Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ah, Saddam

I don't condone what you did, what you were accused of, but maybe if there'd been impartial judges, a neutral courtroom sans cages in another country where the puppeteering strings of political expediency didn't reach…..

As you knew, the fix was in from the start. I don't understand why they even bothered with a trial. Actually, I do. So that both the puppets & the puppeteers could proclaim loudly how "the due process of law" was followed, how wonderful it was to see a "fledgling democracy" in action. How now that they've carried out an execution of someone of such high stature, the Iraqi government can be said to hold its own in the big boys' league.

Presumption of guilt is undemocratic. Public humiliation is undemocratic. Being held prisoner by another power in your own country is undemocratic. Execution by the State is still murder but with more syllables, & probably the ultimate act of undemocracy.

The newspaper tells me you spent part of your last hours sharing "untitled poems" with your visitors. That was a nice touch, & demonstrates that you were far more culturally aware than your nemesis who was probably chortling over fart jokes with his bovver boys—& girl—at his Texas ranch & creaming his jeans in anticipation of getting his hands on the dvd of your execution. They say serial murderers often like to keep a trophy of their crimes, something to play with as they play with themselves.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

from a book of the hours for Tom Beckett

4 a.m.
black blink black black blink
blink blink black blink black
blink blink blink black blink rem
blink black black blink blink
blink blink blink black black
black blink black blink black ember

5 a.m.
—but not
Magritte clouds
but proto-
poems hanging
in the not-
blue sky, but
not in reach—

6 a.m.
piss proud
piss long
piss hard
piss it all
                   away
—absolution

all / i know / about bicycle races

a
curious word
is the peloton

Friday, December 29, 2006

metaphortified
Today the
postman brought
me the news
that George
Washington
had died from
hypothermia
whilst attempting
a night time
crossing of
the Delaware.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

After

a six month hiatus

Series Magritte is finally getting a bit of a workout

which means

that I'm getting my thought processes back in gear once more

just in time

to go back to work & have them atrophy again.

A crepuscule - for Nellie?

What chance is there
for? or, maybe the
lavender lies dying in
the twilight. Un-
settling but not
unbroken. Therefore
walk backwards,
following the
footprints. Ways out
were once ways
in. Frogs chorus at
the vestiges of rain.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Lines from

the musical I discovered, when I woke up from an afternoon nap, that I'd decided to write.

I felt great trepidation when the microwave was born
I still don't own a cellular phone
I'm a Luddite - ell you double-dee eye tea eee

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Now,
who else
can I offend?

I really loved the guy, but I couldn't resist....

Apologies for my
insensitivity, but
Papa's

just
got a
brand new bodybag.
I auditioned to
play the
Grinch™

&
ended up
getting the role.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Holy Moly #2

I wasn't going to have a post that carried the date of this day when urban myth is celebrated, hence the post-dating of the post above — or is that pre-dating of the post or post-dating of the pre- or pre- the pre- or pre- the post- or what the fuck? — but, surfing the diverse & spectacular menu of pap being broadcast by cable, I happened upon the Midnight Mass at St Peter's Basilica presided over by the Bono of The Vatican just in time to see pro Bono oh so delicately flick his hair back behind his ear, &, if he hadn't returned his hands to that position made famous by Dürer, I swear the next gesture would have been to lick his fingers & smooth down his eyebrows. My dear, as they say around these parts, that man is a camp as a row of tents.

So, in the spirit of giving, I've decided to Out he whom Alex Gildzen delightfully describes as "the rodent pope in his Prada pumps", Pope Benedikt the Fagth, defender of the faith — or is that the Queen? — arch-conservative & loud critic of everything homosexual.

O hipocryte lecteur

Sunday, December 24, 2006

But…besides…

He caught the subway
out of Tombstone. It was
as she'd said, the past
is another country.
Fortunately he'd come
prepared, ice in
his jacket pocket, a
survival manual
in thirtyfive languages
counterbalancing the
imprint of his wallet
against his ass. Gun-
shots still reverberated
in his ears, but he'd
stayed on top
of it all until halfway
across the Atlantic
when his heart gave out,
& his ipod went with it.

valse hay(na)ku

in-
     dulge
     me
               in
                    this
                    dance

Friday, December 22, 2006

Ah, the perils of an editor

Was browsing the archives of another e-zine yesterday, & came across a poem I recognised. Not surprisingly, since it was one of a number of poems I'd accepted from the author & had uploaded to the under-construction issue four of Otoliths less than 24 hours before.

