanation. you should have took my advice at the beginning.

 

 

셋 : the stream’s character

하나

to ascend the stream i grappled vines
as sinewy as pagan gods
/ trusted the integrity of numerous branches
/ most offered me their final ounce of strength
so as to climb a face of rock covered in wet moss
/ or cross well-polished stones
the grip of my boots could not be trusted with
/ even the stones that appear assured must first be tested
/ as in a game of chess its best
to plot a route as far as can be seen ahead of you.

all day & night much is demanded of the stream
: as long as human memory it has been a lapidary
/ meticulous, it buffs its private collection of stones
that differ from the parched stones of a trail
the filthy stones that have been pressed into the soil.
it also tends an unspoilt arboretum, a nursery of pine & maple.
& finally it weaves scruffy rugs
/ treating them with its homemade shampoo.

a woodpecker’s pip like a metronome
/ sends me back to a pebbly beach in brighton
/ the sound of one pebble clinked against another
/ a person i just met / a friend of a friend
/ explaining how all grains of sand
were once part of a single pebble
& that the future state of all pebbles
was to one day turn to sand.
i thought this so intensely wise
& from somebody only 23.
it has always stayed with me,
came to me there / again / ascending the stream.

the stream was done with me, unlike it / my intellect is fallible.
i hoped that later on it would lend me more revelations
/ would teach me from afar through memory & anecdote.

absenteeism

i am going to be taking a couple of weeks off from blogging to tom foolery with what is at the moment a raggedy hoard of fragments that are in need of dandling. i’m taking a little holiday to visit a monk friend of mine in the mountains of mainland Korea & have a spring clean of the pile of poems i have at various stages of completion, from barely an apothegm to in need of tweaks, & hopefully into something more cohesive & relevant after a long period of 7 day weeks & trying to edit work in a little notepad, between duties & kip.

if anyone does actually read this blog i hope you will return to reading after my absence & that i can return with something you may find worthy of time, thought & energy.

regards

daniel

ask & you shall receive

i never thought i’d do this: i suppose i always assumed it wasn’t the done thing, that unspoken act that makes people wince within, but is essentially harmless, maybe even sensible; perhaps i am entirely incorrect & have not made an accurate judgement about people, very probable- i dearly hope i have been wrong.
i haven’t wanted anything for a long time. nothing at all. not an item i can possess or a goal i can progress toward. i have a very simple life, i don’t have a bank account, well i do but it has been dormant & full of spider webs for two years now. i work maddeningly hard, seven days at the guesthouse i built. i sleep in a laundry room as i have no house of my own. i cook the guests’ brekkie every morning & wash bed quilts & hoover & scrub & smile; & all the while i do this like an automaton, i think of poetry, of how i can make this life a long poem, how i can alter my perceptions into a poem.
So i need help: i don’t know about the industry, the etiquette, what magazines might be interested in my work, how best to address the magazine & the manner in which i should present myself. All i know is that after a long period of self evaluation & fastidious critique on myself; after writing & studying poetry seriously for about 8 years & a having spent my childhood secretly admiring & fantasizing about the poet, i want a readership, i want to be a poet, i want to see my work in print.
Quite honestly, this has never really interested me. i wrote the poems to learn about how the mind processes learning into a literary form. i always wrote poems because of the rarity of the world becoming a poem, as Wallace Stevens told us. Moreover, i knew my work was still shoddy, unkempt & naive. i think turning 30 has been the smack in the gob that has made me want to do this.
So i am asking people to help me. if you read a couple of my poems & know a magazine suited to my work then let me know, if you know a contact or anything at all, or just some general advice, anything would be appreciated; however, i’d rather not be encouraged, as it is ultimately useless to me, i have already spurned my will to act, i have done away with my apathy, i need some good solid help, something i can work with; please don’t take this the wrong way, i am just not comfortable with its function.

i’ll take this opportunity to thank the few people who have strayed into my blog. Much obliged to you.

about daniel paul marshall

i still haven’t wrote one of these things as i find them very difficult to write; so i shall pare this back like the peeling of an onion to its naked core.
i don’t write for a living but i take it very serious. the act of writing & the progression to a completed poem, its podginess prodded into a meaning & form is a marvellous thing. as Wallace Stevens said, it isn’t everyday the world composes itself into a poem. thus it is a moment of chaos becoming intelligible; this is worthy of a pause for thought & as suitable a reason as any to write a poem.

