he went down
to fish in his
got out his boat
all his tackle
nets and things
then tried first
for a warm up
a minnow haiku
to a nice fat
with a vicious
did for him
but his muse
threw a lifebelt
a swift rescue
in an inflated
This happened a while back. I was reminded of it today. I saw an old
person finding it hard to walk who had a beautiful smile. Not bone structure.
I don't mean that. Not that kind of beauty. It was the generosity in
her smile which I mean; and what it showed of the person she was.
A pretty smile has persuaded me several times that a monster is otherwise;
and most of the time, for most of our lives, we can find each other
acceptable, but no more, possibly without thinking if we are speaking
of appearances or behaviour. Don't you think so?
This woman today was not prepossessing....
Look at this. It doesn't show you what I want you to see; but perhaps
it shows enough. For me, it triggers the memory I'll have to say to
you, because there are no pictures of the important part.
These kids here, all uncoordinated and really with half-formed minds,
smell some herring I am carrying home from Penzance. We're in Penzance
here. And around now, though the camera's not on him - well, it's timed
out actually - one of them says Mister, you smell of piss; or something
of that sort.
It was the fish; but what if I had smelt of piss? Would I want to!?
Would I want to be *told in public?
I took out one of the fish and pushed it towards the young man, waving
it around, using it a bit like a glove puppet, I suppose. They writhed
away from it. They don't see anything ill or dying usually; and they
live in an overly-perfumed environment where they can't even smell themselves.
"Uuuugghhh!" was the response "You going to eat that?"
They didn't know enough to realise I was buying what is now a cheap
food; or they'd have mocked me some more.
What I really wish I had filmed, instead of wasting memory on them,
though one only catches these things by filming at random, was the boarding
of the bus by an extremely old lady. What happened when she had boarded.
She was behind the children, of course. They wouldn't wait for her.
I was on before her, and watched her progress.
She was arthritic. She had difficulty even with the low platform. The
creases and wrinkles in her dry face made me think of how an unmade
road gets when its been driven on and dried out only to be driven on
again in the wet and then dried out again, ruts overlaying ruts.
I remember there being no expression except a suggestion of pain willed
away, leaving a simulated mask.
It was as if she had been enlarged. Her ankles resembled the base of
a coppiced tree.
She got up to the driver and started opening her bag for her old person's
card, whatever that's called.
I don't need that, said the driver; but I'll tell you what. You look
even more beautiful than usual. Give us a kiss.
And they puckered up and kissed. He said Thank you! with gusto.
The careless children couldn't handle it; but her awareness was remade,
tears in her eyes and laughing at the same time.
There¹s a door in the medical centre marked boldly
I haven¹t looked inside but now and again
I¹ve seen a man entering or leaving.
There¹s a smaller set of words above:
OInspire wellness centre¹ -
local gobbledygook for boutique gym.
As if boutique bodies don¹t perspire.
This Ocentre¹ is merely a large room full of torture machines
for self-inflicted pain. People pay to go there.
Through the frosted glass you can see both men and women
on these racks, stretching and pumping
to the sound of disagreeable popular music.
After which a man will adjourn across the corridor to
and a woman discreetly pass through the opposite door
from which I have discreetly averted my eyes, so far.
North Balwyn, Melbourne
11pm Wednesday 6 July 2005
A Place To Make Your Wishes All Come True
They never touched when others were around.
You had to find the presence in their eyes
of hunger. That's how you knew, unless you chose
not to. Yesterday, they walked the sand
of this too flat beach just inside the line
the water leaves each time a wave withdraws.
Her hands shaped the air; he kept his gaze
fixed on the ground as if it might open
beneath each next step they took-and then it did.
I know you'll think I'm back to my old ways,
but I'm clean, no dope and not a sip of booze
for the last ten years. This is where I stood
when the earth's mouth gaped. They didn't miss
a step, I swear. Then they were gone. Like this.
It's odd to engage elegy as a passion and, yet, so it comes to one
passing of a father, any family member or close friend. A passion that
not come for a passing moment, but enshrines itself, a quilt work of
stitched moments - appearances and disappearances - as the ghost of
absent appoints itself as a member of our days, including, most forcefully,
one's dreams at night, but, then again, as a presence on the street,
countryside, or on the waters in the days and months that follow.
Neither is this a benign appearance - but, perhaps - more like something
of an argument. The beloved refuses an amputation, one in which we are
allowed to quickly forget, erase everything except a monument that one
erects upon a ground or, say, as a poem or an obituary that free us
from any further intrusion into our lives.