So I went googling, & discovered that four of the poems - plus a number of the remainder of the submission - had previously appeared online. I thought about pulling them all for some time, but decided to give the author the benefit of the doubt &, provided I received a reassurance that the remaining two hadn't or weren't going to appear elsewhere, pull only the four that had appeared before.

I emailed the author when I'd revised the page, received an email back - "Sorry. Honest mistake. Humblest apologies."

But it nagged at me because said author had also appeared in issue three of Otoliths. Back on with the uniform of the thought police, back into Google. Found that of the four poems in issue three, two had appeared once previously, one twice previously & one three times previously. Plus there were postings to a couple of poetry lists. (& I discovered another publication of one of the poems from yesterday.)

It's too late to pull the print editions - they've started going out - & because of that I decided to leave the poems online in issue three but add an acknowledgment of where they'd previously appeared. Four poems, six acknowledgments: people will do the math.

I don't mind publishing work that's appeared on blogs or in lists. I don't mind publishing work that's appeared in print, provided there's a decent time interval. I don't mind publishing work that's previously appeared online if what Bruce Sterling calls "linkrot" has occurred. I don't mind publishing complete series or sequences where the various parts have appeared before but never all together. But at all times, acknowledgment is given to the place of original publication. It's a basic courtesy, one that I give to my editors, one that I expect given to me.

Needless to say, I'm pissed. I'll still leave the poems there - though, after today, I was having second thoughts - but since I said I would, I will. But from now on in it looks like there's going to be a Google step within the process, & the idea that it is necessary to do that pisses me off even more.

Merry Christmas. Bah humbug.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

     "The trick naturally is what Duncan learned years ago and tried to teach us—not to search for the perfect poem but to let your way of writing of the moment go along its own paths, explore and retreat but never be fully realized (confined) within the boundaries of one poem. This is where we were wrong and he was right, but he complicated things for us by saying that there is no such thing as good or bad poetry. There is—but not in relation to the single poem. There is really no single poem."

Jack Spicer in an Admonition to Robin Blaser

a little thought for hks

Where
would I
be without Miles?
 
 
eventually he was smuggled out of the country & out of the limelight
 
 

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lines writ on misreading a title in fhole # 10

I stick my finger
in the socket
& nothing happens.

Try my prick. Still
no response. So

carefully uncurl the
cord rolled up in
my navel that ends
in a two-pin plug
& which doubles as
belly-button decor-
ation
           & boy
                     do I light up.

Paranoid Poem # 4,375,169

My new you
beaut anti-
virus program –
2007 version –

(& which, since
installation, brings
on go slows or
even freezing) scans

my infernal machine
& tells me
it has detected
a tracking cookie.

"Low threat status"
says the report.
"Recommend
ignore." But

ignorance is
not bliss to the
committed
paranoid, so I

fix it & sally
forth into the
ether sans
worms, sans virii,

sans cookie.
I do not
trawl the web,
rather step

delicately, as if
in a field of
glass. A brief
visit here &

there, check
my mail, de-
lete the spam –
though if it

wasn't for the fact
that it's been
done so many
times before

I could get
some good
poems from the
subject lines —

& then with-
draw, but not
without running
another scan.

The tracking
cookie is
back in the
jar again! So

I revisit
the journey, a
slow waltz, scan
step scan, &

decide it's my
email account
that's probably
the culprit

which makes
sense since
I recently read
that various

government
agencies in
concert with
various inter-

net providers
are in the
process of
building up

databases of
everybody's
virtual travel
& cyber-

correspondence.
But what can I
do about it?
Somehow I don't

think that broad-
band wrapped
in alfoil would
have that much

effect &, besides,
it's the forces
of law & ordure
that are lined

up against me.
So I decide
to join them
whilst at the

same time pay
homage to the
comics & b&w
serials that

nourished my
youth. Have
changed my
email address.

From now on
I can be reached
at Mark Young
at G-man_dot_com.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

f          l
o    w

er
||
||
||
||
|
|
|


flower
 
 
I wish

   I switch

   I swish

Ice witch

 
 
Today the
postman brought
me a pool of
water from the
Icicle Factory.

Monday, December 18, 2006

what if there had been no dubya?



"Son, you're making the same mistake in Iraq that I made with your mother. I didn't pull out in time..."