i live on an island called jeju, a self governing province off the south coast of korea; i’m not korean though, i am english. i run a guesthouse & cafe that i built with my wife.

these days, reading a fair sum of korean poetry in its original with the aid of a good translation, i have begun to borrow its form & function; the direct treatment of emotions & things witnessed.
however, i do enjoy developing narratives & imagine all sorts of daftness; so you will find various projects all on going here.
i’m certainly more a person who walks & works in oscillations, like coleridge, i don’t walk in straight lines next to wordsworth. this means i do spread myself too finely over distances, but i’m in no rush. welcome.

Meanwhile in Paradise Lost

 

Meanwhile in Paradise Lost

Meanwhile… in the untidy bed of Godly God
& yawning out into his bugger-up empyrean
of jazz trombonist angels, seraph, cherubim & pissed up souls
bee bopping on a halo of heavenly arpeggios
an infinite hour of that celestial council estate
— immense disorder : the pearly gates got torn down after

the “we’re full” sign stirred disquiet n’ disgust
among the mob of them arriving off the boat of Radamanthus.
Boarded up clouds, become a common feature in the skies of heaven
the housing bubble popped, now everyone has sod off to Fiery Fields
since Hades got the fire brigade to put the flames of hell to heel
—now property booms, with jovial tenants, beside the Styx n’ Lethe.

& therefore Godly God took desperate measures thus
: Him gave prosthetic genitals to the angelic court & how
they caw with strepent, plastic grunts, a sex trade booms
& over abundant tacky things that glow in darkness, overpriced
novelty chocolate people on a stick that taste like shit
for them that suffer with a homesickness, are sold

—& signed photographs of famous saints posing naked on a cloud
& i-phone cases with heroic snaps of Godly God
& jig saw puzzles of memories from someone’s time on Earth
& manna spiked with ecstasy in Open All Day techno clubs
& scuffles between angel gangs & seraph gangs
after they drank them saft with rum n’ milk

—& all condoned by Godly God the chief
of misbehaviour, Boris Yeltsined ceaselessly shagging his hand
unwashed & making marionettes of how we was a long gone past
& often Oojoo forced to puncture notches in his bloating belt.
He made compulsory reading all Gershon Legman
& L. Ron Hubbard’s books & distributed them

with forewords he himself wrote on peyote & White Lightning.
In good society he lets his tongue run rude & wild
tells racist jokes, brags about the days of plague he brought
& slaps in half them that enquire if not that Satan’s job.
Done sent the letter did thee Oojoo lad?
Like a good eunuch Oojoo awkward nods & shuffles out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie’s Recurring Dream

 

Charlie’s Recurring Dream

That bastard dream of griefing took my nerves!
Sprang Charlie gave after a sealish yelp
: a mom, his mom, who stuffed him in a plastic box
settles his tub onto a quiet sea of night, swabbed by dark wind
& he is drift away, away from she’s tearful jerk.

& drifts him, drift & knows he drifts
his infant body crammed with adult worry knows
it drifts n’ drifts n’ drifts in blindly to the night arms of sea.

& on a foreign shore still warped by night of sea
is found by faces stole by blurs
& wakes into the cycle once? // splish splash… 

Birth of Charlie ‘Tatterdemalion’ Malurkey

 

 

This is the often bizarre, worldly misadventures of Charlie Malurkey— orphan. divinely appointed to be the butt of the joke. the modern jester-against-his-will. Godly God’s puppet. the bringer of laughter. the idiot. in equal measure Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin : Harpo Marx : Charlie Kelly. Broca’s Area all shambles beyond repair & Godly God the Culpable. here you’ll find Dashiell Hammett style noire detectives with club foots & odd childhoods. a form of government Hades-bent on destroying any trace of traditional culture. a militant group rampaging the streets murdering any who show signs of none conformity to the Ultra Modern agenda, backed by the new Uber-Modern Party (UMP). a psychological ailment gripping the populace called P.A.N. (Psycho Anachronistic Neuroses) an epidemic, which makes people believe they are personages from our history books, with only theories as to the root cause. Jesus Army weirdos kidnapping the dispossessed with warm cots, ham / tomato sandwiches, breakfast cereals & sinister magnanimity. so much to come.