No, at least for those of us who choose to remain open, as I suggest
wittingly or not - we must to these places where one finds him or herself
what one can only call untrained waters, or, switching elements, an
that slips away and will not forgive until you, the bereaved, provide
answer, a calling out, a witness, an incorporation, then a release,
grievous release, where what one senses is fundamentally shrill, a bondage
which begins to slowly subside. The house of the beloved is disassembled.
Through the floor beams one sees a rich, dark earth and one says, now
we can move on; we have the provision, a fertile one, to do so.
"She no longer walks these hills."
The other day I met
a shorthaired man At the park
Sunday I caught a thirty-five pound German carp
He said casting his
8 lb test from a pencil thin graphite rod
I gazed mystified into the Alga bloom
Looking for shadows
As Sandra chased a mother swan away
who was intent on murdering
An injured goose
Death by drowning and pecking
Cornered against the
concrete retaining wall
Gleaned from the gaggle
Another floated dead
on the opposite side of the pond
Rippling an oddly peaceful shadow
Providence, RI, USA
July 6, 2005
It is the time of the dark moon, and thick,
heavy days. This grey morning, swarming
with swallows, gives way to a blue noon.
The hem and sleeves of my favorite
lavender shirt are tattered and thin. It has
a fashionable hole at the shoulder, where
the seam has relented to the insistent
pull of time. It is the time of remembering
that tightening at the groin; that tightening
that demands loosening. A tall brown man
strides along the river. He pulls his shirt
off over his head in one graceful thoughtless
motion. A red motorboat, Stars and Stripes
waving at its bow, clatters upriver, startling
shorebirds up from the banks. I see this day
through a wavering haze, move in a slick
skin of dampness. Have I ever been loved?
~ SB =^..^=
MECH MAN JIVE
Manipulative. Fine. All right,
education you've got. Get in.
Car, yes, push.
Head with the crank.
A ticket to Calcutta.
Not get the opportunity again.
Barry Alpert / Silver Spring, MD US / 7-6-05 (6:41 PM)
Written while watching a 1958 film directed by Ritwik Ghatak whose Bengali
title "Ajantrik" was primarily translated "The Mechanical
specifically referencing McLuhan), though an intriguing secondary
translation "The Unmechanical" made an appearance on the screen.
never seen an Indian film from this period except those directed by
Satyajit Ray and since it had been collected for the Library of Congress
the distinguished film historian Eric Barnouw, I felt the effort to
its single projection (at the National Gallery of Art) would be warranted.
Film critic J. Hoberman's brief advance description ("the rapid-fire
of a working-class Warner's comedy within a neo-realist, distinctively
Indian milieu") unexpectedly reconnected me to a range of work
often prompted me to write while viewing, and I decided on a plan to
an acrostic backed by a freely-written, nearly simultaneous possibility.
MECH MAN JIVE
Manipulative. Fine. All right,
it is a futile effort.
Today I will get a photo taken with Jagaddal.
Today I will plaster you.
Bimal's taxi is one strange thing.
Sir, this is an awakened god.
So many break down, so many get repaired.
If you want to live, send Jagaddal away.
You've worked a miracle, Bimal.
I will have the final answer today.
Barry Alpert / Silver Spring, MD US / 7-6-05 (6:41 PM)
Let me make clear that "Jagaddal" is the name which the leading
taxi driver Bimal, has given to his failing vehicle. I started writing
this text when the opening line was netted as an out-take by the acrostic
process governing the other work entitled "Mech Man Jive".
It eventually supplanted the initial line of the acrostic as well. While
revising, the first six lines separated themselves without strain into
couplets, and I then deliberately edited the remaining six lines of
the first draft into two couplets, remembering how much I liked the
form of an earlier, freely-written text of mine, "By the Bluest
of Seas". [http://www.fieralingue.it/corner.php?pa=printpage&pid=769]
if you are my age why do you insist on looking old
it's not that
there is any use
in wearing out
just that there is
among "viewers like you"
I prefer a little
(let's say shadow)
to contribute substance
to the other(wise)
that hollow look
appealing to persons
who prefer inserting
into the vacant space
at the figurative
open window and
sheila e. murphy
Talking to my childhood sweetheart
on my mobile phone
I remember the sweet smell
of her sex
and get a pimple on my nose
The body has its memories
afternoon into verticals
a brown splash
windows scratched in
blank shiny walls
haze and fall
a broad agony
night is more fair
after hours streams
clarity in bursts
without critical speech
the process can't be managed
even (caged) birds
Jill Jones, Surry Hills, 7 July 2005, 4pm