The Huffington Post

Sunday, December 17, 2006

some kind of cahos theory

In the 3½ years we have been here, I have probably cut off seven or eight fronds from the palm tree in the back yard. (Once there were two, but the other was sandwiched between two larger trees that grew faster, &, reaching outwards for the light, overbalanced, lost its footing & ended up tumbled across the pool fence. Now its stump is one the three significant points I rotate the sprinkler between to ensure total coverage of the yard. My life is a Venn diagram.)

In the open, the palms cope quite well with the climate, no sudden spurts or retardations of growth. Which means that the cut fronds can be used as an indication of age, like tree rings or, dare I say it, the otoliths of a fish. So, being somewhat generous, three fronds are equal to one year's growth.

Assuming that there are a roughly equal number of truncated fronds on the side of the palm away from me — ah, lethargy, apathy, close enough is near enough, unwilling to walk the ten metres to count the other side — I put the age of the palm at around fifteen years.

This morning (insert the "I went outside to have a cigarette" macro), one of the dead stumps — ten years dead ± one year as rough calculation — was moving. Took me a while to work out why, but then I realised a butterfly had settled on the end of the stump & was beating its wings. (Sorry about the probable tornado you're now going to get in the Napa Valley tomorrow, Eileen.)

I watched it for a while, got sidetracked by those fluttering wings, started thinking about interviewing a mime about some erudite subject.
Q. Over the years, you have repeatedly defended the view that deconstruction is not an inherently negative term, that it is not to be understood as criticism or destruction, that deconstruction is always accompanied by love. Could you comment on this "love". Is it the same love as in "philia"?

A.

Q. To many of your viewers, one of the important consequences of viewing your works is the realization that criticism from an "outside" position is no longer possible, that one is always working with inherited language, and because one inherits language, one inevitably works within a shared framework. Now, if one seeks to question or to displace without seeking recourse to an outside position, does one not run the risk of conservatism?

A.

Q. There is no difference without repetition?
etc.

bin ordinaire

 
 
 
0                                                       1
 
 
 

Friday, December 15, 2006

The print edition

of both parts of issue three of Otoliths are done & I'll be placing orders over the weekend for contributors' copies to go out which should arrive not in time to come down the chimney but as, hopefully, a bit of a kicker to get the new year off to a great start.

The electronic issue four is shaping up to be another - to use everybody's favourite term for Otoliths - eclectic issue. What does that say about the mind of the editor? But I've set out to be inclusive not exclusive, & I'm happy & proud with what I've done so far.

I'm still not writing much but that's because of the day job. It's a different zone I've got into, but I've still managed to get some stuff out out there.

Summer proceeds apace. Near the mid-thirties, Celsius. The country is ablaze down south, bush fires that join to create a 200 km firefront. Frightening. & what is worse, many of them are deliberately lit by people.

& a blue-winged kookaburra has just arrived in the tree directly outside the door to patiently scan the backyard for lizards & such. Best of luck. I can't stay quiet for that long.
It is warm.

I sleep with the
window closed.

I do not wake
               easily.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

My days

are empty without the screaming jets. The war games are over, & since there was only one side taking part, I guess you can say they both won & lost.

The fighters were lined up at the airport when I flew to Sydney - I keep writing Syndey for some unknown reason - last week. Six of them, though I'd only ever seen four in a flypast. Maybe they were being considerate of the local populace.

The helicopters have gone, too. De-rotored & packed away in a Galaxy with all the other materiel. It flew out night before last, Dracula embodied, a huge shape blocking out the stars. But with noise, & bad vibrations.

However, my paranoia remains intact. We came back to find a red beacon flashing newly in the hinterland. Pour quoi? Maybe the Martians have done a deal to use our local military playing fields.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An

end
of the
day poem for

Tom
Beckett. Sic
transit gloria mundanity.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

When I was a windy boy

in short pants, back in the days when radio was powered by steam & Dylan Thomas was quite possibly the only contemporary poet I had heard of, I appeared – does one appear on radio or is one heard? – on a quiz show called the 6400 Question. Maybe there was a dollar in there, or maybe it was dropped so the show wouldn't seem to be an american ripoff even though it was.

Anyway, it was one of those shows where the prizes got bigger & the questions harder as one progressed through the octets. The top prize was something like a washing machine & a refrigerator & some other form of whitegood, but I wasn't interested in them. Sorry Mum, but I had eyes only for the second prize, one of those new-fangled radiograms that played 78 and 45 and 33⅓ rpm records as well as having a built-in radio.