i was going to make it a straight narrative. but i feel a sort of pulp fiction approach may be best. i have so many of the poems written i will just put episodes on at whim & let you connect the dots.

all of the idiom, scansion, language is sic. there are no mistakes, everything is written as it should be. for this reason, reading should be done carefully so as not to miss the changes in voice. symbols, meaning everything here is geared toward a fully integrated environment for which everything is self contained toward the form & function— there are no accidents here. you may interpret of course, but be cautious not to misunderstand. Charlie is not to be misunderstood. he has enough of that with himself.

 

Birth of Charlie

In Rainbow Hospital, midnight of an alcoholic moon
— had moon beams these long years building to this boy
been slyly growing inebriate on finest Scrumpy Jack?
Night took the shade of rum.
Foreshadowed : his birth in the night thoughts of his mom
who suffered no labour pains : him popped out like satori
: Godly God lemmings are be them both. a Danae to him lustier than Zeus.
The counterfeit of the ecclesiastical him shall not be
but tatterdemalion of awokeness
for gyred-in-the-mire of will-strung-effort: man
who antiquity maket a modem psychological carnage
—shall him of brave & noble silliness to come
alter the creative cock up of Godly God
to be emollient of this tragedy am need
all done in his own mercy of the idiot divine.
Before the Order of the Tonsured could pay their respects
his mom had scarpered with her swaddled babe.

‘Week’ a 7 Day Poem

japan wanderer

This week has been a hive of activity: jotting down themes & sponging of my inadequate brain stem, hoping to brachiate from a germ to the tipsiest tip of the topmost canopy. I have taken the uncommon introspection of my self, that which makes me laugh, my own actions, that which has happened to me & thread them into a series of poems, mangled & jagged in their free verse form. I have chosen this form because I love its use in Robert Lowell’s ‘Life Studies’, moreover, when you have the limit of a week & annex to this 29 years of having never written a single conscious word about yourself, vers libre seems a sensible form to take.

Not all of these poems will be good in your individual opinions, but I have discovered from a friend that the audience is incidental in art, that is what we enjoy about it. To concern yourself with pleasing everyone doesn’t seem to be the purpose: if you write truthfully & the writing has some value, it will root out an audience by the volition of its substance. This is to give art a form of consciousness, I am comfortable with that. But that is not a predetermined excuse for the evasion of criticism, I would welcome a learning process from this hallowed ground which I do not yet feel comfortable invading with my lumpy steps. The first leap of faith has been made, I have overcome my abhorrence of the use of a pronoun, ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘mine’ & ‘me’ are valuable now, as I become ever more determined to probe my valuable assessments of life. I am not ignorant, this has been championed innumerable times, however, if it is not felt directly then it cannot be of any validity to a person; I have made my peace with this method as T.S. Eliot made peace with his past criticisms of Whitman.

Without further ado, ‘Week’:

Killing Time

With time to kill that which I must kill,
I decide to butcher the hours and minutes
with observations
& a self-imposed quest to find.
I wander aimlessly from A to B…
I find each letter much the same;-
watching: always dimensional,
ubiquitous-
we’re at no disadvantage then.
Sun feeds the dramas of this wintry Saturday
: a plump girl much devoted
straddles her lover’s back,
it would look good in black & white,
cue a dove, white as rice, I kid you not,
passing behind them, beyond their sight,
I see
& understand the depth of the coincidence.

Beside a placid stream this happens to the world,
I above, elbows against the railings of a bridge,
adjoining east with west.
They must configure thoughts,
evolve, inch by inch, plan,
divert themselves down different paths-
they have every right, to the Idealists.

Their devotion feeds me well, I think
: it teaches me a seldom way
: if I were more like them I’d be a firmer man.
More… much more besides is going on,
but yet i’m ill-informed for observation-
if only I were Atlas eyed.
I hope a vicissitude as I stroll away,
dove & lovers punctured in my thought
as I alight the train- a Confessional ponder.

The Soldiers Outside the KTX Terminal

Their boots do not make chunky sounds
on the tarmac,
futile to trust their camouflage
they are exposed;
their smiles aren’t dreadful, even duteous
they cannot be.

Happy to consume
I don’t lay blame-
their blistered feet must be consoled
& if offering gifts to lovers
consoles then give away chaps
& have them blisters fussed about.

The Act of Seeing

I saw today
I saw the happy ancestors of a volcanic belch
I saw a salty seasoned west wind lift the litter of winter and toss it about
I saw a bare tree in a cylindrical cage
I saw cars parked like the progress of man
I saw an old book, helpful & broken
I saw scoria & granite in the service of man
I saw objections to petty debates
I saw no questions asked again & again
I saw signposts that no one will read
I saw islands grown out of the weeds of the sea
I saw wedding bells clang in the eyes of young women
I saw toupees fly free of old heads
I saw science obscuring the view of tea fields
I saw rusted machinery far beyond repair, fish heads & news
I saw Confucian inhibitions, porn stars & a lighthouse
I saw a surplus of people without much to do
I saw numerous bored faces with babes in their arms
I saw nobody thinking
I saw most people fretting
I saw soft features salvage their hard shadow
I saw flames make an alphabet
I saw discarded boxes, hounds & skin cream
I saw people breathe conditioned air beside logs shaped like prisms
I saw a corpulent man sip health drinks whilst he waits for the train
I saw ancient place names used by a business for profit
I saw ancestral idols in Santa Claus costume
I saw an old temple buckle midst a cluster of homes
I saw stray dogs at play on the beach in the morning
I saw old & young alike consider the sea
I saw shampoo attempt to lather the spoils of the sea
I saw a young child come out of a chemist
I saw mackerel, abalone, octopus & bream in a tank prepared for lunch
I saw seagulls hover above the wake of our boat as we sailed to a lonely isle
I saw a ship in repair as I sailed after Delos
I saw the sun form a path on the sea to the land
I saw a one track mind disagree with a crossroads
I saw the wonder of life as the consequence of man
I saw from afar what I’d only known up close
I saw green plants sprout in the cracks of black rock stretching away from the land
I saw clumps of spongy seaweed that slurped my feet
I saw an isle populace of black sea birds waiting for fish to leap the folds of the sea
I saw rubbish bash the fringe of a beautiful place
I saw wondrous patterns of grime in toilet bowls
I saw a lost sandal tangled in tendrils of seaweed
I saw abstract stone sculptures in the image of ghosts
I saw between two mirrors in an elevator going up my own infinitude
I saw our blindness when two perfumed girls ignored the mirror

Philip Larkin’s Stroll

Since seeing Philip Larkin in an old
BBC video, I have promised
to write what I do
& to write what I see.
For Larkin whilst ambling around an old church
in Hull, compelled me with
the indeeds of his qualities
: “bald, uninformed” he said
& I associate with all of that;
he wrote prolific though
: documenting his sightings and attempts to understand.

 

The Pilots of the Sand

My black furred pointer, white chested,
two male, one brown & one white, jindos;
scruffy strays & already chums,
in natural playfulness chase one another
along the wind rippled white sand
pouncing, paws up, evasive like spitfires-
manoeuvring circles only they see, fake bites,
hinds scud, topple torsos, gambolling
into a trot & repeat-
(they sniff her maturity & find it lacking,
she’ll just be a chum)
sudden push ahead to the foamy shore,
placid beyond the splash of the tidal humpf
as fast as their four legs will carry them
: could be an advertisement for equality.

Dawn

I rose early, before the sun,
slipped on my dirty work jeans
in poor light,
pulled on my paint mottled granddad-shirt-
green with white freckles-
ate steamed rice, kimchi, a spoonful or two of soup;
then fed the dog & sat with her awhile,
stroking her cold fur
& waited for the sun to bob up, buoy of the day,
it came, from behind the mountain,
same old sun.

Altercation

Waiting for the boat,
with nothing but the island breeze
& brochure view to keep me entertained-
I won’t sit in the piss-stained waiting room,
so take a nap on the sea wall.
I don’t dream,
though lullaby ocean shushes
against the islands scoria .torso.
I wake, two curious local girls,
intrepidly inch closer to gawp
at my bearded face, my round brown eyes
& fatter nose.
There is a TV in the sea, bashing against the rocks,
adrift-
(my wife explains it came from a Chinese ship)
I flick through the channels, but nothing on as usual.
The sun comes out
everyone sighs with noticeable relief.