I'd grown up with a wind-up gramophone, playing Enrico Caruso records that were only pressed on one side. This RADIOGRAM, which had a cute little two-needle device that you clicked over to move between bakelite & vinyl, was the promised land to me.

My subject of choice was jazz. I got through some preliminary questions & was selected to be part of the broadcast show. Answered 8 through 1600 on the first evening, held in a bowling club or something, & came back for the final part, in a railway union hall, a couple of days later. Because I was going for the BIG PRIZE, I came on in the last half of the 30 minute show. Was asked the 3200 question, something bizarre like name three of the four trumpeters who came out to New Zealand during the war with Artie Shaw's Navy Band. Got two first & last names plus the surname of a third which was enough to be judged correct.

Big round of applause. "& now, the 6400 Question." "Sorry, but I'm stopping here." Collective gasp from the little old ladies in the audience. Then, since there were still a few minutes to fill up, got asked the BIG QUESTION to see if I knew it. Name the drummer who played with…….

Could have been four drummers after the first clue, two after the second, only one after the third. It was either Max Roach or Art Blakey, can't remember now. Big emotional buildup. "He's RIGHT!" Little old ladies got apoplexy, came up to me after the show, asked if I was sorry that I hadn't gone for that final question.

No. I got what I wanted. Was happy. Very happy.

A couple of months later, the local Jazz Appreciation Society – Christ, what a pretentious name, but everything was like that then – called me on stage at one of their regular concerts & presented me with a double lp for "my huge contribution to making the public aware of jazz". (& five years later, with my then band, I came back & blew the fuckers away. But that's another story. & another life.)

The double album they gave me was Ella Fitzgerald sings the Rodgers & Hart Songbook. A beautiful, beautiful album; but along with my library & my record collection – amongst it an original Sun Records 78 of Elvis singing Mystery Train which, if I had it now, I could retire on the proceeds – it got lost in one of my transitory periods (another story, another life).

Which is the point of all this. I managed to find the CD in Sydney, indulged myself, bought it. Am listening to it now. I'm a sucker for ballads, especially R&H – Hart, not Hammerstein. "If they asked me, I could write a book….."

&, as always, I deceive. I conceived of this listening to Ella. But now I'm listening to another Sydney indulgence — & another lost love, from a later library & another life — The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Elvin Bishop & Mike Bloomfield on guitars. Quel combination!

Train I ride, sixteen coaches long….
Today the
postman brought
me two books
that I had
ordered — Anger
Management
, &
How to Overcome
Obsessive Compulsive
Behaviour
. I
punched him up
because he
placed the parcel
in the letterbox
upside-down.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A / Coward's Daypoem / for Tom Beckett

Alarm. Light.
Piss. Make coffee.
Teeth. Half a
grapefruit. Drink
coffee. Turn on
the computer.
Cigarette. Toast.
Turn off the
computer. Teeth.
Shower. Light. Dark.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

There is a bookshop

in Sydney called Goulds. It started life as something like the Socialist Co-operative Bookshop probably close to 40 years ago, but some schism within the ranks of its organising committee saw it privatised – or privateered – by its still current owner. It moved, split into two shops, rejoined & finally ended up in the main street of what was then the unfashionable suburb of Newtown where it still can be found.

It can loosely be described as a treasure trove, except it would take probably two weeks to do justice to its shelves - & the floor & the double & triple stacks & the secondhand stuff that now are piled up everywhere. Plus any adventurer would probably need a hazard suit to survive the experience of two floors of chaos.

But, wonder of wonders, it still contains many of the books that originally graced its shelves in its first incarnation, although the prices have been reduced remarkably, probably repencilled during a stocktake of one of the moves. I spent a couple of hours in it on the visit to Sydney I have just come back from. &, as an indication of what can be found on its shelves, I brought back with me this time:
Bending the Bow – Robert Duncan
The Paris Review with a Creeley interview inside
One Night Stand & Other Poems – Jack Spicer
Hymns to St Geryon & Dark Brown – Michael McClure
Scales of the Marvelous – a series of essays on Duncan
Memory gardens – Robert Creeley
The Collected Longer Poems of Kenneth Rexroth
Earth House Hold – Gary Snyder
Sun Rock Man – Cid Corman
Letters for Origin – Charles Olson
'Twas a productive trip.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

27 lines later hay(na)ku

He      
did lunch
but it wasn't

long enough to
do a          
poem.

Pareto lives!