Beer

The froth of the waves
like a good heady beer
makes me want to dive in

How It Works

The thud of the rain on the truck
can transpose itself to something else
: a boxer’s jaw, butter fingers,
an angered door, bang whollop,
it’s more than onomatopoeia,
you could go on
: it makes us quite exceptional,
that is the matter of us
– we mimic we do;
our cargo may not be a goddess,
more tangible, flesh & bone-

these days I have so much reality
to learn
it often makes my seeing seem illusory.

Oranges Oranges Everywhere

Oranges, oranges, everywhere
– where I live there are more orange trees
than lines of Shakespeare’s verse.
I read in them a like
amount of fortitude & worthiness;
but there’s no vitamin C in poetry.

However, tonight I’ll read the bard,
not eat or think of orange trees.

Twang

A twang of tired unbuttons me,
I want my conscience
but the labours of the day
are stealing content
ripening the stiffness of my limbs
for lying down and dozing;
I will give up soon to zzzzzz’s.

Samdasoo spring water

The outdoor tap
a stone’s throw from our house
supplies us with crisp spring water.
Each morning before the farmer starts his day-
two plastic bottles up to task
I fill to the brim
-he doesn’t appreciate my theft,
but I must boil my bean soup with shepherd’s purse
using only that clear draught,
my bones & skin will tolerate the weather well if so;
the water makes my tea a deeper amber shade.

I note the lemons on the table, firm in form,
they deserve a mention.

An Anxiety

I always fear
I will be late
I am
excessive punctual
: I dream this worry too
– I’ll try to be late today,
but I’m already here.

The Table

Cartons of black bean soy milk
beside steamed fruit cake, Japanese style
on top of Joyce’s Ulysses face down
beside a bunch of canola flowers in a jam jar
in front of a magnolia candle
behind which are white mugs filled with stationary
beside which are tiny vials of oils and anti-wrinkle cream
on top of Korean poetry books I vaguely understand
60W light-bulbs, strawberry jam, vitamin supplements, a lamp
& plastic containers bursting with stinky cabbage & green onion kimchi
wet wipes, chewing gum, napkins & honey roast peanuts
scattered about my table.

The Mermaids with Feet

The mermaids of Jeju: Haenyo
– I spotted, tied to red buoys & nets they use for baskets,
diving like mallards, beneath the inky crests,
rummaging for sea snails in conch shells,
abalone & bright sea-cucumber, living among the soft coral.
They are local icons: murals find walls to honour their role
– they are a mystery to me I do not want to solve
: in their black rubber diving suits, snorkel mask, flippers,
they dissolve in the mist that hugs the sea & shore;
the choppy sea to their benefit,
budges their prey toward the craggy shore.
I always point when I spot them,
they are as rare as Hoopoes.

The Harbour

A line of fishing boats- pearls on string,
dogs tied to a stretch of wall-
anchored at harbour
: we’re all devoted to a tiresome thing
we cannot help abhor.

I wish I was more honest,
not being schooled in sincerity,
embarrassed by the stock
of clichés composing the tempo of feel:
“confess!” cry Lowell & Roethke,
“confess! It’ll smarten your thinking up.”

Why

I can’t quite put my finger on the pulse
of what it is about the coast
that causes thinking calm,
almost indifferent: I’m sure
how the sea, inimitably sculpts
higgledy-piggledy;
the sea-birds’ chiaroscuro
much raw & sopping brine,
the weather’s charm no matter its conduct;
how clutter seems acceptable to everything;
the huddling rust at the lighthouse foot-
here monuments are aged by elements
rather than over-use-
cursed with this mystery
I sprout these vines of weedy thoughts,
& haggle with the reeds or birds for mantelpiece scoria.

Felix Domesticus

Little felix domesticus is dead in the road,
stiff, sodden in dew, guts sprayed Pollack-like-
nine lives are spent
but spent well I cannot tell from the red tongue
lolling out its mouth.

Should ever I have nine lives
I doubt I’d take more risks
: the pain of death nine times
I think not worth the agony-
after the second time, cocooned
and cautious, always looking behind my back
I’d hope a close to all my worrying.

A flock of birds strung across the sky like a snake
navigates the cumulus- I have been warned.

Plenty of Work to Crack on with

Plenty of work to crack on with
& after teaching brats their ABC
I’m eager to use my hands again,
to jeer at the wind & chase it out the nooks of my edifice.
Tables of red pine prepared for sinks & taps
give off the ghostly pong of saw, sand paper, planer,
burns that loiter still & I appreciate the scent
: the village smells like dirty pants today
so I stop pursuing the wind
– the tin of black wood varnish, froths
with a waxy orange scent,
we need brushes with tiny heads
to make lithe long strokes along the grain;
my wife swishes two & fro, like an itchy nose,
over a short distance, hopping here & there
patches are left undone, to be returned upon.

We pretend to be calligraphers today,
but write no words, no need: we lost our ABC
: we do not struggle with the elements
that smother us in cold & make our working hard
– we do not struggle as our hands grow grubby & numb.

Waking & Dozing

Uncommonly I woke at 2 a.m
: the carpenters’ car headlights, the engines hum
& cackle of pebbles under tires,
Boreum-pup hauling her breeze block anchor
in hope of fuss or food from men
tired of a work day that stretched
from 7 a.m till 1 a.m for lousy pay.

I dozed a mesh of lines, as I thought to sleep,
ideas tumbled from the height
of that pleasure garden where grows lovely things;
but decided to leave them be,
to let them grow & fade unseen, be forgotten-
I justify it as a form of editing,
pleased that I entertained them all with care,
regardless of the brevity.

This morning all I have is this: a memory
of what could have been, I’ll not fuss,
leave fussing for the dog
: at least something became of nothing.

With a little help from Hui-Neng

The sweeping of the floor was done, in large
without a hint of weariness
: I held in head the fable of Hui-Neng-
I’ll not repeat it here;
the scrubbing of a floor’s
a different fable all together,
nothing to do with that peasant Zen man
& I could only manage an imagining
of a Victorian scullery maid
hunched on all fours scrubbing the kitchen floors
of Shugborough Hall
: a visitation from a childhood memory
I didn’t realize so at first, but then it came
& I was glad to greet the past
: a group of children led in lines by teachers,
enthused so courteous, or vice versa,
round a courtyard by an imitation maid
who explained Victorian routines & how to make soap.

They made it all seem so Romantic: our eyes glazed.

Find Meaning Anywhere

Today was soju clear, as cold too,
Halla Mountain was not attired in cloud,
she flaunted her countenance & curves
whoo whoo
– I glanced at her admiringly
from time to time,
thinking when next I’ll get to visit her.

Struck through the teal sky
a streak of spent jet fuel
above me, resembled a millipede,
or maybe a giraffe’s vertebrae-
I did not need to see a clock to tell
me it was evening time;
it is my favourite time of day.
I’d done a hefty sum,
exactly what is needless to record.

Concern for loved ones hasn’t always been
my forte, but I’m studying to reform;
I’m sorry about all this, I truly am.
Them that deserve a better me
I will offer a four leaf clover
: find myself a field & diligently sift
through endless blades of grass, careful not to disturb,
until I have a bouquet for the past & future.
The millipede, giraffe & Halla Mountain,
perhaps even the clarity of the day,
have something to do with all this change.

Noises

She rose before me having retired to bed
two hours before last night.
I lay feigning hermetic sleep in low lamp light
& listened to the soft noises my wife stirred:
her hand rub the pages of a book,
the shlick of each page she turned,
her pen underline favoured passages;
the slow pour of water dribble out the kettle
& patter on a tea bag gentle as a rabbit’s foot;
the almost inaudible crease of her clothes;
the quietest whisper as she read out loud
to hear the meaning better;
the rustling of tissue between fingers & thumb;
the placing of her cup on a towel
– I even think I heard her blink.
My alarm interrupted with Waits’ Russian Dance,
the warmth in my chest I’d clutched,
the butterflies dancing in my tummy, gone;
but the bibble of the rain seemed fond of me.