The richest one per cent of the world's population owns 40 per cent of the total household wealth, while the bottom half of the world makes do with barely one per cent, according to a research report released Tuesday.

The study, which further underlined the continuing disparity between rich and poor, is by the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research, part of the United Nations University

It took more than $500,000 US to be among the richest one per cent of adults in the world, according to the report. The richest 10 per cent of adults needed $61,000 US in assets.

In contrast, 50 per cent of adults owned barely one per cent of the household wealth.

Wealth was defined as the value of physical and financial assets minus debts. The study differentiates between wealth and income. The authors note that "many people in high-income countries — somewhat paradoxically — are among the poorest people in the world in terms of household wealth" because they have large debts.

The bulk of the wealthiest adults (almost 90 per cent) are concentrated in North America, Europe and Japan, the researchers said. For example, North America accounts for only six per cent of adults, but held 34 per cent of the globe's household wealth.

(The Pareto Principle was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Which
was when
I asked: what

have you got
to offer
me?

The / unasked questions / eventually are answered

    "The common active ingredients in a hot chilli are chemicals belonging to the capsaicin family. When these chemicals make contact with the capsaicin receptors on the cells in your mouth, you feel the burn. Birds, on the other hand, have absolutely none of their receptors on their cells, so they feel no pain from eating chillies. This means that birds can cheerfully eat chillies and then spread the seeds around the countryside. Chilli seeds that have passed through the gut of a bird germinate better than chilli seeds that are planted by hand. In fact, while there's something about the mammal gut that stops chilli seeds from germinating, the opposite is true of a bird's gut. Birds usually excrete while they are feeding on another bush, so the chilli seeds often land on shady soil, their preferred environment."


Dr Karl Kruszelnicki: The Good Weekend, 12/2/06.

Monday, December 04, 2006

r.i.p.

I was deeply saddened to hear of the weekend death of kari edwards from cardiac complications. Hir poetry, hir presence, were amongst the strongest around. The strength of hir activism was an example to us all.

kari was one of the first to respond when I started Otoliths, with both support & contribution. I am proud to be able to say that I am amongst the publishers of hir poetry.

I remember a few years ago, in the earliesh days of As/Is, reading a just-posted poem whilst a tropical storm raged above & around. The power of that poem by kari left the storm in its wake, in fact, probably kept the pc running.

I shall miss hir.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

There's nobody here but us

I am sitting outside the supermarket waiting for their chickens to roast so I can take one home with me.

It's a low-key affair, a few minor celebrities. The Prime Minister isn't here, is at the cricket, but Don Rickles is, as he always is, doesn't matter whose roast is on.

The jets of the Singapore Defence Force woke me again this morning, still doing the same old same old. I wonder what they get out of it. An adrenalin rush at the Government's expense? Necessitated flying hours? Dead chickens?

I was at the airport a few days ago & they were taxiing to take off on another run. I had never realised how large the under-wing missiles were. I wonder if they are still there when the jets come back or are there a lot of chicken nuggets scattered across the countryside.

There is a low range of hills between where I now sit & the airport. The jets are seen before they are heard. But the noise drifts, spreads, oil on water. All over the city. No-one but me seems to care.

The helicoptors come in from the east, a low thrum, thrum sound. Someone I know who works part-time doing PR for the Army says that no matter how often she hears them, the hairs on her neck still stand. So do mine, but for another reason. Depends on whose side you're on. Depends on what's the subject of your paranoia. Is your para normal?

Yesterday was World AIDS Day (see ribbon below). Today we are told that Bill Clinton is coming to Papua New Guinea. A news story says that three-quarters of the Pacific's HIV-AIDS cases are in that country, that 40% of the PNG population will be infected by 2020 if the current rate of infection continues. It's something you don't hear about unless there's a celebrity involved.

The Prime Minister finally arrives. Apparently England are winning the cricket & he doesn't want to be around to congratulate them. He tells a joke about chickens. Nobody laughs, except for Don Rickles. Perhaps it's because the jets drowned out the punchline.

I think that's funny & cross the road to get away from him. A chicken comes with me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Loneliness

is
washing only
one person's clothes.

Disintegration

is never complete
as long
as

the
skin holds
the pieces together.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Today the
postman brought
me a blow-
up sex doll
which, it is
claimed, can be
    programmed
to become moist
whenever a
music of the
user’s choosing
is played. I tried
it out with the
pipes & drums
of the Southern
Highlanders. It
worked. Un-
fortunately
    it didn’t
work for me.