Hallim Market

I get excited when the opportunity
to visit Hallim wet market comes
: the rustic sights, fomentation’s stinks,
the bustle of country people bargaining.
– I enjoy looking at the kimchi, spice red & glistening,
each individual, made with different vegetables
: cabbage, mustard leaves, green onion, radish
– the jumbled stench of garlic, ginseng, ginger
crushed eel, fish & red pepper paste
– in ratio according to its makers preference
– tickles your nose alive.
She also sells pickled garlic, sesame leaves
with nuts and black bean, sticky & red,
sliced lotus roots in sesame oil & soy sauce,
blocks of tofu still warm,
dried cranberries, cherries & apricots
that look like a mouse’s knuckles, shrivelled;
freshly fomented bean paste of numerous potency,
squeezed in buckets a strong chap would struggle to budge.
On the fish stall they mainly sell
mackerel, cutlass fish, red snapper, bream
& pure white squid, the fishes’ mouths pursed
in the final struggle for their habitat;
mollusks of all sorts: clam, abalone, sea snails
& sea weeds clumped in sea water.
The vegetable man’s veggies are all caked in dirt,
just how I like them
-knobbly carrots, crooked as a witches nose,
radishes like elongated heads,
hard smelling green onions, cabbage
& lettuce leaves all shapes, textures & size,
potatoes like fists that thump out the earth.
One woman sells black pig steamed pork,
all the skin melts in your mouth,
goes down well with makkoli,
but I am not fond of the texture;
she also sells sweet potatoes steamed or grilled,
it irritates me that people discard of the skin first,
they have a nutty flavour unlike the English variety.
Opposite her an old man lifts a large domed lid,
steam spills to uncover rice bread,
plump & squishy shaped into buns,
sweet red bean in the middle, beside
king prawns in batter sizzling away.

I picture the poet Shin Kyong-Nim
having a chin wag with one of the store owners
about the hardships of this life
over a game of janggi, chomping a raw yam,
pouring each other glasses of soju,
chilled by the cold weather
– trying to sell some of his wares from the mine
: he always wrote about the markets of his day,
as if they were the sap of his country’s livelihood;
it’s fitting I should see him here.

Between

The grime between the bathroom’s grey tiles,
amassed over the past few months,
would not budge without a tousle.
With my fore finger settled into the furrow
I rigorously scrubbed & scrubbed & scrubbed,
but it was obdurate & held its trench well;
I gave credit where credit was due & considered:
is humanity as stubborn as this stain?
or are we impeccable like the potential white of the mortar,
as flexible too, simply advanced upon by grey
encroaching on our endeavours to be clear of stain
: it rained so much today the dog hid in her kennel,
sad eyed, laying blame on the copious grey clouds.

Tomorrow I’ll spread a fresh layer of mortar
between the tiles to cover up the grime.

The Origin of Change

My curious wife questioned me
as to what it is that has made me more
considerate since returning from the mainland
: these days I seem more suited to the title nampyeon,
the Korean word for husband
: ‘Nam’ being ‘man’ & ‘pyeon’ being ‘comfort’
– thus, the man who comforts.

I could not gratify her curiosity
I do not know the origin myself.

Loiterer

Have I been fixed to themes,
imbibed from my Romantic days so long,
they have become more me than I?
Am I predetermined?
That’s surely balderdash, or else
… to think this wise is to behave evasively
from the pivotal matter:
we have so very few answers to why.
& still I cannot shake these themes
: of the origin of time and stuff;
the meaning of events;
the synchronicity of me & It;
the turtle I saw swimming in sewage
beside the bike path in Seoul when I was lonely;
the dove that plunged from its business in the sky
to cross me as I considered the function of love;
to have found ‘In Search of the Miraculous’, whilst drunk,
on a Wetherspoon’s bookshelf gathering dust;
to have met my wife on the unlikely day
I took the other mountain path
: I have no quarrel with these occasions,
just meaning that parries being solved.

The Mind of the Mason

The sculptures of Korean goddesses
outside the stone masons,
all have the same tits, rotund & pert,
like sanded down buoys
& so too does my wife;
I wonder if they’re standard issue across the race…
or if the mason trawled through plenty of photos
– on that internet –
to get a perfect likeness,
a week or so with tits on the brain,
& the similarity to my wife is a fluke.
I like to think he did his field research
& had himself a time.

Goldilocks & the 3 Baths

Windows have been omitted from the bathhouse,
it is a den of steam-
I settle my nerves in the arms of its bulk.
I’m naked as Adam, no fig to conceal my cock
: I’ve come to sweat & cleanse four days of filth.

There is a cold bath, 20°,
a warm bath, 38.6°,
& a hot bath 40.9°.
I feel the malleability of my flesh
: plunging into the cold bath it tautens
& tingles like a bell,
reminding me my nerves are pockets of life;
in the hot bath & sauna it slackens,
I know comfort in my skin.

First, in the calid bath,
the heat makes me doze,
my fingers loll in the cold bath parallel,
my body wholly submerged in the warm
– my fingers do not goggle in awe
at their stubbiness
– the heat suffocates me,
I splash cold water on my pate.

Next, I sit like a wishbone
over the divide between the cold & warm
… the Goldilocks tale
could be interpreted as a Buddhist parable,
I’m too ugly to be her,
but follow her cleptomanic example
in my need to find analogies.

A Journey into the Jaws of Immigration

This is the hell of It
: documents in Mandarin, Hangul & English
– still I need advice & guiding hand
: sign here, name there in bold, tick the boxes,
am I only this to them
: white form, pink form, a number on a blue card,
a bureaucratic ratio of stamps.

The Immigration office employees,
neat, long faced, buttoned up,
move slower than the world outside
– do they revolve to the tick of a different clock?
another rule of thumb?
are they readjusting the laws of Physics?

Am I shrinking here, to the hell of It…

The Hours

The gentleman beside me tugs my gawp,
well, actually his cheap, imitation-enamel-silk-tie,
with bands of gold & diagonally serried
seashell pattern woven down its façade,
does, in point of fact;
shit a nun, it is ugly as fuck.
He must be getting on in years
& dyes his hair to hide his age,
but the creases & crow’s feet, the fold of his chin
betray his spilt time-
I want to say: be honest pal,
we all have to get along with time.
He’ll live the remainder of his days
without the foggiest I jotted down
this poem while he viciously chomped
his beef soup & rice;
become an example of the struggle
to cope with the cruelty of the Hours.

Everything’s Made in China these Days

Everything’s made in China these days,
to what ends will the making go?
: my heart was made in China, without my knowing,
my impulse to go on & yours too,
all mediocre stuff, made in China;
our fingers & toes, a deer’s hoof
– every animal living & dead, factory made, in China,
the nuts & bolts of the light bulb of think,
the soft of love’s caress: Chinese made;
the mechanism in your legs & elbows
– flesh, veins, nerves, muscle, blood
O & synapses, amygdala, all the neurons etc…
anything that buzzes, the sound is manufactured
– eye lids, teeth, hair, saliva, gums & genitals,
look closely you will see a ‘made in China stamp on the inside;
I suppose you weren’t aware that 90% of ear wax
is grown by children on a farm, in China.
Déjà vu, actually comes in little sachets
when boiled releases on the world the odd
sensation it has happened before;
it’s all the way from China.
Rocks, they’re made on a production line;
sand too, from the less attractive rocks,
mashed & mashed to make your beach.
Any happenstance that happened yesterday
& the fog of 19th century London, from China

– don’t believe what people say;
everything these days is made in China.

Grow off Me

It has rained & blustered all week,
island weather has dementia praecox;
but I’m not glum, my chin is up
: spring’s punctual this year beyond the habit
of previous years that brought me to my seat’s edge
: another couple of months to wait at least on the mainland.

I have become more fertile than the soil
: the palms of my hands are gardens,
my back a furrowed field waiting to be sown,
my face a hawthorn hedgerow full of chitting wrens;
my chest a topiarian’s wet dream
– it is the doing of all this rain, it has to be.

A Nursery Rhyme

The stones are dirty get them clean
get them clean
get them clean

I got to make them spick n’ span
spick n’ span
spick n’ span

I’ll blast cold water out the hose
out the hose
out the hose

it matters not the stones can’t feel
stones can’t feel
stones can’t feel

I make a rainbow with the sun
with the sun
with the sun

and fire it at the filthy stones
filthy stones
filthy stones

the stones are clean now we can smile
we can smile
we can smile

my feet are sopping wet
because my boots are old
I’ll get me by the fire
to pull away the cold